Six Lessons I Learned From My First Rental
(Scroll down toward the bottom for the lessons learned)I got home from work the next day picked up the canopy and went to drop it off. I had asked if anyone was going to be there to hand it over to and they had told me that yes there would be. As I pulled up to the front of the house I could see some pre-teenage kids sitting on a couch on the front porch. I told them I had a canopy to drop off, but they had no idea what I was talking about. They went in the house to get their mom and she came out. She also had no idea what I was talking about. I tried calling the person who had made the request, but they didn’t answer. Then one of the guys who walked out of the house with the mother said it was probably DJ who had rented it. He called DJ and talked to him. It was him who had requested it. So I proceeded to the backyard with the caravan of about three kids, two male adults and, the wife. I helped them set up the canopy and they seemed very grateful, because as they put it, they would have had no idea of how to set it up. I left there now a little bit more comfortable knowing where they lived at and having met the family who would be using it. A couple days later I messaged (who I thought was) DJ asking exactly when he would be bringing the canopy back. He asked if I could come by and pick it up from the house again. I agreed because I was anxious to get it back and complete the transaction. He said he was having trouble paying with the website and said he would give me cash in person. I reluctantly agreed knowing that it was very likely that they were having trouble since I was still new to all this too and the payment process wasn’t super simple. I drove over to the house knocked on the door, told them I was there to pick up the canopy, and asked for DJ. DJ was not home was the answer I got. I walked around the side of the house to the backyard where the canopy was still set up. I could see that they had haphazardly put up the walls to the canopy, although it did not appear that they even tried to do it correctly. The corners were not in the corners. They were half way dangling on the ground in the dirt and mud (as it had rained last night). And kids had taken a red marker and colored on a small portion of the wall. I disassembled the canopy and put it away. Upon doing this I discovered one of the legs had been bent. I took it all out to the car. As I did so, DJ drove up to the house. I talked with him for a little bit and he seemed extremely grateful for the use of the canopy. I asked him for the money and he seemed flabbergasted that I had not yet been paid. Come to find out it this whole time it was one of his students who had reserved the canopy for him. And I had no idea. In the end it all worked out, just not very smoothly or efficiently. The $30 I charged for the rental covered the cost of a new leg and the red marker and dirt came off the canopy walls after much scrubbing. In all it took me several hours of work to fully complete the transaction, clean the canopy, and fix the broken leg and I might have made a dollar or two. Was it worth it? Monetarily, no. But in the lessons I learned, yes. The next time around I could complete the transaction without all the problems and make some money.
The StoryThe website was up and my account was created. I had posted about 20 items I was hoping to rent out and make a little money. Most of the items were tools, but I also had a popup canopy I had recently purchased. I had received many concerns from those I knew such as, “what if someone doesn’t return the item”, or “what if they damage it”. These were valid concerns, but I had faith the it would work. Most people don’t want to steal or damage something I have let them use. Rental transactions worked out everyday in stores so they could also work for me and I was going to prove that I could do it. When I received the email saying that someone was interested in renting my pop-up canopy I was thrilled. It would be the first successful real transaction on the site since I had created it. I was willing to go to great lengths to prove that the website and the concept would work. I messaged back to ask what they were planning on doing with my canopy to which they responded that they were having a family get together and needed some shade. That sounded perfect. People having a family get together must be caring people who would take care of my belongings (at least I would be). As the weekend approached we agreed upon a time they would come and pick the canopy up from my house, but they had still not completed the transaction on the website. They said they would do it before they picked it up. This was making me a little nervous, but I was determined to prove that it would work. They were honest people who I could trust. Each day that we tried to arrange to get together was difficult because they worked starting at 5pm whereas I got home around that time. How do you arrange the hand off when we didn’t have times to get together? They said they would have someone else come and pick it up from me. This made me a little more nervous because now I wasn’t going to be able to meet the person who was actually going to be using the canopy. I couldn’t have them complete the transaction online in front of me because it wasn’t them. I ended up offering to drop it off at their house “to make it easier for them.” In reality though it made me feel a little bit better though because now I knew where they lived at and had a little bit of security in that. At least now I wouldn’t have to worry about them stealing the canopy. They seemed extremely grateful to me for that offer.
1. Get a security depositIt is a little nerve racking to hand over something you have bought without any guarantee it will be returned. A security deposit works in two ways: it is an incentive to return the item in good condition and it is a comfort that if something is not returned in good condition then I will be compensated accordingly.
2. Make sure to get money before releasing productIt ended up working out for me, but I did not have a guarantee of this. I almost did not receive my money and I wouldn’t have had any way to deal with it.
3. Make sure you are talking to the person who will be renting productIt seems a little silly, but as I discovered at the end of the transaction, I had been talking to a person helping the renter out and not the renter them self. They did not mention this and I never thought of asking it. It gives a little more confidence in the transaction if you are interacting with the person you are going to be renting to.
4. Make sure you are charging enough for your time that might be spent in regards to the transactionTime is money and on my first transaction I was so anxious to make it work that I spent a lot of time working everything out. I drove over and dropped off the item. And then I picked it up. While I was there I had to set it up and take it down. Then it had to be cleaned and repaired. You may not have to do all this, but don’t discount your time. If you are going to deliver the item, make sure to charge for your time. And consider charging a cleaning fee if you need to clean the item afterwards.
5. Don’t go out of your way to make the transaction work, even if it means you don’t get itI went way out of my way to make the transaction work by rescheduling several times and then delivering the item and then picking it up. This is not worth it. Rental transactions like this should not require an excessive amount of time and energy to make successful. Forget about it if it is too much work. There will be other transactions.
6. Know your equipment, and how much of a beating it will takeWhether or not people mean to, items will get bumps and bruises. Most people do not intentionally break things, but life happens. People trip. People drop things. Some things are made to be cheap, some to be durable, some to be light, some to be versatile or flexible. Know whether or not your belongings can take it. If you want your things to stay in pristine condition then don’t rent it out.
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July 5, 2020by Arcee Umali