I rent my RV through Outdoorsy but like many other Outdoorsy owners, I am a full-time professional elsewhere and with my full-time gig, I deal with customers looking for financing. And if there's one thing I've learned at my job, it's transparency matters. Setting expectations for your customers is key. Let me give you an example.
Since May of last year, I've had mostly great experiences. But one renter took my little "Leamon Party Bus" out to the desert over New Years (after a big rain) and it came back filthy, covered with mud. Now it was totally within my power to say "this is unacceptable, I'll withhold some of your deposit to clean it" and they probably wouldn't have argued much. But you know what? They also wouldn't have left the glowing, 5-star review I received afterward which is the equivalent of currency!
My poor LPB is filthy after a trip to the desert!
What I learned is that I couldn't hold them fully responsible since most of my renters are first-timers, they aren't familiar with what it takes to fully take care of an RV and I saw the relief in their faces when I said I wouldn't charge them (I told 'em it was the Christmas season so I wouldn't enforce an extra fee on them). They knew it was dirty but didn't know the consequence because I wasn't clear enough up front. And they promised to leave a glowing review which they totally did!
That's when I added my disclaimers and surcharges section on my liability contract. I also added a "fine print" article on my website that I send the instant my RV is booked (and while it hasn't happened yet, I encourage them to cancel if they cannot accept these surcharges, see the page at: http://leamonpartybus.com/renting/the-fine-print/). I also highlight this section of the contract specifically during my walkthrough as well. The bottom-line is that my renters now know exactly what my expectations are of them when the RV is returned. And you know what, this has improved the process in three ways:
- The renters appreciate and even ask for up-front transparency. You'll get on their good side before they even take your rig out! This is what Lacy had to say in her request for booking in April 2017: "We don't really have any special needs/requests, just looking for transparency and ease"
- They know the consequences of non-compliance which actually just forces them to make that extra effort (which isn't a whole lot) and in the end, I have yet to actually enforce a single surcharge on a renter since I added that language in.
- If / when I do need to collect on a surcharge, they will accept it and may still give me a great review
In the end, what you can take from this is that whatever your requirements are whether its related to:
- Timeliness of pickup / drop-off
- Minor or major damages
- Mileage, generator use, etc.
- Gas, fuel, etc.
- Black, gray tanks dumped
- Whatever is important to you
Spell that out and talk to them about it.
Tell your renters why those things are important and why you charge extra when those expectations aren't met. In fact, I tell my renters that for the length of their trip, they own my RV and anything that happens to it is on them as if it were theirs.
Not only will they appreciate the honesty, but they'll give you high marks for the transparency and make your rental experience that much more fulfilling!
The Leamon Party Bus
P.S. If any renter balks at your surcharges (as long as they're reasonable), you don't want them as your renters!