Parking is a big struggle for me as a Turo car share host. I want to share a recent drop-off fiasco that came with a $700 price tag…

First I’ll share what happened, then I’ll list a few solutions related to Turo parking. 

If you have any additional recommendations please do share. 

Turo parking gone bad

A Turo guest reserved my BMW X5 for a wine tasting trip to Napa.

To set the stage it’s important to note that I was out of town for work.

An hour before the reservation ended I suggested that the guest pay attention to street parking signs. The San Francisco meter maids love giving out tickets, and they’re not cheap…

You can probably guess what happened… 

  • At 8 AM the guest parked street-side with the meters going live at 9 AM. This meter had a two-hour parking limit. 
  • Half the front tire was on a ‘red curb’ and impeding a driveway. Not good. 
My BMW X5 near the red curb

I was monitoring the situation remotely and attempted to warn the guest. Radio silence.

There was no doubt in my mind that I’d come to find a parking ticket (~$75).

It was worse.

An angry San Francisco resident called the police. My car was issued a $110 citation for partially blocking a driveway.

But that’s not all.

It was towed to the San Francisco AutoReturn where it cost $689.25 to get it back (including the citation).

BMW X5 Tow Bill - $689.25
Google reviews for San Francisco AutoReturn
Great reviews for San Francisco AutoReturn…

Who’s responsible?

“Guests are responsible for returning a car that’s parked on the street to a legal parking spot where it’ll be safe from tickets and tows for up to 24 hours after the end of the trip.” 

Turo Support Website

The guest was definitely responsible based on Turo’s policy (see above). Needless to say, it didn’t bring me joy to see a $700 towing bill in addition to the trip cost. I ended up waiving the reimbursement fees (tolls and fuel). 

As a car share host I’m striving for that ‘WOW guest experience’ while earning profits. It’s a side-hustle for a reason, right? My logic is that positive reviews are instrumental to getting reservations which lead to earnings. 

Following? If my guests have a poor experience and fail to submit positive reviews it ultimately dings me.

It’s all about the positive reviews. Keep ‘em rolling in…

Avoiding Turo parking mishaps

Turo parking is a challenge. Good communication and being transparent is key. Here’s some ways hosts can go above and beyond.

Communication

Most of my guests are from out of town. Others don’t live in San Francisco or even a city. They aren’t familiar with street parking signs, parking permit areas, street cleaning schedules, etc. 

It’s good practice to communicate in advance what’s expected in terms of parking. 

I really enjoy StreetSmarts and their automated messaging features. I’ll dig into that in a later blog post. Or just contact me and I’d be happy to explain how StreetSmarts is making my life as a car share host a lot more practical.

Park for guests

Sometimes Turo parking isn’t a stress-free experience.

Imagine having to search endlessly for street parking in order to end a reservation.

If I’m home I’ll offer to physically park the car. That’s the ‘WOW Experience’ that’s rewarded with positive reviews. Hopefully.

Timing is everything

I don’t do this but it’s an option.

Schedule reservations to end after-hours or when parking is plentiful. Maybe it’s during the day when everyone’s at work. Or maybe it’s at night when everyone’s gone home. You get the idea.

Get a garage

I’m lucky to have one garage spot in San Francisco. Dedicated spots in SF range from $200-400 depending on the location, valet, services, etc. Having a garage spot for each car in my fleet is not practical (and not a good business decision). 

Consider this: my Mustang has a utilization rate of 90% (September). It’s only parked and not generating revenue 3 or 4 days out of the month. A monthly dedicated garage pass doesn’t make sense.

Go to suburbia

Demand might drop-off outside the city but Turo parking should be plentiful. Would the neighbors mind? I personally don’t have experience with this.

Turo reimbursement process

The reimbursement process with Turo isn’t difficult. The main thing is emailing receipts. I did this the evening that I retrieved my car on September 11. 

Turo states that “refunds may take up to 10 business days but are often completed within three to five business days.”

I still haven’t received my reimbursement. It’s September 22 as I’m writing this.

Conclusion

The silver lining is that this guest requested to rent my car again despite this experience.

If you’re on the fence about car share hosting don’t worry. Things like this will certainly happen but it’s not a big deal. 

If you’re currently car sharing consider ways to reduce guest frustrations. It will ultimately help you achieve better reviews, more reservations, and higher earnings.

Please get in touch if you want to discuss your situation specifically. 

As always, comments and feedback are welcomed.

It’s time to share my Carvana review. This review is based on my actual experience purchasing a 2018 Ford Mustang Ecoboost Convertible in June of 2019.

I’m not affiliated in any way with Carvana other than being a customer. I’m not compensated to write this.


I wrote about Carvana in my Guide to Purchasing a Turo Car

Now I’ll dive into the details related to my personal experience purchasing a car on Carvana.

What is Carvana?

Carvana is an online car dealership. I consider Carvana an ‘innovative disruptor’ for a few reasons.

For starters, their inventory pictures are terrific. Maybe that’s what you’d expect from a business soliciting high-priced goods sight-unseen!

The product pages clearly document any faults and blemishes. They even describe how many key fobs are included.

Note-  I believe some or most of their inventory is sourced from car rental companies. Most vehicles have around 20-30k miles and are 1-3 years old.

Speaking of reconditioning slightly used vehicles, Carvana has a rigorous inspection process that is documented in detail here.

Carvana Review - Car delivery!

Did you know that they deliver cars to you? Pick a mutual delivery time and your car arrives on a Carvana branded flat-bed fueled, cleaned and ready for a test drive. 

Carvana offers a 7-day test drive period where you have the ability to return the car at no cost. They’ll even come and pick-up the vehicle. There is a mileage limit where you pay a few cents after so many miles.

If you’re keeping the car it’s time for paperwork. You have the option to add a warranty and servicing contract. Believe it or not it, signing took less than 5 minutes. Way better than a traditional dealership. The keys are yours! 

Note- I don’t have firsthand experience using their financing options.

In regards to finances, one of my favorite aspects of Carvana is their low, no-haggle pricing. Believe me, I tried to negotiate a lower price. I feel they’re very competitive. I was aggressively comparing Carvana to purchasing an almost identical vehicle from a dealer only auction (Manheim). The pros and cons of purchasing from a dealer only auction is a totally different post.

The Takeaway

Carvana is an excellent way to purchase a vehicle. 

  • I really enjoyed NOT having to visit and interacting with a dealership.
  • Their thorough vehicle inspection process gave me confidence. After all, I’m purchasing a car on Carvana online, sight-unseen.
  • Carvana’s 7-day return policy was also a positive.

I hope this Carvana review is helpful to you. Remember, an important success factor for Turo car share hosts is purchasing and acquiring a vehicle at the right price. Get this right and success is right around the corner.

If I can provide additional feedback or guidance please get in touch! Happy to help.

The goal of this guide is to shed light on purchasing a car for Turo. 

Taking your first step in car sharing can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

Bear in mind, this is my perspective. This is one of those things where if you ask 10 Turo hosts how they purchase vehicles they’ll tell you 10 different ways.

Naturally I need to assume a few things before we get to the good stuff.

For example, I assume you’re new to car sharing. I assume you’ll use Turo as your car sharing platform. I assume you don’t have a million dollars to spend. Or a million hours of time.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, we need to get philosophical for a minute. 

Why are you embarking on a car share hosting journey? Is it to subsidize the cost of car ownership? Is it a side-gig with income the name of the game? 


Remember your response. We’ll come back to this. For now, let’s shift into first gear.

My framework for purchasing a Turo car sharing vehicle involves three stages:

  1. Market research
  2. Vehicle analysis
  3. Purchasing

Market Research

In real estate it’s location, location, location. In car sharing, location is still important.

If you live in Salt Lake City, one could expect high demand for SUV’s. Driving up Cottonwood Canyon for fresh pow in a snow storm necessitates a certain type of vehicle. 

If you’re in San Francisco you might get groups of friends interested in wine tasting in Napa.

Cruising to the Keys from Miami? Hope it’s a convertible!

Think of your local market. What do you, your friends and family do for fun? If tourism is big, what do they do?

Review the Turo marketplace for your city. Pick a date far enough into the future to accurately view most listings. What’s popular? What’s lacking?

The Turo blog occasionally publishes good market data. For example, as of mid-year 2018 Toyota, Ford and Chevy were the most booked ‘makes’. 

‘Compact’ and ‘SUV/Pickup’ were the top 2 vehicle types.

Keep in mind this data represents the entire platform.

Resource: Market Guides (select cities) – Turo

Another resource you can explore is Sharelytics. This post reviews Top Performing Turo Cars in North America in 2018.

Keep in mind, the general rule of thumb is the lower your car’s daily rate, the more turnover and work required. 

For example, a $40 per day Toyota Yaris might require 15 reservations per month for you to breakeven. That’s a significant amount of guest check ins and outs, interior and exterior cleaning, reimbursements, possible claims, etc. 

A Porsche 911 at $180 per day may require 10 reservations per month for breakeven. Yes, it’s a more expensive ride, but it’s less turnover. 

If you haven’t yet, now is a great time to ponder how much time you want to dedicate to car share hosting. This will certainly influence your vehicle choice.

Once you’ve thought about your market we can get more specific. Let’s talk cars.

Vehicle Analysis

One of my favorite tools is Turo’s Carculator


Based on your market research, plug in a few vehicles you have in mind for your specific area. Be sure to explore the different trims and styles. It makes a difference.

Ignore the ‘delivery’ option for now.

Take note of the model’s earnings power while toggling different years and trim/style.

Are you in a city with Turo Go remote handoff? Make sure your vehicle is eligible (2012 and newer, specific makes, etc.).

Resources:

Top Earning Cars – Turo

Once you’ve identified a possible vehicle it’s time to review the financials.

Note: I can write an entirely separate guide just for this. I’m not an accountant but I have a background in finance and I’m a spreadsheet geek. Contact me and we can review your financials.

The spreadsheet you create should include:

Income & Cash Flow In

Turo’s Carculator estimates are sufficient.

Expenses & Cash Flow Out

Insurance – start with a quote from your current auto insurance company

Maintenance – research your vehicle’s maintenance schedule and ballpark costs like tires, oil change, air filter, etc. I like using Your Mechanic.

Other expenses – Registration, software like Streetsmarts, car wash, parking, Turo Go, etc.

Car acquisition costs – one time (title, registration, sales tax, etc.)

A few notes:

  • It’s good practice to incorporate time value of money. This means a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow. Google Sheets NPV function.
  • In regards to maintenance, I found it best to forecast miles, then break down maintenance costs per mile.
  • Assume you’ll sell the vehicle with 100,000 miles (or whatever). This is a cash inflow in the last period of your model. You might be asking what’s the vehicle worth? Be sure to incorporate vehicle depreciation. If you’re reviewing a 2018 BMW 3-Series, what’s a 2015 BMW 3-series worth today? Ballpark it. Be conservative. Kelly Blue Book it.
  • Estimate total car purchase price (delivery, paperwork, vehicle, etc.).

After countless revisions you’ve found a vehicle. Now what?

It’s time to make this happen. It’s time to purchase your vehicle.

Purchasing a car for Turo

There’s countless ways to purchase a vehicle:

  • New and Used Car dealerships
  • Third Party/Private Sellers (Craigslist, eBay, Local newspaper, etc.)
  • Online Marketplaces (Carvana, Tred, Shift, Vroom. etc.)
  • Dealer Auctions (Manheim)

Get the best price. And don’t get ripped off. If you’re not mechanically-inclined, have someone review the car prior to purchasing. 

My general rules:

  • Don’t buy a high mileage car (you’re asking for problems).
  • Be realistic with maintenance costs (American and Japanese cars are less expensive to maintain than Germans, etc.).
  • Don’t get the most powerful trim, unless it commands a meaningfully higher premium.
  • Buy from a reputable source.

I like Carvana. They deliver the car to you. There’s a grace period where you can test it out. They perform a comprehensive check of the vehicle. Warranty coverage is available. They have competitive, no haggle pricing. 

Summary:

Some serious thought should go into purchasing a Turo car. I break down the process into three stages: 

  1. Market research
  2. Vehicle analysis
  3. Purchasing

My comments above hit on just the tip of the iceberg. Over time I plan to get more detailed.

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to help.

Good luck with your car share hosting journey!