The vehicle rental business comes with plenty of moving parts. Cars have to be in good working condition, reservations need to be in order, and repairs must be addressed quickly, all while providing excellent customer service.
Whether you’re a branch manager at an airport rental location or a CEO for a national rental company, there is a lot to keep track of. There is a fundamental risk of renting out vehicles and not knowing what their status is.
Customers often bring back cars with dents and scrapes, broken tail lights, or a cracked windshield, and while those issues are bothersome, they are fairly simple to fix. The real problems arise when vehicles come back with significant damage – or don’t come back at all.
Maybe a car is lost or maybe it’s stolen, but either way that is one less car in your company’s fleet. If that trend continues then there will be fewer cars available to be rented out, which could lead to long waiting times for customers and potentially negative reviews.
With these issues present in the rental industry, it makes sense why managers would be curious about methods to make their business more efficient and organized. Companies can also focus on improving their overall reputation by prioritizing the best possible customer experience when they are using a rental vehicle.
With that sentiment in mind, here are five business hacks that rental companies can use to protect their assets and optimize revenue generation.
Install GPS Tracking Devices
A GPS tracking device can be a car rental company’s best friend. GPS tracking devices are installed inside a vehicle and send location data back to the home office so you can know where it is in real-time.
GPS tracking devices are a great way to ensure you can relocate a rental car after it’s been stolen. Many tracking services share past location data, which allows managers to see the exact routes the car took after it left the lot. That data can then be sent to the authorities so they can bring back the vehicle.
They report more than just standard location data. Some products record speeding, aggressive driving, and collision events, that data can then be used as proof the customer was driving recklessly should a dispute or claim arise.
Keep up on Repairs
Routine maintenance is extremely important for any rental car company. Customers trust that rental cars are good to go when they are using them, so make sure vehicle defects get fixed right away so you don’t betray their trust.
It’s all about preventing breakdowns before they happen. Imagine a customer’s car overheats while they are driving on the highway and they have to rush to get the car to the shoulder – all because the rental company didn’t repair a broken water pump before renting it out. That customer would be justifiably furious and could easily torch the company with scathing online reviews.
Make sure your fleet of rental vehicles are promptly repaired so they hold up well on the road. It may result in a handful of cars out of rotation, but it’s worth it to have a slightly smaller available selection in the name of safety. Additionally, there are fleet management services on the market that have automated maintenance capabilities that help limit long stretches of vehicle downtime so your fleet can get back to being fully operational.
Provide a varied selection of rental options. Sure, most people will go the prudent route and rent out a Toyota Camry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have options for the big spenders.
Have some Range Rovers in the rotation, add in a few Ford Super Duty F-450s, and heck – have a few brightly colored Corvettes for those having a midlife crisis. Get creative, there could be some impulsive buyers who want to look like a big shot for a bit, especially if you’re in a touristy location. Some of these high-end vehicles would require more expensive repairs, but that can be factored into the initial price.
It does not just have to be luxury cars, either. Offer electric vehicles, lifted trucks, and/or cars with manual transmission. Everybody wants something different, so make sure you have the variety available.
Offer Prepaid Gas
Providing prepaid gasoline is a bigger upfront cost, but it saves the customer the stress of finding a gas station when they just want to get on the road. Many customers will pay the higher price for the convenience of a full tank.
Making things easier for the customer by giving them less things to worry about will lead to a better reputation.
Keep Cars Clean
This is fairly simple. Make sure your fleet of cars are clean and presentable, especially the interior. It’s not that costly, and while customers probably won’t notice a particularly clean car, they certainly will notice if there are crumbs in the cupholders or dirt in the seat cushions.
You don’t want to become known as the car rental company with dirty cars. People often pay a premium to use a rental on vacation and they don’t want it to feel like the messy minivan they drive back home.
Vehicle rental companies are providing enjoyable experiences as much as they are providing cars, and that’s why it’s important to do all the little things to ensure the best possible customer experience.
Things like cleaning vehicles and having a wide variety of rental options don’t make a big impact on the balance sheet initially, but they can make a difference in the long run. More customers will be drawn in if your rental company becomes known as the most convenient, the most reliable, and has the best assortment of vehicles.