How to Track Your Revenue

As a bookkeeper and financial advisor that caters excessively to campground owners, I get to see how different campground owners track their revenue and expenses. When new clients give me access to their books for the first time, often times they are set up in a way that is easy for the campground owner to manage. Most often they have between two and four categories for revenue.

The most common categories are:

  1. Lodging Revenue
  2. Store Sales
  3. Storage Revenue
  4. Other Revenue

The same is usually true for Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) if that account exists on their books. COGS is the account used to track anything you buy for resale. Usually that just applies to the camp store, and often times people have it set up as just one account that encompasses everything that they purchase for resale. There is no breakdown of categories.

Of course, this does the trick as far as the IRS is concerned, but what about as far as knowing your business is concerned? Are you really getting a complete picture of what your income is? I would argue that the answer is no. Most often people enjoy seeing where their revenue comes from. It takes a good deal of time and effort to categorize them properly, but it's always worth it! 

Here is the breakdown of categories I usually add for my clients:

  1. Loding Sales
    1. RV Sites Nightly
    2. RV Sites Weekly
    3. RV Sites Monthly
    4. Extra Person Fee
    5. 50 Amp Fee
    6. Storage
    7. Tent Sites (With Hook Ups)
    8. Tent Sites (Without Hook Ups)
    9. Camping Cabins
    10. Full Service Cabins
  2. Store Sales
    1. Grocery
    2. Soda & Candy
    3. Camping Supplies
    4. RV Supplies
    5. Pet Supplies
    6. Apparel
    7. Souvenirs
    8. Cigarettes
    9. Propane
  3. Cost of Goods Sold 
    1. COGS - Grocery
    2. COGS - Soda & Candy
    3. COGS - Camping Supplies
    4. COGS - RV Supplies
    5. COGS - Pet Supplies
    6. COGS - Apparel
    7. COGS - Souvenirs
    8. COGS - Cigarettes
    9. COGS - Propane
  4. Other Revenue
    1. Dump Income
    2. Wash Income
    3. Showers
    4. Bike/Golf Cart Rentals
    5. Mini-Golf Fees
    6. Laundry

Getting all of that set up and going through receipts and income statements is a chore for sure, but it gives you so much more information about your business. When you can see exactly how much you made on Soda & Candy (Soda & Candy Revenue minus COGS - Soda & Candy), you can evaluate several things. Is it worth it to sell these items? Am I actually making a descent profit on each item? Should I raise the price of each item? All of these questions can be answered by keeping great books and using more specific categories. 

Expenses are similar. Have you ever thought of breaking down your utilities into sub categories? Would it be helpful to know exactly how much you spent on electricity? I would argue the answer is yes. That way, you can really know if you're charging enough for that 50 Amp fee, and you can assess whether or not your monthlies are paying enough in utilities.

Let's take this example:

Larry's Campground made $32,000 in lodging revenue, $8,000 in store sales, and $4,000 in other revenue in the month of August. Good for Larry! Unfortunately, he doesn't really know where all of that money came from. He also knows that he had around $28,000 in expenses in that month. He knows where some of that is coming from, but doesn't have it all broken down. A chart of all of that would look like this:

Revenue & Expenses Collective Categories

Net Income: $16,000

While that information is good to know, it's not really helpful. We know that we had $44,000 in total income and $28,000 in total expenses, but we really don't know much else. Now, let's take a look at that same information broken down:

August Sales

  1. Lodging Sales + $32,000
    1. RV Sites Nightly - $8000
    2. RV Sites Weekly - $2600
    3. RV Sites Monthly - $5000
    4. Extra Person Fee - $200
    5. 50 Amp Fee - $200
    6. Storage - $3000
    7. Tent Sites (With Hook Ups) - $800
    8. Tent Sites (Without Hook Ups) - $200
    9. Camping Cabins - $4000
    10. Full Service Cabins - $6,000
  2. Store Sales + $8,000
    1. Grocery - $2000
    2. Soda & Candy - $1000
    3. Camping Supplies - $1000
    4. RV Supplies - $1000
    5. Pet Supplies - $500
    6. Apparel - $500
    7. Souvenirs - $200
    8. Cigarettes - $800
    9. Propane - $1000
  3. Cost of Goods Sold (Direct Costs included in expenses) -$5600
    1. COGS - Grocery - $1700
    2. COGS - Soda & Candy - $900
    3. COGS - Camping Supplies - $600
    4. COGS - RV Supplies - $600
    5. COGS - Pet Supplies - $400
    6. COGS - Apparel - $250
    7. COGS - Souvenirs - $50
    8. COGS - Cigarettes - $600
    9. COGS - Propane - $500
  4. Expenses -$22,400
    1. Utilities - $9000
      1. Electric - $4000
      2. Water - $2000
      3. Sewer - $1000
      4. Trash Removal - $1000
      5. Internet - $500
      6. Phone - $500
    2. Repairs and Maintenance - $5000
    3. Credit Card Fees - $900
    4. Payroll - $6000
    5. Advertising - $1100
    6. Insurance - $400 
  5. Other Revenue +$4000
    1. Dump Income - $700
    2. Wash Income - $300
    3. Showers - $400
    4. Bike/Golf Cart Rentals - $1600
    5. Mini-Golf Fees - $300
    6. Laundry - $700

Seeing those numbers really gives us a better sense of what is going on in Larry's business. Let's dig in! There are two things that jump out right away. First, Larry made $200 in electricity fees in August, but his electricity bill was $4000. Of course, some of that is included in the nightly camping fee, but he really could do better. I would recommend that Larry either start charging his monthly renters a utility fee, and I would recommend that he raise his 50 Amp prices. If he can get to at least half of the electric bill being covered by fees, then his net income is going to look a lot better! Successfully implementing those suggestions would increase his net income by $1800. The second thing that sticks out to me is that his primitive tent sites did not do very well. I would recommend redirecting some advertising dollars into filling up those tent sites. Even if he doubles the number of primitive tent campers, his net goes up by $200. So far, we've helped Larry increase his revenue by $2000 for August.

As far as the store is concerned, there are a few things that stick out there too. First, Larry's mark up on his grocery items is not enough. He only netted $300 in August. He should investigate his margins and adjust his prices or change suppliers. Same for Soda & Candy and Pet Supplies. His margin isn't big enough on those items. In terms of percentages, his souvenir sales are outstanding! He has the best margin on those, so I might suggest pushing those items with customers and/or putting them near the register so that kids pick them up and ask their parents to buy them. The more of those he can sell, the better! If Larry bought grocery items from Costo or Wal-Mart, and raised his prices by 10%, he could potentially increase his profit margin on those items by $400. Same thing for Soda, Candy, and Pet Supplies. He could increase his profit margin on those items by about $200. And, if Larry doubled his souvenir sales, he's looking at another $200 in profit. That's $800 in total for August by taking the time to change suppliers or make adjustments on pricing. I understand that you are not necessarily out to make a profit on every item you sell. Sometimes you want to engage your customers, and that has value in and of itself. But, the books don't lie. If you're losing money, you'll want to know!

In the end, we've helped Larry's increase his net income by $2800 for the month of August because he knows exactly where every dollar is coming from and where every dollar is going. That's the key to every business. When you're in control of your books, you can manage them so much better!

As I say in every article, when you know your books, you know your business! This is just an example of how knowing the break down will help you know what your business is capable of. Each campground is unique, so your breakdown will look totally different. It is worth the time and effort to break down your books and categorize everything properly. Of course, if you don't have the time (and honestly, who has the time?!?!), or keeping books isn't really your thing, you can call on Happy Camper Bookkeeping to help you! We would be happy to assist you. Give us a call or schedule a free consultation today. There is no cost to find out what we can do for you.