In a previous article, Nine Four partner Kurt Ramirez discussed the impact scooters are having on mobility networks. I want to continue the conversation and discuss how scooter companies and property owners can partner with each other in a mutually beneficial manner.
Dedicated parking can help scooter companies in multiple ways, including:
Charging: Companies such as Bird pay “Bird Chargers” ~$5 per scooter to recharge scooters overnight and redistribute them in the morning. With dedicated indoor parking, scooters can be docked and charged at a set location, therefore reducing the reliance on third party chargers to collect and distribute scooters and increasing operating margins. However, this model would also require scooters to be returned to a specific location for them to be recharged properly. Scooter “collectors” may still be needed if a property is consistently below a minimum number of scooters in the morning. This begs the question, how do third party collectors enter private properties if they are not open to the public? Smart locks and controlled access can help.
Community Relations: An area of concern by community members is the number of scooters left in the middle of common transportation ways (sidewalks, streets, doorways, etc.). Property owners could offer a dedicated scooter parking area outside their buildings so scooters are not left in random places. Further, indoor scooter parking takes more scooters off the sidewalks. Whether the parking is inside or outside, the number of complaints from members of the community about scooters being everywhere may be reduced. Having these partnerships may also help scooter companies win the highly coveted and competitive limited number of permits that some cities are enforcing.
Useful Life: As more operators expand into cold weather climates, they need to protect their scooters from the elements. If the expected lifespan of a scooter is 100 charges, then protecting the scooter from the rain or being covered in two feet of snow may help the scooters see the 101st or 102nd charge. Dedicated indoor parking may also reduce the instances of vandalism over night as these areas may be monitored by cameras or protected by controlled access doors.
Brand Loyalty: If a specific scooter brand is always inside a tenant’s building at the same time and place, that tenant may be more likely to use that specific scooter brand elsewhere because of the reliability and consistency exhibited in previous experiences.
Subscription-Based Business Model: Scooter companies could shift away from a usage fee to a subscription fee. For example, if a rider expects the same scooter brand at the same time, in the same spot every morning, they pay a monthly subscription. Scooter companies may need large properties (150+ units) for this new business model as these owners can offer the dedicated parking and mass resident outreach for subscriptions. Rather than just redistributing scooters along major walkways and hoping for demand usage, scooters can be distributed to these larger buildings where demand is already aggregated.
Dedicated scooter parking can help property owners by allowing them to offer scooters as a service to their residents, which is an amenity that will distinguish them from their competition. Additionally, providing scooters to residents may also increase the radius of where people can live. The real estate appreciation this can have – even if small – is still significant.
If a property has a dedicated docking/charging station for scooters, and scooter companies help ensure that scooters are available for use at nearly all times, residents can become more dependent on utilizing scooters for their daily commutes. Not only does this provide owners with another arrow in their quiver in today’s amenities arms race, this may also increase the demand for properties outside the traditional walking distance from downtown urban areas. These properties will become more desirable than they are today, which may increase an owner’s rents and/or reduce vacancy.
Nine Four Ventures believes scooters and micromobility solutions are going to be meaningful part of our everyday lives. A partnership with real estate operators can potentially result in less complaints from the community and increase operating margins for scooter operators, while property owners can provide scooters as a service and increase the experience of their residents. Ultimately, we expect scooter companies to seek out these relationships to ensure they are the brand that is partnering with property owners as a gateway to working with the broader community.