Making a living renting scooters is probably not an easy thing to do. In fact, David Howard, who has been running ScooTours Denver “since the snow stopped,” specifically did not ask folks who have tried it and quit it because he didn’t want to be talked out of his plan to do so. And you know what? His business model just might work.
David and I went for a ride Sunday on a couple of his electric scooters. David has these electric Vectrix VX-2s that we were on as well as a herd of Kymco People 50s, which are gas-powered. The key with all these scooters is that they are small enough that you don’t need a motorcycle validation on your driver’s license and you can park them anywhere, like a bicycle. That’s very important in the rental business. If your clients have to be validated motorcycle riders your potential for business just got cut by about 90 percent.
David promotes his business telling prospective customers he is set up just across the street from the blue bear, the big piece of public art that stares into the Denver Convention Center from the sidewalk. The way he is set up is what’s really interesting.
This block is where Bubba Gump’s sits, and the parking lot right next to the restaurant was where David worked out a plan with the operator to store his scooters. He was going to put a portable storage shed in one corner of the lot and work out of that shed. But the city said no.
Long story short, David confirmed with the city that it is legal to park small scooters like his on the sidewalk chained to bicycle racks. So he does. There are a few racks right by Bubba Gump’s and there are other racks around downtown where, when things are going on in those areas, he will park the scooters. They have seats of his signature green color that make them very visible and they are clearly marked as being for rent, with the phone number prominently displayed. If someone walks by and wants to rent one they call the number and David arranges to meet them and do the deal.
Walk-bys are his number one source of business, with number two being people who see people he has rented to riding by and getting interested. He also has made contacts with concierges at all the major hotels. That way, if a guest asks what there is to do in the area, renting a scooter and cruising around Denver is an option that may spark some folks’ interest.
So we were hanging out by the parking lot and David’s phone kept ringing. And people kept stopping to inquire. In fact, there were a couple guys in town for a convention there across the street who had seen the scooters the day before and decided they wanted to take advantage of a gap in their schedule to go cruising. Now was the time.
Unfortunately, as David explained to them, the paperwork and the prep–getting them familiar and comfortable with the vehicles–takes about 20 minutes and that would only have left them with about half an hour to ride. And they absolutely didn’t have time the next day or any other day of the week. Really too bad you guys didn’t call yesterday so it could have all been set up.
Meanwhile, we were there to meet Rachel and Rocky, who had called ahead to rent a couple scoots. Once they were mounted David asked them to ride around the parking lot a few times to get familiar with the scoots and also to help him get comfortable with them as riders. Rocky seemed totally natural right from the start. Rachel seemed tentative at first but very quickly her confidence blossomed and they were ready to roll. Rachel told me she has ridden jet skis, so she does have familiarity with the whole hand throttle, personal vehicle thing.
David then had them ride around the block just to get a bit more at ease, and then they were ready to be off. They have only been in Denver about five months and had not been to Red Rocks so that was their destination. It just seemed like a fun thing to do to head out there on a scooter.
So there’s more, and this post is getting long. I’ll pick back up next time.
Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Ride report: Spending time on a Vectrix VX-2
Biker Quote for Today
You’re a biker wannabe if you’ve never seen a sunrise from two wheels.