How I Earned $3K Per Month Renting Cars on Turo

Oct 20, 2022

Rather listen to this instead? Audio version is on YouTube. Listen here.

Turo is like AirBnB, but for cars. I know it drives Turo crazy to describe this way, but it seems to paint the picture better than their own website’s “Find Your Drive: Explore the World’s Largest Car Sharing Marketplace.” 

On Turo, car owners list their vehicles for rent so approved and semi-vetted drivers, like you and me, can rent them on a legit, consumer-protected platform. 

I was introduced to Turo over ten years ago as a solution to renting a car without a credit card. You can prepay for your rentals with a debit card, and without deposits, so that problem was solved for me. 

As my mobile Notary and loan signing business gained steam, Turo also helped me when I was in a jam with an automobile. Whether a flat tire, a breakdown, or even during a break-up, renting a car on Turo was so easy I could have a car at my doorstep in as less as an hour (yep, some owners deliver!). 

As much as I am a raving fan of Turo as a “guest,” or renter, I hadn’t seriously thought of actually being a “host” as a revenue stream until late 2021. And that seed was planted by a fellow Notary (I am sorry I can’t remember your name-you know who you are) who came up to the stage of some Clubhouse room I was speaking in and mentioned how many Turo influencers were out there dropping gems. 

So then I did what I do. I bought a book or two. Watched some YouTube videos. Listened-in on some Clubhouse rooms. Analyzed Turo’s Terms & Conditions. And then jumped in. 

After all that research, I don’t have a single resource that I can direct you to, except for Turo’s T & C’s. Everything else I encountered was either poor quality, lacked content, or just teased readers/viewers with just enough info to lead into buying a course. 

That stuff drives me nuts. 

So, a lot of this I did from my own research and I call it my Turo Experiment. I learned a lot and overall, totally enjoyed it. Turo has been one of my favorite side hustles yet!

And..it’s not for everyone. 

  • If you have any kind of emotional attachment to your car, this may not be the right fit for you. People will never take care of your car the way you do. 
  • If you have a low risk tolerance, this probably isn’t for you. There’s an inherent risk in all businesses and investments, and when they’re moving 80 miles an hour on roadways, that risk seems to be increased.
  • If you’re not interested in going the extra mile for your guests, this probably just won’t work out for you (success is heavily driven by ratings and reviews). 

But, if you’re intrigued, and want to check it out, read on. I’ll share my thoughts on my strategy, who I ran it by first, and contributed to my success. 

The Turo Experiment

I’ve been aggressively saving to invest for several years and I love to dabble, or tinker, with a variety of projects that will either change the world or an industry, fascinate me, or pay me (hopefully all three!). 

Intrigued with what I was learning about Turo, I asked my CFO what he thought about my strategy idea:

  1. Use cash to buy a quality car for less than $20,000.
  2. Earn $800-$1200 monthly rental cash flow.
  3. Only 25 months to recoup original investment. 

He ran the numbers. Beats leaving it sitting in the bank. “Buy ten of them,” he said. I love getting a little crazy with my ideas, but buying and managing a fleet of ten cars was pushing it. So, I bought two, plus my personal vehicle. 

And it worked. 

My Turo Fleet

I think the coolest feature Turo offers is their “Carculator.” It’s an online tool that will help you see an estimate of the revenue Turo thinks your car (or prospective car) will generate in your area. There are Turo “experts” far more advanced than me that think the data from this tool is skewed, but for me it was right on the money. 

This helped get a feel for what my personal vehicle, a 2019 Toyota 4Runner would fetch. 

My next step was to find a daily runner that was reliable, cheap, good on gas, and maybe even fun to drive. I guess I am kind of old school, because anytime I think of buying a car, I still go to Craigslist. And that’s where I found “Lucy,” a cherry red 2013 Fiat 500…for $10,000. She was clean, clear title, pristine condition, and less than 30,000 miles. 

As I was picking Lucy up at the dealership in Scottsdale, a nice lady came in and tried to sell her 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman to them. They low-balled her and I followed her to the parking lot and offered $1,000 more, for a total of $14,000 (bluebook was $19,000-$22,000), and she accepted. 

Wim-bam-boom, I had a Turo fleet using just $24,000 of reserve cash, plus the cost of my own vehicle, but I had already spent anyway. 

Insurance Stuff

You’re probably wondering how the insurance works with Turo. They partner with a major insurance company to provide a liability policy on every rental. Still, in following Facebook group feeds, I can tell this is a really gray area, because sometimes your personal insurance company will not allow you to rent out your cars. Some insurance companies don’t care. And, if you decide to turn this into a real business enterprise, there are commercial insurance policies you can get. I never had a problem with a guest with a car accident or theft, so I don’t have any experience to speak from. This is where your due diligence will come in. 

Advice for Enjoying Turo and Making Some Money

Hosting on Turo has been one of my favorite side hustle adventures ever. While new and innovative from a technology and convenience-economy standpoint, there’s also something kind of old fashioned about it. 

  • Rent it.
  • Meet cool people.
  • Get paid.
  • Clean it. 
  • Repeat.

I used to get a thrill out of having back-to-back rentals, hearing those rings and dings come through on the Turo app, and getting another five star review. If I had not moved across the country (to an island, no less), I’d still be an All Star Turo Host. 

Not only did my fleet generate a minimum of $3,000 per month on average, but when I decided to move, I was able to sell the vehicles for almost exactly what I paid for them. Even with a little bit of maintenance, two new windshields, and lots of car washes, this has been a huge ROI (Return on Investment). 

Here are some suggestions for those who are curious to embark on their own Turo experiment:

  • Read Turo’s Terms & Conditions first. Not everything will make sense, but this will give you a foundation to move forward on, including rules for vehicle age, mileage, etc. 
  • Before you make any major cash investments, use the Carculator to see what’s possible with your current car (or an extra one), in your area. Without a doubt, being near a large airport, having Uber/Lyft available, and being a destination location, makes a huge difference in revenue. That said, I see people all over the country, even small towns, having success with Turo. 
  • Get some advice-financial or otherwise. There are lots of Turo Owners Facebook Groups, some state or city specific too. These are usually unofficial groups, so beware. Some are friendly groups, and others…aren’t. 
  • Do whatever you can to get to All Star Host status as soon as possible, even if it means lowering your price for the first ten reservations or so. This status has requirements, but when achieved, it makes all the difference. This is where going above and beyond comes into play!
  • Take high quality pictures of the exterior and interior. Get creative and have a nice background. If you’ve taken your cars on adventures, use those pictures too. This is part of marketing! I believe Turo allows 20 photos. Use them all!
  • Treat your car’s profile like a dating profile. Spend the extra time on the front end of this.  I named all three of my cars: Lucy, Hank the Mini Tank, and the SideHustle Wagon. And then I used words and descriptions that gave the cars personality. This did two things for me: It attracted guests that appreciated that level of interaction AND my guests (for the most part) took excellent care of my cars. A few even took my vehicles to be detailed because they loved driving them so much. 
  • Over-communicate with your guests! Turo has a chat function so you can stay connected with your guests, even before they arrive. I used my own personal experience with Turo to enhance my communication levels. I remember how stressful it is when you get to an airport you’re not too familiar with, and have to find an Uber, or a car, somewhere. Then you have to fumble with an app you’re likely not too familiar with to find vehicle access information. Even though the app has an instruction area, I touch base on the reservation date and wish them safe travels, or just let them know all is well and I am ready for them. Then I may send the vehicle pick up and access instructions again in the chat. Upon return, I thank them and I ask for a review. I had 83 trips completed and received 78 reviews. See my Turo profile here.
  • Be nice to people and come to peace with renting your car out to total strangers. They are not going to take care of it to your standards. They’re probably going to speed. They’re going to eat (and spill) in it. They’re going to smoke weed in it. They will be late. Sometimes they’ll even be a week early (had that happen once). 

A couple of other things to mention. Turo hosts can control a lot of the boundaries surrounding rentals. Hosts decide what time of day or night pickup/drop off can happen, or how quickly you want to have to turn around a reservation. You can even make the decision to accept or deny a reservation (I suggest allowing auto booking for more reservations). Delivery is also up to the host, and I did not offer delivery. I just didn’t have time to do that, even when Turo allows hosts to charge up to $120 to do it. If I had offered delivery, I could have doubled my revenue (at least). 

At the very least, I recommend Notaries become an approved driver with Turo and have it available as a car rental option. It’s better to have this in place when you don’t need it, then to have to wait for approval in the midst of a crisis. Plus, there’s a lot of fun cars on Turo that you can’t rent anywhere else. 

If you plan to do your own Turo Experiment, or have already begun, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear your perspective! I'd also love links or referrals to people and resources you may have found in the Turo industry that bring value and integrity to the marketplace. 

Bill Soroka is the founder of Notary Business Builder, an elite community of professional Notary entrepreneurs that are committed to building a successful business in any economy by leveraging authentic sharing technology and cultivating deeper relationships.

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