The B Corp certified and socially responsible bike chain Baisikeli is one of the companies facing a massive change in the way they manage bike rentals.
A new world after the corona pandemic
With almost 2 years of a complete shutdown in the rental industry due to the global pandemic, many local rental companies can now reopen their doors and look forward to a very busy summer season. But the customers they otherwise knew so well from before have changed. All while shops had to remain closed and people stayed at home, the world changed rapidly. Consumers have quickly become accustomed to shopping and ordering online, and now expect the same digital experience from the local bike rental.
" The rental market was completely gone for 2 years, and the pandemic and developments have changed the picture completely ", says the marketing manager for Baisikeli, Mikki Dall. '' First came the pandemic, then the share of electric scooters entered the market and floated in the streets of Copenhagen, and with that, people have gotten used to the fact that things are just smarter ,'' Dall continues.
With digital competitors such as Donkey Republic, TIER, VOI and even the city bike, all of which have smart solutions for booking and payment, the consumer has gained an enormous expectation that the rental process from rental companies such as Baisikeli should be as simple and smart as possible. Either via a smart app or an intuitive website.
"And here we are left with a good old-fashioned bicycle business" says Dall and continues "we have e.g. super nice cargo bikes from Christiania Bike and Nihola, but people don't want to wait a long time for their bike to be delivered any more".
The need for a new strategy for bicycle rental
Baisikeli, which means bicycle in Swahili, was founded in 2003 because they already saw the massive waste of resources around used bicycles. In Denmark, hundreds of thousands of bicycles are scrapped every year. In large parts of Africa, there is a great need for cheap means of transport. The idea was simple: Baisikeli was to collect some of the roughly 400,000 bicycles that are thrown away here in Denmark every year and send them to Africa, where they were to be repaired by a local bicycle workshop and sold at market price. As the operation grew, the need for ongoing income increased, which resulted in the cousins Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Mortensen opening the now well-known bicycle workshop in Vesterbro in 2007. Since then, they have opened branches in Slangerup and Valby, and started renting out cargo bikes for tourists in particular, who want to experience the Danish capital the way Copenhageners do, via bicycle.
After the pandemic, developments in the sharing economy and technology have almost forced Baisikeli and other rental companies to think more about their position in the market, marketing, and they have had several strategic considerations to streamline the way a rental company is run. "It has been important to develop at the same pace as society and find your own niche," explains Dall. We are faced with a choice about how the business will operate in the future, what type of business do we want to be? Should we hire out many cheap bikes on a daily basis, or fewer bikes for a longer period - which is of course affected by our need for space.
This clearly emphasizes the need for you as a company to be ultra flexible and adaptable to big and small changes in your industry.
If you compare the rental industry with the airline industry, you see many similarities in terms of development and the need to become more efficient in order to survive. In the airline industry, there has previously been a similar development in relation to how the consumer behaves in the purchase and use situation. Few people probably buy a plane ticket from a person in a physical store, but most often pay in advance via a website and receive the ticket by email or in an app. Renting equipment should be as easy as traditional online shopping or ordering an electric scooter in an app is an undeniable truth that many companies now have to live up to.
Spent hours answering emails and phones
Baisikeli found itself in a situation that several companies can most likely identify with, when it comes to the energy that is put into each individual customer treatment and into the rental process itself. ” We had far too many open channels where people could contact us and ask us anything. We therefore spent several hours every day answering emails with the same repetitive questions about equipment rental, unemployment, insurance, cargo bikes, etc., ” says Dall.
In the morning, all the customers come at the same time to rent a bike, which is then returned at the same time in the evening. All this happens while the phone is constantly ringing and the inbox is overflowing with unanswered emails. What is really a time stealer concerns the actual ordering of bicycles, where customers must physically enter the store and register on a piece of paper, in order to be handed a bicycle. It is incredibly time-consuming and it creates an unmanageable chaos, which is difficult to keep control of and get an overview of.
This is one of the biggest challenges with traditional renting. Too much time is spent on manual tasks. It can be incredibly difficult to combine busyness from the phone, spontaneous drop-ins and emails, if you don't have a system that can synchronize this and automate the whole process.
When you have as many bicycles as Baisikeli has, the day goes by quickly with things that do not necessarily add value to the company. The time wasted on manual tasks can, if nothing else, be used to create growth in your company and establish better contact with your customers.
Experienced decline in five-star recommendations on Google
At Baisikeli, they rent out many e-bikes, both for short and long term hire. It is mainly tourist families who spend a lot of money on expensive cargo bikes. "It is considered first-class equipment and therefore a luxury experience is also expected", confirms Dall. Therefore, Baisikeli had to implement a fully digital transformation of its rental business in order to meet the consumer's expectations for service and easy ordering.
" The fact that we need to digitize the rental process was finally confirmed when we started receiving three- and four-star reviews on Google ," explains Dall. Something that deviates from the norm of five stars. The reason for this was not in the level of service or the quality of the equipment, but that people thought the waiting time to get a bike delivered was too long. The consumer has become accustomed to things only going very quickly and smoothly. " We saw a clear need to streamline the entire process ," acknowledges Dall.
The choice of the Sharefox rental system
A dream scenario for Baisikeli is a world where the consumer takes care of the sales work around letting. This means that the customer himself can:
- Search and find the store online.
- Search and find all necessary information about conditions, insurances and equipment on their website etc.
- Order exactly the equipment they need.
- Pay in advance.
- Receive order confirmation and invoice by e-mail.
- Pick up and return the bike yourself, without the need for staff.
A dream scenario that is now becoming a reality with the collaboration with Sharefox. Baisikeli will now have a tailored system where the customer takes care of most things themselves, in the style expected of online shopping. Mikki Dall especially fell for the flexibility of the program. "It is a smart system where the customer does all the work themselves and the possibility of additional sales when choosing equipment is an important game changer for future income," reports Dall. As previously mentioned, Baisikeli is considering new strategic ways of running its business, which the Sharefox rental system easily allows. This is not a locked program with strict rules. Sharefox grows and develops with you.
Many companies have previously shown a preconceived fear of restructuring or strategic change, especially in the direction of digitalisation. But it doesn't have to be a negative experience at all. It doesn't take a master's degree in coding to adapt. Sharefox gives you, among other things, a modern plug and play website with a booking calendar and a well-structured product overview, as well as an intuitive admin tool where you, as the owner, have a full overview of stock and your orders.
The season ends in October for Baisikeli and it is still uncertain where Baisikeli will land with his new strategy, but one thing is certain. There will always be winners and losers when society undergoes changes that require fundamental behavioral changes. Baisikeli has shown which side they want to be on and has taken a significant step towards digitization and efficiency, which will ensure that they are equipped for new developments and trends in the rental industry.
What are you going to do now?
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