Under the Microscope: We talk to director of business rental at Enterprise, Adrian Bewley
26 October 2017
Author: Rachel Boagey
It might be the traditional home of the rental car in the UK, but Enterprise is making a shift in a different direction. Rachel Boagey reports.
Say the words 'car hire company' in the UK and most people would probably respond with 'Enterprise.'
However, the household rental car company has spent the past ten years shifting away from this car hire image. It's not that it no longer wants to rent cars - that's its primary job. But Adrian Bewley, the company's director of business rental in the UK and Ireland, insists Enterprise is now more of a mobility provider than simply a rental firm.
What's the difference, though? Apparently, there are many, and Enterprise is much further along in this journey than it was when Bewley started working there 22 years ago. "I've seen the company mature tremendously over that period of time," he says. "Our culture is very much the same but we're now becoming a provider of mobility in the transport industry, an end-to-end service for our customers ensuring they can get from A to B using our service as simply as possible."
Part of the journey is as a result of acquisitions and partnerships with other companies to enhance Enterprise's expertise. The biggest one was Burnt Tree in 2014: an attempt to grow the Enterprise's commercial vehicle business. "That one probably sent shockwaves through the industry," says Bewley. "Our customers asked us for more choice in the mobility suite, so that gave us huge options in the LCV, HGV and truck business. The goal of that acquisition was to provide the right time increments that our customers need."
Understanding the customer
However, the most important thing for the company, says Bewley, is giving its customers the Enterprise experience in all of its brands. "It's one based on meritocracy for performance to get people promoted and gives us a healthy amount of talent coming through," he says. "All of my immediate team have come from management trainee backgrounds so everyone has the same philosophy and understanding of what a branch can and can't do. You look after the company, as each one of us has invested in the company's future and that leads to excellent customer service in return that our customers continue to demand."
The company runs an 'SQI' or a service quality index that measures customer satisfaction. "The thing that's unique with this is that you ask how satisfied the customer was and the member of staff is only eligible for promotion if their SQI is at or above the company average, so they have to deliver good service if they want to progress, making it a very service-based operation," he says.
Fulfilling its customer needs is especially vital in the fleet arena. "The best way of describing how we work with fleets is by tailoring a service proposition to their requirements," Bewley says. The company uses technology to ensure fleet drivers always have visibility in the repair status of their vehicles. "This creates the ongoing mobility option we're talking about. We can link all of these products and services that we're involved with for the customer and let them have complete transparency of the whole transaction, as we believe mobility needs to be end-to-end if your car is off the road so you know when it will be returned," he says.
"More people have come to the party than ever before."
Bewley says that understanding their customers is something that is probably a never-ending challenge for Enterprise. "Do we have all the answers? No, but we have more than we had. We are on a steep curve at the moment where we are solving more issues right now for our customers than we ever have done."
Enterprise's real benefit for customers is mapping synergies and effectively finding ways to improve the customer journey, explains Bewley.
The company actually started off as a replacement car business in the US and UK but what it is doing now as well as corporate rentals is offer that background and experience to customers, Bewley explains. "A fleet car driver might want a car for a day for a meeting but they might also have a company car and when that car goes off the road they need someone to fill that gap," he says.
Interestingly, Bewley believes that whether it's an individual or a fleet customer, that person has the same requirements. "The reality is, if you're an individual and you crash your car, you turn to an insurance company and Enterprise generally will provide replacement hire in any derivative of that accident whether it was your own fault or someone else's," he explains. The fleet driver involved in an accident has the same requirements. "The core function, and onward mobility and visual nature of the repair status is the same," he says.
Service, night and day
A few years ago, Enterprise went down the car club route, an automated system that allows customers to rent vehicles whenever it suits them, day or night. But one of the things that hasn't helped car clubs as a concept is them being referred to as such, explains Bewley.
"We've simplified the service we offer to be known as access points. A customer wants simple convenient access to cars and if they need one last minute they need to know quickly what's the best way to access it. It's just an extension of our fleet, it's not a boutique service or a car club," he says.
This business is a strong part of Enterprise due to how simple the company makes the transaction for the customer. "We give customer data on how far that vehicle is away from them and advise whether it's better for them to get the car delivered or if they should walk to it. It allows them to make the right decision at that time and that's the way the industry is going right now due to these increasing customer demands. Customers want things now and if they have a last-minute meeting these are the types of things they need to know."
Time is money
Some companies will use this service to obtain a virtual fleet of their own. "When we do that for a company it's usually to solve a grey fleet business problem. It's a way of enforcing a travel policy that can help organisations save time and money," says Bewley.
If fleets have pool cars and grey fleet they're effectively unmanaged, so Enterprise wants to morph that into complete visibility instead. "The fleet manager has complete line of sight, and this technique can effectively restructure a travel policy and deliver what the customers requirements are," Bewley says.
For instance, the company could say that all trips under 20 miles need to be in the car club vehicle, which gives companies a lot more control and enables the travel policy, cost, risk and safety to be managed. "We see that as an enormous opportunity for us over the next few years and we don't see the demands from companies for this type of service slowing any time soon," he adds.
Whereas in most fleet management technologies the fleet manager only knows if there are problems with the cars or drivers after the event, Enterprise says it collects this data well before. "This enables us to become mobility consultants. We can tell fleets what vehicles are fit for the purpose of their drivers as everyone is different," he says. This can also open the door to the introduction of alternatively fuelled vehicles or allow fleet managers to at least make recommendations that their drivers who only travel short distances switch to electric or hybrid.
"In grey fleet or pool car, people travel very selfishly. You jump in your own car and think about your own transaction, but we have noticed in fleets that when customers move to a car-sharing system that completely changes. The mileage and cost reduces massively, and people behave differently and think like a community. It's the difference between unmanaged and managed, and it's therefore such a big benefit to fleets. This, in our opinion, is groundbreaking stuff and one of the biggest markets that's unfolding for us," he says.
Like everything Enterprise does, it will reflect the change in powertrain demand, whatever that may be. "We buy and sell our own vehicles so everything we say and do is led by the customers. Many people are saying diesels will be outlawed by 2040 and we're already seeing that change," Bewley says. In fact, over the past 20 years, the company has witnessed more than just one changing trend in powertrain technology. "Whether it's a trend for low CO2 or the trend towards diesel originally, we as a company are a reflection of what people want," he says.
As for diesel, Bewley says the company hasn't seen a dynamic model shift yet but it is seeing increments. "We get an earlier window into what the trends will look like because, as I mentioned, we buy and sell our own cars. And consumer and business trends go hand in hand. We're almost at the forefront, as we cycle our cars much more quickly than leasing companies, so our changes are far more immediate," he says.
"Competition is everywhere," says Bewley. "There's a mobility space everyone is looking to occupy. The reality is we've always aspired to be a mobility organisation and a lot of our leasing partners also see themselves occupying that same space."
The reality is it's about access and simplicity. This means that nothing has ever really changed in the rental space, but Bewley says it has accelerated in accordance with customer requirements. "Their freedom of choice will drive the competitive landscape. We don't look at just traditional car hire companies, we have always looked at a broader spectrum as our customers have forced us to think like that. Even technology companies are
a competitor, and always have been. It's
just more people have come to the party than ever before."
Whereas five years ago, Enterprise was beginning to solve some of its customer issues, now it is absolutely vital. "Fleet is a journey not a destination, just like all of our other target markets. It's changing all the time and we're moving continually towards mobility not rental.
"Whether the customer wants a car for an hour, a van for a week, or an HGV for a year, we're looking into making every type of vehicle available for every length possible for our customers, and that will be even more of a requirement going forward."
Enabling and improving the output of the organisation is a continuing business value for the customer and the company. "I do see the problems our customers are going to come to us with getting more complex and evolving. Questions of greater choice and simpler access will come our way no doubt. We will probably become a mobility digital organisation with our roots still embedded in the service culture," Bewley concludes.