OK, you have made the decision to a hire out a camper, or motorhome! Congratulations!
I am not going to lie to you.... it can be a difficult and possibly painful journey, but it can also be an amazing adventure and helping to share the experiences and memories we create in our our motor homes with others. We had such fabulous experiences in hiring our our campers, but we also did have some very painful ones as well. Therefore we want to share what we have learnt with you, to make it easier and hopefully focus on the good!
The main thing to get your head, and heart around, is unless you are buying a camper/MH specifically to hire, it is likely to be one of your most prized possessions, therefore the following points are very important:
1) Not everybody will look after your MH/Camper as well as you. People are up for adventure but may not care as much as you do about your vehicle. Be prepared for potential messes and damages to your beloved vehicle.
2) Strong T&Cs. We learnt this early on, you need to ensure you reinforce your T&Cs, whether it is speeds and taking breaks, or pick up and return times, people will try to take liberty. You need to be able to reinforce the penalties for cleaning/repairs/late returns or you may find yourself out of pocket.
3) Buffer between hires. We found quite a few hires did result in needing some maintenance, or late returns of vehicles causing us to have to cancel hires if it wasn't ready/repaired/cleaned. Leave a buffer to work with this.
4)Good insurance and breakdown - see below
5) Include a manual in your vehicle - it may seem like time an effort but writing an idiots guide to your vehicle is the best way. It makes it easier to read, and more enjoyable, than the manufacture manual...but also you know your camper best!
6) Inventory - include this in your hire manual!
7) Your Client base is very important! Who are you willing to hire to, do you mind where they go? Are you setting a radius for travel? What about festivals? We have found family festivals are actually quite good for hires, but not the major festivals - we also made it a set hire price/package for festivals.
8) Time for the handover. It can take an hour to go through the paperwork, vehicle walk round and show them how to use everything - ensure this is factored in for both you and them with pickup/drop off times.
We tried a couple of different insurance companies for our hire vehicle, and found Alan Boswell to be the best for their fully inclusive package with everything we needed.
No matter the insurance company you go through you need to ensure it is fully comp for HIRE cover, but also enables you to enjoy it for personal use as well. In addition I would recommend you ensure it has public liability. This covers you for people on your property for the hand over. You may also need to inform your home insurance that you are operating a business from home, but having public liability may help reduce additional fees.
1) Website. A good website is an absolute must! I would recommend GoDaddy as I have found it to be the most user friednly, but it also takes you through the buzz words/ meta words for google searches!
2) Google account. Set up a google business account - get yourself on google maps and link it to your website. it will help people when searching for hires in your location.
3) Using camper/motorhome hire companies - Camperbug, Campanda, Yescapa, Airbnb all are really good for hiring out, but do be aware they will take commission! However they also try to make you use their insurance but if you have your own they do accept this as well, and it helps get you out!
4) Business cards/ Local flyers - vistaprint, goodprint etc are all really good for making branded stationary. Put flyers up locally, maybe offer a local discount or even a loyalty discount!
5) Free Social Media Marketing! Set up a FB page, Twitter account and Instagram! Share with followers any updates, offers, fun posts. Post on selling sites on fb if you have any offers on! Buffer, Hootsuit and similar will allow you to schedule posts and post simultaneously across all of your social media accounts at once! If you aren't overly au fait You can get discounted social media training through Udemy.com
Whilst we understand you are looking to try to either make some money, or atleast make costs meet....going above and beyond can really benefit your hire business!
Whilst we had set packages, prices etc we would vary or discount depending on the hire, cirucmstacnes and what else they booked. If tehy had travelled a long way (we had a lovely family visit from abroad) we created them an english afternoon tea pack for the next part of their jounrey after the hire, or offering to through in the collection/drop off, or even extend them for free. These can make a big difference to the hire, and boost your feedback, reviews and word of mouth support for your business.
We have added a list of downloads for examples of documents you may find useful for starting to hire out your own vehicle. From ideas for your T&Cs,, through to invoices and vehicle checks. The booking form also gives examples of the additional packages we would include.
Don't forget, when hiring out your camper, even if you aren't seeing a profit it is classed as 'for gain' and therefore you will need to inform HMRC that you have set up your own business (whether Sole Trader or LTD Company) and ensure you complete your daily tax returns!