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Old 01-01-2009, 05:06 PM   #1
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Good idea? Need your thoughts

So my mind is racing wildly as to what I can do to surround myself with what I love. The honest truth is that I love restoring my 64 Globetrotter. I have just completed the rewire, insulation and re-install of the interior skins. I keep thinking to myself, if I could do this every day, I would be in heaven. So I have been toying around with some business ideas that do not have a lot of overhead and do not require machinery and equipment (FYI, I am currently in the construction industry and my business is completely reliant on my machinery and equipment).

So, to get back to my idea, well it all came about in St. Augustine the day after Christmas. I was towing an Airstream for a friend to Ponte Vedra Beach Florida. Upon arrival, we had a difficult time finding a place to park his 1978 Airstream Safari. The going rate for a 40 foot parking place was $85 per month if we paid for the whole year up front, otherwise it was $95 per month. I have seen these lots near an RV center if not on the same lot, usually around 3 acres of parking with a security fence around it with a gate that has a code access point. I have even seen a liquid propane filling tank in the lot as well. So, assuming we could have 150 spaces, there is a possibility of having sales of $12,000 per month for one of these parking lots. I was thinking of marketing the lot in the local yellow pages, website, airforums,, local RV shops, etc.

So my goal is to put together a business plan and I wanted to get some other peopleís ideas. I am 32 years old with an MBA and a habit of not liking a cubicle and a preference to restore Airstreams. If I could have a successful RV parking lot in the right place, possibly a few of them, I could do what I enjoy the most every day.

I want to see where this goes in the forums. I think the commercial real-estate market is going to have some hard times soon, which could offer some great locations for parking lots. I like the low overhead and the possibility of managing this from anywhere. I was thinking that the code for entry can be satellite monitored. Tell me your ideas.

I look forward to your ideas or opinions.


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Old 01-01-2009, 05:23 PM   #2
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I think it's a excellent idea. It's always good to think about value added services, to set your business apart from others. The propane fill is just such a service. A dump station and wash rack would be a must have, in my opinion.

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Old 01-01-2009, 07:04 PM   #3
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Go for it! I actually toyed with this idea myself. Don't forget to factor in your overhead of commercial property tax for the lot that you acquire. Commercial taxes are substantially higher than residential. You can look up the taxes before you buy.

You could also offer covered parking for a higher rate.
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:45 PM   #4
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That sounds like a great adventure! I would love to be around this shiny aluminum and call it work too!

Good luck

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Old 01-01-2009, 08:07 PM   #5
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Small Business can be heavenly

I am sure that since you have an MBA you recognize the value of a good business plan. I would say it is hard to fail at something you love, you may not get rich, but you will sleep well and smile at work. Do your homework and go for it. Best of luck.
Travel is in my blood, adventure is my passport, aluminum is my favorite construction medium, and therefore, an Airstream was my destiny.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:21 PM   #6
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Sounds like the start of a plan....

I've toyed with the same idea. Here are a few observations.

First, look at all of the storage lots that abound in most areas. Most will have at least a few RV's stored either outside or inside. Many of those have someone living on the lot - in an apartment over the main office... and most also have some kind of security fencing, video cameras and often have dogs patrolling the lot. RV'ing is a niche market thing. But combined with storage buildings or warehouse/industrial buildings - might be much more viable. In a "winter home" area such as Florida, offering RV storage with an auxiliary space to store other stuff? Sounds like a natural to me.

Now is definitely the right time to buy real estate in Florida - most areas are already bleeding. I'd seriously look at the possibility of acquiring an existing business - rather than a pure startup right now. (My partner and I run a telephone answering service - a 24/7 business... Imagine having staff onsite 24/7 to monitor the lot.)

I've also looked at the huge number of vacant "big box" stores in our area and have thought, "now wouldn't that be a great location to turn the parking lot into an RV storage facility - and the building into covered storage/indoor repair bays?" It seems that a lot of RV businesses are going OUT of the business of selling RV's but are staying open as repair only facilities - There is another possibility. They have the space, why not turn into storage lots?

PS - last thought. School buses. Our locality has a big problem - in that school bus drivers are often encouraged to park their buses at their homes rather than at a central lot to save fuel costs. Naturally the neighbors are less than thrilled. That sounds like a built in marketing opportunity if you could make a deal with the local school board. Ditto for businesses run out of the home that have bulky vehicles - tree surgeons and landscapers come to mind immediately.

Happy hunting. Paula
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:46 PM   #7
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I am still throwing this idea around and it is continuing to come more and more into focus. I think that keeping things simple is the best. The bottom line is that we offer a needed service for a fair price with a few extras. LP refill, dump station, hose access, and ice machines. But everything else is really simple, a fenced in area with barbed wire, code gate access, gravel lot possibly. Anything is possible with the right plan.
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:03 AM   #8
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What Paula said. And don't forget to figure in cost of lots of insurance. If you don't have someone on site 24/7, risk of theft, vandalism, etc. goes way up ... I'm not sure how low it would go even with people there. I'd plan on bright overnight lighting for same reason.

I'm ignorant about Florida storage ... do lots in Fla. designed for storage have tie-downs like many flight lines do for small aircraft? I know that lots of mobile home parks in Fla. have had folkd install "hurrucane anchors" for park models, to keep them from blowing away in high winds ...

Overall, I'd love to have a facility like you're thinking of, located somewhere near me. Secure storage, propane and dump facilities (check for zoning on these), maybe a wash rack - oddly, one of the hardest things to find around me, etc. And especially if you could find a big old vacant, unloved building at the right price point to be able to offer indoor parking, that would be a huge draw, I'd think. ('course, huge old buildings can eat up huge old maintenance budgets and deliver huge old tax bills, also!).

Good luck. Seems like a swell idea to me.

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Old 01-03-2009, 07:39 AM   #9
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Ryan, Thanks. I am in complete agreement regarding big buildings and the big costs that come with them. If the business grows and a lot is successful, then the profits miht support a 2nd lot in another area with covered parking maybe. But that is my goal, to have less overhead, thus charging less since the services are not as great as covered parking. Not alot less though, but enough to cover the costs of the other amenities.

I am kind of treatin this like I did in business school. I would love to get some leads on land from anyone out there that has soon some. I was thinking along the major highways outside of a metropolitan area. An area where people live but don't have the space for an RV/trailer in their driveway.

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Old 01-03-2009, 07:46 AM   #10
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64-- Have you performed your Porter 5-forces analysis?

Sounds like a decent plan. I think most of the potential obstacles have been pointed out.

Other considerations that might not have been been mentioned:

- Your occupancy rate is not likely to be 100%. I'd look for a way to see if there is any industry average in your area to base your calculations.

- Many of these places have 24/7 human presence on the lot. If you're not planning on doing the same, how will you compete to make your clients feel secure?

- In some ways, you will be a landlord. It's not as demanding as a being a landlord for an apartment or rental house, but you will be expected to take care of some similar needs for your clients. I have done rental property before, and I'm just not a big fan of being a landlord. And hiring a property manager bites into profits.

Good luck, there's a reason self-storage places are so ubiquitous-- they are great money-makers. This plan is similar, so I think the basic business model is proven. It will depend primarily on your property expenses. if you can buy/lease property cheap enough, then you should be able to make a good profit.

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Old 01-03-2009, 08:01 AM   #11
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I live in the general area you are considering. I know of 5 storage lots under $35/month between Melbourne and Mims. Nothing fancy. The storage that I found most costly (>$85) are those associated with new storage facilities (household storage units) and offer on-site personnel, camera security and concrete parking. None were *pull thru*. None offered inside parking. None offered water (wash) or power. Those are items that might be of some value. Though I'm not certain of the value of inside parking in FL?????

Good luck to you. I have an acquaintance who has a lot specifically for the big rig drivers. I'm not certain if I'd want to have my RV on their lot though --- but there is a lot of activity with the rigs coming & going.

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