Tips for Canadian Fishing & Hunting Lodge, Camp & Resort Buyers
Buying a Canadian fishing & hunting lodge, camp or resort can be a complicated process.
Even if you have previous experience owning and running one of these types of properties. All lodges, camps and resorts have many unique attributes and its very important that both pros and novices alike do their homework before diving into a deal.
Below, we go through a few of the important things that you need to consider before buying. The end goal for any investment like this is to have a viable, sustainable business. Doing your due diligence on the following items is a good starting point to reaching this goal. Following these criteria in your selection will help you have peace of mind that the business you buy is the right one for you.
Your Ideal Guest
Is there an area of outdoor tourism that you are particularly knowledgeable about? Or even just particularly fond of and would like to be involved in for what will hopefully be a long-term business?
You’re going to be consumed by this business, forget about the dream that you’re going to wake up every day surrounded by beautiful wilderness with birds chirping outside your window. You’re going to be entering the hospitality industry, whether that’s operating a fishing & hunting lodge or a kids outdoor camp, your guests are going to be your well being. You’re going to be reliant on them to help put your kids through college. You need to be clear on the type of people you want to serve because you’re going to be spending a whole lot of time around them and whole lot more time on your own thinking about how to better serve them.
I feel this is the next most important place to start the segmentation of which of the for sale listings are right for you. Fishing & Hunting Lodges, Camps & Resorts have 3 types of access: road (drive-in), boat access or fly-in or a mixture of these three.
There are positives and negatives to each of these types of access but you always have to think about your ideal guest first, what would they prefer? Ideally there is a specific type of guest you are targeting and you could probably guess what this ideal guest would most look forward to when visiting your new business.
Fly-in lodges, camps & resorts are most easily operated by an owner with a plane and pilots license. This would give the owner some semblance of control over this expense. Fly-in operations can provide an exceptional experience and feeling of adventure as they take off into the frontier, the downside is the flights create a very costly fixed expense because that plane costs the same whether its full or has one person on it. Road access could mean not as remote of an experience. Consider what your ideal guests prefer.
I hear a few regular complaints from fishing & hunting lodge, camp and resort owners, one of which is that a main pain of theirs is finding quality employees each season. You need to be clear on how big of an outdoor tourism operation you want to run. This begins with looking at yourself, are you or one of your partners the management type? It’s a learnable skill if you’re willing to give it the effort, but perhaps a small enough operation that can be run by you and few helpers is a better option.
Area will make or break an outdoor tourism business. If the lodge isn’t doing well financially it could be mismanagement, it could be poor promotion, but it could just be in an area that that type of lodge, camp or resort just can’t thrive. Perhaps at some point it worked, but industries and economies change so you need to be positive that the operation you are considering buying has the potential to adequately serve your ideal guest. For fishing & hunting lodges this mean a quality fishery and hunting territory with the type of remote experience guests are after. For family getaway resorts this mean an outdoors experience but a tolerable drive from a major city centre for a young child.
What’s the Potential
This goes with the area explanation above, but you need to consider where you could perhaps add more value to one of the Fishing & Hunting Lodges, Cam or Resort For Sale listings above. Is there a service line or extra amenity that could be added to one of the above businesses and really differentiate it, add more value to its guests, or expand its market? How much more could you potentially grow the existing business?
Getting in at the right price is another major contributor to success or failure when it comes to lodging business. Fishing & Hunting Lodges, Camps & Resorts are major assets to purchase with a whole lot of equipment necessary to run one that adds to the expense. Many owners will consider a vendor take back option but if you’ll be needing a mortgage you should plan for a downpayment of at least 30% because most mortgage lenders will require this for approval.
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