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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Enter your email for the free report that details how I got started and grew my mobile notary and loan signing agent business to multiple six-figures.