Succession planning for holiday parks

For many independent holiday park owners approaching retirement the question of ‘what next for my business’ is a difficult one.

Choosing between a handover to your children or selling up can leave you facing some awkward realities.

Bridge Leisure Management, which provides professional holiday park management and consultancy, is offering owners an alternative choice.

The challenge of “what’s next”

Giving control to family members can involve some heartbreaking decisions – the business size might make it impractical to pass on to several children where one could do the job, they may not be suited to the step up, or they may simply prefer a different career path.

On the other hand, with many parks losing value during the credit crunch, selling your business might not represent good value for the hard work you have put in.

Seeing owners face this dilemma was the spur for Andrew Howe to join forces with other industry experts and set up Bridge Leisure Management, to offer professional services for holiday parks.

Says Andrew: “Since launching in 2008 we have helped many park owners successfully step away from their business.

“As professional managers our focus is on the park, its success and development. We don’t have an emotional attachment so we can focus on what is good for the business, and that is usually best for the owner.

“All parks are different and so our role is to find a management solution that works for each individual owner. Typically, we take on every aspect of running the park while the client retains ownership and the profits as the business grows.

“Importantly, the family retains control of the direction of the business and any major decisions and so keeps the business as an asset, to benefit from as and when the market improves.”

“We are bringing a degree of flexibility and freedom to park owners who want to step away from park operations but still benefit from the true value of their business.””

“I can have my cake and eat it”

One 90-caravan park owner had the expectation that his son would take over, but after completing university his son decided on a different path.

“I supported his decision, but at the same time I had hit my mid-50s and wanted to step back.

“We thought of selling but were in for a shock. The agent’s guide price was far from what we could have achieved pre-recession and I couldn’t bring myself to sell at a level that neither reflected my hard work or the true value of the park.

“We turned to Bridge Leisure and their park management service. They took over our operations, while we take a monthly income from the park and retain ownership. In return, we pay a management fee plus a bonus on any increase in profits.

“With their incentive to grow the business it feels like we can have our cake and eat it – I have high hopes for the future.”

To find out more about Bridge Leisure Management call 0808 115 1580 or visit www.bridgeleisure.com/contact-us/.