Khaled Shahbo and Adrian Bewley believe Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s integrated solutions give it the edge over its corporate mobility rivals
Corporate mobility is worth £800 billion a year, according to the Global Business Travel Association, so it is little surprise the UK market is becoming increasingly competitive.
Alphabet, for example, no longer describes itself as a leasing company, but as a ‘business mobility provider’; LeasePlan, another leasing company, launched its Swopcar car-sharing service late last year.
Vehicle manufacturers are also getting in on the act – BMW has teamed up with rental company Sixt to offer its DriveNow car-sharing service – while some rental companies have been quick to spot the opportunities offered by car clubs, Avis Budget buying Zipcar, for example.
Enterprise Rent-a-Car, however, believes it has a major advantage over its mobility provider rivals as it continues to evolve away from its core offering of daily car hire.
“A lot of people have created a web of outsourced products and services,” says Adrian Bewley, head of business rental for Enterprise. “We own and operate everything that we offer into the market. That’s a substantial difference.”
Khaled Shahbo, managing director of Enterprise Holdings for the UK and Ireland, adds: “Each of our services is suitable in its own right as a standalone product, but we are talking about holistic mobility and an integrated, coordinated solution for all our customers’ mobility needs.
“Whether they want a Mini, a Micra, a Maserati, a minibus or, on the commercial vehicle side, a Kangoo, a Transit, a tipper or a 17.5-tonne articulated lorry with two refrigerator units with four refrigerated spaces, you can come to one company with one account and access all of those, and that’s whether you want to run it for an hour, a day, a week, a year or a multi-year agreement.
“That’s what I call holistic mobility and I’m not sure anyone offers that as comprehensively as we do today.”
Enterprise’s desire to become the principal mobility provider for businesses and private motorists wanting to access any type of vehicle for any period of time led it to acquire City Car Club in April last year, which relaunched last month as Enterprise Car Club.
The company also acquired commercial vehicle (CV) provider Burnt Tree in 2014 and combined this with its own CV offering to form Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, which has a fleet of more than 25,000 vehicles.
“A lot has changed in the past few years,” says Shahbo. “The business has fundamentally transformed itself. When you look at the acquisitions we’ve made and the developments we’ve made, starting with buying the second-largest truck and van supplier in the country (Burnt Tree) and the second-largest retail car club in the country (City Car Club), as well as opening up our first exotics division, each of those developments has come at the behest of our customers.
“They identified a need, we listened to them, we engaged with them, we realised we may not have a best-in class service in that area, so we filled that gap.
“We build the majority of what we provide to our customers. We’ve bought a few of those elements and we are developing other elements, but they all come back to one point – we’ve listened to customers.
“You can look at our history and it’s peppered with that same repetitive thing – every innovation we’ve had has come around from listening to customers.”
Enterprise prides itself on its customer service and Bewley says this is evident through its investment in technology and the new tools the company is developing, including online systems and smartphone apps.
“It’s key to make it easy to access products,” he says. “Three, four or five years ago, it was very difficult to access lots of different products as you had to go into different places or different systems.
“Improving that access gives power to a business to build a travel programme that suits its exact requirements.”
Enterprise can help do this by making sure services are not treated as standalone products, but as part of a suite of offerings, says Bewley.
“When we speak to a B2B customer, we can talk to them about how they gain access to Enterprise rather than just telling them we have a rental car service and a car club service,” he adds.
“Essentially it is about convenience and accessibility.”
Enterprise is working on a journey assessment tool to help customers choose the most appropriate form of travel depending on their requirements and company policy.
“They tell us the parameters they would like to operate their fleet policy within and we build those into journey assessments,” says Shahbo.
“They can tell us that if the journey is more than 17 miles, they want to use a car, less than 17 miles, they want them to use a taxi.
“Our tool will help the transportation manager use their own data in a manner that’s functional and practical.
“We can be aligned with their end goal. If it’s cost savings, then we focus on that, if it’s time efficiency, that’s what we focus on. If it’s CO2 emissions, then we can build the algorithm for that.
“Once the data is input, it’ll spit out a series of potential outcomes. One may be taxi plus train, or it could be hourly rental, daily, weekly or more. Whatever the outcome, that is the preferred mechanism that we recommend.”
Bewley says recommending services not provided by Enterprise builds strong relationships with customers.
“We’ve been giving advice to customers for many years around all our product lines and we like to give good, impartial advice that’s sustainable,” he says.
“We’ve had an awful lot of customers for many years because of that neutrality.”
Although Enterprise has changed drastically in recent years, Shahbo says the transformation it will go through in the next 36 months will be far greater than that.
“There will be a convergence of technology, services and information management systems the likes of which we’ve not seen before,” he says.
“In three years’ time, we are going to be offering much of the services that we’ve been discussing, but how people access them will be faster, more consistent.
“It’ll become more automated and convenient, but the nice thing is that at the point of transaction we will never lose sight, no matter how automated or digital the access to us is, of the men and women who provide the service at the front line.
“We are still a people business, whether you text us, connect with us though an app or computer: our culture has always been about service and that won’t change.”
Enterprise ‘is always looking for opportunities’
Some of Enterprise’s recent progress has been through acquiring Burnt Tree and City Car Club, and Khaled Shahbo did not rule out making more acquisitions in the future.
“We are always open and we are always engaged in some sort of assessment of opportunities in the marketplace,” he says.
“Where we think they’ll add extra strategic value to our integrated offering, we’ll certainly take a look, but our customers will have to tell us there’s a need we’re not fulfilling and then we’ll go and try and fill that in the most effective way possible.
“We’re always looking for opportunities that better complete our integrated offering, but we’ve got a lot of products in development and will make a couple of announcements in late spring/early summer of new offerings.”
Organisation: Enterprise Rent-a-Car
Managing director of UK and Ireland: Khaled Shahbo
Head of business rental: Adrian Bewley
Number of Enterprise branches: 420
Enterprise Car Club coverage: 19 cities, 1,200 bays
Number of Flex-E-Rent depots: 19