Clint, Charlotte and Matt Howell hung with us for six hours in 109-degree Austin, Texas heat. Needless to say, this family offers all the southern hospitality you can even begin to imagine. Beyond indulging in a lot of water, watermelon and ice cream, we learned so much about this family, their love for and reliance on one another, and diligent work ethic.
Charlotte retired eight years ago. However, she’s the industrious type — doesn’t sit much and likes to find steady, interesting ways to make money. Driving for Uber is one income generator. Wanting more, she perused the local ads one afternoon to find that a major HBO production was seeking travel trailers and RVs for some big scenes. With the perfect trailer sitting in her drive — aptly named The Texan — she put in an offer to have her trailer on set, which HBO took her up on.
That was the first time she made money by loaning out her trailer. And as soon as the show’s filming was a wrap, she looked for other ways to rent out The Texan, so Charlotte searched “Rent my RV” and came up with RVshare. Quickly, Charlotte turned her rental profits into a fleet of trailers. Within a month of using RVshare, Charlotte purchased two more trailers, including a beautiful mammoth fifth wheel.
Clint, her husband, and Matt, her son, are Charlotte’s right- and left-hand men, always there to deliver, give walk-throughs, fix whatever needs to be fixed and meet with renters as necessary. Together, they are a well-oiled machine consistently renting out and delivering their trailers throughout the Greater Austin area and beyond.
Listen in as they talk about RVshare, share some bits of advice and explain how they evolved their RV rental business through RVshare from one to three trailers in less than 10 months!
History with Camping and RVs
Talk about your history as a camper and RVer.
Charlotte: We initially started as tent campers when we were a little bit younger, and then we graduated to a pop-up, which is the type that you have to twist and pull up so you can get into it. Then we went to a hybrid, which is a hard shell, but you still have to pull down the bed part, so it’s called a hybrid.
And then we got a little older, and we went to a hard shell, which is what we have now, The Texan — we liked the name of that — we liked the layout of it, so that’s the first real travel trailer we’ve had.
Once we got the Texan, we would camp probably almost every weekend, my son and I. Clint would camp with us sometimes, but we would try to go at least once every couple months if not two or three times.
How did you evolve from being an RV owner to running a business through your RV?
Charlotte: We had The Texan for I think six years before we started renting it out. I’m retired, and I’m always looking for supplemental work, so I was reading the ads one day and I found this ad for a movie that they were looking for trailers. I sent a picture of The Texan to them, and they loved it. They answered me right away and said they wanted it.
So, my family and I were extras in the movie, and the trailer was a star, practically for a trailer and made a lot of money. When the movie was over, we decided that might be something — when we’re not camping to go ahead and rent it out. So that’s what we started doing.
That was last November — almost a year.
How did you find RVshare?
Charlotte: I found RVshare just by searching on the Internet for renting trailers out. It kind of came up. I only had one camper [at that point].
Once you listed The Texan on RVshare, how quickly did you start booking it out?
Charlotte: RVshare was great. I started getting bookings right away. I didn’t even really fully put in the ad yet, because I was still not sure about what it was about and what it would entail; and, I had some questions about you know, my trailer. You know, did I want to do this? [But] I started getting bookings right away. And it was a lot of them; I started having to turn them down. So, we decided that we would get another one.
From there, how quickly did your business evolve from you renting out a single RV to multiple?
Charlotte: I mean [getting more RVs] was just a natural evolution. We didn’t even hardly think about it. The second one we got just a couple of months after we started renting them through RVshare. Actually, it was about a month. And, that one started booking up, filling up and I started turning down people. We weren’t going to get another one; we were going to stick with two, but one day we went to an RV center to get a part, and we left with a third trailer. So we’ve got three of them now, and they’re booked pretty regularly through RVshare.
As you expanded, were you just responding to demand, or purposefully expanding your business?
Charlotte: We purchased the second and third with the idea of expanding the business. You know, turning down business was kind of hard to do. So, it naturally evolved just by virtue of the need. The need’s out there.
Having experience renting out The Texan, did you look for specific features in your subsequent RV purchases?
Charlotte: When renting the Texan out, we always get feedback and know what people are looking for, so [in] purchasing a subsequent trailer, we were looking for a bigger one. A larger trailer and with bunks, because that seems to be very, very popular — the bunks. But a bigger one to accommodate a few more, usually kids or a family — people, but kids also. And so we did purchase the Silverback, which is a fifth wheel. The Texan is a travel trailer. This is a fifth wheel, and it’s a much bigger.
So, now we had a medium size and a big one. And so, even though we weren’t looking for the third one, we did get the third one, and it was a smaller one. So, we have a smaller, mid-size and a large. So, we kind of went with size to have every size accommodation.
Which is your favorite?
Charlotte: My favorite trailer is the fifth wheel — the Silverback. It’s big and it’s just … I love it. It’s got lots of storage and it’s just roomy. And there’s a separate suite for the bed. And you can close up the suite to either include the bathroom for yourself or you can close up just the bedroom for yourself and leave the bathroom for the guests and the rest of the house. It’s just really great. It’s really comfortable and big and roomy.
The Silverback is equipped with a full kitchen. I mean it’s not as big as a full kitchen but it’s got a regular size sink with hot and cold running water. And lots of storage room. Lots of storage cabinets on top and underneath the sink. And drawers for your silverware and things. It’s got some cabinet space which is nice. A lot of trailers don’t have a lot of cabinet space. And of course, it’s got a microwave and an oven. Stove-top oven. Refrigerator. It’s got almost a full-size refrigerator and freezer combination. I mean a separate freezer from the refrigerator part.