We look at how some firms are benefiting from the flexibility daily rental can offer.
International civil engineering company Hochtief UK (Construction) uses flexible rental to manage changes in demand on its 140-vehicle fleet.
Facilities manager Colin Shewring says: “We have a number of senior managers who are on secondment to the UK business and we use PoolFleet as a source of temporary vehicles.”
PoolFleet is ALD Automotive’s short-term flexi-lease programme, with rental periods starting at 28 days.
The average rental is for 12 to 14 weeks, and customers have the ability to terminate the hire at 48 hours’ notice without charge.
Shewring adds: “Due to employees’ status within Hochtief it is important that they are able to drive high quality cars which are frequently not available to use on short-term hire.
“The service is also very cost-effective when compared with traditional daily rental.
“PoolFleet effectively gives us all the benefits of company cars without contract restrictions and additional charges. We also use the facility for new starters.”
PoolFleet operations manager Adrian Temple says: “Many companies have traditionally retained a small fleet of pool vehicles but they would invariably be high-mileage, often in poor condition and would be driven by many different employees.
“Not only have companies found it more cost-effective to hire vehicles for a brief period than retain a pool fleet, but as vehicles are less than six months old they are more acceptable to employees, help promote the image of a company and meet best practice occupational road risk demands.”
When choosing a rental supplier, E.ON agreed that price was only part of the selection process.
It wanted a long-term partner that would fit its business straight away but also develop with the company in the future.
David Graham, fleet manager for the energy supplier, says: “Our key criteria covered environment, health and safety and cost-effective pricing, so our rental provider had to be able to deliver on all these areas.
“Also, we take our corporate and social responsibilities very seriously, which means we needed a pan-European daily rental supplier which would work with us to ensure we were meeting our company’s criteria on cutting carbon emissions.”
For more than four years, E.ON has chosen Europcar as its daily rental provider, and in response to E.ON’s requirements, Europcar created a successful initiative that has introduced CO2 limits on the vehicles staff are allowed to drive (limited to 120g/km and 140g/km depending on the vehicle).
Mr Graham says: “One of the key benefits of working with Europcar is the constant focus the business has on developing and improving the service they deliver.”
BJ Communications has cut its running costs by thousands of pounds by using added value services from its vehicle hire provider.
Northgate Vehicle Hire has been offering customers its Vehicle Monitoring service for free to help them keep track of how vehicles are being used out on the road.
The initiative, which has already been taken up on 200 light commercial vehicles being hired by businesses that rented a vehicle, has provided savings in fuel, mileage and overtime for many companies.
Telecommunications company BJ Communications installed Vehicle Monitoring into 14 vehicles and director Mark Tarsey estimated that the move had so far saved the company £20,000.
The Norfolk-based firm, whose clients include Cable and Wireless, Norwich Union and Great Yarmouth Borough Council, says the system has allowed more effective management of the fleet because the way vehicles are used is now more transparent.
Since taking on the system, fuel use has fallen by 10%, overtime claims have dropped 10%, productivity is up 15% and personal mileage has fallen 15%.
Mr Tarsey says: “The system has enabled us to control many aspects of spending and unauthorised vehicle usage. As Vehicle Monitoring is web-based, all I need is a computer with an internet connection to obtain information about our vehicles.
"I can follow the movements of the fleet, including the speed vehicles are driven at. Bad practices such as driver idling can be identified and dealt with.”
Drivers are benefiting too, according to Mr Tarsey. “Vehicle Monitoring empowers the company with indisputable proof that the driver was, for example, at the customer’s premises at a specific time.”
Daily rental is being transformed into hourly rental thanks to a number of successful car and van clubs launched around the country.
Each club offers its members access to a shared rental vehicle, which they can book at short notice and only pay for the time they have it.
An hour’s rental can cost just a few pounds and the idea is now being adopted by businesses looking for an alternative to the pool car.
Among them is ServiteThames, which has teamed up with rental car club provider Zipcar to help manage travel requirements at its headquarters.
ServiteThames has recently expanded and, with 120 staff, parking spaces are at a premium.
It now has 14 self-service Zipcars, which will be available in ServiteThames parking bays.
During business hours, the Zipcar will be available exclusively to ServiteThames employees.
However, during non-work hours (evenings and weekends) Zipcars will be available for reservation to all Zipcar members.
In London, Zipcar provides cars for use by the hour and claims it can save members an average of £450 per month on car-related costs.
It charges an hourly rate starting from £4.95, rising to £35 a day and each reservation includes the congestion charge, MoT, petrol and fully comprehensive insurance.
Heather Thomas, managing director of ServiteThames, says: “By having Zipcar based at our Balham headquarters, we will end up taking lots of cars off the road, not only those of staff but also those of people who live nearby.
“It is good for staff, good for residents and good for the environment.”
Among services for van users is Street Van, which has reported strong demand among small businesses which don’t want to invest in a vehicle, but need an LCV for occasional short trips.
If you thought there was no Q in rental, then think again.
When an employee jumps off a plane and heads for the rental desk, if he isn’t quick enough on his feet then he could be at the end of a queue of fellow travellers, all resigned to a long wait after the long haul.
This isn’t a problem unique to airports either.
Rental companies throughout the country have to make sure paperwork is correct, explain important information and treat every customer correctly, and that all takes time.
But there are increasing opportunities to queue jump if you know the right rental companies.
Many recognise that speed of service can be an issue even if there are just a few people waiting and they are trying to take action to improve things.
For example, Avis has launched a three-minute promise for Avis Preferred members at some sites. Members of the frequent user programme are guaranteed their car keys and a printed rental agreement within three minutes.
Many other rental companies offer their own express commitment, such as the Sixt Express Terminal at a number of its European branches.
The free 24/7 service allows drivers to use the Sixt Express card or a credit card in a special terminal at the branch to rent the car.
The machine prints the rental agreement then the driver can simply collect the car keys from a key safe, removing the need to queue at a counter.
Similar services are on offer from National, including Emerald Club, a fast-track programme for frequent renters.
After booking online or by phone, regular customers can collect from the rental desk without queues or forms to sign.
For business travellers using Stansted, Birmingham and Luton airports, National offers a key locker facility, allowing business travellers to bypass the counter, gain secure access to rental car keys and their rental agreement and get on with their journey.
But the common theme among most of these services is the customer knowledge that allows rental firms to trust them with the keys to vehicles.
For companies that rarely use rental and drivers who aren’t regular customers, the queue at the rental desk may only be shortened by walking more quickly than your fellow passengers.
Any business looking to appoint a rental provider will face an element of risk in committing to one company.
Using a rental broker minimises that risk, according to Neil McCrossan, chief executive of rental management firm Nexus Vehicle Rental.
Mr McCrossan says: “What any business considering using a broker must ensure is that they select a genuine broker with a large range and number of suppliers.
“This will ensure that each transaction is placed with the most appropriate supplier for that particular rental and that there is never going to be a risk of an order being turned down.
“Therefore, fleets need to have the confidence that their chosen broker has access to a large supply chain of vehicles, enabling them to match the exact rental reservation requirements of customers to the best possible provider.”
Another key factor in choosing a rental broker should be the processes and systems they have in place to enhance efficiency and manage rental usage effectively.
By using a broker, a company shouldn’t need to worry about dealing with a multitude of suppliers with differing service standards and processes.
Mr McCrossan adds: “The rental broker proposition is especially valuable for small and medium companies, who can benefit from the economies of scale achieved by the broker to obtain service levels and rental management capabilities previously only available to large users of rental.
"We have seen an increase in users of daily rental recognising the operational and commercial benefits of outsourcing their daily rental requirements.”