Biking has increased in popularity over the years, not only for its exercise effects, but biking provides an alternative method of transportation which is environmentally friendly, inexpensive and fun. Therefore bicycle rentals can be a great method to tour a locality.
When starting a bicycle rental business you will be responsible for maintaining the bicycles and biking gear. You will need to, first, do market and competitive research on several possible locations for your bike rental shop. You will also need to set up a system for making sure your bikes are safe from thieves. This means you will be providing customers with a lock and teaching them how to use it. You can also consider taking a deposit from customers, or taking a copy of their credit card information in case the bicycle is not returned. You will need to research legal considerations, such as designing waiver forms to lower you liabilities with customers. Local rental and biking laws will also have to be researched. You will need to hire and train employees to help you rent out the bicycles. You will also have to constantly stay up with local bicycling trends.
Where will you work?
When starting a bicycle rental business a tourist area would be best to locate in. However, if your city has a large park with bike trails, this would also be a good place to locate. Even near a large park, that urbanites have to drive to, may be a good location to locate a rental shop to serve customers who don’t want to carry their bikes on their cars – or don’t think about biking in the park till they see your shop. A city with a high number of bike owners may still be a good bet for a bike rental shop. In that case, you would want to offer high-end bicycles for customers interested in trying out the latest bikes in addition to the more affordable rentals; tandem bicycles would also be a good offering. You may also want to consider having a rental business in the backyard of a home adjacent a bike trail, if you can get a variance from the local authorities.
The start up costs for starting a bicycle rental business will include a fleet of bicycles, a set of tools, and a shed or small warehouse space to work out of. Bike helmets should be provided for all riders who don’t own their own. Liability insurance will have to be purchased. As your business grows you may need to hire additional workers. Other safety gear, such as riding goggles, and knee/elbow padding should be considered for purchase. Rental forms will also be needed.
Starting a Bicycle Rental Business Tips
- Regular Maintenance- Maintain all your bikes and riding gear in excellent condition. Safe and clean bikes and equipment will provide an excellent biking experience for your customers and they will be happy to come back to you for another biking session.
- Promotion- Advertise and increase awareness of your business. Do cross-promotional events with biking clubs. Try to convert walkers, joggers etc. to bikers. You could even do some cross-promotional events with a variety of groups, such as, jogging, martial arts, etc. This will provide other fitness enthusiasts with cross-training opportunities
- Competitive Rates – Price your rentals competitively. There may be more bicycle rental services in your city and hence competitive pricing is important to stay in the game. You may even want to provide monthly or seasonal passes for repeat customers.
- Provide creative bike tours – you could try sponsoring guided tours with special themes, such as bird watching stops, taco joint tours, or a haunted tour around Halloween.
- Offer Classes – you could offer a number of classes – anything from bike maintenance to bike safety to advanced racing techniques.
- Be creative- Have water/ soda machine available for thirsty customers. If you are in a tourist area you can also sell tourist goods such as disposable cameras.
Advertising a Bicycle Rental Business
When starting a bicycle rental business you can advertise through the following methods. You can test various forms of advertising to see which are the most effective for your business in your location. Keep the advertising methods that are paying off and dump the ones that are not. You should also look at places where your ads will likely be seen by your target market.
- Bike Business Cards-Create business cards and hand them whenever an opportunity appears. Network as much as possible.
- Flyers- Determine if you can put up flyers in local parks, bus stops, gyms, trails, community centers, and more. It is best to ask the owner of these businesses for permission first. Also hand out flyers to passer byes on the street.
- Yahoo Local Searches- If you include your business in the Yahoo Local Searches, when people search for your service in your local area your business will appear in the list. To add your business to Yahoo local search, enter the term “add business to yahoo local search” in Yahoo.com and click on the first link.
- Google Local Searches- Google has a local search as well. To add your business to Google local search, enter the term “add business to google search” in Google.com and click on the first link.
- Signage- Have Bright and bold signs so passerbyers can see what your business is about.
- Partner with travel agencies/ tourist hotels- If you live in a tourist spot, you can consider taking advantage of this letting hotels and travel agencies know of your business. Perhaps they may even pass out some brochures for you.
- Website- You can decide to develop a website to provide clients with access to general information about your bicycle rental business. Be sure to include information such as rates and directions on your website.
- Social Media- Create a twitter and facebook page for your bicycle rental business and encourage visitors to join. You can use social media to let customers know of discounts or special themed tours such as a Halloween Haunted Tour.
- Online- People are constantly looking online for fun things do in their city and local area. Search for “things to do in (your state or city)” in search engines such as google and check out the websites that appear. Contact the website owner and let them know of your bicycle rental business and if they can add your business to their website.