However, before jumping in at the deep end, companies should not assume they can’t get even better levels of service and value for money. They need to weigh up the pros and cons of the different rental providers. Fleet decision-makers need to consider issues such as how many locations the provider has, how efficient the reservation process is and what the policies regarding accident damage are.
According to Andrew Burton, sales and marketing director at Thrifty Car Rental, the top three priorities for fleets should be network coverage, fleet size and vehicle choice list.
Fleet NewsNet takes an in-depth look at his recipe for success.
1. Network coverage
How many locations does your rental company have in its network? The more locations your provider has, the more likely it is to be close to your delivery point. This helps reduce delivery and collection times and costs. Also, find out whether the rental provider offers a ‘one-stop shop’ service. For most companies, it is preferable to call one provider for all your requirements.
2. Fleet size
Availability is the key issue for executives who need vehicles, sometimes at very short notice. The larger operators normally have less turndown.
3. Fleet mix
Check which manufacturers are featured in your provider’s fleet to ensure your drivers have a choice across a wide range of vehicles. Marques such as Renault, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Ford, Fiat, Volkswagen and Hyundai should be available.
4. Reservation service
Check the performance targets the provider is working to. It is no good having the right car at the right price if you have to waste valuable time trying to get through to your provider on the telephone.
Check what IT capabilities your provider can offer to minimise telephone calls. Your provider should be able to offer on-line bookings and management reports. Companies should aim for high service standards. For example, some providers answer 90% of calls within 10 seconds.
5. Policy on extending
Does your provider regularly check with you whether or not you still need your vehicle to help you minimise costs? Overdue terminations should be checked on a daily basis to ensure the customer is aware that they still have a vehicle on rent to help the customer reduce costs.
How promptly does your provider invoice you and how accurate is the invoicing? Huge amounts of time can be lost and frustration caused if your provider performs poorly in this area. Aim to invoice customers within seven days of the end of hire and if a vehicle slips through this process and is not invoiced within 90 days, the customer should not be charged for the hire.
7. Invoice queries
If your provider fails to deal with queries promptly, this can lead to frustration and messy sales ledgers. Ensure you obtain a time commitment for dealing with invoice queries. Aim to deal with queries within seven working days.
8. Damage procedure
This area can be one of the most frustrating of all, with some providers failing to invoice promptly and without providing sufficient paperwork to support the claim. Damage should be reported to customers within five working days from the end of the hire and a full claims pack with supporting documentation issued within 30 days.
9. Account management
It is important to ensure your provider meets with you regularly to provide management reports, understand future requirements and resolve outstanding queries. Meet customers monthly or quarterly to provide an account management service with management reports covering all the key areas of the service to the customer.
Price is important and you need to obtain comparative quotes to ensure you are buying competitively. Price is the 10th and last key issue because, if the nine service areas above are not carried out to your satisfaction, the price is irrelevant.