So, you’ve listed your RV with Outdoorsy, huh? Hooray! Give yourself a nice pat on the back because you’ve taken the first big step into this fun world of sharing your rig and getting paid to do it.
I know how you’re probably feeling right now because I’ve been there. My wife and I first started renting out a rig near Glacier National Park in May of 2021. Since then, we’ve added another vehicle to our fleet and are having a blast providing beds on wheels to folks coming into our area from all over the world.
That’s why we wanted to take a beat here to recap with you all the things you ought to be doing now that you have your RV listed for rent. Don’t worry, none of them are too complex, but these simple steps will take you a long way in your rental business.
First, a bit more about me…
Hi! I’m Josh, and that’s my wife, Brittain. Together we run two RV rentals near Glacier National Park.
Here’s Moe. Moe is a Honda Pilot with a Roofnest roof tent that’s also stocked with things like a camp stove, bedding, bear spray (we gotta have it up here!), a cooler, and more so our renters can arrive and roll straight into the woods.
And here’s Forest. Forest is set up the same way except Forest is a Subaru Outback with a little different type of Roofnest on him.
Moe and Forest are a camp-tastic duo that has provided a relatively simple way for Brittain and me to meet awesome people and make solid profits by sharing something we love.
I know some of you reading this might aspire to a larger fleet of more traditional RVs and that’s cool too — we’ll have plenty for you in this article as well. (Britt and I RV’d full-time for 4+ years in a 32 ft. travel trailer, so I know a thing or two about that as well 🙂
Now, make sure you’ve done these things with your listing
Be on the lookout for some emails we’ll shoot your way with tips on how to run a successful RV rental business. In the meantime, I want to quickly recap some key points contained in those emails to be sure you have all this happening with your listing.
I can tell you from personal experience that each of these will make a positive impact on your listing:
- Join the Facebook Outdoorsy owner’s group — And share your listing with them. This group is stacked with veteran owners who have been down the road. They’re a helpful lot who’ll give you great feedback on your listing. It’s also swell to have a crew you can talk to when the going gets tough or when you want to celebrate wins.
- Download the Outdoorsy Owner Handbook — This easy-to-read PDF will tee you up splendidly to make the most of your RV rental business. Pop it onto your iPad or Kindle, grab a cup o’ joe, and soak it in.
- Review — Our owner’s top 13 tips on how to get more bookings.
- Photos, photos, and more photos — This can’t be understated. You need 15+ excellent photos of your rig loaded into your listing. If you don’t have that already, let’s get that done right away.
- A video tour — Making a short video tour of your rig is a great way to get it rented out. You can easily upload this to your listing’s photo gallery.
- Is insurance all figured out? — Remember that Outdoorsy covers you and your renter when your rig is rented out. For all other times, you’ll need RV insurance to cover your rig. However, not all insurance carriers will continue covering you if they know you’re renting out your RV. Click here to get a free quote from Roamly — our sister company that offers great rates and allows you to rent out your rig.
Things I wish I’d known when I first listed my RV with Outdoorsy
Hindsight is always 20/20 and business is about pushing through learning curves. That said, here are a few of the things I wish I’d known when I first listed my RV:
Small business can stay small.
Don’t get me wrong — we at Outdoorsy love it when our owners grow big and have happy, healthy RV rental fleets that connect cool people to camping.
But, that may not be what’s best for you.
And ultimately we want what’s best for you 🙂 So, don’t feel the pressure to grow big right out of the gate.
Focus on optimizing the RV rental you’ve just listed.
Super serve every guest that comes your way.
Then decide which direction you feel is best for you and your family.
Treat it like a business.
Even if you’re only renting out the family RV, it’s still important to emotionally detach when you rent out your rig.
While the overwhelming majority of our rentals go off without a hitch, things do happen. Instead of viewing damage, accidents, or renter mistakes as emotional catastrophes, see these as costs of doing business.
After all, that’s why you collected a security deposit and why we offer industry-leading insurance.
Build a business roadmap.
You can’t get where you want to go in your RV rental business if you don’t know your destination.
While you don’t have to have every twist and turn worked out, it’s important to take some time now on the front end to think about where you want to go with this thing.
In my case, simplicity is key. That’s why I’m always thinking about things like streamlining my processes and paying people to help me with RV delivery and cleaning so I can free up more time to enjoy Montana.
What are your goals with your rental business? Jot them down and think about how they guide your day-to-day decisions.
Take the time to chat with renters before accepting.
Outdoorsy offers INSTAbook — a great tool for later on down the road when you’re ready to have renters book your rig without chatting with you first.
But when you’re starting with your first listing, it’s important to take the time to get to know each renter’s request before accepting.
Ask them what their plans are for your area, how many folks will be with them, etc.
This will help you build an understanding of how renters operate and what rules you’ll want in place if/when you flip the INSTAbook switch.
Are you managing expectations for your current season?
The RV rental business is a highly seasonal beast. We first listed Moe (our Honda Pilot campervan) in early May. The problem is that Glacier National Park still had snow on the ground and its main mountain road was closed until mid-June.
As a result, I didn’t get any bookings for my first 6 weeks. That wound up being okay because the summer season went absolutely gangbusters, but I wish I’d known on the front end what to expect in terms of seasonality.
Location, location, location.
This doesn’t mean you can’t rent out your RV if you’re in the ‘wrong’ location, but it does mean you need to bring your A-game to pitching whatever fun locations and amenities are within range of you.
In my case, nearly 100% of my rental business comes from Glacier National Park goers, so you’d better believe I have pictures of my rigs in the park and several mentions of Glacier in my listing.
Think about what draws people to your area and how you can show them that your RV is ready to help them explore those things.
Keep up with your 90-day inspections
Outdoorsy’s insurance requires that you complete inspections of your RV every 90 days. Without proof of this, an insurance claim might be denied on the grounds that you failed to upkeep your rig.
The good news is, you can do the 90-day inspection yourself — just be sure you properly document the process with photos.
When it comes to Moe and Forest, I’m not dealing with major RV systems like propane lines and water, so I’m able to take my SUVs to a full-service oil change shop where they complete a multi-point inspection as part of the process.
That shop gives me a signed checklist after every oil change that I use as my 90-day inspection. This could be an option for you too if you’re renting out a more rustic camping vehicle that doesn’t have traditional water, power, and propane systems. Otherwise, any RV mechanic could do the 90-day inspection checklist for you if you’d rather not do it yourself.
Get solid reviews fast.
One of the biggest things that’ll help your rental stand out is a few great reviews. Follow these steps with all your renters — and your first renters especially — to get the review snowball rolling.
Keep refreshing your rig.
Check out our tips on DIY repairs and refreshes for easy things you can do to make your RV stand out.
For example, Moe has an old-school CD player in him. Rather than view this as a disadvantage, I stocked him with CDs from local artists. It’s a way for me to support our local music scene while also providing a fun experience for guests.
It was a simple thing that didn’t cost me much and it’s led to some terrific guest feedback.
Guest happiness is king.
Your north star should always be happy guests. That doesn’t mean you need to be a doormat and let people walk all over you, but it does mean you need to have a guest-centric mentality.
Walk through your RV and think about fun coupons, amenities, or area guidebooks you can leave for your guests.
Make sure you’re always available to your guests during their trip in case they have questions.
Take time to do a fun and thorough walk around with your renter at the RV handoff.
By always thinking in this way, you’ll set yourself up for success in this biz.
You don’t need to be big and flashy for big returns.
Brittain and I own Moe, his roof tent, and all his supplies free and clear. We’ve put approximately $14,000 total into purchasing the vehicle, tent, gear, and all repairs to date.
Moe generated around $6,000 in revenue during our 3-month season in 2022. That’s over a 40% return on the money we’ve invested into him.
I’m not saying that to brag, nor am I saying these returns are typical, and I also know that some of you out there can definitely boast higher cash-on-cash returns.
But, my point is this — it doesn’t take flash to generate good returns in this business. Often, the simplest strategy is the best strategy.
Take stock of the raw goods you have that you can use in your business.
Think about the simplest path to grow your business.
And don’t get so distracted by shiny objects that you lose sight of the fundamentals that grow healthy businesses.
Renting out RVs is a fun business where you get to meet cool people and make money with a vacation vehicle. We’re so excited that you’ve taken the leap into listing with us and we’re here to help you in any way we can. Reach out anytime. Jump into our owner’s group on Facebook. And enjoy the journey as you roll forward with your RV rental.