NATIONAL Car Rental is no stranger to Fleet News Awards. Securing 11 in 13 years makes it one of the most prolific winners in the history of the accolades.
But the company refuses to rest on its laurels and is adamant it will continue to improve its offering to fleets.
The fleet sector is National’s main focus and, speaking to the group’s vice-president of commercial development, Neil McCrossan, it is clear that his sole aim is to give fleets his undivided attention.
He said: ‘The business was created in 1973 to look after the fleet sector and we continue to concentrate on this. We have to be ever-vigilant when developing new services.
The rental industry is like the perishable goods sector. It needs to rent out cars every day. If they are not rented then, the revenue will never be recouped. It is not difficult for fleets to switch rental companies so they have to continually prove they are the best.
However, getting fleets to take full advantage of their rental provider is one of the hardest tasks McCrossan faces.
He continued: ‘Fleets sometimes do not recognise the services rental companies can provide such as added-value products, consultancy, advice and cost controlling measures. Some think rental providers just hire out cars.
‘Sometimes what the customers ask for is not really what they want. If they have a narrow view of what vehicle rental is used for they cannot recognise the full opportunities. It is a management tool to manage costs.
‘For fleets to get the most out of their rental provider, they must open their minds to how rental can play a part in their business. Listen to advice from the rental company, as most rental companies want a long-term relationship with fleets. We are experts in temporary assured mobility solutions.’
When National first launched back in the 1970s, its aim was to provide a rental service to fleets.
It now offers an array of products and services to both fleet and retail customers but the difference between the two sectors is vast, according to McCrossan.
‘Fleet and retail markets are entirely different. Retail customers are usually a one-off transaction but fleets are a long-term, high-value relationship with lots of transactions which are generally longer,’ he said.
One way National ensures its fleet relationships remain robust is to pay particular attention to customer service levels.
Most daily rental companies claim customer service is the key to success and National takes this very seriously.
McCrossan said: ‘Customer service is extremely important to us and we have key performance indicators in place to measure this. We pride ourselves on getting problems fixed really quickly and we do not accept things going wrong.
‘We measure customer service levels a lot internally, report on these and then feed the results back into the business.
‘We also have an evaluation group within the human resources department to see how service levels are doing.’
This continual evaluation of operations helps National stay on top of developments in the rental industry but it is also frequently assessing ways to improve business and provide an even better service to fleets.
The group is planning to increase its van business including the size and range of products and locations offered. National currently has 102 van sites in the UK but it wants to expand this across the network to 175 outlets.
Developments in the pipeline include revamping its airport coverage and online service offerings.
McCrossan explained: ‘We want to improve the range of services provided at airports for fleets, including new products such as express services as the speed of transactions is important to fleets. There is a need to revisit how car rental is delivered at airports, as it has not changed in 30 years.
‘We will also continue to add value with e-business. Everyone has talked about it for years but it has really taken off now and will carry on accelerating.’
What the judges said
A service that is focused on corporate and fleet business, directed at delivering on the promises it has made on product range and customer services.
Huge range of available vehicles, including several unique categories, backed by a wide range of locations, high invoice accuracy, quality management information particularly its online rental management systems – huge number of contract wins and support from most of the leasing industry.
In addition, lots of innovative new products. In a category that offers such competitive services and high standards, being named the best is a great achievement.
Neil McCrossan: profile
Key fleet contacts
Neil McCrossan, vice-president commercial development
Lorraine Farnon, UK sales director
Vicki Graveley, head of fleet sector
Andy Crinson, general manager to Guy Salmon