Fleet Management: An Interview with the Experts

I sat down with partner Enterprise Holdings to get some information about car rental and fleet management, and why it should be important to you.


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When thinking about your car rental program and provider, does fleet management come to mind as a major consideration? If it doesn’t, then you are not alone. It’s a topic I bring up a lot when talking about car rental with new CU members, so I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you why fleet management should be important to you too.

Our car rental partner, Enterprise Holdings, which owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental Brands, has vast experience and expertise when it comes to fleet management, and is in fact a leader in the industry. Recently, I took the time to sit down with Susan Lombardo, Senior Vice President of Vehicle Acquisition at Enterprise Holdings, to find out why fleet management is so critical, and what it means for the future of car rental.

Katie Virtue

Can you tell me a little bit more about what fleet management is, and why it’s so important to car rental?

There are many factors that go into fleet management and a fleet strategy. In the general sense, fleet management is about making sure, as a rental car provider, that your fleet of vehicles is in optimal condition, and that you also have the bandwidth to support varying customer needs.

Car condition can mean anything from having the newest technology, to top safety ratings. Enterprise has been putting an emphasis on getting a larger variety of vehicles into its fleet in recent years. This can be achieved not only through purchasing a variety of models – from compact cars to pickups – but also various trim levels, to provide better a customer experience and to ensure that the vehicles we remarket align with customers’ demands.

For example, at Enterprise because we are decentralized, we work with our “field teams” to utilize forecasts based on need and economic trends to better meet local consumer demand, which varies heavily from location to location. Events like natural disasters and recalls could require a sudden surge in demand for rental vehicles.

Susan Lombardo

Katie Virtue

Now what about the commercial side of things? How does maintaining a car rental fleet impact the larger automobile industry?

Every year, our customers log more than 25 billion miles throughout the world. And in the U.S. alone, Enterprise Holdings puts more than 1.2 million vehicles on the road, from virtually every airport and in nearly every kind of neighborhood.

These kinds of numbers not only highlight the relevance and impact of the car rental industry, but also underscore Enterprise Holdings’ unique ability to meet consumers’ and businesses’ increasing demands for flexible, affordable and sustainable mobility options in thousands of communities of all sizes. As a result, Enterprise Holdings operates as a significant part of the automotive value chain in today’s society – regardless of whether rentals are for an hour, a day, a week or longer – and the make-up of the fleet is a key factor in that role.

Not only is Enterprise Holdings the largest car rental company in the world, but also the largest buyer and seller of vehicles. Our manufacturer partners value our consistent commitment, which enables them to plan production – something that is very difficult to do in a retail environment that fluctuates. And with our unique focus on the “replacement renter,” we offer our partners unique exposure by providing ‘test drives’ of their latest and greatest vehicles, to over 60 million customers a year.

Our fleet introduces consumers to different brands and the latest technological advances in more than 450 makes and models, which, in turn, also helps OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), expose their newest features. In fact, for every car we purchase, we average 60 test drives for the manufacturer – which is extremely valuable to the manufacturers.

We also conducted research to gauge customer attitudes about how the rental process impacts future car-buying decisions. For example, in 2015, Enterprise discovered that one in four customers reported that a positive rental experience triggered them to start shopping for a new car.

Susan Lombardo

Katie Virtue

Can you talk a little more about the sustainability element?

Sustainability is definitely a complex subject, because there are a lot of different factors that come into play.

For Enterprise Holdings, we have a CSR governance council that is charged with helping to set long-term goals and year-to-year priorities reflective of issues most material to our global business. This is a cross-functional governing body that includes department heads and subject-matter experts who collectively assess the impact of our operations and identify ways to reduce costs and waste, while leaving a positive imprint on the communities we serve.

We know that healthy and prosperous communities are the lifeblood of our business. That’s why we’re committed to promoting long-term community growth and prosperity, through employment, local foundation grants, philanthropic initiatives, corporate sustainability, and sustainable transportation options.

Feel free to download a copy of our Global CSR Policy.

Susan Lombardo

Katie Virtue

Ridesharing. This seems to be a topic around the car rental industry a lot lately. Do you have a perspective you would like to share?

We look at the evolving transportation industry as an opportunity.

In thousands of communities of all sizes, our highly accessible network provides hourly, daily and weekly car rentals as cost-effective and consumer-friendly modes of local transportation. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, our customers are driving over 25 billion miles throughout the world every year. And, many of those miles are driven locally in their very own communities and mostly in late-model, fuel-efficient vehicles – making local car rental one of the most effective and sustainable mobility options today.

Also, Enterprise Rideshare and vRide vanpooling programs address local as well as national needs by reducing traffic congestion, parking requirements and carbon emissions, while providing commuters with a more efficient way to get to work. Enterprise Rideshare – the fourth largest U.S. public transit provider in passenger miles today – helps control annual transportation expenses by using volunteer drivers, which is much more cost-efficient than hiring paid drivers (such as ride-hailing companies).

As TheInformation.com news site reported in early 2017: “Managing large fleets of cars at scale is a skill likely to be in demand as more companies launch ride-sharing services using self-driving cars.”

Susan Lombardo

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Fleet Management & Customer Experience – A Perfect Match

So, as you can see, fleet management and car rental are a big deal. It’s important to make sure that your current or future car rental provider can meet your needs with their fleet and that their business values match yours, resulting in an optimal experience for both the customer and business.

At Corporate United, we found that with partners at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental, and we are happy to help you get started.

Katie Virtue: Director, Category Management, Travel at Corporate United
As part of Category Management Team, Katie Virtue is focused on carrying out Category Lifecycle Management efforts across CU’s indirect spend offerings. She oversees the Travel vertical, including Car Rental, Travel Management, Meetings & Events Management and Corporate Housing Solutions. Katie works with members to evaluate CU’s offerings and to bring them a unique experience while collaborating with suppliers to achieve mutual partnership goals. She previously worked in the consulting industry focused on business continuity projects.