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posted on August 21st, 2015

It was four years ago in the summer of 2011 when Stephen Morris was first introduced to an awesome new concept: earning side income by renting out your personal vehicle. Walking home one day in San Francisco, he came across a VW Bug with one of those magnet signs in the window that said “rent me”, and his brain started wrapping itself around the possibilities.

As an early adopter to the Turo program — and one who has since successfully changed rental markets from San Francisco to Boston — Stephen has a lot to say about his experiences as a Turo owner.

Deciding to rent with Turo

After seeing that initial “rent me” sign on the VW Bug in San Francisco, Stephen recognized a great opportunity. “Living in San Francisco at the time, I used my car during the week but since everything was so close on the weekend it just sat there. So the idea of one less car on the road plus the financial benefit of monetizing the car the weekend was appealing. Plus I liked that it challenged the concept of ownership. San Francisco — like many large cities — has way too much traffic and it seemed wasteful to have a vehicle sitting idle. I like the idea if someone was using my car instead of buying another car. One less car on the road is something we can all appreciate.”

He has since enjoyed how Turo has a very personal feeling that is all about community and its marketplace.

Transitioning from San Francisco to Boston

Stephen was a very experienced renter with Turo in San Francisco, as well as an early adopter in this market. Then, he needed to relocate to Boston for work. “I really debated if I should bring my car with me or leave it in San Francisco with a friend where I had developed a number of regulars who reserved my car on the weekends. Ultimately I did decide to ship the car across country to Boston with me. To change within the system was very painless. I literally changed my address and then updated about the car to let my regulars know about the upcoming move and to introduce myself to the new Boston market.”

Since Stephen had changed his address in advance of the car’s arrival to Boston, he already had reservations by the time it arrived. “Living in the South End at the time, my car was very popular. The income level was consistent and before I knew it I had an equal number of drivers calling it their favorite.”

Stephen has noticed changes between the rental markets in San Francisco and Boston. “From a market perspective, I find Boston renters usually like to ask a lot more questions and inquiries before renting, whereas in San Francisco it was just booked ready to go with not a lot of additional information exchange…I do find the Boston market to be a little bit more conscientious with ensuring the vehicles returned on time and in the exact condition it was borrowed.”

He ended up with 117 drivers naming his car as a “favorite”, and an overall 5-star rating after a total of 363 trips. All of this tells Stephen that he’s doing something right.

Using the extra income earned through Turo

Turo has been a great addition to Stephen’s own paychecks. His side income of several hundred dollars per month has been nice and steady, allowing him to meet two different objectives — decreasing the costs of car ownership, as well as having discretionary spending money to use as he pleases.

“I use the extra money for a variety of things…I’m a bit of a foodie. It was nice to have the Turo checks come in on off cycle from my regular paychecks to help cover dining out. I also loved the flexibility to sample cuisine from higher-end restaurants that I might not otherwise been able to afford.”

As for car ownership, “I realized when you add up not only the monthly payment plus insurance, plus gas, I was spending over $800 for basic transportation. Being part of the program, there were many months where I said to friends and coworkers I basically have a car for free. Turo has helped out tremendously and as of last month I hit a significant milestone in car ownership. I paid my car off! A large part of the credit in reaching this milestone goes to the Turo program and community.”

Tips for earning more on Turo

As an early adopter and one of the most active members on Turo, I asked Stephen to share with us some tips for improving your own rental earnings. Here’s what he shared:

    • Provide exceptional customer service
    • When filling out your profile, reverse your perspective by placing yourself in the potential renter’s shoes so that you can anticipate questions they might ask (you can also participate as a renter to gain this type of perspective)
  • Mention you are flexible and to contact you personally if a renter doesn’t see a time available they want on your car’s calendar

Stephen has since moved again to become one of the growing number of Turo owners in the Dorchester, Massachusetts area. If you’re ever around this location and find yourself in need of a car, be sure to check out his 2010 Ford Escape.

Amanda L. Grossman is a stretcher of paychecks and a post-it note lover. When not blogging at Turo, she's transitioning to her new Mommy-role in Houston where she lives with her husband and two cats.