Want to add a burst of energy to your bike rental business? Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, might be just what you need.
E-bikes bring a new sense of adventure to your bike rental business. While this form of transportation has been popular with millions of riders in Europe and China for years, they're just starting to gain traction in the United States, with an estimated 200,000 sold this year. And e-bikes help you attract new customers who might not be able to enjoy traditional bikes due to their fitness level or your area's terrain.
Whether you're starting a new company from scratch or adding e-bikes to your current rental offerings, the opportunity is prime for promotion. Here are seven ways to launch and build an electric bicycle rental business:
1. Start with keywords. People who want to rent an electric bike will probably already know about this mode of transportation, and go to the Internet to search for a rental company. Take advantage of the organic traffic by optimizing your website for search engines, using keywords, such as “[city name] electric bike rentals" and “[city name] electric bike tours," throughout your site. A search for "electric bike rentals San Diego," for example, turns up 23 results on Google Maps. Make sure you add your business to Google Maps, and add keywords to your Category and Introduction section.
2. Spread the word to current customers. If you have an existing rental business, let your current customers know you're now offering e-bikes by spreading the word on social media and through an email-marketing campaign. E-bikes are trendy and new, and current customers may not know they exist or that they're available for rent. You can send a promotion or discount code that is exclusive to your followers, or ask customers if they'd like to try an electric bicycle when they call or stop in to book a rental.
3. Organize tours. If your rental business is located in an area with great attractions or history, consider adding tours to your business strategy. Tours bring a higher profit margin as customers will be willing to pay more for an organized trip. You'll also attract a broader demographic of participants as e-bikes help everyone keep the pace–especially if your area has challenging hills. Before you add tours, however, do some homework to determine if your ROI is worth your time and money. For example, you'll need to research which locations visitors to your area might like to see, find out if your city or state has additional licensing or insurance requirements, hire personable guides, and advertise or promote your offerings.
4. Partner with hotels. Since e-bikes are an untapped source of transportation, introduce your business to hotel concierges and sales staff. Explain what you offer and give staff members a test drive. Set up a commission plan, and check back often. You can also work with hotels to set up special tours for their guests during different seasons.
5. Work with area restaurants. If the scenery in your area is breathtaking, partner with a local lunch spot to offer guided picnic tours. The restaurant can promote the offering to its current customers, and you'll spread the word of your rental business.
6. Reach out to retirement communities. E-bikes are a great form of transportation because people of virtually any fitness level can enjoy riding them. This makes them especially popular with Baby Boomers. Approach retirement community associations in your area, and offer to organize special outings and activities.
7. Contact local tourism boards. Reach out to your local tourism office and provide information about your tours and rentals. Tourism offices are eager to build their portfolio with interesting activities, which helps them attract new visitors to the area. Help them do their job by offering special rates and excursions.