- Outdoor Site
- Holidays & Travel
- Investment Franchise
Formed in 1901, The Camping and Caravanning Club is the oldest and largest club for camping. The Club operates over 100 Club Sites, 11 of which are franchised and 20 Camping in the Forest Sites across the UK. The club’s mission is to ‘have highly satisfied members’ of which there are over half a million.
The Camping and Caravanning Club is the world’s oldest and largest camping club. Franchisees of the Camping and Caravanning Club open and run their own camp site, promoting it to 528,000+ members. Members can enjoy over 4,000 places to camp in the UK, including Camping in the Forest Holiday Sites. As a Camping and Caravanning Club franchisee, you will be part of one of the most successful outdoor organisations in the UK.
The Friendly Franchise is proud to be a full member of the British Franchise Association.
We offer our franchisees a comprehensive training and development programme aimed at providing you with the knowledge and skills required to set up and run your sites ‘in the spirit of The Friendly Club’.
Working in partnership with the Club, you will have help, advice and assistance to get you started – and support once you are up and running. No days are the same as a Club franchisee!
Franchisees are expected to be hands-on in the running of their campsite, undertaking a wide variety of jobs from pitching campers and cleaning toilets to manning the reception and cutting the grass. Franchisees will also be required to complete all the day-to-day business and finance tasks involved.
Booking a family camping holiday turned out to be the first step on the path to a very welcome and complete change of lifestyle for Jayne and Chris Woods, franchisees at the Teversal, Nottinghamshire campsite of The Camping and Caravanning Club.
For some time, the couple had wanted to do something different and had been exploring ideas for a new direction. Jayne had many years' experience working with children, first as an occupational therapist before becoming a foster carer. Chris had been a sales director with an electronics company, working long hours and hardly seeing his family.
They both felt they needed a change, to be more in control of their lives and to reap the rewards of their own efforts. They knew they wanted to run their own business, to work together and, ideally, to work outdoors but they had not been able to identify the right business for them.
However, they discovered exactly what they were looking for when they were choosing a site for a camping holiday with their little boy. Jayne explained: "We were looking at sites on the Club's website. As we read it, we saw some information about the Club's franchise opportunity. It looked really interesting and the more we read, the more we could see that this met all our criteria, although we didn't fully understand the franchising concept at the time," she continued.
They researched the franchise sector thoroughly and discovered the many benefits and advantages it offered over starting a new business from scratch. "We recognised the value of being part of a national organisation, especially such a well-known one, with its proactive marketing. We could learn the Club's tried and tested systems that have been refined over many years, as well as benefit from their training and on-going support," Jayne added.
Convinced that franchising was the way forward, Jayne and Chris completed the various stages of the application process and began looking for a suitable site. Finally, they chose Teversal, then a privately-owned park which, the previous year, had won the accolade awarded by English Tourist Board of "Caravan Park of the Year". (2005)
Jayne said: "We moved from Hertfordshire in March 2006, just four weeks after first viewing the site, and had doubled the occupancy by the following summer," Jayne said. "We were very pleased with our achievements in the first year but felt there was still more we could do. We listened to customers' comments to help us refine our plans for the future.
"We are a 5-star site and have the AA's highest rating. We aim to provide the best facilities block in the Club's network and we have invested heavily to give our customers a luxury experience of outdoor holidays. We have also improved the infrastructure of the site and introduced some great eco-friendly innovations.
"We now have 10 individual bathrooms, a big family bathroom with a range of baby-changing aids, laundry room with ironing station and also improved facilities for disabled people. We are harvesting rain water to use for flushing the loos and have installed energy-saving light tubes in the roof for more efficient use of electricity."
Jayne, Chris and son Samuel live on the site, which is open all year. "Running our own business is very rewarding and we really enjoy it," Jayne said. "We work hard, especially during the summer, but we wouldn't change it and have no regrets at all. In fact, we are keen to have another Club site in the future.
"We could never have done this on our own or achieved so much," Jayne summed up.
After many years working in education, teachers Karen and Greg Baines decided they would like to do something completely different in a new sector where they could work together.
"We both really enjoyed teaching but we wanted a complete change of lifestyle," Karen explained. At the time Karen was running a charity-based nursery and Greg was head of his department in a large secondary school. They discussed some options but were necessarily cautious because they had four children to consider.
Their opportunity came when they least expected it. Karen was making a holiday booking when she "stumbled" across an advertisement on the Club's website inviting applications for prospective franchisees.
This had instant appeal since running a campsite was one of the ideas the couple had already discussed. Most of the holidays Karen and Greg had taken throughout their lives had been outdoor ones under canvas or, later, in their caravan which Karen describes as a "very retro Rapido folding van". The children were keen campers too and enjoyed outdoor pursuits.
"We'd vaguely thought about trying to buy a campsite to run because we both love the countryside, fresh air and being outdoors," Karen said. "We weren't members of the Club at the time, although we had used their sites for holidays and knew the organisation had an excellent reputation," she continued.
Greg and Karen made a "tentative application" to the Club and then began to research the franchising concept. They discovered its many benefits and advantages, particularly for people like them, who had never been involved in any kind of business before but would be trained in all aspects.
They welcomed the opportunity to be their own bosses but with the knowledge that they would not be entirely alone. They would learn a tried and tested system and work within the security of an established and successful organisation.
Greg said: "We thought that becoming franchisees with the Club offered a more secure way of getting a foothold in the caravan park industry and we found a reassuring track record of success from the early franchised sites. Understanding more about franchising and knowing that the others had done well as Club franchisees was enough to convince us that a franchise would be a reasonably secure investment. Also, the framework of the Club appealed to us, as did the thought of a radically different working life."
Meantime, while their application was being considered, Karen and Greg waited to view suitable sites but few were coming on to the market at the time. They had sold their house in Preston to finance the franchise and were living in rented accommodation, so naturally were keen to move on to the next stage.
"Everything seemed to be taking a long time. Part of the reason for the delays was that we had to time every stage of the process to fit into school holidays because of our own work commitments as well as the children's attendance," Karen said.
Greg and Karen took the initiative and in January 2008 wrote directly to existing privately-owned sites in Suffolk asking if the owners wanted to sell. It was where they wanted to live and was also an area that the Club wanted to expand into.
The next month, during half term, they found a willing vendor with a site in beautiful surroundings. Karen explained their excitement: "At last, we knew this was the one for us. Finding this site made all the waiting and delays worthwhile, like seeing the light at the end of a tunnel," Karen said.
The family moved during the school summer holidays into a temporary home on site. Taking a Club franchise represented a big commitment because it was not just a new way for Karen and Greg to earn their living but involved a move that affected their children's lives as well.
However, the children have all inherited their parents' relaxed attitude to life and embraced the change positively and with enthusiasm. The family's move was carefully timed around the educational calendar and all the children are settled and happy in their new schools. Karen and Greg would thoroughly recommend what they have done. The Club's experience of running campsites has been invaluable in helping them to get started and on-going support from the head office team ensures there is always someone to help and advise.
They believe prospective franchisees need to take a long-term view of their investment, just like starting any other business. They said: "We're really enjoying working together and seem to laugh more than ever before. We loved teaching but this is more relaxed, even though we work very hard and we've all had to make adjustments."
Now, with site improvements ready for the next season – including the added attraction of an impromptu small zoo - they are very optimistic about the future. "It's looking good – already we have been inundated with enquiries for this year," Karen said. "We all love our new life. In fact, often I want to pinch myself and say 'Wow', we really are here!"
Becoming franchisees with The Camping and Caravanning Club has enabled Nicky Sellier and David Weller to realise their ambition to have a business of their own and a completely different lifestyle as well.
When the couple decided they wanted to change direction, they chose to buy a campsite and took a quantum leap in moving from the urban South East of England to the other end of the UK and the open spaces of Skye.
David said: "I had been restless and needed a new challenge, having been a director of our family plumbing and heating business for many years. It was started by my great-grandfather in 1895 and had grown and diversified, so we were selling all sorts of DIY, building, hardware and garden items, as well as tents and other outdoor equipment.
"I worked very long hours and weekends and so saw very little of Nicky, who then had a job caring for children, latterly those with disabilities. We both felt under pressure. Losing close family members made me realise you've got to do things while you can, seize the moment and take the opportunity – I believe you're only here once and I didn't want to get to retirement and regret not doing what I really wanted to."
While they were mulling things over, Nicky and David took a camping holiday in Scotland, which David had visited many times before and knew well. Keen outdoor people, they love nothing better than camping and walking and being outside on mountains or in wild countryside.
On Skye they looked at small hotels, B & Bs and other properties that had the potential to be both home and business base. Driving round the island, they stopped one day to admire a stunning view and instantly fell in love with what they saw – a campsite on a 200 acre croft and with three-quarters of a mile of loch frontage. "We both wanted this place as soon as we saw it," Nicky said. "You've got to want to live on site, as well as work on it," she added.
Denise Ingram and Gabriel Hutchings were seeking a new opportunity that would also enable them to have a complete change of lifestyle, following the sale of their thriving organic vegetables business that Gabriel had started from scratch. Previously, they had both enjoyed varied careers. Denise had worked in fashion production in Hong Kong, while Gabriel had been a photographer and run a franchise within Madame Tussauds before studying horticulture and setting up the organic veg business.
"I'd known about franchising for years and we had discovered some possibilities. Then I was looking on the web for franchise opportunities when the Club's site came up. Denise and I had done quite a bit of camping, so we were aware of the Club but didn't really know what is was or what made it different from the competition," Gabriel explained.
"Franchising appealed to us because it offers a proven formula, which helps to avoid the risk of making the primary mistakes of setting up a new venture. There is an opportunity to see the model working and to understand the business before getting involved," he continued.
Denise and Gabriel had some specific criteria for the business they were seeking. "We wanted something that would be stable and that could be done from home. This was an important consideration because, at the time, Denise had been ill. We needed a venture that she could work in if she felt well enough or she could stay in the house but with me close by," Gabriel said.Denise took up the story: "We believed there was a good future in the British holiday market and we have always enjoyed the outdoor life. We wanted to own a business completely, including its premises. When we sold the organics company it was stock and goodwill but the premises were leased. However, a campsite can be sold as freehold if necessary, representing a much better investment.
"The Club has a good pedigree, proof that there is definitely a market for camping and caravanning. We felt that with the size of investment required for a campsite, we could do it only if we had an established partner able to deliver the numbers of campers that we would need. We knew that the Club's extensive marketing activities would promote our site to more than 450,000 regular Club members plus all the thousands who visit the website and read camping magazines," she continued.
Impressed by the presentation of the franchise by the Club, which they described as "as convincing and professional" the couple decided they would like to go ahead. They commented: "After we had been accepted, we visited some campsites and met franchisees but it took a long search to find a park for us. We decided to go with this one because we liked the land that came with the park. Also, we'd had an offer on our house so we felt that it really was time to leave Berkshire and move on."
Initially, they ran the park as it was for the first year and then started on a range of improvements in November 2008 to bring it up to Club standards. Despite a long, cold and wet winter, they worked hard to achieve their 50-pitch site and are proud of their pioneering "greener camping" approach with a new amenity block that uses solar power and toilets that flush with recycled water.
"Not only did we manage to pull it all together but we opened on time, 2nd April 2009. We opened at the right time, as there has been a great increase in numbers of campers compared to 2008. It's good to be part of a network and have the support and understanding of other campsite owners. The Club's systems work well and we know it would have been very difficult to get it all up and running if we had been an independent operator," they commented.
"Of course, having a franchise is no different from running any business of your own. There's always the challenge of getting all the jobs done while keeping the site going and the campers content," Gabriel said.
"We built the organic business, which was hard work but rewarding. We had an idea, took a risk which worked and then we sold the business. The great thing about having your own business is getting away from the oppression of unfulfilling employment. Being self-employed also offers some flexibility, with improved opportunities for a happy family life, which should not to be taken for granted," they agreed.