Bikesharing, many people borrowing one bicycle as a means of transportation, is growing in popularity. It’s growing in large cities like New York and Washington D.C. It’s growing in small cities like Chattanooga, TN and Boulder, CO. City officials jump on the idea because its solves many of their transportation challenges AT A PROFIT!!!
How can we, landlords and property managers, cash in on the bikesharing bandwagon? It’s pretty simple, especially for larger multifamily apartments. Check out the business model breakdown in the table below:
|What||Landlord-Driven Bike Sharing|
|Difficulty: ○●○○○||Time: ○●○○○|
|Why||1. People want to ride nice bicycles but they don’t want to maintain or store them.
2. Often times, it’s more efficient to get around some cities using a bike to connect with transit and/or avoid parking fees.
|Increase Net Income By||Providing “users” with well-maintained bicycles that display advertisements. Users can be your tenants, neighbors, or anyone wanting to borrow a bicycle.|
|Basic Components||• Well-maintained bicycles
• Controlled access
• Check out and check in procedure
• Basic money collection / membership management systems
|The Extreme Version||Place bicycles so neighbors can join your bike share group.
List bicycle(s) with www.SpinLister.com and join their world wide bikeshare network. Use SpinLister to collect 82% of bike rental fees while you collect 100% of the advertisement fees.
|Possible New Income Streams||• Membership fees
• Mini billboard advertisement revenue (micro NASCAR)
• Carbon tax credits
• Rental fees
|Nontangible Benefits||• Use mini billboards for self promotion that builds your wait list.
• Additional convenient feature to impress rental applicants.
|Steps to Implement/Test||1. Get a bicycle (or three-wheeler) and a lock.2. Place the key in a secure location/lockbox where your ideal users can access it.3. Observe if, and how, the bike is used.4. Peruse an advertisement and/or sponsorship models that make sense. Self branding to build a waiting list is also valuable.|
Bikeshare for Short-Term Housing
On two occasions, while working on short term projects away from home, my landlords offered me use of their bicycles. I used the bikes to explore these neighborhoods on an entirely different level. I loved it! And to this day, I am still grateful for the opportunity.
This is why I offer a bike rental option to my short term tenants. These med students fly in from all parts of the world and typically don’t have access to a car. After signing a waiver, they rent the bicycle for $40 per month.
I bought a really nice bicycle off Craigslist, installed a basket and lights and I’m getting high marks. Second hand bicycles, like used cars, are the way to go.
Bikeshare for Long-Term Residents
I realized a past tenant had left their bike behind. I asked a few residents if they would use it if I fixed it up and their reactions were all I needed to see. I didn’t expect such positive responses.
So I bought a nice lock, flat-proofed the tires with puncture-resistant liners and tubes, then set the bike out for my tenants to use. I’ve invested $60 in the “community bike” so far.
Bikes are known to get damaged and stolen. However the smaller, less anonymous the sharing group, the better the bikes will be cared for.
It may be too obvious to say, but you do need to maintain the bikes for this effort to gather steam. That cost money.
Also, you’re going to need space to store and secure your bicycles. So keep that in mind.
Cost / Projected Revenue
Some groups sell $75 annual memberships for bike share co-ops.
Local bicycle rental companies rent their bikes for $40 per day
Local SpinLister.com owners list their bikes for $20 per day.
Sponsorships and advertisements all depend on audience, size of mini-billboard etc. .However; if you’re focusing on short-term rentals, it would be wise to pitch ad space to a nearby restaurants.
Click HERE to pre-order my new book 40 Ways to Increase the Net Income of your Rental Property
Really like the idea and see numerous benefits. My home town did something similar but didn’t last long. I think a smaller network would work better. My biggest concern and ultimately a deal breaker is the liability. Anyone ever done this before? If so, how do you manage the risk?
How are you managing the risk Al?
Joe, I modified New York’s user agreement (or maybe it was D.C’s) and got my master tenant to sign it. That’s for the rental. For the community bike, I state that they may borrow my bike if they agree to the terms. Click the HERE link to see my borrowing agreement.
I really like the communal bike idea for vacation rentals. It just make a lot of sense and makes for a great amenity to put in the listing!
Great point of view Dr. Hall. I’m using the bike in my listings, but don’t have a story to tell yet. We’ll see if it works.
Thanks Al, but the link for the agreement didn’t work for me.