How to Start a Vehicle Rental Business

An essential guide to starting a vehicle rental business.


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    Carefully consider the various options available. Vehicle rental is a highly competitive industry, but with the right planning and forward-thinking you can greatly minimise your risk. The old mantra “if you fail to prepare, then you prepare to fail” could not be more relevant. It’s incredibly important that you do your research – and so this article is a good starting point! With thorough research, it’s entirely possible to make good money providing a service that will always be in demand!
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    Consider the type of rental operation you’ll run. The two main types are contract hire (where customers - typically businesses, lease vehicles for a set time), or daily hire (where customers – typically individuals, hire vehicles for a shorter period of time).
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    Amass your fleet. The important consideration here is whether you will outright purchase your fleet (can be costly) or instead lease the vehicles. Initially your fleet doesn’t need to be large, but bear in mind that the greater your fleet the greater your earnings. As a guide, always put yourself in your customers’ shoes – your fleet must be well maintained and enjoy a high turnover. Employing your own maintenance staff can work out expensive for new start-ups, so it’s worth considering making arrangements with a local repair shop.
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    Choose the location of your operation. This is a key consideration. Do some research on the type of market in your area and find out as much as you can on your competition. For independent start-ups you will need to develop your USP. National operators like Hertz and Avis can hire vehicles out cheaply, so what can you offer to differentiate yourself and build-up a local customer following? Locations near airports, hotels and train stations are great options. Don’t forget to research your location security – it’s not a bad idea to invest in CCTV cameras and alarm systems.
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    Have Insurance. Perhaps the most important issue for vehicle rental companies. It goes without saying, but it’s illegal to trade without some form of fleet insurance. It’s worth shopping around to find adequate cover at the best price. Some companies like Tower Gate Insurance offer ‘pay as you go’ insurance solutions that offer all the benefits of an annual policy, with greater flexibility.
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    Manage your day-to-day operation. In the past it was common for an entire operation to be run from massive paper diaries and logbooks. This may work in the immediate short term, but the disadvantages of a manual system far outweigh any positives. Manual systems leave you liable for inefficiency, with lost time and often lost paperwork! It can quickly become confusing what vehicles are due out and in, and managing your invoices is often a nightmare. To boost your efficiency and steer clear from these pitfalls, it’s vital that you invest in fleet management software.
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    Have a website. This is an absolute must if you wish to receive a decent flow of business. The Internet has afforded customers with greater flexibility – and most now turn to Google when shopping around for products or services. A website will allow people to do this 24/7, effectively extending your opening hours. The simple fact of the matter, especially for new start-ups wanting to establish themselves, is this: If you don’t have a website, potential customers will go with someone who does. Try to avoid the trap of simply posting your contact details with a few prices and then hope for the best. The 21st century customer is impatient and expects to be able to book and pay online when convenient for them. It’s therefore important that you fully utilise your website (your shop window) to its maximum potential by having a proper online booking engine. It may seem tempting to opt for some bespoke web-developer work, but this can turn-out very expensive. This route allows you to have a complete web booking system on your existing website in under an hour! All you would need to do is insert a code into your website and that’s it! It’s easy to set up tariffs and groups. You can set up availability rules which ensure that you never lose control over your vehicle availability. Your customers also receive automatic booking confirmations and email reminders, saving you the hassle.

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Categories: Summarization | Renting Cars | Software