Vehicle rental companies say they have made multiple changes to business operations to help fleets during the crisis and keep customers safe.
The cleanliness of vehicles, increased demand from particular sectors or the need for short-term defleets, where companies have temporarily closed down, are being addressed.
Hertz says it recognises that customers require “greater flexibility” to manage the coronavirus crisis and has introduced a series of changes as a result.
They include added flexibility for prepaid reservations, including waiving cancellation and change fees for travel restricted areas. Additionally, all prepaid reservations booked prior to March 13 can now be extended toward reservations used within 24 months with no fees.
For reservations made with Gold Plus Rewards points prior to March 13, it will waive change or cancellation point loss and Hertz’s pay later option comes with no cancellation fees.
The most current customer information is available on its website.
Nexus Vehicle Rental told Fleet News it is committed to keeping key services and businesses across the UK moving and with minimal disruption to its customer service values during the pandemic.
Its IRIS rental management technology traditionally sees 90% of transactions done online and it is in touch with all of its suppliers daily. Although a small number have closed branches, the impact across our supply chain is minimal at this stage, explained Nexus Vehicle Rental’s CEO, David Brennan.
He said: “Rental remains integral to maintaining the UK's essential movement of people, goods and services and as a number of our clients are classified as essential service users, we are working hard to meet their increased demand for rental vehicles at this time.
“We are committed to keeping our clients mobile and it is important to recognise that the circumstances for each of our clients will be different.”
The pooling of its supply chain means that Nexus Vehicle Rental is “well equipped” to support its customer base throughout the pandemic and beyond, says Brennan.
“We can help mobilise a high volume of vehicles for those services that continue to operate across retail, logistics, utilities, local authority and emergency services, providing access to on-demand mobility supply networks nationally, including EVs, specialist and commercial vehicles.”
Meanwhile, Reflex Vehicle Hire says it has been working in partnership with businesses throughout the UK to support their response to the crisis.
The company is playing two vital roles in helping businesses to manage their response to the outbreak in the UK.
It is focusing on ensuring vehicle supplies remain uninterrupted and supporting companies that must keep operating to support the economy – ranging from public transport to utilities.
At the same time, Reflex Vehicle Hire says it is working with clients whose businesses have been ordered to close their doors, so they can quickly defleet their vehicles, enabling much-needed funds to be diverted to emergency measures, such as protecting jobs.
It has introduced a Covid-19 continuity programme to ensure that both elements of its essential support for fleet customers are available throughout the crisis.
Lisa Spong, Reflex Vehicle Hire sales director, said: “We play a critical role for some companies that provide essential services, as they rely on our ongoing support, while others will depend on our swift response to their requests to defleet vehicles as they manage disruption to their cash flow.
“As a flexible vehicle hire provider, we are committed to supporting every customer request, whether it is a need for ongoing support with critical vehicle supply or reducing fleet size in the short-term as business demands change.”
As the crisis developed, Reflex Vehicle Hire proactively contacted its customers to discuss their requirements and ensured an individual action plan was implemented.
This was introduced while Reflex Vehicle Hire adapted its own procedures, with the roll-out of home working and tele-conferencing alongside new risk management measures for vehicle movement and delivery.
Looking to the future, Reflex Vehicle Hire is also preparing to support customers as business resumes when the national lockdown comes to an end.
Spong said: “We play an essential role in supporting business growth and we will ensure we are there to help the country recover from this national crisis when restrictions are eventually lifted.
“Until then, we will continue to support customers in every way and wish our clients and all their customers well during these difficult weeks.”
To support the mobility of workers in emergency service sectors during the crisis, Europcar Mobility Group has launched the ‘Together’ programme.
As part of this programme, the Group will also work in partnership with retailers and other businesses, offering a rental service of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) with drivers.
Gary Smith, managing director of Europcar Mobility Group UK, explained: “We are proud that through our Together programme, our rental vehicles are enabling essential services to continue operating across the country; delivering drugs and medicine to pharmacies, medical supplies to hospitals and helping emergency services staff to get to work safely.”
KEEPING RENTAL VEHICLES CLEAN
Hertz told Fleet News that the safety and wellbeing of its customers is always its top priority. A spokesman explained: “We are closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and following the advice of Government and health authorities to make sure we are taking the right actions to protect our customers, employees and the communities where we operate.
“We have high standards for cleanliness and safety and are taking additional preventative measures to protect our employees and customers.”
Hertz says it has enhanced its cleaning methods at its rental locations and in its shuttle buses, which includes using approved disinfectant to regularly wipe down high-touch areas such as door handles, counters, kiosks and other hard surfaces.
Additionally, it has added more alcohol-based hand sanitizers and is reminding employees to take simple hygiene steps, including frequent handwashing and staying home if they are ill.
The Hertz spokesman continued: “We are also reinforcing our rigorous vehicle cleaning process which includes priority areas and surfaces such as door handles, steering wheel, dashboard, console, seats, etc.
“We remain vigilant in upholding these practices and will take additional precautions as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and local governments to minimize the risk to our customers and employees.”
New cleaning protocols also include removing the vehicle from circulation and disinfecting through a third-party in the cases where a customer is suspected or known to have COVID-19.
Europcar has also introduced new cleaning protocols for all vehicles between rentals, using chemical sanitiser to protect the safety of customers and employees.