We interviewed Akeem Reed, the owner of USA Slingshot Rental in Atlanta, Georgia. He’ll tell us how he started with Slingshot rentals, what his business looks like now and where it is headed. One of the interesting things about Akeem is that he actually used UnusualInvestments.com as part of his research when he was deciding whether or not to invest in Slingshots. It sounds like it paid off for him!
Can you tell us little bit about your background?
I’m a serial entrepreneur, I’ve been in business for 10 years. When I started my journey it was in the mall kiosk business. Being an entrepreneur in the kiosk business where you focus on the hottest trending products. I developed a knack to notice market trends.
What gave your the idea to buy Slingshots to rent out?
After a brief discussion with a friend I did some research into the slingshot rental business in which I came across your article and thought it was really an unusual investment. In the fact that it was really sparked my interested. Also, in 2020 Polaris first introduced the Slingshot in automatic. That increased the market even 80x more than what it was before. On top of that it was pandemic proof. While social distancing I realized it gave more people a fun and safe thing to do.
Did you just buy 1 and see if it would work, or did you by several and go “all-in”?
I initially started with 1 and quickly scaled from there. My first month I bought 3 more. When I started there was only one company that had automatics here in Atlanta the market was underserved and I ended up ending my first season with 8 slingshots.
Have you used any car rental platforms like Turo or Getaround?
I’ve never used car rental platforms, I was a power seller on eBay and Etsy, I was also previously on Airbnb. Both of those experiences ended pretty rough for me. Long story short I was kicked off of the platforms for not adhering to new policy changes. When a major platform changes the rules and it puts you out of business it hurts. They don’t care about the small guys in political situations. Having your own platform allows you to charge higher prices and run your business the way you see fit. I taught me to never depend on another persons platform again so, I created my own when I started USA Slingshot Rental.
If you don’t use car rental platforms, how do you get the word out about your business to potential renters?
Platforms are exactly what they are, platforms, we are in the digital age. Where anyone can create their own platform. I do what entrepreneurs have been doing for years, I market, I advertise, I sponsor events, I go to events, the major key with any business now is having an online presence. 80% of my marketing is online. The slingshot rental business is becoming more and more popular people know that they can rent them now, as an operator it’s important to have a strong online presence so the people who are looking for you find you.
Do people rent Slingshots every day of the week or is it more popular to rent for the weekends or during popular vacation times?
During the summer months here in Atlanta, with 17 units we are completely booked sometimes for weekends at a time. Holidays are always great for business it helps with weekday rentals as well. Slingshots are mostly a weekend thing, unless something is happening in the city.
Are your renters locals or tourists?
I get around the same amount of traffic from tourist and locals one doesn’t outweigh the other. I do notice more locals rent during the week on a day off or something mostly.
How many days does the typical renter rent a Slingshot for?
Typically 2-3 days, is the average duration. Even though it’s not uncommon for someone to rent for a week but or average is 2.5.
Is there a lot of maintenance between rentals?
The beauty of it, is that it’s not at all. I purchase brand new slingshots with warranties. Slingshots need to be serviced in 5k mile increments. Depending on the amount of units in your fleet. On average each slingshot may get around 3-4 services a year. Average cost for service is $400.
You shared with a screenshot of your June 2020 to June 2021 revenue of almost $600,000. Can you break it down in terms of how many slingshots you own, how many days a month each one is rented out (on average) and your average rental cost per day?
Sure, those numbers were based on a 17 units eventually purchased in total. The average rental rate is $350/day. With approx. 42 bookings a week. With an average rental rate of 2.5 days a week. This also includes additional fees like helmet rentals, mileage overages, etc. Those are averages.
What expenses are involved and how much of your revenue goes to these expenses?
Not many expenses are involved besides insurance premiums are the most expensive expense. They average around $7k per year per unit. You have rent, utilities, GPS subscriptions, credit card processing and website fees, like you have with any business. I actually started the business from home once my fleet grew I eventually had to get a shop/office location.
Do you manage this business completely yourself or do you need other employees?
No I manage it on a day to day, I have a reservation system that makes it very easy to manage so I’m not at the shop all day long working.
What are your future plans? Are you going to stick to the Atlanta market or do you plan on expanding to other areas?
We currently have 7 locations in total in our network besides our Metro Atlanta locations in Macon GA, Savannah GA, Augusta GA, Memphis TN, (2) in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. I want more people to get into this business while it’s lucrative. Instead of charging tens of thousands for franchise fees I have an online course and community that allows me to show other entrepreneurs how to get into this business and create an exciting new attraction in their area. Without paying ridiculous franchise fees other companies charge. I believe everyone will feel the urge to experience a slingshot and it’s a great time to be in the Slingshot rental business.