We had the good fortune of connecting with Nika Shneyder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nika, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Having the flexibility to create my own schedule has always been one of the most important things to me. When I was in college, I interned at Paramount Pictures, and while I absolutely loved the work I did there, I quickly realized that clocking in and out did not suit my personality. I knew that the only way to be truly in control of my day, was to build my own company. Luckily I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I grew up with the expectation that if I didn’t want to work 9-5, I had to work 24/7, at least for some time. I didn’t know exactly how my business was going to pan out, we didn’t sit down and create a business plan or forecasts, no charts were involved. We just saw that there was a need for a new type of RV rental on the company, there wasn’t a lot of competition at the time and we saw lots of opportunities to stand out. We felt like we could start this business with a relatively low risk, if things didn’t work out. we could just sell the RV and close the company. I knew that this was going to be an interesting venture because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. From the moment that my dad introduced the idea, we had countless discussions of how we can differentiate our brand and why things would in fact work out. I think the most important thing about entrepreneurship, is that you just need to start. We knew we didn’t have all the answers, in fact, we didn’t even know what we didn’t know, but we did know that the only way to learn was by doing and we were excited to start. I was also very happy to find an opportunity to work in such a fun industry with a winning team. My dad has the technical knowledge and I studied marketing and have the customer service experience. Together, I felt that we could do anything, and building an RV company seemed like the coolest thing to do. We started with just one RV to test the waters and surprisingly, it was in higher demand than we expected. Throughout the years there’s one phrase that still lingers in my mind, “build and they shall come”. It wasn’t always easy, of course there have been many challenges, but the biggest lesson I learned is that with the right team and attitude, you can figure anything out. Starting a business may seem overwhelming because there are so many factors involved, but taking it one step at a time and constantly moving forward is key. Even though our company isn’t a huge international brand (yet), running a business and having the opportunity to turn my ideas into reality is incredibly fulfilling.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I once heard that what differentiates a business are the people that run it. By my nature, I am a very empathetic person. Sometimes that can be detrimental in a business setting, but thankfully, so far it has worked out to my advantage. When we started this company, I literally did not know a single thing about RVs. They were big, complicated and super overwhelming. My dad had the technical knowledge and he taught me everything I needed to learn to teach our clients. Because I, myself was intimidated by RVs initially, I quickly realized that our clients, might also be intimidated by the whole thing. I saw an opportunity to cater to the first time renter and teach them in a simple and affective way on how to use the vehicles. I made a commitment to be kind and patient with our clients and make them feel like when they rent an RV with us, they have a friend they can call. I think being able to constantly put myself in the shoes of our clients and try to understand what we can do to make their experience better has been the single most important factor behind our success. We are constantly listening to what our renters have to tell us and adapting our procedures and offering all the time. For example, the RVs that we rent have lots of awesome features but that involves lots of different buttons. We would spend about 2 hours teaching our renters about all the ways to operate the equipment but then I would get calls about all the things we had gone over already. This was frustrating on two parts, because one, I felt like I needed full time staff just to help me answer all the questions, but more importantly, I felt that if I was a client and I had to call for help, that would be detrimental to my experience. So to address that challenge, we created short videos to educate our renters on all the procedures and we made those videos available online and in the RVs. Our clients were instantly happier to be able to find the answers themselves, and I was happier because I was able to provide a better experience and work less. We’ve been doing this for 5 years now and we are still listening to client feedback and adjusting our systems and procedures all the time. I am really proud to have the opportunity to build something that people genuinely enjoy using. The question asks to talk about some of the challenges too, and to be quite honest, there have been many. The biggest challenge however, is a mental one. Having created this business from the ground up, literally inventing every aspect of it, has put a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed. I’m slowly learning to be my own person, irrespective of how my business does, but for many years my happiness was so closely tied in with business performance. Because our industry is seasonal, every slow season was really tough. When demand declines and the phone calls slow down, I would catch myself on the thought that I need to work harder, push more, create a better offering. But questions of doubt would inevitably come up. Thankfully at this point I’ve been able to shift my mentality and learn about gratitude. From my clients feedback, I know that we’re on the right track and I’ve learned self discipline to practice meditation and gratitude whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. I’ve actually written down some of my favorite comments from my clients about the positive experiences they’ve had working with us and if I ever catch myself feeling discouraged about something work related, I read them to remind myself that we have a great thing going. I genuinely feel that we provide more care and support than any other RV rental and having that purpose keeps me motivated to do even better.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Los Angeles is a marvelous city. There are so many things to see and do, even with the pandemic. Being an enthusiastic for the outdoors, I would take my friend to all the cool hiking spots. But if we were able to get really wild with it, we’d take one of the RVs to Joshua Tree National Park to star gaze and rock climb. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom and dad are my biggest motivators. They are the reason that I am able to believe in myself and my potential. We are an immigrant family who came to the United States 18 years ago, in the pursuit of the American Dream. My parents showed me that if you are persistent, creative and empathetic, anything is achievable.
Chill RV Rentals