Archive for May, 2007

Devon Days

I’ve just got back from spending a few days in Devon, with a few other North-West caravan park owners. We toured a caravan factory, and had a good look around a few caravan parks owned by members of the Devon branch of our Trade Association. The evenings saw much food and wine enjoyed by all.

As well as the social aspect, there was also a serious side to this tour… we have studied the way that other owners in our industry are developing their businesses, and have returned having exchanged quite a few ideas with each other.

It is almost certainly unique that within our industry, while we could all be competing against each other, instead we freely share ideas and knowledge, for the mutual benefit of all. A busy internet “bulletin board” keeps us in touch on a regular basis, while exchange visits like this mean that we can put a face to the name.

I’ve filled a camera memory card with pictures of ideas… from landscape features to improving the appearance of buildings, and even simple things like a well designed notice board with tourist information clearly displayed, arrows leading from the attraction’s leaflet to it’s location on a map.

No doubt this will just give the staff even more to do……

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Grading Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Visit Britain (another semi Government multi-million pound organisation that used to be called the Tourist Board) have re-written the star grading criteria.

In the old days, if your average score was 3 stars, you were awarded 3 stars. You could have say 80% at 3 star, 15% at 4 star and 5% at 2 star.

Not any more. Now you get the lowest of the gradings. And I’m annoyed.

The first of our cottage apartments was graded last week. We scored 4 stars (“Very Good”) on 5 items, 3 stars (“Good”) on 28 items and 2 stars (“Quite Good”) on just 1 item.

Kitchen worktop space.

2 stars is “sufficient work surfaces and cupboards for practical use”. To get 3 stars it needs to be “more than adequate cupboard and worktop space.

So, for one small item, we get downgraded to 2 stars. I am well and truly fed up.

On the brighter side, our first apartment guests arrived this weekend and they are delighted.

I must get the microwave put on a wall bracket (to free worktop space) and ask for re-grading.

So near…… yet so far.

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I need a holiday!

You remember the other day, the customer who posted a cheque to us?

He called to the Caravan Park today at 3pm, and we managed to find a very nice brand new caravan that suited him, so he is happy and that makes it three caravans sold this week.

At 4pm another customer called, and by 5pm had bought an older caravan that was up for resale. It’s absolutely amazing. Since my holiday it’s been just 4 days. And 4 caravans are sold. That’s over £100,000 turnover in less than a week. Not many years ago we turned over less than that in a year.

I am tired out…. I feel like I need another holiday!

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I truly do not belieeeeeve it!

The postman has just been. Because we are in the countryside, we get one delivery a day, and it is usually around lunchtime. In the post today is a cheque for the purchase price of a caravan.

Guess which caravan? That’s right. The one we sold twice yesterday. I do have others for sale… but it seems everyone wants the same one.

By the way… we can’t take a postal payment… there is a sales agreement which must be signed, which sets out the customer’s rights and obligations, and without a signed sales agreement we would be breaking the industry code of conduct, and leaving ourselves open to accusations that we had not informed the customer of his obligations.

There is no phone number with the cheque… just a note that “I will call soon”… so unless I can find a caravan to suit this customer, he will go away disappointed… and that way nobody is happy.

I obviously have not cashed his cheque….

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Back… and busy too!

I landed back in Manchester at 8am on Monday morning, after a long, long flight.

3 hours from Miami to Chicago, 9 hours from Chicago to Manchester. Overnight. The dreaded “Red Eye” flight.

I slept most of the way… so I arrived refreshed. Normally, I go straight to bed for a few hours, but I thought I would go straight in to work.

I arrived at the caravan park at about 10am and within a few minutes it all started. A customer at the counter wanting to buy a caravan, and another customer on the phone 5 minutes later, wanting to buy the same caravan!

The rule of “first come, first served” was applied, and fortunately we were able to find another caravan suitable for the telephone buyer, so we kept both buyers happy, and boosted our bank account nicely too!

So that means goodbye to the overdraft for a few more months…….

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