It takes great tenacity to have to wait sixteen years to realise a dream. But that’s exactly what happened when former design and technology lecturer Barry Payne finally achieved his long-held ambition to have a campsite of his own.
The idea had strong appeal for Barry, especially after enjoying many camping and caravanning holidays with his wife Janet, an administrator, and their two children. However, he and Janet felt that it was unrealistic to make such a large investment while the children were young and at school.
As soon as the children had grown up, they thought about the idea again and this time they decided to make the commitment, up-sticks, move house and enjoy a complete change of lifestyle as campsite owners.
Decision made, they began looking for a suitable site, taking a year to consider places all over the UK. They were close to buying a site in Scotland but the deal fell through. Fortunately, their bank manager was familiar with the franchising concept and suggested that buying a franchise would be a more viable proposition, particularly as the Club’s Franchise package attracts more favourable borrowing terms due to its proven successful record.
Although the idea was primarily Barry’s, Janet was more than happy to support the venture and move away from the overcrowded South East. She had no qualms about going to a new rural area in Devon, having moved house many times in their marriage.
They soon discovered that franchising offers a safer route than starting a business alone, with all the back-up and on-going support franchisees receive. “When the concept was explained and with the knowledge that a loan had been approved, the economics made perfect sense,” Barry said. “As we progressed further, the ‘partnership’ came to be a very important factor,” he continued.
Neither had any previous experience of running a business but the Club’s comprehensive training programme taught them about managing an efficient campsite and having a successful business. In addition to the training, franchisees are supported by a head office advice team and benefit from a range of centralised services which include advertising and publicity.
The Club’s nationwide marketing and sales promotion creates awareness and ensures advance bookings on a scale that is unimaginable for a site working on its own. Franchisees are included in the annual nationwide directory of campsites and on the Club’s website. They benefit from the centralised bookings system operated through UK call centres and also on-line, handling enquiries from Club members and also independent holiday makers.
When the couple bought their Devon site, they knew work was needed to improve it before it would meet the Club’s exacting standards. They invested in a range of new works that included electrical installations and new facilities, ready for the campsite to open in March 2009. They approached their first holiday season with confidence, knowing they had plenty of advance bookings, and, as Barry put it: “A real sense of ownership within the strong partnership of the Club.”