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
SEPTEMBER 23, 1994