A relentless drive to keep its products and services relevant is helping Enterprise Rent-A-Car meet the changing demands of the market.
One of the UK’s largest fleet operators, with 100,000-plus vehicles, the business has adapted its offering, giving customers a 24/7 service and access to technology to make ‘mobility’ choices.
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) – the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand – has forced a rewriting of the rules, effectively consigning the traditional vehicle rental model to the history books.
“The market has changed dramatically over the past 18 months; in terms of access and convenience, as well as the time increment and types of vehicles you would look to locate,” says Adrian Bewley, director of Business Mobility, UK and Ireland at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
“It is about giving the end user the increment of time and choice for all your products and services.
“Ultimately, 24/7 access is what the business renter wants and they want it in the most convenient places as part of an ecosystem.”
In terms of daily rental, Enterprise Rent-A-Car offers a service for private and business use as well as replacement vehicles for the insurance sector from more than 470 locations.
It also operates one of the UK’s largest car clubs – Enterprise Car Club – giving members 24/7 access by the hour or more.
The range includes vans, electric cars and hybrids, which can be accessed from almost 100 branches and more than 1,300 on-street locations in 170-plus cities and communities throughout the UK.
Meanwhile, Enterprise Flex-E-Rent supplies a range of cars, light commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), including refrigerated vehicles and accessible transport, under short- and long-term agreements, from 24 locations in the UK.
The company has also developed a web-based platform – Enterprise Travel Direct (ETD) – a journey assessment and booking tool. It enables customers to compare transport options in real-time, such as daily rental and car clubs, and make a selection according to the lowest rate or most sustainable choice, dependent on the company’s travel policy.
“Business mobility now means we complement other modes of transport rather than try to compete,” says Bewley.
“An individual will decide how they will travel, it’s just how you can make yourself relevant when people are choosing the different modes of transport that are most convenient to them.”
Fleet News: How do you make yourself relevant?
Adrian Bewley: The facts are, if you make it as simple as possible and available, people will use it.
It’s one of the reasons we have almost 100 (Enterprise) branches with 24/7 car clubs. That’s the clearest illustration of how we see mobility.
We’ve realised you need to give people more choice, and access and convenience are the things driving what people want.
FN: Does having a large network help?
AB: What may have been seen by others as a problem in having a huge network that’s owned and operated has actually become a huge benefit. It has become one of our biggest strengths.
We own and operate our own vehicles, and we decide where the access points are. We have 470 branches where we can offer those access points and that gives you a tremendous advantage when enabling different services.
FN: Do you envisage that network of Enterprise branches offering 24/7 access growing and how will you decide where they are located?
AB: Yes, we do and it will be determined by demand in those areas, but our short-term objective is to get to around 50%.
Ultimately, who knows though because we’ve got complementary strategies where we can compete as standalone car clubs in some cities.
FN: In an effort to help people make mobility choices, you launched Enterprise Travel Direct (ETD) last year. How does that work?
AB: It’s about tackling unmanaged travel that, at best, has a spreadsheet or an expense after that travel has happened.
Grey fleet has historically been unmanaged because nobody has been able to enforce the (travel policy) rules prior to a decision being taken. That’s why ETD has been so successful.
FN: Where have you seen the greatest take-up of ETD among fleets?
AB: Primarily in the public sector, with more than 100 organisations signed up and 33,000 individual users.
FN: Do you see the services you offer as a move away from ownership to usage or complementing some form of ownership?
AB: It’s a little bit of both. However, who will decide this is the end user. There are enough people, much younger than me, who have decided they don’t want to own things, not just cars, and there are enough examples where usership is the right way, not ownership. We need to be nimble enough to adjust to the circumstances, but there is still a relevance for ownership and funding for the foreseeable future.
FN: How did the acquisition of SHB Hire in March fit with the future strategy of the business?
AB: We want to have availability for every increment of time and product offering. We’re at the early stages of integration, but it’s going really well. It’s a fantastic business, with tremendous knowledge and experience in the commercial vehicle world.
They have some areas of specialism that are fascinating and they will make us better, there’s no doubt about that. But bringing it all together will take time as we’re mindful of what created such a wonderful business and we recognise the importance of retaining those qualities.
FN: What new services are you offering to fleets?
AB: We are the largest accident management company in the UK that nobody has ever heard of. We repair 200,000 vehicles annually.
We have been dealing with insurance companies for 25 years-plus and are very relevant in the personal lines insurance business, but we’ve now launched our fleet and business-to-business accident management programme.
Essentially, we’ve taken what we’re really good at in personal lines insurance, looked at the requirements for a company car driver and utilised all the technology at our disposal for the corporate market.
Third consecutive win
Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s approach to developing services helped it secure the ‘Best Rental Company of the Year’ title at this year’s Fleet News Awards for the third consecutive year.
Key to its success with many fleet customers has been its ability to identify and control grey fleet. It works with public and private sector fleets to introduce car clubs and/or daily rental.
Most recently, it has helped the Highland Council reduce its annual business mileage by more than 825,000 miles, with subsequent cost savings in excess of £400,000 in the first 12 months after introducing Enterprise Car Club. The cash saving represented a 15% reduction in overall business travel costs, while the council’s grey fleet mileage has fallen by nearly a quarter (22%) and its overall business mileage has dropped by 13%.
Bewley says: “The role for us is to bring everything together, but it feels like there’s much more to come.
“It only feels like part of the evolution and that there will be further opportunities to develop our business further. It’s really very exciting ensuring that you stay relevant for your customers.”