According to data, the popularity of staycations looks set to continue. With that in mind, hiring out your own campervan or motorhome or starting a hire business might seem like a good idea. Here, we look at what to consider if you’ve thought of starting your own self-drive hire business.
- Why set up a self-drive hire business?
- What do I need to set up a vehicle hire business?
- How can Alan Boswell Group help with self-drive hire insurance?
The rise of holidaymakers staying in the UK means there are also lots of opportunities if you’ve got a second home, classic car, campervan, or motorhome. Renting out what you already own could help you earn a steady income with relatively low start-up costs.
If you’re looking to set up a whole new venture, it’s also an exciting chance to run your own business and be your own boss.
Setting up a self-drive hire business might seem daunting, especially considering the big firms that dominate the market. That said, there’s still room for smaller operators, particularly within niche markets, whether that’s targeting people on holiday or needing a wedding hire car.
There’s a lot to think about when you start a business, regardless of size. So, to help, we’ve broken down some of the key areas you’ll need to consider:
Business set-up and registration
Deciding your business structure is one of the first things you’ll need to do. That means choosing between being a limited company or a sole trader. Both have pros and cons so what’s right for you depends on your attitude to risk.
A limited company is an entity in its own right and is separate from the people who own it. In other words, if something goes wrong or the business collapses, the ‘business’ is liable, and your own personal legal responsibilities will be limited.
One of the downsides is that running a limited company can mean more paperwork and be time-consuming. If you’re not confident filing your tax returns, you can hire an accountant, but this would come with a cost.
A sole trader and their business are more closely intertwined and are fundamentally considered one and the same. It means that you can be held personally responsible if something unexpected happens. On the flip side, sole traders get to keep all their profits.
Targeting customers for your self-drive hire business
This comes down to the type of vehicles you want to hire out – for instance, whether you’re hiring out vans or wedding cars or campervans and motorhomes. It could well be you start with one type of vehicle and expand into other areas.
Knowing who your target audience is can help inform other business decisions (like marketing and branding), so it’s worth spending time working out what your niche is. For example, if you’ve got a campervan or motorhome, think about who you’re appealing to – whether you want couples only or families and if you will allow dogs. Our guide to the differences between a motorhome and a campervan can be a useful place to start.
It’s also good to gauge average hire rates by comparing costs from other hire firms. Focus on businesses similar to yours (or what you’d like to own) to find realistic figures.
Premises and location
Think about your resources and the practicalities of running your self-drive hire business. If you’re looking to expand your business in the future, think about the cost of building up a fleet, storage and parking.
You’ll also need enough space to run your business effectively; this could mean renting office space, converting a room if you want to work from home, or just setting aside enough space at the kitchen table.
Marketing and branding
When you know who you want to target, you’ll need to consider how to reach them. Part of this will mean thinking about logos and branding and positioning your business as desirable amongst your competition.
More often than not, it’s a fine line between being different enough to stand out and being so different your business becomes an outlier. To get a feel for how branding might look for you, consider what the competition is doing well (or not) and use this as a guide.
When it comes to advertising and marketing your business, this will depend on your target customers and the vehicles you want to hire out. If you’ve got a wedding car for hire, it makes sense to focus on advertising at wedding fairs or with venues that manage events. You might even consider working with wedding planners directly.
If you’re hiring out campervans and motorhomes, there are several online booking platforms you can advertise with. They work in a similar way to holiday home sites, so people will be able to book your camper or motorhome via a website.
Social media will be an obvious, and for some a crucial, way of promoting the business. Setting up a Facebook or Instagram page can help you reach very specific groups of people. If you’re not confident about using these platforms to advertise, you can hire social media marketers to help you plan a whole online strategy.
Maintenance and vehicle safety
Keeping vehicles serviced and clean is likely to keep them in good working order for longer and help boost your business’ reputation.
Remember that all vehicles must meet legal standards, including passing MOTs. If vehicles are only used seasonally, you’ll need to remember to keep them ticking over during the off-season too. You can find out more about upkeep in our guide to motorhome maintenance.
Another vital aspect to consider is safety and security (of both your vehicles and customers). This includes making sure customers meet any legal criteria. For example, if you’re hiring out motorhomes, check that drivers meet motorhome licence requirements.
If you hire out vehicles for customers to take across the channel, it’s also sensible to check they’re aware of the motorhome regulations in Europe. Added extras like fixing dash cams to vehicles can also put people’s minds at rest and could be a worthwhile investment. Investing in your motorhome’s security can help to reduce your insurance premiums too.
Crucially and legally, you must ensure you have appropriate insurance for your business venture. At the minimum, you should have self-drive hire insurance, which covers your asset and the vehicle driver while they’re hiring your vehicle. You can find out more about the insurance you need to consider in our guides; what is self-drive hire insurance and campervan and motorhome hire insurance.
If you decide to employ staff, you’ll also need employers’ liability insurance by law. Other business insurance products you might need to consider include:
Alan Boswell Group is an experienced provider of self-drive hire insurance, and we’re proud to be able to support a range of businesses, such as this small, family-run firm in North Yorkshire.
We can create a flexible policy to suit you – whether you’re hiring out a fleet of commercial vehicles or need bespoke campervan hire insurance.
For more information or to chat about how we can help your business, speak to a member of our team at 01603 649744.