Bob & Fern Turn RVshare into Successful Retirement Business

RV Owners

Bob and Fern Weisberg are true RV and RVshare veterans. They’ve owned motorhomes since the ‘70s, when Bob used them as a way to showcase and sell copy machines; traveled regularly by way of them throughout their son’s and daughter’s childhood; and have been renting them out since RVshare’s inception in 2013.

Their rental business developed, essentially, out of Fern’s ultimatum for Bob [as many married couples have or will experience]. Bob says, “My better half wanted me to sell our motorhome and rent one, because [ours] was just an expense at that point. But, it was my baby, so I didn’t want to sell it.”

Well, good thinking on both Fern’s and Bob’s account. Renting their RV led to the purchase of a second, has covered RV expenses, and has allowed for home improvements. Here, these straightshooters open up about their RV lifestyle and RVshare experiences and offer tips anyone in the RV world can use.

Tell us about your history as an RV owner.

Bob: We’ve always had motorhomes of some sort, but we got into RVing, originally, because I used a motorhome to display our products; we sold copy machines. Then we wanted to go someplace, so we took the copy machines out and put the furniture back in it. Then it just sat.

Fern: We had RVs for years, and I really like traveling in an RV because it’s so much more relaxing and convenient. If you’re driving in a car, you have to find a hotel to stay in. In an RV you have everything you possibly need – your clothing, things, bed. It’s just a nicer way to travel.

Also, family bonding results from traveling in an RV. You’re closer together, so your kids are right there with you whether they want to be or not. You get to talk to them more. There’s more bonding. All of your experiences are together. One’s not running off this way or that way.

Where have you traveled with your family?

Bob: We went all over with it. We went down to Florida; we’d go up to Mackinac [Island] and up to Thousand Islands – wherever you go on vacations. And we liked it.

What’s your favorite reason to travel via RV?

Fern: I like to travel via RV, because if you’re traveling for any length of time, you don’t have to worry about your clothing and stuff. You can take whatever you want with you. If you’re flying somewhere, you can’t. Also, when we’re out and about in the RV, we always have breakfast and usually lunch [on the RV], and we have dinner out. It’s still a vacation, so you don’t want to be cooking, but you can. You have your microwave and your refrigerator. When you’re thirsty, you can just get up and get a drink. It’s very convenient.

Bob: Another reason we [travel via] motorhome is so that my little buddy Maxi can come with me without any problem. Several times, we’ve stayed in motels where he wasn’t so welcome.

Fern: A lot of times you can’t stay in hotels if you have dogs. That was one of the reasons we bought a motorhome, for our dog. We stayed in a hotel one time, and it got sick from the carpeting or something. But [Max] loves to travel, a lot of dogs really like cars. It’s just more convenient.

When and why did you begin listing on RVshare?

Bob: I believe we were probably very early on at the start of RVshare, and currently, we have two RV motorhomes that we are renting through RVshare. My better half wanted me either to sell our motorhome or rent [it out]. I didn’t really want to [sell], so I put ours up for rent, and that has worked out.

Did your previous RVshare experiences guide your second RV purchase in any way?

Fern: We’ve [rented ours] enough that we know what [features] people like – and what we like. The first RV we had didn’t have a dinette. It had a pole you put in front of the couch and then you set a table on top, and that’s what people used. That was okay, but it was inconvenient. So I decided the next RV we got would definitely have a dinette, because that is so much nicer when you’re traveling. And we wanted something that had a sofa that opened up into a bed for people to sleep; the more sleeping area you have, the better. If you want to use it, it’s there.

I also wanted something that had the bunk above the driver. When we use the RV, we sometimes use the bunks for overhead storage, and renters will usually use it to sleep.

Renters like the dinette. And you want to have a full size fridge and a nice bathroom and shower. The RV is your home when you’re away, and those are things that make it. It’s why you’d rather go in a motorhome than stay somewhere else.

Were you apprehensive about letting strangers use your motorhome?

I had no reservations about listing the RV on RVshare. As everyone knows, when your vehicle sits in a backyard, it’s aging. Things dry out, like the tires and caulking in the seams. [Not being used] is just no good for it, and it has to be insured. So whether or not you’re making payments, it’s an expense. And if you’re not using it for at least three months a year, it really is hard to pay for itself or justify owning. So I decided to rent it.

Talk to us about the process of using RVshare.

Bob: You get lots of emails. Basically, we check every morning with the people who email in that they have interest. You respond to them that you’d like them to please give you a phone call so they can come look at the motorhome and see what they’re getting into and if it’s for them.

Then they book it through RVshare, which is a very thorough platform. RVshare has covered it very well.

Fern: We always always meet them first, because if they’re interested in renting it, we like them to see it first to make sure that this is okay for them.

What are your favorite reasons to use RVshare?

Fern: We’ve gotten a lot of renters from RVshare, which is nice. It’s easy to use; it’s all online. [Renters] can look [at our RV] online at RVshare and see the dates if they’re booked, not booked. That’s very convenient, because they know right away if the RV is open.

Another perk of using RVshare is [the price] is listed online, so you know right away exactly how much it is, which removes the awkward conversation about money, and what you’re paying for, your generator use, if pets are allowed and how many people it sleeps. And, RVshare also takes care of a lot of things that you don’t have to do yourself – the booking, security deposit; so that makes it easier.

Bob: The best part is that RVshare seems to be a very well known national platform for advertising rental motorhomes.

Fern: We’re really happy with RVshare, because it just makes [renting and making money] so much easier. Sometimes we had put our RV up for rent on Craigslist, and I just feel way more secure with RVshare. It’s been really good and easy to use.

Can you talk about your walkthrough process for renters?

Bob: Whenever somebody comes to rent a motorhome, we want nothing but happy campers.
But, if they’ve been campers before, they basically need about an hour walkthrough with how this particular motorhome operates. If they’ve never been in a motorhome before, it obviously takes a little longer – probably a couple of hours.

For a good walkthrough, [the renter] has to understand my nature. [I consider the RV as] a motor vehicle and a house – with all the mechanisms of each. On top of that, we’re doubling up on the house part because [appliances and features] can either be mobile or be plugged in at a campground, so they have to get a pretty good understanding of how [each item] operates.

And everybody has their own competencies. Some people think mechanically and understand mechanically; others don’t, and for those it takes a little longer to understand that you have to turn the pump on to get water if you’re not connected to city water. You have to make sure the refrigerator is turned on “automatic” – not on propane or electric, unless it’s plugged in. They have to understand things like that.

How do you structure your rentals and pricing?

Bob: We’ve had people rent the motorhomes – the longest I recall – is probably about a month. For this motorhome, it’s $225 per day. Six days of rent equals a week, so then it’s $1,350 for the week. Four weeks of rent equals a month; $1350 multiplied by four would give them a month.

Are your RVs consistently booked?

Bob: They are booked pretty solid all of June, July and August. We’ve had many people want to rent going into the winter. And if they’re going to take it for a month or so, fine. But not a few days, because I have to have it winterized. We use our motorhome personally during January and February and maybe a little bit in September when it’s calmed down a little bit.

How has RVshare helped you financially?

Bob: It brings in good money. Obviously, the more you use something, the more maintenance it requires. For an RV, though, it’s better to wear your tires out by running them down the road than to let them dry up and rot away sitting in your driveway, because either way, you still need a new set of tires. Using RVshare has definitely covered the cost of buying tires and transmissions and other RV costs.

Fern: You always have something you need. In our home, something breaks, and we can use the money from our RV. You know it’s always nice, always a perk.

Any advice for RV owners considering listing?

Bob: If someone is thinking about renting a motorhome, the only way they’re going to know if they like to do it or not is to try it. However, know that anything you do as a business is going to be work; anything you do for money is work. When the RV comes back, you have to fill it up with gas, fill it up with propane, clean it out and get it ready for the next person. But to me, that’s a whole lot better than it sitting in your backyard paying insurance on it.

For me, it has turned out to be a decent little retirement business. But it’s a business, not a hobby.

Any advice for those considering renting an RV?

Bob: The best thing you can tell someone who’s going to be renting an RV is that it’s an experience. The only way to be comfortable is to experience the experience.

Fern: We’ve had such nice, nice people rent our RV. The last people who rented it were lovely, lovely people. They had three little children and two dogs, and they took the RV for 10 days. They said it was the best experience they ever had. It was their first time renting, and they just had a wonderful time. They went to the caves down south in Kentucky and went white water rafting.

They’d never rented an RV before, and it was all new to them. And the gentleman did have a problem with the RV at one of the campsites, and somebody helped him out and he said the people there were just the nicest people, and we’ve found that, too. Everybody is friendly and willing to lend a hand.