“I tend to camp as much as possible,” owner Michael Katz tells us. “Every year for the past 22 years, I’ve gone on an annual week-long campout to upstate New York with a few hundred friends. It’s been going on for multiple generations and is my favorite time of the year. (It also happens to fall on my birthday.) Outside of that, I’ve hosted Stress Free Weekend, which is now entering its 10th year as an annual campout dedicated to music, arts, and entertainment.”
Odd as it may sound, it took until August 2020 for Michael to finally buy an RV. “We had wanted a small travel trailer for a long time,” he recalls. “Once COVID-19 hit and shut down work for many people, it seemed like the right time to take advantage of the downtime and travel around.”
Katz didn’t jump into the purchase of his RV without some thought, however. “In entering the RV rental industry, I spent a lot of time researching, asking questions, and preparing for a long-term plan,” he shares. “After a deep dive [into] researching RV types, I decided on ‘The Perfect Couples Trailer’ and then grew from there.”
Michael isn’t kidding when he says he grew. He started getting bookings immediately after listing on Outdoorsy, and his business, Stress-Free RVs, has earned over $1 million just this year and now has a fleet of 68 units!
“The plan I mentioned earlier has come to fruition and the roadmap continues onwards,” Michael says.” I have not taken in any money from outsiders. Instead, I used the first unit’s profit to pay for a second unit, sold the second one after a short season with it and bought a third unit, continuing the trend with accelerated support from the original Outdoorsy consignment program to take in additional units.
“Eventually, I grew to where I leased commercial property and set up an HQ with an office and signage. The company then brought on multiple mobile repair technicians to keep units active and in service, hired drivers, cleaners, and office support, added more units and tow vehicle trucks, and even signed an exclusivity agreement to order brand new wholesale units and got licensed as a dealership in order to sell off inventory (try-this-now-buy-this).”
The key to Michael’s success? We imagine that his well-thought-out plan, amazingly streamlined rental process, and background in marketing have something to do with it. That said, his willingness to listen to and learn from customers definitely plays a part as well. “My very first renter when I started out was named Dan,” Katz recalls. “Thankfully he was an experienced RVer and took a long trip with his wife using our ‘Perfect Couple’s Trailer’. He had just bought an F150 and helped educate me at the time on trucks, towing, and supplies.”
Whether you’re looking to grow an enormous business like Stress-Free RVs or stick to renting a single trailer or motorhome, Michael did offer some advice to owners just starting out. “Talk to other owners first, do your own research, and know your market,” he says. He also recommends listing on Outdoorsy, stating, “The platform has fantastic support, a great community, and a terrific structure for success in place.”
All of his growth is great, of course, but Michael hasn’t lost sight of his original intentions for the business. “I hope our RVs bring renters happiness,” he tells us. “We are in the hospitality industry, helping people enjoy their vacations, and we want them to have a great experience when booking and using Stress-Free RVs.”
All About Michael
Favorite morning beverage: “Espresso.”
Favorite campsite meal: “Steak.”
Music you like to play on the radio: “Drum and Bass/Jungle.”
Best game to play on the road or at your campsite: “Chess.”
What’s your Outdoorsy spirit animal? “White Fox.”
If you could travel anywhere in an RV, where would you go? “I’m here! Sunny San Diego!”