Everyone’s talking about the “sharing economy” these days. There’s Uber for rides, Airbnb for lodging, and even Rover for your pets. In the sharing economy, users can pay for access to items they want that are owned by someone else rather than needing to buy them for themselves. Of course, we’re basically talking about renting – not a new concept by any means. The sharing economy has caused renting to take off in a big way. But what if you’re a business owner who sells physical goods? Won’t the sharing economy spell disaster for your business model? Not so fast. Here’s how you can thrive.



If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!



Who says you can’t rent out at least some of your inventory? While you may not have thought of it this way before, you know you have products on your shelves that almost never sell. They collect dust and wait, but you feel obligated to keep them there because of that one customer that comes in every few months looking for them. Why not rent out at least a few units of that item instead? Items that would get purchased and only used once can now be used over and over again, rented out to consumers who only need to complete one project or tackle one problem. There’s nothing stopping you from renting out that item many times, increasing your revenue way beyond what you would have made if you’d simply sold it outright. Finally, lowering the price of a big-ticket item and making it available for rental opens the doors to a whole segment of the population that would otherwise be unable to afford it.



Turn Wasted Space into Profit



Do you have a gigantic parking lot that never fills up, even on your busiest days? A beautiful, well-equipped conference room that you only use once a week? What about a fancy, expensive piece of office equipment that you barely use? These are all opportunities for extra revenue. Rent the parking lot to the high school next door whose driving student population has grown beyond what their property can handle. Make the conference room available for community organizations for meetings and events. Advertise your office equipment to freelancers and solopreneurs who would otherwise never be able to afford one. While you’ll of course need to put procedures in place to make sure that your regular business activities aren’t impacted and that there are no concerns about customer privacy, the sharing economy is a great way to give new life to wasted space.



Services Are Where It’s At



If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of renting out some of your inventory or space, you can still modify your business model to take advantage of the sharing economy. It’s a sad fact that people tend to be rougher on things that aren’t theirs – it’s why hotel rooms and rental cars sometimes seem so beat up while your own home stays relatively pristine. If you have repair skills, there’s a huge market available to you in the form of the owners of these newly shared items. Other businesses will be emboldened to loan out their products if they know they have a reliable place to repair them when they fail. You could also consider opening a teaching side to your business and educating consumers on the proper way to use and get the most out of the products they’re renting. The sharing economy emphasizes spending money on experiences rather than things, so offering classes and interactive gatherings could be a big hit.



The Sharing Economy Can Work for You, Too



You don’t have to feel like a salmon swimming upstream when it comes to the sharing economy – remember that you can be a customer, too! If having a dedicated physical storefront isn’t essential to your business model, consider moving into a smaller, bare-bones location and renting breakout spaces for certain projects or events. Maybe it’s time to stop trying to maintain a full fleet of delivery vehicles and consider using couriers or a car sharing service.  Be creative and open to the advantages the sharing economy can provide for your business.



Cost-Cutting in Other Areas



The sharing economy can help you generate extra revenue and minimize costs. While you’re taking a holistic look at your business model, give some serious attention to the credit card processing fees you’re paying – they’re probably out of this world. Even if you’re relatively happy with them, take a look at how much they’ve gone up since you started working with that company. We bet you’ll be shocked. 360 Payments is a different kind of credit card processor, and we invite you to see why. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website. We’ll show you how we set ourselves apart.



PS – Read this to learn why 360 Payments is different.



PPS – Here are the five marketing trends you can’t afford to ignore in 2018.