Joy bought her very first car at 36. It’s a silver Yaris, which Joy named the “Silver Diamond Pearl.”
- loves her car,
- refers to it as a “she” (not an “it”), and
- keeps it sparkling clean.
Sound like someone who would invite strangers to share their car? Maybe not. But with her strong sense of community and entrepreneurial spirit, Joy has really thrown herself into the project.
“Renting my car out is a great way to meet local people,” says Joy. “It feels good to give back to the community.”
As well as healthy earnings, Joy has gathered a group of regular borrowers, thank-you notes on her fridge, and even a bottle of wine that a neighbour left after he’d borrowed her car for a week-long trip.
We asked Joy to share her top tips for making the most out of sharing your car.
1: Get to know your borrowers
Joy has around 5 regular borrowers, and likes to say “Hi” to them when they come over to borrow her car. She also likes to meet first-time borrowers if she’s home.
“You don’t actually have to meet anyone,” says Joy. “It’s an automated process and it works well. But I make an effort to go down and meet any new borrowers who have booked Silver Diamond Pearl for the first time.”
Joy has noticed that first-time borrowers sometimes they feel uncomfortable about taking someone’s car.
“They’re often a bit nervous,” says Joy, “so it’s great to chat, tell them they’re welcome, give the car a name. That breaks the ice. I tell them I’m really happy that they are using the car.”
2: Let people know about your car
Joy’s entrepreneurial spirit really shows when she’s talking about marketing her car.
“I’ve tried lots of things to maximise earnings,” says Joy. “Like keeping it clean, greeting people with cold bottled water if it’s a hot day, making it stand out by including things like an umbrella, beach towels and a first aid kit – and following through if people contact me. I also advertise on Gumtree.”
Joy even hands flyers to GoGet car drivers. She says: “I just walk up, give them a big smile and say, “Hey, you can rent mine instead! See you soon!
Even when she’s working as an extra on film sets, Joy doesn’t miss an opportunity to spread the word.
“I tell everyone about Car Next Door,” laughs Joy. “We’re all waiting around – that’s 30 potential new customers right there!”
3. Keep your car clean to attract repeat bookings
Joy has her car cleaning down to an easy 5-minute routine, and likes to clean her car before each booking, if possible.
“I go and vacuum the car and wipe it down,” she says.
“You don’t have to do that, but I’ve got a great system and it only takes a few minutes. Actually I find it a great way to de-stress! I’ve just got into the habit now”.
Joy sees keeping her car sparkling as a big part of creating a great experience for her borrowers, and encouraging them to book again.
“I just think – well, they’re going to have the car for 12 hours,” says Joy. “I want them to have a good experience.”
Joy has also had times, though, when she couldn’t clean her car between borrowers. She says that this worked out well.
“When I went overseas, I left signs asking people to keep it clean because I wouldn’t be here to clean it between trips,” says Joy.
“When I got back after a couple of weeks in Tokyo, it was fine. One borrower had family in town from overseas and borrowed it for part of that time. There were other bookings in that time, but everyone kept it clean.”
4: Set an earnings goal
Joy is aiming to earn a regular $500 a month through renting her car out, and is on track to meet or exceed that goal.
“I bought the car new in 2012,” says Joy.
“Everyone says that when you buy a car you lose money - but with Car Next Door it’s different. The car costs me $440 a month in repayments, so I’d like it to pay for itself and earn a little extra.”
Joy has a favourite saying: “Little fishes are sweet.”
“You earn a bit here and there when your car is out for a few hours or a day,” says Joy, “and it all adds up. Then you get some long bookings now and then, which really boost your income.”
Joy’s motivations for sharing her car are not just financial, though.
“Renting my car out is not just about earning money,” she says. “It creates value for the whole community, and I feel that’s important.”
5: Plan ways to get around when your car is out on a booking
Joy maximises the chance of getting bookings by only driving when she needs to, and using other ways to get around when possible.
“If someone books the car, I will take the train or get around some other way,” says Joy. “I prioritise borrowers booking it over my using it.”
6: Encourage sharing in your suburb
Joy tells local friends, neighbours and business owners about peer-to-peer car sharing, and encourages them to get involved.
“There are 5 owners and 52 borrowers now in my suburb,” says Joy.
“I’ve really seen the growth even since joining a few months ago. The more cars in the area, the more borrowers join, and the better it is.”
7: Keep things in perspective
“I love my car,” says Joy, “but I’m not emotionally attached to it. I’m really glad it’s being used, and the money it’s earning really helps with the bills each month.”
When a regular borrower put a pretty big scratch on the door recently, Joy kept her cool.
“Of course, you don’t want to see your car come home with scratches,” says Joy, “but Car Next Door helped to sort things out with the borrower. She paid to repair that scratch and I ended up getting the other scratches that I’d done myself repaired at the same time.”
Renting your car out – how to get started
Joy is really going the extra mile when it comes to renting her car out. She loves meeting her neighbours; wants to help people who are stuck without wheels (as she was for many years) – and appreciates having some extra cash coming in.
But you don’t need to put this much effort in to start making money from your car and! Most owners who rent their car out spend less than an hour a month managing it.
Does your car sit unused for a big part of each day? Cut your car costs, connect with your local community and help reduce car numbers by renting it out when you’re not using it.