It’s not often that you get the opportunity to drive a car that goes for $120,000. There are those out there however that would jump at the opportunity to drive a high performance automobile, especially if they didn’t have to drop their life’s savings on the experience. That’s where Red Lines Rentals comes in. Similar to what you see in other cities, the business specializes in renting out dream cars for the day, the week, etc.
I spoke to company co-owner Gregory Straus who offered to take BRO for a test drive of their new product line:
When did you start the business?
My partner Matt Bona and I have been developing our business plan for almost a year now. Officially we opened less than a month ago and filed all of the paperwork. Last week, we received the green light to start buying cars and we’re still out buying while we try to promote our business at the same time.
How did you arrive at the idea that Buffalo was in need of a high performance and status symbol rental market for cars?
Matt and I were working for the same company out of college and were sent to NYC to work for a Wall Street client in fall of 2008. This is where we were initially exposed to companies renting high end vehicles. What was really interesting to us was the growth of the industry in the decline of the economy – it seemed that people were actually choosing to rent vs. buying such expensive cars – and the companies offering high end rentals have expanded at record rates since then. The biggest one is now servicing some of the largest cities in the country with millions of dollars in inventory. We’ve been lucky to have a chance to talk with them. Being car guys, we thought – how could we make this work in Buffalo? With a short summer season how could a business like this work? The answer is what showed us the market potential… with long winters and high cost ownership, buying these cars might not be practical for everyone. “So Rent it” especially if you just want to try it for a day before spending a small fortune. You won’t see the pure exotics in our fleet, yet. We have hand selected popular models to build the base of the fleet starting at ‘affordable’, to see where the market wants us to go. But make no mistake, our cars perform with the best!
On another interesting note – We’ve seen all the recent Groupon offers, with cars that travel around the North East coming to Buffalo for a weekend. People pay to drive the cars in a parking lot. We aren’t doing that. We think taking the car on the open road is what Buffalonians desire.
Right now you have three cars to choose from. What are they?
Yesterday we took delivery on our first car. A Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport. But we aren’t done. Our 6 figure shopping list still includes a Porsche 911 Cabriolet (Convertible) and a Dodge Challenger. Our three cars have three different price levels and offer three different types of vehicle. From an Autobohn-ready German auto in the Porsche, to an American icon in the Corvette, to the Reborn ode’ to muscle car era of the 70’s in the Dodge Challenger… The goal is to fill that desire in everyone, whatever that might be.
In what way do you anticipate growing the business?
We’re hoping to go a few routes with our business. First and foremost we’re aiming to make things easy for people, up to and including home delivery. We’re looking for people locally and even those coming to town who have a desire to drive something beyond the airport rentals. They don’t do what we offer. We encourage people making a nice weekend getaway, to take our car anywhere from the Finger Lakes to Niagara Falls. We’re working with some local restaurateurs to offer what we’re calling “A Night on the Town” – date night has never been this much fun. There might even be a hotel package coming soon. Car, Dinner, Hotel. Who wouldn’t want to live a night in style? We’re even in preliminary talks to include this as a corporate reward as well, where top performers can get a car for the day, on the company’s dime.
How has the response been so far?
We’re almost overwhelmed by the positive responses from our first few events. People seem to love the idea but we also know this is definitely a niche business. We need to get the word out and find the right people. People are coming to us and talking about it more every day, and we’re excited about it. Over the next few weeks we hope to hear from many more people that they like the idea. We’re locally born and educated entrepreneurs and I think a lot of people respect us for trying something new – even if they never would rent a car.
Who is your target customer?
The target customer for this type of experience comes from several different walks of life.
We’re hoping to cast a wide net. From the young professional wanting a date night, to the new coolest thing to do for a bachelor party vs. golfing, to the middle-aged people who just always wanted one of these cars but never found it feasible to buy it, to the corporate clients looking for new ways to experience our great city and get out of the office doing it.
What do you need to rent a car?
These are serious cars with serious horsepower. Driving them requires complete control and responsibility at all times for the safety of the renter and those around them on the road. The requirements are 25 years old +, a clean driving record, full coverage personal auto insurance, and a valid credit card that will hold a $5000 refundable security deposit. We get a good number of questions on the last one – typically “why such a high deposit if you have my insurance?” It’s quite simple, the security deposit is meant to encourage the renter to act responsible and treat the vehicle as their own.