Fleet News

Face to face: Don Moore, Enterprise rent-a-car

IF you look up the word ‘enterprise’ in the dictionary, it is described simply as an undertaking, but often a bold or difficult one.

Which makes it a fitting name for a car rental company that 10 years ago this month decided to launch a battle for business in the UK, arguably one of the harshest environments for this type of industry.

Intense competition hammers down rates to unprofitable levels, while any profit that does squeeze through is threatened by rising holding costs and damage repairs.

Despite the daunting outlook, Enterprise rent-a-car has turned its toehold on the market of 10 years ago into one of the leading companies trading in the market, with a particular focus on fleet business. And, according to Don Moore, vice president of sales for UK and Ireland, it is trading profitably, which is in itself an achievement in this market.

He argues that its success has been determined by the unique path it chose for growth, which has currently reached 250 branches, 3,000 employees and 30,000 vehicles, including a fast-expanding van fleet of 4,000.

For example, the company outright purchases the majority of the fleet and handles remarketing. But before trading started, a set of founding values set its operational benchmark across several key areas.

The values state that the brand is the most valued thing the company owns; personal honesty and integrity are the foundation of success; customer service is its way of life; and that Enterprise is a fun and friendly place where teamwork rules.

The document adds: ‘We work hard and we reward hard work. Great things happen when we listen to our customers and each other. We strengthen our communities, one neighbourhood at a time. Our doors are open.’

And just to prove that this statement is more than a scrap of paper, Moore carries a copy in his wallet and argues that if you take care of customers and take care of employees, then profit and growth takes care of itself.

He said: ‘We are service driven. People come back when there is good service. Being biggest is nothing unless you are the best.

‘We find the wants and needs of customers. We have to bring efficiencies to the table and that helps us offer a competitive rate. A clear advantage is our growing branch network.’

That wholly-owned network already has 250 sites and is set to grow further in future, with plans for growth of around 20% in the network.

Whereas accepted wisdom might suggest a large site could more cost effectively serve a whole town, Moore believes in the value of an extensive and local network.

He said: ‘We are within 10 miles of 85% of the population of the UK. For the foreseeable future, our goal is double-digit growth.

‘A lot of rental firms service from one location, when, in the same area, we believe we can operate from four or five. We would rather have a location in the high street than on some outlying retail park.

‘The more network you have, the more benefit there is. In more than 40 years in the US we haven’t reached a limit and we are still growing there.’

When the company first launched in the UK, much of its business came from the replacement vehicle market, but it spread its net wider, now taking about 45% of its business from the corporate market, with 40% replacement and the rest retail.

The fleet market is intensely competitive, particularly when it comes to price, but Moore is certain his firm’s proposition is perfectly balanced for the industry.

Earlier this year, he argued that rental firms vying for new business needed to offer a lot more than a reasonable price in today’s competitive market.

A poor customer service record could be enough to put off a prospective fleet customer even if the rental company is offering the best price. And while it is important to say the right things about customer care, technology advances and other areas of perceived added value, you also need to deliver on them. And at the heart of the promise lie the employees who will deliver the service.

Enterprise operates a scheme where employees are only eligible for promotion if their ESQi scores (a measure of customer satisfaction for their branch or region) are at or higher than the average for the company as a whole.

Furthermore, the firm only promotes from within, proved by the fact that Moore used to wash cars at Enterprise when he first started.

And that is where the list of values comes into play, offering a guide on what is expected of each employee. Whatever the employee’s job title, if a customer needs help, then they do what they can. This can range from running the front desk to washing a car, he argues.

Personal service is also a key to defusing potential conflicts with fleets. For example, collecting customers and bringing them to the rental site to receive a car, and taking it back in person, ensures any fair wear and tear issues can be handled immediately. For customers such as London-based Zig Zag productions, it is also useful to be given a lift to a rental site outside the congestion-charging zone before starting a journey, to avoid the £5 daily charge.

Moore added: ‘Each branch operates like a local business and I believe there is no limit to our expansion. We want to be as close as we can to our customers in the UK.’

Timeline for 10 years in the UK

SPRING 1994

  • Enterprise makes an initial inquiry at a London Recruitment Fair to see what interest might be generated. More than 750 people respond

    AUTUMN 1994

  • Six US employees of Enterprise move overseas to open the UK market. The first branch is in Reading

    SEPTEMBER 23, 1994

  • The London group rents its first car

    SUMMER 1996

  • With branches in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, Enterprise reaches 300,000 units on rent

    WINTER 1997

  • Enterprise reaches 100 branches in the UK

    AUTUMN 2000

  • Worldwide, the rental fleet reaches 500,000. Enterprise’s rental vehicles, stacked on top each other, would reach 473 miles into space
  • UK operations moves into new headquarters in Egham, Surrey

    SUMMER 2002

  • European operations recorded 20,000 units on rent after just eight years. It took US operations 27 years to hit that milestone

    SUMMER 2003

  • European corporate headquarters opens near London
  • Reservations pour in as www.enterprise.com comes to the UK

    AUTUMN 2003

  • Enterprise expands into Northern Ireland. Belfast branch opens

    MAY 2004

  • European operations records 30,000 units on rent
  • Enterprise is now one of the biggest recruiters of university graduates in the UK

    AUTUMN 2004

  • Enterprise records 30,000 units on rent in the UK
  • The UK website, www.enterprise.co.uk, goes online
  • Enterprise now has over 240 locations across the UK
  • 84,400 miles are driven every minute by Enterprise customers in Enterprise cars worldwide
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