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A scooter rental business offers customers a fun and affordable option for short-term transportation. For most, scooters can be rented by hourly, half day, and whole day rates.
Who is this business right for?
If you have experience in retail sales or product rentals, knowledge of small engines, a strong work ethic, and a business mind, a scooter rental business could be your ticket to financial independence. Especially if you have a background in scooters and motorcycles, either as a rider or enthusiast, or from working in a motorbike retail business, your expertise could set you apart from the competition.
What happens during a typical day at a scooter rental business?
A typical day in a scooter rental business focuses on customer rentals and maintaining your fleet of scooters and motorbikes. Greeting potential customers and conveying safety information and insurance practices has to be a regular aspect of your business in order to build a good public reputation. Ensuring your bikes and scooters are in good running order and are properly equipped for safety is also critical for success and goes hand in hand with your customer rentals. You will also find yourself working on:
- Advertising and marketing for the rental company.
- Re-stocking your retail items, such as company logo t-shirts, hats, and other pieces of apparel, and tourist-based supplies.
- Creating service tickets for all repairs not handled in-house.
- Buying or updating safety equipment, such as helmets and gloves and purchasing more scooters and motorbikes.
- Researching industry trends and new products.
What is the target market?
The target market is tourists and those on vacation, even if they live in the town they’re “vacationing” to. Specifically, younger riders, who want to explore your area or experienced riders who are away on vacation, yet still want to feel the wind in their hair, will be your demographic.
How does a scooter rental business make money?
The majority of the revenue will be generated from the customer rentals of the scooters. Some additional sales may be generated from impulse or customer loyalty buys. It is always advisable to have impulse items or novelty buys near your counter, as you will most likely encounter a tourist-oriented customer base for your rental company.
What is the growth potential for a scooter rental business?
Rental companies, especially ones located in tourist-based economies, have seen an increase in their business more recently. If you find yourself in a tourist destination that is growing in popularity, there’s a good possibility you will see your business grow, as well. Historically, tourist rentals do well, as the customers have budgeted for entertainment before going on vacation or for having some fun during time off.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful scooter rental business?
Being able to talk to customers is one of the greatest assets for this type of business. For the most part, customers are picking the company which seems professional, safe, and clean. You have to reassure them that their decision to employ your business was the correct one, and that you will provide safe, affordable fun.
You should also be able to:
- Have some knowledge of small-engine repair and minor maintenance practices.
- Understand how to create business model and the day to day operations of a rental and/or retail business.
- Portray enthusiasm and an upbeat personality.
- See and understand consumer trends and how to incorporate these factors into your flexible business model.
What are the costs involved in opening a scooter rental business?
Since there is a necessity for scooters and a brick and mortar location, preferably within a tourist hub, there can be a substantial amount of investment capital needed. A typical used scooter, in good running condition, can cost between $300 and $800. If you average $500 each, a starter fleet of ten becomes a $5000 investment. Include store rental and insurance for the business and customer rentals and you could be looking at an initial investment upwards of $10,000-$12,000. Of course, this is dependent on your location and which insurance companies will supply you coverage. Tourist-heavy real estate and insurance for numerous low experience riders are both going to require a substantial fee. You will also need to factor in regular maintenance and repair costs as well as marketing and advertising costs, although the latter can be mitigated through usage of social media and store location.
What are the steps to start a scooter rental business?
Once you're ready to start your scooter rental business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your scooter rental business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your scooter rental business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- 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.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I 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.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a scooter rental business?
Make sure you research the success of competitors and similar businesses in the area. Is there room and customer demand for more business? Is your area growing in population for tourism and are scooters a safe and viable method of transportation in your area? You would be wise to understand which way public and political opinion sways for tourism and added vehicles on the streets. Additionally, make sure you have scooters which will be reliable and safe and aren’t too outdated. Customers will be insured for each rental, but accidents happen, so make sure you keep enough revenue put aside to cover surprise costs. Remember, if you don’t have a fleet of bikes to offer, your business will suffer and may never reach its potential.
Although starting your own independent business gives you all of the freedom and control, there is also an amount of risk involved. Therefore, it may be advisable to start out as a franchised rental business. This gives you the financial backing to get your feet wet and really find out the climate for such a business.
How to promote & market a scooter rental business
Since much of your business will revolve around impulse or spur of the moment decisions, much of your advertising will need to occur in and around your business. Bright, eye-catching signage and flyers or stickers can be great for directing out of town customers your way. Social media advertising can also prove beneficial, especially if you are able to link with other businesses in your area, as you will all work as a financial ecosystem for the tourist dollars.
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How to keep customers coming back
Safe, reliable, courteous, and personable are all important hallmarks for a successful scooter rental business. You may not see as many return customers if you are operating in a tourist-heavy location, so your connection with customers is vital. Word of mouth becomes your greatest customer asset. And, as mentioned above, being able to co-op your business with other retailers and rental companies in the area will be critical for directing customers to your front door.
How and when to build a team
Starting out, much of the business can be run with a few individuals. Handling rentals, customer service issues, and maintaining the business aspects of the company are the main jobs to cover. As the business grows, a business manager can help to alleviate additional pressure in bookkeeping, allowing you to be the face of the company and grow your word of mouth reputation. As the business really takes off, you will want additional employees handling the rentals and customer service more and more. Developing a trusted staff is quite important for keeping the business on track, so choose wisely.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a scooter 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.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
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.
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.
Certificate of Occupancy
A scooter rental business is generally run out of a storefront. 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 a scooter 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 scooter rental business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, scooter rental businesses should have their clients sign waivers.
How much can you charge customers?
Scooter rentals are usually priced by the hour, a half or whole day, and weekly rates. Hourly rentals start around $25, with whole days closer to $65-$75 and weekly rates around the $200 range. These prices may fluctuate, depending on the location and clientele.
What are the ongoing expenses for a scooter rental business?
Maintenance and service of the scooter and motorbike fleet will probably be your biggest ongoing expense. Insurance for the shop and coverage for riders will also be a regularly expected expense. Finally, rental of your brick and mortar location should be factored into regular cost analysis.
How much profit can a scooter rental business make?
Scooter rentals can be profitable, although often seasonal, depending on your location. Therefore it’s critical to save for the off season and invest when possible for the upcoming seasons. On average, a scooter rental business can see annual revenue in the $50,000-120,000 range.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Offer customers additional impulse buys and merchandise, related to your business and the tourist destination in which you operate. Most vacationers have budgeted for the trip and want to have a tangible item or two to take home for the memories. You can also offer rider extras, such as gloves, jackets, and even helmets and helmet add-ons. Some renters ride in their normal lives and will see your offers as an extension of their normal buying habits.