Car sharing is a type of short-term car rental that is becoming increasingly popular in various cities around the world. This service is particularly in demand in large metropolises where purchasing and maintaining a personal car involve numerous hassles.
Thanks to the car sharing system, a user can register in the application, upload the necessary documents, and easily and quickly rent a car from a convenient location for them. It is more cost-effective than ordering a taxi and much more convenient than using public transportation. car sharing allows drivers to move around the city quickly and use a car only when needed.
Moreover, customers do not need to regularly undergo vehicle maintenance, buy a parking space, refuel the car, visit a car wash, or worry about registration or insurance. These hassles are taken care of by the car sharing company. Additionally, an increasing number of consumers pay attention to the environmental factor, as the shared use of a single vehicle by multiple drivers helps reduce carbon footprint, partially addressing the problems of traffic congestion and parking shortages in big cities.
The increased demand for car sharing services has led to active growth in this industry and the emergence of new companies in the market. As practice shows, the car sharing business has every chance of being successful and profitable. According to Frost & Sullivan research, by 2025, the number of people using car sharing services will reach 37 million. Global Market Insights also predicts that the global car sharing market will exceed 6.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2027.
In this article, you will learn what is necessary to open your own business, what details are worth paying attention to, and why a modern car sharing company cannot do without specialized software.
What do you need to start a business?
The opening of any new business should begin with thorough research. It is necessary to analyze the market situation, the advantages and disadvantages of competitors, and the level of demand for car sharing in a specific region. Special attention should be given to the target audience: understanding their values, problems, needs, and priorities. This information can be utilized not only for the business launch but also for its promotion.
At the initial stage, it is important to develop a detailed business plan that takes into account all expenses and the potential profit of the company. It is crucial to pay attention to the legislation of the country where you intend to launch the car sharing service. Seeking assistance from experienced lawyers with a good reputation would be beneficial.
Since this type of entrepreneurship is directly related to vehicles, it is essential to start with car registration and obtaining all the necessary licenses and permits. This is required to legally offer short-term rentals of automobiles. Each vehicle should be insured in case of accidents, theft, or other damages, not only to the car but also to the driver and passengers.
Safety is a top requirement for rental cars. Firstly, the vehicles must be in proper working order and safe. Therefore, all cars in the fleet should undergo regular technical inspections and scheduled maintenance. Car sharing companies often even impose an age restriction on vehicles, using models that are no older than 5-7 years. This provides additional guarantees of safety and reliability.
It is evident that the cars should also be clean, both inside and out. Due to the nature of the service, they need to be equipped accordingly. Special locks that users can open with a mobile application should be installed, GPS trackers need to be integrated, and the equipment should be synchronized with specialized car sharing software.
What is popular and in demand in car sharing?
In order for the car sharing business to be successful, it is important to pay attention to the preferences, needs, and desires of customers. Therefore, when purchasing vehicles for the car fleet, it is necessary to consider the demand for specific car brands and additional services that the target audience may require.
Of course, a company can focus on specific types of cars for car sharing. However, to attract a larger number of customers and provide drivers with a good selection, it is worth diversifying the car fleet with vehicles of different models, types, and classes.
Thus, the following types of cars can enjoy good demand:
- Mid-range cars are most commonly used in car sharing services. They are compact and fuel-efficient, making them suitable for city commuting while consuming a moderate amount of fuel.
- Premium-class cars. Adding a few of these models to even a small car fleet is worthwhile. Premium cars are rented for business trips or special occasions.
- Minivans are ideal for long trips with a large group or family as they offer more space compared to regular cars. The demand for minivan car sharing has steadily increased in recent years.
- Electric cars. An increasing number of users are paying attention to the environmental friendliness of a vehicle and the amount of fuel it consumes. It is projected that in the coming years, the number of drivers choosing electric cars and hybrid vehicles will significantly increase.
- Specific models include sports cars, limousines, convertibles, and other atypical vehicles. Obviously, the demand for them is not as high as for mid-range models, but if you plan to develop a car sharing business, having such cars will be a huge advantage.
It is important not to forget about additional services. They can serve as excellent competitive advantages, especially for a car sharing company that has recently entered the market. Here are just a few of the possible additional options that can improve the quality of service and user convenience:
- On-demand car delivery for clients,
- Driver services,
- Additional car polishing for special events,
- Child car seat with seat covers,
- Roof racks for luggage transportation,
- Phone charging device,
- GPS navigator,
- Fuel cards and electric car charging cards,
- Parking vouchers,
- Additional insurance.
Some of these additional services require the procurement of special equipment, so it is worth considering them during the business planning stage. However, the more convenience and services you can offer to users, the greater the chances of providing them with a pleasant experience using the service and ensuring the return of loyal customers.
Software pros and cons
Car sharing software is a set of digital tools that enable efficient management of a car sharing business. Among the main advantages of using a car sharing system, the following can be highlighted:
- Automation of processes. With the help of specialized software, car reservations, notification distribution, invoicing, and many other car sharing-related processes can be automated, significantly enhancing the company’s operational efficiency.
- Improved service quality. Through fast order processing, process automation, and minimizing errors associated with human factors, service quality is enhanced, leading to an increase in loyal customers.
- Fleet control. Car sharing businesses utilizing corporate software offers extensive capabilities for monitoring vehicles. The system allows tracking the location of each car, as well as checking fuel levels and the technical condition of the vehicles, promptly detecting any unauthorized attempts.
- Electronic document management. The car sharing system includes the ability to maintain electronic document flow, swiftly conclude transactions, and utilize electronic signatures for essential documentation. This greatly simplifies document management, including interactions with partners and contractors.
- Database systematization allows for organizing all information about service users, financial documents, and reports into convenient databases, enabling control over business processes and synchronizing work across different departments.
- Statistics and analytics are incorporated into modern car sharing software, providing the ability to track data, analyze market situations, and generate detailed reports based on a wide range of metrics. This facilitates more accurate market forecasting and planning for the company’s future development strategy.
Owners of car sharing businesses utilizing corporate software should be mindful of the risks associated with this entrepreneurial field. In most cases, these risks involve the rented vehicles. However, many of them can be minimized, including through the use of specialized software.
For instance, in a car sharing system, it is possible to integrate GPS navigation data and monitor the location of each vehicle, thereby reducing the risk of theft. The system is capable of recording instances of dangerous driving and storing this information in the drivers’ database. A convenient penalty management feature allows for promptly documenting traffic rule violations.
Also, the software allows for tracking the maintenance schedule of vehicles, which helps prevent unexpected breakdowns. In case of car damage, the driver can promptly send information about the vehicle’s condition through the application, including photo documentation from the scene of the incident.
However, there are drawbacks to specialized systems that the company owner should be aware of. Firstly, like any digital product, a car sharing system may be susceptible to technical glitches. Secondly, time will be required for the development and installation of the software, as well as for training the staff. But if you find a reliable contractor with a good reputation and extensive experience, the software will significantly enhance the company’s efficiency and quickly recoup its cost.
Legal and financial aspects
A very important stage in starting your own car sharing business is compliance with all legal requirements. It is evident that legislation varies across different countries, so it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the rules governing entrepreneurial activities in a specific region. These requirements often pertain to the following aspects:
- Company registration: It is necessary not only to register a legal entity but also to choose the form of ownership. For example, you can establish your business as a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company.
- Obtaining a license: In many countries, the law requires obtaining a license for specific types of activities, including car rental. To obtain a license, it is usually necessary to fulfil requirements related to insurance and technical inspections of vehicles.
- Vehicle registration: Seek assistance from experienced lawyers to avoid mistakes during the documentary registration of each vehicle. This will protect your business from unforeseen losses.
- Rental agreement: Lawyers can also help create a proper rental agreement that takes into account all risks and outlines the rights and obligations of the parties involved.
- Tax payment: This is an important legal aspect that deserves special attention. Familiarize yourself with the tax legislation of the country in which you plan to launch your car sharing business. Seeking assistance from an experienced accountant is the best solution.
Regarding startup financing, there are several options available. You can start the business using your own financial resources or find investors and partners willing to invest in car sharing. Entrepreneurs often utilize car leasing services to kickstart their businesses.
The cost of starting your own car sharing business depends on whether you are starting it independently or through a franchise. Opening a car sharing business through a franchise is cheaper because the entrepreneur can utilize the name of an already established brand, ready-made software products, and customer support services. However, in this case, a portion of the income will go to the company that owns the franchise.
Here are several key expense items to consider in the business plan before opening a car sharing business:
- Purchasing or leasing vehicles,
- Equipment for the car fleet,
- Vehicle registration and insurance,
- Brand promotion,
- Website and mobile application development,
- Implementation of car sharing software,
- Renting office space and parking lots,
- Vehicle inspections,
- Car wash and detailing services,
- Fuel or charging for electric cars,
- Employee salaries.
To protect your investments, it is essential to always pay attention to insurance: explore different insurance packages, renew insurance coverage on time, and include all aspects of insurance in the rental agreement. This not only safeguards the owner of the company from losses and damages but also ensures the protection of car sharing customers who may be involved in accidents or unintentionally damage the vehicle.
Car sharing is a promising business whose popularity is growing every year. To open your own car sharing company, you need to consider many nuances. First and foremost, it is necessary to thoroughly study the market situation and understand the needs of the target audience. It is important to forecast all possible expenses, including the purchase and equipment of vehicles, implementation of the car sharing system, monthly expenses for fleet maintenance, and staff work.
Legal aspects play an important role, and it is advisable to consult experienced lawyers to ensure compliance with the legislation of the country where you plan to open your business. If you pay enough attention to all the details, car sharing has every chance to become a sought-after, profitable, and successful business.