Magazine article Black Enterprise

Happy Trails: RV Franchisor Gives Road Traveling Enthusiasts a Lift

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Happy Trails: RV Franchisor Gives Road Traveling Enthusiasts a Lift

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

SANDRA WILLIAMS BATE MAKES MONEY WHILE SHE sleeps and helps others do the same.

As co-founder, CEO, and president of Bates International Motor Home Rental Systems Inc., a Las Vegas-based recreational vehicle rental company; Bate uses a business model that gives RV owners the chance to rent out their big-ticket purchases to others when they're not hitting the highway themselves.

Launched as a franchise in July 1997, Bates (the "s" was added because the founders thought it sounded better) International now has a fleet of 30 franchises across the country and eight employees at company headquarters. Revenues stood at a solid $1.2 million in 2007, and Bate expects to reach $2.2 million for 2008 because of a marketing initiative that will expand the company's presence in North America and other parts of the world. Much of the business currently comes from international travelers vacationing in the U.S. And it all started with the co-founders' own desire to travel the open road.

After financing a $23,000 recreational vehicle with her then husband, John, 35 years ago, Bate was frustrated by the RV's drain on the couple's finances, particularly since it stayed parked in the yard most of the time. So she put an ad in the newspaper offering to rent out the luxury RV when the couple was not using it. Her idea was an unexpected hit. "At that point, we realized this could be a business," she says.

With about $15,000 in savings, Bate launched a marketing blitz to reach potential customers and to entice other RV owners with the novel idea. …

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