So You Think Bike Rentals Are Only For Summer?

Well our newest addition to Velolet, Golden Bike Shop (Golden, CO) would maybe disagree.  These guys took their newest Salsa Mukluks out on the 16″ of fresh snow they received last week.  GBS’ owner, Greg Floyd sent us some great photos and we’re happy to display just how much fun these Fat Bikes can be.

So, if you’re headed out to Golden/Denver area to play in the powder, consider a diversion from the normal double and single plank fun and rent a Fat Tire Salsa Mukluk for a few days.

You’ll be hopping from place to place, smiling all the way.

Salsa Adventure By Bike

Bike Manufacturer Demo Fleets, Turn Them Into Bike Rentals

As we started to prep for Interbike and plan our discussions, we sat down with a few friends who work for a US distributor of bikes a few weeks ago. We were talking bike rentals with them, seeking their advice given their acute insight to the bicycle industry.  We asked about demo bikes.

As background, demo bikes are a usual part of a manufacturer’s or distributors sales program designed to allow consumers to “try” before buying.  These demo bikes are usually used as part of an overall Demo program that the brand managers develop as part of their sales and marketing plans.  Trek Factory Demo is a great example.

The problem with these and many other programs like this is they are limited many times to only a day or two in a particular city, like Interbike’s Outdoor Demo Sept 12-13 in Las Vegas.  This event in particular points out a couple of issues.  First, Interbike isn’t designed for consumers, it’s for dealers (bike shops).  Second, with consumers, who already have a limited window of time because of family and friend commitments, can many times miss the day the demo bikes are in town, meaning there are limited opportunities to “try” the bikes.  Last, we also learned that many smaller manufacturers just simply don’t have the budget to roll-out a nationwide series of Demo Days.  They have the demo bikes but using a traveling caravan to host Demo Events can be cost prohibitive so they limit their demos to the IBD “buying” events, without any real plans to get consumers on those bikes.

Case in point, we come to find out that this distributor has almost a stockpile of demo bikes provided to them from a European bike manufacturer that they use throughout the year as demos.  Because the number of demo events are limited and a real pain to deal with in terms of shipping logistics and cost, 90% of the time the bikes sit in a warehouse collecting dust.  Just the opposite of the sales goals of a demo program, right?

So we asked, why not rent them out when they are not being used? They seem so under utilized and not effectively getting to the consumers to sample.  The answer, we are not set up to deal with that and the bikes are only in a single location.

Hold on a second, we said. The goal is to get more and more people to put their butts on bikes so they can try them out because if you can really try the bike out, you might be more inclined to buy one. Right?

So here was our idea:

  1. Consign those bikes out to your top 20 shops/locations and list them for rent on Velolet. Get them out to places throughout the country like California, Oregon , New York, Colorado, Texas, Florida, etc..  Use the IBDs as your sales and marketers.
  2. Let the IBD earn the bike rental income as an incentive to provide your sales and marketing.  The rental income can be used to buy those consigned bikes
  3. Immediately following the demo rental, the consumer can be provided a direct promotional incentive (from the manufacturer or IBD) to purchase the bicycle.  That promotional incentive can be anything from the rental fee applied to the cost of the purchase or other direct factory incentives
  4. It also doesn’t matter whether you are a big or a small manufacturer, by putting even 1 or 2 bikes at your dealers, you provide a much larger exposure then your current program which will inevitably lead to higher sales.Dan Cleary, Velolet, Lazer, Dealer Camp

Velolet can handle the entire process, working with the IBDs directly. Don’t forget we cover the liability insurance so everyone is protected.  We also collect a tremendous amount of data that the distributors and manufacturers can use to see rental trends and conversions and customize their demo sales program as needed.

What does this all Velolet program accomplish? It gets more people trying your bikes which inevitably leads to increased sales. That’s the goal right? It also provides the IBD the ability to earn income to buy the consigned bikes for end of season sales, all while earning rental income.

We will be stopping by your booths at Interbike and we would love work out a gameplan with you. Trust us, it is worth your time. After all, we are the best online bike rental resource for your customers to find bike rentals.

Live Green Twin Cities: Need a bike on an out-of-town vacation? Velolet gives you pedal power

July 5, 2011
by Sarah Askari

Green living is about making connections. Connecting the way your food is grown to the conditions of nearby waterways. Connecting the way your community uses energy to the quality of the air. And connecting your means of transportation with the footprint you leave behind. Now, a new website created by a local entrepreneur connects travelers with rental bikes in faraway cities. It’s called Velolet, and it could be the tool you need to get out and explore the countryside around an unfamiliar city with minimal inconvenience and maximum enjoyment.

Longtime cyclist Dan Cleary got the idea for the company he founded after “dealing with frustration when I travel.” It’s possible to bring a bike on a plane…but the extra fees will kill you, if the hassle of trying to maneuver a mountain bike as if it’s a suitcase doesn’t get you first. Meanwhile, in areas blessed with plenty of tourist-friendly bike paths, bike shop owners were sitting with an inventory of rental bikes but no simple way to get them into the hands of faraway consumers. Keeping track of inventory, working out the terms and conditions of service, and concerns about liability exposure kept lots of independent shops out of the game.

Enter Velolet.

Read more here

MinnPost: As the snow melts, the metro area gets ready for its most bike-friendly spring yet

….Another fresh approach comes from the newly created Velolet, an online system that allows bicycle owners to rent their bikes to individuals. (Read our story about the venture here.) Founder Dan Cleary thought of the idea while trying to find bikes while traveling. “Cycling is becoming the new golf,” he says. “It’s the thing to do. There’s such a positive, growing community here that it’s not hard to feel excited about being part of it all.”

Full Story Here

Tucson Pedaler: Bike firm finds value in renting through site

An online bicycle rental opportunity has proven beneficial for Tri-Sports.com, the Tucson-based business specializing in triathlon equipment and training.

“It’s been good for both of us,” said Tri-Sports.com retail manager Erik Jacobsen of his company’s partnership with Velolet.com and its founder, Dan Cleary

“We’ve been able to give constructive feedback for him to improve the website experience for the retailer and consumer,” Jacobsen said. “At the same time, it’s been fantastic for us. It takes the manual process and the hard work out.”

For Tri-Sports.com, “maintaining a consistent revenue stream with our rental bikes” is challenging, Jacobsen said. “Velolet approached us with an innovative new solution.”

People who search the velolet.com site for bike rentals in Tucson can find bikes in Tri-Sports.com’s 14-cycle fleet.  “People could sort of cut us out of the mix” with regard to waivers, paperwork and details, he continued.

“For the customer, it’s great,” Jacobsen said. “They can reserve the bike and know it’s theirs. It’s great for us, because we no longer involve manual processes.” Velolet cuts the customer’s pick-up time, too. “We get the bikes prepared and ready to go.”

Tri-Sports.com is looking to expand its fl eet. Rental bikes are a good cash source for Tri-Sports, Jacobsen said. “Manufacturers cut retailers a decent deal on the bike, and we recoup that as revenue. Those bikes have been rented out enough to where it’s been financially good for us.”

Velolet.com has “exposed us a bit more to the road crowd, especially from out of town,” Jacobsen said. Visiting cyclists who want to climb Mount Lemmon can go to the site, and find a rental available at Tri-Sports.com.

Families are fi guring out the benefit, too, Jacobsen said. He’d just worked with a couple from Canada coming to Tucson for a family vacation, and seeking cycles. “They don’t have to worry about packing their bike up, and spending how many hundreds of dollars to ship their bikes here,” he said.

Tucson Pedaler: New Site Hooks Up Cyclists, Bike Rentals

SNOW-WEARY Minnesota cyclist Dan Cleary, discouraged by the price of shipping a bicycle via commercial airline, was looking at a vacation real estate rental website when struck by an idea.

Cleary wondered – “why can’t we have a mechanism where people can list their own bikes? I’ve got six of them, that Mrs. Cleary knows about, in my basement. Why can’t I list those out? That’s where the idea evolved.”

Cleary founded Velolet, Inc., a company whose website Velolet.com allows the meeting of “renters,” those who want to rent a good, well-fitted bicycle in a distant place, and “listers,” businesses and individuals alike who have wheels to share. Earlier this year, the site went live, and the response has been encouraging.

Cleary, a cyclist for 20 years, considers himself “the classic customer” on both sides of the equation.

“The cyclist renting the bike gets what they want, and the cyclist listing their bike earns some money, of course to spend on more bike stuff,” he said.

To get velolet.com rolling, Cleary had to navigate potholes. He wanted a secure, trusted process for renters and listers alike. There’s a checklist of requirements for the transaction to occur. A confirmation number, held by a credit card, protects both parties.

“You have to cover all the bases,” Cleary said. “We’ve got a pretty solid model here. This works for people.”

The renter pays a 9 percent service fee to Velolet, on top of the rental price. The lister pays an 8.4 percent liability insurance fee for $1 million in coverage.

“We had to provide liability coverage, not only for ourselves, but also for an individual or bike shop for renting out that bike,” Cleary said. “That’s a key piece. You’ve just been protected. That covers the costs we have to pay for the liability insurance we have as a blanket insurance.”

Listing is free, he emphasizes.

“It’s free to list. It’s free, it’s free, it’s free,” Cleary said. “There’s no cost to register and put that stuff out there. It takes some time, that’s your cost.”

Through a listing, “maybe you won’t get a rental; you never know,” he said. “Maybe someone’s brother-in-law is in town, and you’ve rented that out. It’s only a couple times a year, but that still could be a couple hundred dollars that’s otherwise not going to be there.

“It’s one of those grassroots-type of things,” he said. “Go ahead; there’s no charge to list it.”

Listers set their own rates and availability of cycles. Among Tucson listings, bikes typically rent for $50 or $75 a day, and about $150 a week. “The market will clear itself,” Cleary reasons.

He believes Velolet is “good for the entire industry. Instead of people putting $200 into the airline industry, they’re putting $200 into the bicycle industry.”

When velolet.com launched, Cleary “thought of all the great places to cycle when it’s wintertime,” and Tucson came to mind. He cold-called Tri-Sports.com, which bought in. “They’ve done pretty well (see related story).”

Cleary predicts that, “in the bigger cities, with bigger cycling communities, you’re going to see bike shops perform a little better. People feel secure and safe, going to a bike shop.” Bicycle shops also have a large quantity of different bikes they can list right away.

“Individuals are going to really fill in an area that may be underserved,” especially rural communities, he believes. “Individuals will supplement the inventory that may not be available outside the major cities. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

A few months in, Cleary is “happy with the progress. I obviously would love to have more. Word has to spread among the bike community. You trust a friend; a marketing brochure, you have to think about.” Now, he said, “it’s a matter of … getting people aware.”

Velolet’s web site includes Google maps with bike icons. “We want to make sure there’s lots of bike icons everywhere,” said Cleary, who wants Velolet to become “the #1 centralized bike rental hub. “We’ll get there.”

New features released 3-16-2011

This release

Velolet Certified Concierge (VCC) additional services

  • VCC’s now have the ability to offer select services to their Renters – pickup and delivery service, minor fittings, pedal changes, helmet rental, and bike bag rental
  • VCCs set their own prices and restrictions (i.e, delivery radius) for additional services and Renters can view and add them at the point of securing their reservation with payment.

New Profile Page!

Improved notifications about your rentals!

  • We’ve added emails notifications that go out the day before your rentals, remind you that a payment is due, or that you need to login and rate a completed rental.  Be sure to add no-reply@velolet.com to your safe list to prevent any notifications from accidentally being placed in your Spam folder
  • In the future, we will provide specific “opt-in” options on notifications

Bike Importer

  • For bike shops with significant inventory to add (i.e., more than 10 bikes) we now have an import utility and can load these items for you.  Contact us at contactus@velolet.com and we can work with you to get your inventory of bikes listed.

Twin Cities Business Magazine: Start Me Up – Turning Bikes Into Bucks

Although it doesn’t feel like it, spring is right around the corner. It’s almost time for one of Minnesota’s favorite warm weather activities: biking.

This year, Minnesota biking enthusiasts are in for a treat. Thanks to a local entrepreneur and his new online bike rental business, cyclists will have an opportunity to turn their hobby into a money-making venture.

Dan Cleary and his team just launched Velolet, an online platform that allows individuals to rent their bikes to traveling cyclists. The service provides a low-cost alternative for cyclists who want to bike while they’re away, but don’t want to deal with the hassle or cost of shipping their bike. For individual bike owners and bike shops, Velolet offers the opportunity to make rental income on their bicycle(s).

More here