With its dispute with Sixt in Germany firmly in the past, the international hire company is now busily expanding its European network and investing in IT to serve multinational corporate customers, according to John Lawrence, Budget's director, corporate sales international.
He said Budget's new counter software system, called BMS, will significantly improve the quality of the management information the company can supply to customers, helping them to manage their car hire budgets better.
BMS will also help Budget and its customers monitor compliance with centrally negotiated travel arrangements, and Lawrence underlined the need to work with customers to ensure that rental volumes promised at tender actually materialise.
'With a genuinely global deal there has to be a realistic time scale to achieve our objectives,' he said.
'In year one you are changing people's travel habits, so the contract really starts to work in the first six months of the second year. But if we have been given volume targets and priced our rentals accordingly, we would feel within our rights to challenge customers to ensure we also got value from the deal.'
Budget expects at least 75% conformity from companies with a solus rental policy, accepting that no deal can reach 100% until a hire firm has a branch in every town and city in the world. The company also recognises its own responsibilities to make a global deal work, and has introduced an internal communication strategy to ensure that within a week of Budget winning an international contract, its national account managers are contacted so that they can start to build a relationship with the new customer in their own markets.
Fresh tenders for global rental business are arriving at five or six per month, and Budget is pitching for more than 20 worldwide opportunities, building on its success in supplying firms such as Nortel, Zeneca and UTC, while its pan-European accounts number into the hundreds.
'We want to be on the bid list for every major account in Europe,' said Lawrence.
This developing world of global contracts is leading customers to expect a global rental tariff, and Lawrence acknowledged that 'it is impossible to operate globally unless you can offer a global rate'. Budget's reservation system recognises the corporate discount number of each business account, so that business travellers are automatically invoiced their pre-negotiated rate.
The genuine added value of a global arrangement may not necessarily lie in rates, however, but in the conclusions drawn from the analysis of high quality management information.
That is why Lawrence is keen to stress the practical benefits that would stem from BMS.
'We can learn more about our customers and their booking trends, and then help them to manage their rental policy better,' he said.
Internally too, Budget has invested heavily in a new 150-page web-based sales presentation that its corporate sales staff can download around the world. This internet facility includes national market information, from the address of locations to local hire rates, taxes, surcharges and services.
'And with better communication from one continent to another there is more confidence in one country negotiating a deal that has an impact on another market,' said Lawrence.