posted on December 13, 2021

“I can never own a car and let it sit anymore”

After picking up his two kids from school, Nigel G. takes them on a walk to the nearest GO station to watch the train go by. 

“I drop them off at nine o’ clock every morning and pick them up at 3:30 every single day,” says Nigel. “These are things we couldn’t do before.” 

By “before,” Nigel means before March 2020 when he left his job as a technical recruiter. When corporate structure and a rigid nine-to-five schedule started to become grating, he looked for ways to build passive income. He bought a triplex in Toronto in 2017 and rented out all three units. But his goal wasn’t to get rich quick or even get rich at all. His goal was to simply cover his expenses, one revenue stream at a time.

My largest expense was my mortgage. So the first thing I did was buy a rental property, rented out my home, and then I figured out how to house hack and live for free. And then I realized my second-largest expense was my car.”

The timing was perfect. He had recently learned about Turo and all the benefits of becoming a host. After a little research, he put his Infiniti Q50 on the platform.

“All of a sudden my car was booked for three days and I was like, ‘Oh, this is amazing.’ And then it was gone again,” recalls Nigel. “I thought that I could have the car when I wanted to, and then because the car was booked so much, I’m like, ‘Oh no, this is a business. I should get another vehicle.’’’ So within thirty days I went out and bought myself a Ford Focus in cash.”

Becoming a Turo host was the perfect way to increase his participation in the sharing economy. While he rented out the triplex, he shared rooms in his own home as part of a house hacking strategy designed to cover his mortgage payments. He’s also begun dabbling in cryptocurrency. 

“I’ve got these tentacles in this sharing economy world that I think is absolutely phenomenal if you dive into it,” says Nigel. “It’s been a phenomenal journey so far.”

Getting the freedom to think about life differently

What started out as a hyper-focused approach to knocking off one expense at a time became Nigel’s entry into a new way of thinking about work and life. 

“It allows me to think about life differently. I can strategize about the future,” explains Nigel. “ I’m focusing on, ‘What does the future look like?’ I’m planning for the future and getting ahead of the curve while most people are just trying to figure out managing work, getting home, getting dinner ready. I have the freedom to look at life differently.”

One thing that sets Nigel apart from many hosts is that while he wants to grow his portfolio on Turo, he has no grand ambitions of building a big company. While he enjoys creating a great experience for his guests and putting in the work to clean and maintain his cars, becoming a manager is akin to jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. 

“I’m not interested in having employees. I’m not interested in another job. A lot of people want to become entrepreneurs to set up these huge massive companies and go public. I don’t want that. I don’t want the corporate structure. I left that. What I want is freedom. I want the freedom to choose how to live my life. And that’s where the sharing economy is different, because it gives you the freedom to choose. If I don’t want my cars being booked, I just take them off Turo for a second. If I want them booked, I put them back on. If you call that entrepreneurial then it is, but I’m not looking to set up a company and run it. I’m looking to reduce the amount of stress.”

Nigel may not want to manage people, but he has no problem interacting with people. In fact, he says the ability to connect with guests and deliver a great experience is a meaningful part of being on Turo.

“I enjoy interacting with guests. It adds some sort of dynamic to my day,” says Nigel. “I like to engage. If I’m not going to be around, then I won’t do a hand off. I’ll just have somebody pick up the keys and go. And if I want to get out of my house for a bit, I’ll book it for downtown Toronto and I’ll drive to downtown Toronto or the airport. I love the flexibility.”

Strategies for managing his Turo business

Enjoying flexibility and a steady revenue stream still requires work and Nigel invests time into making sure his Turo business is successful. He takes cars on and off the platform based on how many kilometers a car has racked up as well as the seasonal demands. 

“As I approach the summer, I try to bring out the nicer cars. Get a Mercedes. Maybe look into getting a drop top convertible or something a little fancier in summer. And then in the winter, I downgrade to more economical stuff. It’s winter, right? People are not really flossing and showing off.”

Nigel also makes sure to give himself a bit of buffer time before the peak seasons start so he can collect good reviews on new cars and be an attractive host to book as demand picks up. He’ll drop his prices in the lead up to the peak season to get the reviews and then raise them when things start to get busy. Nigel is the first to admit that he’s not a car expert though. Much of what he’s learned about this business has been through experimental education. 

“I was clueless. To this day, I’m not a car expert. It’s been trial and error. Some cars did work out, some cars didn’t work out. You speak to your guests. You have conversations with them. Time is the greatest teacher, so after a while you pick it up. I don’t do this blindly. I’m actively figuring out, ‘What can I do better? What can I improve?’”

Speaking of improving, Nigel’s got his sights set on how to future-proof his portfolio of vehicles. As soon as other car brands start making electric vehicles, he plans on swapping out his current vehicles for EVs until his portfolio is 100% electric. He’s confident that that’s the future of driving and car sharing. He’s also confident about one other thing: that his approach to owning cars has completely changed. 

“I can never own a car and let it sit anymore. It wouldn’t make sense. Every car I buy, I’ll put on Turo. I have no emotional attachment to any of the vehicles I put on Turo and I intend to keep that. What’s also perfect is that your cars are always clean. I think I maintain my cars better using Turo than I ever have in my entire life. My cars are never dirty. Oil changes are done consistently. Everything’s on the ball. It’s perfect. You can’t beat that.”