Managing a small business can be rewarding and profitable. Some owners who rent out their RV do so as a hobby on the side. It’s a great way to bring in additional income. But even a side hustle should be treated as a small business. Whether you have one unit, or an entire fleet of RVs, here are some quick tips for managing your rental business.
The Price Is Right
As an owner, you want to earn as much profit as possible for your rental. You may want to set the bar high for nightly rates, hoping to catch a renter willing to pay your asking price. Your RV is worth more to you than anyone else. It holds sentimental value. It also takes your time & effort to properly maintain the unit. As a business, the pricing must be comparable to other units in your area. Pricing too high can limit your bookings and pricing too low may not give you the value your unit deserves.
Setting a nightly rate can be confusing for some owners. They’re not sure where to start. A good way to begin your research is by conducting a search for rental RVs in your area. Search for units that are comparable to yours, with similar size & age. Rental platforms like RVshare make this simple. When listing your unit, RVshare will send you a suggested listing price, comparable to others in your area. This pricing is simply a recommendation. As an owner, you will always have control of the details in your listing, which can be changed at any time.
Set Your Ground Rules
Rules and policies are set in place to keep people safe and establish boundaries. It’s a good idea to have a general idea of what kind of policies you want for your RV before you start your listing. These policies can include pets, smoking, cleaning, maximum occupancy, and cancellations.
Many renters are finding that they prefer to travel with their canine companions. Renting an RV provides the opportunity to explore nature & new hiking paths with a furry friend. It also saves boarding costs, which can be expensive for pet owners. Adding a pet policy is a great way to entice more renters to reserve your unit. You may even charge an add-on fee to the reservation. Some RV owners may also have a No Pet Policy. There are many reasons to do so, such as allergies, dander, and extra cleaning.
My husband and I have a strict No Smoking Policy. This includes vaping, and any other paraphernalia. We treat our RVs like a personal home. We’re both sensitive to smells & we have children that are not exposed to smoking. It’s one of the very first policies we set into place. All of our renters understand our policies and respectfully oblige. However, you may allow your renters to smoke in your unit. As the owner, you set the rules.
Rental platforms allow you to set cancellation policies in your listing. RVshare offer three types of cancellation; Flexible, Standard, and Strict. The most popular is Standard. Owners in popular areas may opt for the Strict policy during busy seasons. When a renter makes a reservation, it blocks out the unit for those dates. Cancellations are understandable, especially is these unsure times. But it’s smart to cover yourself as an owner. Once a reservation is made, you don’t know exactly how many potential renters you may have missed for those dates. This can be changed at any time.
Policies are endless. As the owner, you can set all of the rules. You can implement several policies, or can be a tad more lenient. It’s wise to take the renter into consideration when creating your list of policies. What kind of rules would benefit both you and the renter, without excluding a large group of people? Yes, you should keep your RV as pristine as possible, but also consider what it would be like to be in your renter’s shoes. Imagine yourself checking in to a hotel or picking up someone else’s RV. What kind of agreements would you be comfortable with and what kind of strict policies would deter you from making that reservation? Treat your renters as you would like to be treated.
This is YOUR Business
If you’re renting out your RV as a hobby on the side, it’s easy to treat it as a hobby. You like making a few extra dollars, but you’re also ok if it doesn’t get rented out. It’s just sitting there anyway, right? Even so, renting out your RV should be treated as a small business.
It may start as a part time hobby, but can have the potential to grow into something more. Renting out your RV is a reflection of yourself. I’d imagine that you spend quite a bit of time on your listing, cleaning your unit, communicating with your guests, and so much more. I know we do. You deserve to claim this as YOUR business.
Treating this as a business includes setting boundaries, setting policies, and feeling ok with charging fees for add-ons. It’s easy to become friendly with your renters. There are a lot of amazing people out there looking for a grand adventure in your RV. We’ve developed lasting friendships with past guests. But your time is also worth something. As a business, your rentals should make it worth the effort. This includes keeping financial records, verifying that all agreements are signed, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Don’t forget, you can also use all of this as business write offs on your taxes. It’s a win-win for you, as a business owner. Doing so tells your renters that you’re both friendly and professional. You want them to trust you, while also showing them that you take pride in your work.
Reviews Are Everything!
We all do it. Before making a reservation, or before ordering a product, I check the reviews. The rental or the product listing will look impeccable and amazing, but what’s more important to me, are the reviews. The opinions of other people that have first-hand experience are important. It gives a glimpse of how others have felt with this product or service. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It’s not what you do for others, it’s how you make them feel. Feelings last forever. If there is a bad review, even if it were the tiniest detail, a person will review it based on their feeling. The same is said for positive reviews.
Reviews equal trust. It’s a reflection of you and how you conduct your rentals. The success rate of reservations may be based on your reviews. More positive reviews may also bump up your listing on rental platforms. After every rental, make it a habit to follow up with your guests. Thank them for their time & reservation. Use this communication to ask them how you may improve your services and to ask for a positive review. It’s smart business etiquette. Otherwise, your guests may have had a wonderful time with your RV, but they get caught up with life and may forget to leave a positive note. You’ll never know how they truly felt. How can your business be improved without adequate feedback?
Renting out your RV is rewarding. I speak from personal experience. Robert and I gain so much from this small business. We get to meet amazing new people, develop lifelong friendships, and share adventures with others. We also take pride in treating this as our own small business. Sometimes it takes a bit of work, but if done correctly, you can reap the rewards. It’s become our passion, and hopefully sharing this experience with others will soon become a passion for you.
Shi is a content creator and owner of ShiDel RVs, based in Las Vegas. She left a career in the corporate world to enjoy more time with her husband Robert & their blended family of eight. The RV lifestyle has evolved her business as a social media influencer, with a growing audience on TikTok and Instagram. Shi spends time renovating RVs and sharing knowledge with the community on her blog ShiDelRVs.com.