1. a booking form. Does this kind of thing look familiar?
(here is a clue – I had to zoom out to 33% just to be able to take a screenshot!)
Here are just some reasons why this is such a bad idea:
- it looks terrible
- people hate filling in this kind of stuff (do you even track your conversion rates? – your visitors to bookers ratio)
- it doesn’t add any value. Does it show the price they will pay? Does it show live availability? does it show product images?
- you have no back-office to manage this stuff when it does come in. Does it actually save anyone any time? You may as well just get an email / phone call.
2. get a developer to create you a bespoke one.
Here is why this is a very bad idea:
- it will cost a lot of money! (and time)
- it will cost even more money to customise – keep it working as things evolve (technology / your business)
- even when it is done does it actually help you manage your bookings? without a comprehensive back-office it is just window-dressing.
3. use a ‘shopping cart’ plugin like woo-commerce, Shopify
No no no! it is the wrong tool. Square peg in a round hole. You wouldn’t use this tool to fix a puncture would you?
(image courtesy of Park Tools)
So why would you use a retail tool to solve a rental problem?
These ‘shopping cart’ tools are retail tools, for selling stuff. Even when you have paid your developer thousands to ‘adapt it’ to your needs it still won’t work, because it is the wrong tool. Rental is such a very different beast from retail, the only similarity is really that you take the customers money, so don’t be fooled by the similarities, find a rental booking system, and start there.
4.using a marketplace (like Zozi) or similar. These guys take a % of your business!
Make no mistake, Bike Rental can be rewarding, but it is not exactly easy money. It is hard work to do a great job at rental. Be very careful about giving away a percentage of your business to a 3rd party. It is you doing all the hard work after all. Sure, do online booking, but don’t just take an online booking wizard if its going to cost you some of your hard-fought profit margin. It is fine to pay a commission for net-new business, but if they start taking a commission you would have done anyway then you are on a slippery slope to giving away your profits.
5. Not doing anything!
I’m afraid doing nothing is not the correct answer either! People are increasingly booking online and expecting to be able to do so. If you don’t offer online booking then someone else will, and you will lose out to them.
But you do need to use a platform that ticks all these (9!) boxes:
don’t pay a commission on each booking you take. Why should you?
don’t pay a developer a fortune to build something. Why re-invent the wheel? In fact don’t pay a single penny / cent, it should be included in your rental platform.
use a tool that is fully mobile responsive – half of BRM bookers now book from a mobile device.
use a tool that shows live pricing & availability
use a tool that lets you know about visitors and conversion rates
use a tool that is beautiful and ergonomically designed
use a tool that is fully customisable for you business. Customer data, extras, bikes, images, dates, durations, etc etc
use a tool that actually helps you get more bookings via a distribution channel
Most importantly – use a tool that has a comprehensive back office – to manage your rentals. Otherwise you may as well not bother.
BRM ticks all of the above! So you could do a lot worse that taking a look.