Based on customer satisfaction surveys, KOA Kampgrounds annually awards the top performing sites with the President's Award -- an honor regularly bestowed upon the Bartow County facility located on Cassville-White Road just west of exit 296 on Interstate 75.
"We send out surveys to all our campers when they checkout. So, it pretty much comes off our surveys from our customers -- if they liked our campground and if they would recommend it to someone else," Tammy Miller said. "Our [site's] biggest compliment is that we're clean."
Most of the campground's more than 10,000 annual visitors are overnight guests pulling off of I-75 on their way to or from another destination. Convenience, quality and customer service have continued to impress campers enough to win the campground a President's Award in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
"We're mostly an overnight, transient park. A lot of KOAs are destination where there are more amenities ... but we're mostly overnight because we are located between Chattanooga and Atlanta. So, we get a lot of people heading south for the winter and then going back home," Tammy Miller said.
Until this year, the Millers have seen little effect from a down economy but since January, the evidence has been clear. With budget cutbacks, the change can also be seen throughout state and national parks as well. Tourism has taken a hit from Americans spending less and consistently high unemployment.
"The economy has really hurt us," Shawn Miller said. "Whatever we bring in, other than maintaining the park, above that we try to put back into the park. The past three years, we've been able to put anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 worth of improvements back into the park. This year, it's been real tight so we've had to pull back on some of the projects we wanted to do.
"Because of us not doing improvements, that helps us keep our costs down where we don't have to raise our prices, which a lot of people have done."
The Cassville-White Road campground has been affiliated with KOA for 23 years and managed by the Millers since 2008. The couple met while working in manufacturing in Kentucky. When their positions were moved overseas, Shawn and Tammy took some advice from parents who, retired, were working part-time with KOA.
Headquartered in Billings, Mont., KOA is a network of 475 campgrounds in America and Canada. Each campground is locally owned and abides by corporate standards.
"In order to carry the franchise name, we have to maintain certain KOA standards," Shawn Miller said. "All the KOAs are required to go by those standards, you can lose your franchise if you don't stay by those standards."
At 800 Cassville-White Road, the Cartersville/Cassville-White KOA boasts nearly 90 RV sites, about 15 tent sites and one cabin plus various amenities. For more information, call 770-382-7330.