As RelayRides grows, more owners are buying cars just to rent them out. RelayRides’ Nicholas Pell catches up with the latest ‘micro-fleet manager,’ Ravi Varma
Ravi Varma is a 28-year-old IT project manager and new dad in Jersey City, NJ. He’s joining the growing number of people who see RelayRides as a bona fide business opportunity. In less than a year, Varma went from renting out his main car when he didn’t need it to investing in a second car purely to grow the business. We sat down with him to talk about why he started using RelayRides and how he joined the ranks of our micro-fleet owners.
How an Idle Car Becomes Cold, Hard Cash
Varma first listed his 2007 Honda Civic on the RelayRides Marketplace in March 2012. “I bought the Honda in February and I wasn’t using it much. During the first year I only put about 1,000 miles on the car,” he explains. “I had the car sitting idle all the time when I saw an ad for RelayRides. I decided that I wanted to give it a try.”
All told, Varma pulled in $2,200 in nine months renting out the Civic through the RelayRides Marketplace. Not a bad little second income off something that would be sitting around, losing value and costing money. For the most part, Varma spends his earnings on car-related expenses; the monthly payment, insurance or maintenance costs. Just last month, Varma decided it was time to level up and invested in a 2007 Toyota Yaris as the second car in his micro-fleet. He’s already seeing quite a response.
RelayRides Users Demand Supply
One “problem” that Ravi ran into was too many requests for his car. Most requests came for the weekend, which, of course, was the one time that he needed the use of his car. He was concerned about driving away repeat customers or having too many requests refused on the marketplace. His solution? Buy another car.
“One of the primary motives of having a second car is to have access to my car all the time and not be seen as a person who is rejecting requests,” he says, adding that, “I read an article last year that people are running fleets of RelayRides cars.” Indeed, there are a growing number of people comparable to eBay Powersellers. They’re not content to just make a little extra cash on the side–they see RelayRides as a business strategy. Lee Colleton of Seattle, Washington, recently profiled on our blog, is another RelayRides renter looking for ways to supercharge his own personal microfleet.
“I would definitely advise car owners to rent,” says Varma, noting that even if you only get a couple of renters every month it will still defray the cost of owning a car. He’s used to fielding questions about whether or not a second car is worth purchasing just to create a microfleet. He tells people considering this to think economically. “Lots of people on the Marketplace want to get a car, but they’re not looking for a BMW or an Infiniti. They don’t want to pay $100 a day for a car, they want something economical.”
Indeed, this is why he purchased a 2007 Yaris and the proof is in the renting: Varma hasn’t even completed his first month renting the Yaris and it’s already made him $450.
Become a RelayRides Entrepreneur
Varma started out as a typical RelayRides renter looking to make extra cash. However, he quickly saw the potential of such an enterprise. Soon he was building his own microfleet. RelayRides is more than just a way to make extra money when your car is idling–though it certainly is that as well. If you’ve got a car you don’t use very much, consider listing it on the RelayRides Marketplace and watch it start paying for itself. If you’re already listing and getting more traffic than you can handle, crunch the numbers and see if you can’t be the latest RelayRides entrepreneur.