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One of the first questions that people ask me when I tell them I own Rent A Van is, “how did you decide to get into that business?” It’s a great question, and one with a pretty easy answer. The very simple explanation is that I started Rent A Van, or RAV as we affectionately call it, because there was a need.

There is, as you might expect, a lot more to it than that. So, if you’re interested, keep reading and I’ll give you the story about how Rent a Van Iowa came to be!

In the heart of Des Moines, a decision was made, one that would eventually give birth to Rent A Van—a vision sparked by the desire to provide a service that had long been absent in this vibrant city. For as long as I can remember, I’ve harbored the dream of owning my own business, yet it wasn’t until I moved to Des Moines that the pieces of this entrepreneurial puzzle began to fall into place.

The journey to establishing Rent A Van was driven by more than just an interest in entrepreneurship; it was ignited by a crucial observation. The city of Des Moines lacked a dedicated van rental service. Many rental companies focused on smaller vehicles, leaving a void for those in need of spacious and reliable van options. This realization sowed the seeds of an idea that would soon grow into a thriving business.

My personal inspiration to embark on this venture was twofold. Firstly, my church’s experience needing a van for a youth group missions trip highlighted the unmet need for van rentals in the area. The difficulties they faced in finding a suitable van were both a challenge and a revelation. This was a service gap that I was determined to fill.

Secondly, my connection to Rent A Van in Lincoln, Nebraska, played a significant role. This established business was not only a frequent travel companion for me but also a testament to the success and reliability of the van rental model. After reaching out to the owner of Rent A Van in Lincoln, I received valuable guidance and encouragement to pursue a similar venture in Des Moines.

Additionally, the owner of the Lincoln location advised that starting in 2022 would be impractical due to an extreme shortage of vans and new vehicles. He recommended waiting until 2023. This delay allowed me to further refine the business plan and strengthen the foundation for Rent A Van.

The combination of the unmet need within Des Moines and the inspiration drawn from the success of Rent A Van in Nebraska set the stage for a new beginning, not just for my entrepreneurial dreams but for a service that would benefit the community.

For as long as I can remember, my life has been colored by a deep-rooted passion for traveling and outdoor adventures. The allure of the open road, the thrill of exploration, and the unique experiences that come with it have always been at the core of who I am.

This love for travel isn’t merely a personal preference; it’s a force that has played a pivotal role in the birth of Rent A Van. The desire to facilitate journeys, whether for fun or business, was fueled by my own adventures. Road trips have held a special place in my heart, where the journey itself often outshone the destination. The sights and sounds of the open road, the serendipitous encounters in small towns, and the freedom to chart one’s own course; these are the elements that make traveling by van an unforgettable experience.

One particular aspect that has left an indelible mark on my heart is the missions. Whether it’s driving a group of enthusiastic youth to a life-changing event or embarking on a mission trip to give back to communities, vans have been the conduits for unforgettable moments. From ski trips to Colorado to mission trips to Mexico, these journeys have been the crucible where enduring memories were forged.

I recall one mission trip vividly, where we journeyed to a remote village in Mexico. We loaded our vehicle with supplies, food, and the boundless enthusiasm of the young volunteers. The vehicle became a hub of camaraderie, laughter, and anticipation as we navigated winding roads to our destination. The vehicle symbolized not just transportation but the beginning of a remarkable journey that would touch lives.

These experiences have been a source of profound inspiration. They’ve shaped my understanding of the importance of reliable transportation, especially for groups on a shared mission. It’s about more than just reaching a destination; it’s about the moments shared during the journey.

The passion for traveling and outdoor adventures is not a solitary endeavor; it’s a celebration of connection, community, and discovery. Rent A Van is not just a business; it’s a conduit for others to experience the same joys I’ve cherished through countless road trips and missions. It’s a chance to transport people to their destinations, yes, but more importantly, to carry them into a world of adventure and connection.

Section 3: Identifying the Need and Setting Rent A Van Apart

Before embarking on the journey to establish Rent A Van in Des Moines, it was crucial to conduct thorough research to ascertain the need for van rentals in this vibrant city. This step was essential in understanding the market and identifying the unique value proposition that would set Rent A Van apart.

Our investigation revealed that while there were some options for vehicle rentals, the city had a noticeable gap in dedicated van rental services. Many existing rental companies in Des Moines focused primarily on smaller vehicles, leaving a void for those in search of larger vans. As someone who had personally encountered this challenge when my church needed a van for a youth group mission trip, it became evident that there was indeed an unmet need within the community.

But identifying the need was only the beginning. To stand out and provide a service that would truly benefit the community, we had to go further. Rent A Van aimed not only to fill this void but to do so in a way that sets us apart from competitors. Today, our key distinctions are as follows:

  1. A Guaranteed Reservation: At Rent A Van, we prioritize reliability. If you make a reservation with us, you can rest assured that you will have a van when you need it. We understand the importance of trust and accountability in the rental business.
  2. Unlimited Mileage: We offer the freedom of unlimited mileage on rentals. Whether you’re planning a long-distance journey or a local excursion, you won’t be burdened by mileage restrictions. This is a feature that few competitors can match.
  3. Simple Pricing Structure: Our pricing is transparent and straightforward. We’ve set our prices for the entire season, ensuring consistency and ease for our customers. No hidden fees or surprises, just clear rates.
  4. Short-Term Rentals: Unlike traditional rental car companies that often require minimum multi-day rentals, we offer the flexibility of short-term rentals. You can rent a van for as little as a single day, accommodating a wide range of needs.

By understanding the need for van rentals and addressing it with these unique features, we’ve been able to carve out a niche that caters to the diverse requirements of our customers. Rent A Van is not just about filling a gap; it’s about doing so in a way that makes the rental experience dependable, flexible, and straightforward.

The journey to establish Rent A Van wasn’t without its fair share of challenges. Among these hurdles, one of the most formidable was finding the right location to set up our business. We had a specific vision in mind, one that aligned with our commitment to providing top-notch service. This vision required a location that met three key criteria.

Firstly, we needed ample parking, capable of accommodating 40 or more vehicles. This was essential to ensure that we could always meet the demand for van rentals, no matter the season. We didn’t want our customers to face the inconvenience of being turned away due to a lack of space.

Secondly, our location had to include a shop with space for at least two vans to be sheltered indoors simultaneously. This was vital for maintenance, particularly during inclement weather. Furthermore, having a working floor drain in at least one bay was a necessity, enabling us to wash the vans indoors, ensuring they were always in pristine condition.

Lastly, an office area with an exterior door was paramount. This allowed customers to easily complete the rental paperwork when picking up their van. Convenience and a smooth rental process are fundamental to our approach.

The quest for this ideal location was not an easy one. It took nine months of diligent searching, and at times, we had to make compromises. The space we ultimately settled for was larger than what we needed, but it checked off all the essential boxes.

While overcoming these challenges was a significant accomplishment, it’s only the beginning of our journey. The road ahead is filled with aspirations for Rent A Van. In terms of the community, our goal is to become the preferred and trusted source of passenger van rentals for all of central Iowa. We envision a future where businesses and organizations that currently own vans but use them only a few times a year may find it financially prudent to sell those vans and opt for rentals. Our aim is to provide the flexibility and reliability they require, without the hassle of ownership.

On a personal note, I hope to see Rent A Van flourish and expand its presence. The dream includes opening multiple locations, each managed by dedicated staff, while I provide leadership and guidance. This vision stems not only from a love for entrepreneurship but also from a profound passion for serving the community and fostering the joy of travel.

The challenges we’ve faced have only strengthened our resolve to achieve these goals. Every obstacle we’ve overcome is a testament to our commitment to delivering exceptional service to our customers and the community.