Leadership Profile: Paul Bosley
Founder, Business Finance Depot
Member, ARVC Supplier Council
How did you get involved in that RV park and campground industry?
I was a speaker at a franchise trade show in Denver about six years ago when I was introduced to the director of franchise development for Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park. They had had the same lender for years, and the lender, for whatever reason, decided that they didn't want to do any more financing for campgrounds. So the company was looking for somebody new and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Of course, I had to go through a vetting process with them before they selected our company as their “go to” for financing. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I’m also a counselor for SCORE (a division of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that is a network of free volunteer small business mentors). I’ve been a volunteer for SCORE for about a decade now.
How did you begin meeting and working with other ARVC members?
About three years ago, the National School of RV Park and Campground Management needed to find a new finance instructor. At that time, the operations director for Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park was one of the teachers for the school, so she recommended me to ARVC’s director of education, and I started teaching at the school. I did the budget and cash flow seminars for year one and the financing seminar for year two. I guess I got good reviews—they asked me to come back.
What other ways have you become involved with ARVC?
For me, things really started taking off with ARVC last year at the beginning of the pandemic. I ended up volunteering to do maybe 15 different webinars to talk about PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans. Because I'm part of SCORE, I know a lot about loans and how the SBA-backed loans helped people through the pandemic. ARVC also picked me to be an instructor for POW! (Prospective Owners Workshop). I’ve also been a speaker at the Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE) for the past three years and my company has a booth at the Expo. When I jump in, I pretty much jump in with both feet.
As a supplier, how do you benefit by getting involved in the industry?
It creates a level of credibility by increasing your reputation for being an expert in the industry. I've been in the fitness industry for almost half a century and I am also a speaker at the trade show for that industry. The pandemic had totally opposite effects on the fitness and campground industries. With the pandemic, the RV industry has exploded. A lot of our business now is coming from the campground industry where before it was coming from the fitness industry.
What would you like prospective campground owners to know about financing?
The biggest difference between buying an existing campground and starting one from scratch is that lenders like the business acquisitions more because they close in a much shorter period of time. When you're doing a campground from start to finish, the lender can be holding on to the loan process for years. If you're doing a business acquisition, you’re normally in and out in, say, six months. The lenders have to decide if they want to do from-the-ground-up types of financing. They only have a certain number of underwriters and closers, so their resources are limited. Like everybody else, they have to figure out how to use their resources in the most profitable way for the business.
Any other advice for prospective campground owners?
When people come into the campground industry, they have to get involved with ARVC, they have to get involved with their state or regional associations because one of the main things that lenders look at, besides how much money you have or your credit score or business plan, is what you’ve done to learn the industry you’re in. I often use myself as an example. I have a bachelor’s degree in recreation and parks and health science. When I sold my clubs 15 or so years ago, I went back to school. I went through all of the accounting undergrad work. Then I went into the master's program at Florida Atlantic University to study business valuation. I had to educate myself. So when you're trying to finance a campground, if you don't go to the OHCE and you don't enroll in the National School or POW! and you don't get involved with your state association, how do you expect anybody say, “Yeah, I'll give you a million dollars to try to learn the campground industry on my dime.”? Because I’ve been involved in OHCE, POW! and the National School, I understand how valuable these education and networking resources are. You really have to be able to answer the question, “What have I done to learn the industry?”
Interested in learning more about campground financing from Paul?
Check out his session "Financing Options for New and Existing RV Parks and Campgrounds" at OHCE2021 in Raleigh from 9:45-10:30am on Tuesday, November 9. View the full schedule of OHCE2021 sessions here: arvc.org/OHCE21-schedule