America Outdoors Association
America Outdoors Association

May 9, 2012


Daytona Beach Hilton


Confluence 2012
December 4-6

Daytona Beach, FL

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America Outdoors Association Bulletin

AOA Announces the Revenue and Expense Ratio Study in Partnership with CPA’s at Industry Insights

NPS Buffalo River Contract Includes Unreasonable Requirements for Canoe Livery Concessioners

House and Senate Start Negotiations on the Highway Bill This Week

Google Algorithms Changed in April 

AOA Announces the Revenue and Expense Ratio Study in Partnership with CPA’s at Industry Insights

The need to operate efficiently and profitably has never been greater.  To assist you in this regard America Outdoors Association (AOA) will be conducting a Financial Ratios & Operating Statistics Survey for its’ members.  In an industry where companies have access to very little data, this study will be a key source of benchmarking information that can help you analyze your own company, identify key trends in the industry and help you plan strategically for the future.  This important study will provide you with invaluable benchmarks for gauging your company’s operating strengths and weaknesses and improvement opportunities

The survey used to import the data will be customized to fit our industry to ensure that the reports have value.  One data set will include companies with owned lodging and another without owned lodging.

This information can help you:
• Monitor & manage expenses
• Measure and improve productivity
• Protect your bottom line
• Evaluate employee effectiveness
• And many other insights in running your business profitably, effectively, and efficiently

Completion of the surveys is not due until the end of September.  But you must commit before June 30th to enable development of a survey customized to the needs of participating companies.

Each participating company will receive:

  • Company Performance Report (CPR) - these are confidential, individualized reports of a participant’s own financial ratios, operating statistics, and profile characteristics shown alongside the appropriate industry comparatives (i.e., profitability, revenue size, FTEs, sales emphasis, etc.).  These reports provide respondents an easy means for interpreting their results, since their own ratios are already calculated for them in a manner that is consistent with the industry calculations (see the next page for screenshots of a CPR).
  • Industry Insights will help companies input data from their financial statements and balance sheets to ensure a smooth completion and help categorize revenues and expenses appropriately.

The cost for participating is $500 per company.  The first 20 companies to sign up with payment will receive a free 25 minute consultation with the Industry Insight CPA at the AOA Convention in Daytona Beach or over the phone.  Others may receive a similar consultation for $50 if they have questions or comments about their reports.

Mike Mills, AOA President and Greg Henington, Immediate past AOA President were involved in evaluating the project. They issued this joint statement.  “Several of us have reviewed this report product and believe its customization to our businesses will be a significant benefit to members who participate.  Industry Insights specializes in developing these reports for small businesses like ours and will help you complete the survey, if necessary, which greatly enhances the potential for its success.” 

For more information Click Here.    Click Here for a sign-up form. 

NPS Buffalo River Contract Includes Unreasonable Requirements for Canoe Livery Concessioners

Recently, the National Park Service released the prospectus for the Buffalo National River.  Three issues in the contract are of particular concern.  The draft contract wants outfitters
• To carry garage-keepers liability insurance to shuttle and park customers cars;
• To maintain $5,000 in no fault medical payments;
• and verify the paddling skills of their customers for “high” water gauge readings.

Garage-keepers liability insurance, written on a direct basis, is significantly more expensive and cannot be written on a General Liability form.  Garage-keepers liability is used for garages, car dealers and similar businesses which are primarily in the business of storing autos under their care and control.  NPS insists the policy be written on a direct basis, which means the outfitter’s policy would pay for claims and damages regardless of legal liability.  Outfitters have relied on the customers’ insurance covering claims under personal lines auto insurance policies when the concessioner is permitted by the auto’s owner to shuttle or park a customer’s vehicle. 

Exhibit B (Operating Plan) to the Draft Contract, at page B-16, would prohibit concessioner put-in activity during certain water conditions unless the concessioner can verify that the client, and all members of the client’s party, have canoeing experience on swift moving rivers; possess good river canoeing skills; and are familiar with rescue procedures.

In a letter sent to the Buffalo River’s director of concessions services, AOA member outfitters posed the following questions.  Does the NPS intend to require the concessioner to establish, implement and document a test of the paddling skills of every participant who engages its services under the specific conditions identified in this requirement of the Operating Plan?  If so, please explain how the concessioner could “verify” that participants have experience in “swift moving rivers”.  In legal terms, verify means that the concessioner must attest to the truthfulness of the visitor’s assertion of their experience, which is not possible.  Although the concessioner might ask a client to “acknowledge” the need to have experience in “swift moving rivers”, provide basic instruction, and recommend a level of experience consistent with the conditions at the time of their launch, there is no way for the concessioner to prove or verify the client’s claim of experience in “swift moving rivers” or that the client’s skills will be appropriate if conditions change while he or she is on the river for an extended period.  Furthermore, regardless of river conditions, paddlers who are informed of the risks must be prepared to assume responsibility for their safety since the concessioner will not be present during their trips. 

House and Senate Start Negotiations on the Highway Bill This Week

Conferees in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives begin negotiating the differences in their version of what is commonly known as the Highway Bill.  The Senate passed an extensive bill, S. 1813, which funds highway construction and highway safety programs.  The bill promotes a study to require a CDL for drivers of 9 to 15 passenger vans, which AOA opposes as unnecessary regulation.  The FMCSA has already stepped up enforcement of their regulations related to outfitter transportation, shutting down at least one AOA member until they obtained a valid Motor Carrier number, which normally takes 5 weeks.   Although the inspector found their operation to be safe, the FMCSA initially shutdown interstate commerce for 16 to 20 weeks until a member of Congress intervened.  Inconsistencies in the FMCSA regulations are apparent regarding MC registration numbers for 9 to 15 passenger vans, nonetheless, the FMCSA is currently enforcing that requirement for interstate commerce.  Some state  DOT’s recently told outfitters their van drivers need medical exams, but the 2010 rule requires medical exams and hours of service logs for van drivers transporting passengers for direct compensation or if they are crossing state line towing trailers. 

Where some outfitters have problems.  If you are towing a trailer with a van and crossing state lines, even if it is for indirect compensation, then you probably have to comply with the Commercial Motor Vehicle regulations that are outlined below because you are likely to be judged to be over the 10,000 pound gross vehicle weight rating.  This regulation is not new although some states may have adopted it for intrastate transportation.  DOT officials appear to be aggressively enforcing these regulations where they apply.  A CDL is not required unless your state has adopted special regulations such as those in California.  To read a more complete review of the 2010 rule for vans Click Here.

Google Algorithms Changed in April 

For a review of those changes go to  Google has elevated the value of legitimate content, links, social media, video, and downgraded spamming, key word stuffing, and out of context linking.  Prior to the launch of Penquin on April 24th, Matt Cutt said on his blog, “In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content.”  3.1% of English queries are estimated to have been impacted by the change.

You’ll get an update on all these search engine changes and hot SEO strategies at the AOA conference in Daytona Beach in December.



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Knoxville, TN 37939

Phone: 1-800-524-4814

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