The scooter industry has grown in the early 21st century as American consumers see the virtues of these light bikes. Scooters are used frequently in downtown districts and college campuses that are difficult to navigate by car or bus. The success of scooter manufacturers like Vespa along with scooter divisions at Honda and Harley Davidson have led entrepreneurs to start their own scooter businesses. The ideal entry point into this business is a small retail store that caters to young professionals motivated to buy these diminutive vehicles.
Complete a business plan for your scooter store that highlights your target market and five-year goals. Conduct your own market research by looking at the number of scooter stores in your area and concentrations of potential customers like college students and young professionals. Convince lenders and investors about your scooter company's viability with modest profit goals and transparency about initial expenses.
Search for a retail storefront within minutes of a college campus or downtown district to maximize foot traffic. Your storefront should be relatively small with a counter area, back room and workshop for repairs. Look for retail space with sidewalk space in the front and customer parking in the rear.
Start a website for your scooter business that is updated regularly with available inventory. Your scooter website should be filled with photos, pricing and service information to encourage consumers to choose your shop over others. The main page should feature a contact form for prospective buyers looking for answers about pricing, availability and store location.
Register for a business license with local and state agencies to start your scooter business. In addition to a general operating license, your scooter business must register with the state revenue department to handle income and sales tax deductions.
Consult with a loan officer at your bank about financing options for future customers. Your loan officer may be able to arrange slightly discounted interest rates for scooter renters and lessees with excellent credit. Work through the same bank used for your business startup loan to take advantage of this pre-existing relationship.
Research scooter wholesalers like X-Treme Scooters for floor models and ordering information. Since your first storefront will have little space for displays, you should order one or two units of each model to show your selection to buyers. Your shop can order scooters on demand with a small down payment to avoid acquiring unnecessary units and cluttering your backroom.
Limit your scooter store's staff in the early months to keep monthly expenses low. Hire a motorcycle or auto mechanic to handle scooter repairs and maintenance if you have little experience with vehicle repair. Train one to two sales people on filling out order forms, contacting suppliers and handling customer requests to ease your daily workload.
Design lease and rental forms for your scooter business for consumers who are not yet ready to buy your inventory. Your lease forms should feature the number of months or miles in the lease term, monthly payments and charges applied for damage after the leased scooter is returned. The rental form should feature a vehicle inventory sheet, provisions for charging customer credit cards for scooter damage and a release of liability for illegal use of the vehicle by the renter.
Advertise your scooter business on college campuses, sporting-goods stores and other venues where your target demographic shops. Print leaflets, simple posters and table tents that can be distributed ahead of your company's grand opening. Include your street address, website address and a clever slogan on each advertisement to attract motivated scooter fans.
Generate revenue after scooters are purchased with basic maintenance packages available to new owners. Your maintenance package should be priced slightly lower than the typical costs of oil changes, tire changes and vehicle inspections. As scooter owners return to redeem maintenance coupons, tell your salespeople to up-sell your customers on comprehensive maintenance services.
Protect each scooter sold by your business by honoring manufacturer warranties and offering your own guarantee. Stock wheels, spark plugs and other parts produced by scooter manufacturers to handle warranty requests. Your guarantee can cover parts and labor from your shop that prove to be defective within a certain number of miles.
Sponsor individual competitors and teams participating in scooter racing leagues like the New Hampshire Scooter Club. This club holds individual, relay and team races in the spring and summer each year using performance scooters. Offer basic maintenance services, accessories and branded clothing to your sponsored racers in exchange for exposing your business to scooter fans.
- Photo by thespeak (Flickr)