Start an rv rental business by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your rv rental business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an rv rental business?
If you are opening a new start-up, your costs may be substantially higher, as you’ll need to purchase one or more RVs. If you take over an existing business, though, the costs may be lessened or worked into the overall pricing of purchasing the business. Either way, you will need to invest in at least a few RVs to get started. Additionally, you will need business and personal liability insurance, a webpage for the business, and an investment in marketing and advertising options, in order to spread the name of your business. Since many entrepreneurs don’t have the capital on hand to initially invest, you may want to research financing and investment options, either independently or through a lawyer or accountant. If you already own an RV, most of your start-up costs are nullified, and you can focus on advertising your services.
What are the ongoing expenses for an rv rental business?
Since the RVs are the cornerstone of your business, the maintenance and upkeep costs will be your biggest concerns. Other costs will include:
- Regular tune ups, oil changes, and replacement parts
- New tires, balanced, and alignment
- Cleaning and interior maintenance, including bathrooms, bedding, and upholstery
- Insurance for the RV and renters
- Partnership and advertising through an RV rental platform, if you choose to use such a service
Who is the target market?
Individuals, couples, and families, who enjoy camping and outdoors activities, but want more of a home away from home than a tent, will be your primary target market.
How does an rv rental business make money?
A RV rental business makes its money from the rental fees collected from customers. The fees will fluctuate, depending on the type of RV and the length of time the RV will be rented.
How much can you charge customers?
Rental pricing will varies, depending on the type and age of RV. $100-200 per day is average pricing for Class A-C motor homes which are 10 years or older, with an additional $100-200 per day for newer RVs. You will need to do some independent research to determine the pricing in your region of the country and price your own rental(s), accordingly.
How much profit can an rv rental business make?
Depending on the number of RVs you have available for rental, you could see profits anywhere between $5,000-30,000 annually.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Consider renting your RV for in town events, such as sporting events, community gatherings, and concerts. Many people will forego hotel rental for an option to have greater freedom to come and go and move locations, as needed. The shorter trade distance will also save mileage on your RV and you can charge the same price per day.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our RV Rental Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your rv rental business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an RV rental business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
An RV rental business is generally run out of a sale lot. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to an RV rental business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your RV rental business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market an rv rental business
As mentioned previously, linking with a RV rental or share platform will give you access to a greater number of potential customers. There will be a fee involved with such a platform, but this is an excellent method for casting a larger customer net. additionally, create your own Facebook page, Instagram account, and even a personal business website. You may also want to create flyers and pamphlets to distribute at regional RV parks and campgrounds. Getting the word out of what RVs you have and where you’re located is critical for jump starting your Rv rental business.
How to keep customers coming back
As is the case with most independent small businesses, your reputation precedes you. Make sure you’re always offering a clean, well-maintained RV to each renter.
- Offer incentives, such as reduced pricing, for return customers.
- Create travel packages and park guides for RV renters.
- Give discounts for customers writing reviews or adding photos to your rental website. Customer testimonials can be very powerful in capturing and keeping customers.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start An RV Rental Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Those individuals with experience in retail sales, have customer service experience, and/or sufficient mechanical knowledge will gravitate to a business opportunity, such as this. You must also be comfortable talking to potential customers and should have some knowledge of of the state and national park rules and regulations for RV camping.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an rv rental business?
A RV rental business thrives on customer interest and a quality RV product, ready to be rented and sent out on the open road. Therefore, day to day activities will focus on the acquisition of new customers as well as the retention of past customers, balanced with the care and maintenance of your RV fleet.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful rv rental business?
Customer service and positive communication skills are necessary traits for matching your renters with rentals. Talk to your customers to understand what they want and what will be the best fit for their needs. You should also have a fairly extensive knowledge of the different types of RVs available, how they drive, and which units will fit your customers’ needs. Ideally, you should be somewhat of a RV enthusiast, as well, able to convey your own experiences on the road and camping in RVs. Plus, you will need to express some knowledge of the mechanical aspects of each RV and be able to give advice to your clients, both before they have left and once on the road, so they can properly plan for the trip ahead of them.
What is the growth potential for an rv rental business?
More and more individuals, couples, and families are choosing RV rentals as an exciting method for exploring the country. Customers can maintain a temporary home and level of comfort, similarly offered for extended stay hotel suites. The difference being, a RV gives the customers the freedom to visit multiple locations, without having to re-pack a suitcase before each departure. This flexibility gives RV rentals a decided advantage for customers looking to visit more than one destination. Consequently, the RV rental business is becoming more and more popular, with new and return customers looking for exciting adventures on the open road.
TRUiC's YouTube Channel
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an rv rental business?
Since the RV will more or less rent itself, you just have to make sure people are aware of your rental business. This means you will need some sort of marketing blast to spread your company’s name. Employ social media and any free or low cost options through the internet to broadcast your options and contact information. Some independent RV renters will use RV share options, such as RVShare or Outdoorsy as platforms to direct more customers to their RV options. You will pay a fee to the site, but you should also see increased customer traffic and responses to your rental(s).
How and when to build a team
Much of this business will only require one or two people to successfully run it. You will need to be able to answer customer calls and internet inquiries, clean and maintain the RVs, and interact with customers, face to face, when they pick up and return the RVs. But, as your business grows, and the number of RVs you offer expands, you may want to consider taking on a couple more employees, especially if the are capable of assisting in all aspects of the business.