Why Dealership Rental Operations Don't Work - And How They Could

From time to time, new vehicle manufacturers have operated on the fringes of the rental market through their network of dealers. Their presence in the rental industry is “on the fringe” because the dealer rental operations haven’t gained much market share. In fact, most dealer rental operations don’t function very well at all.

In theory, dealer rental operations have many advantages that should make them powerful competitors to more traditional rental operators. What are those advantages, and why have they failed to deliver success to new car dealerships?

Advantages to a Dealer Rental Operation

Here are some of the theoretical advantages dealer rental operations have over the more traditional rental companies:

• Streamlined Operations Offer Better Customer Service

Rental operations are right where the demand for a replacement vehicle exists. There is no need to shuttle vehicles or customers to another location.

Dealership employees will be in charge of the experience from beginning to end. Existing staff, often an assistant service manager, can handle the rental process at the same time that they open the repair order for the customer’s car. There is no need to turn the dealership’s customer over to another service provider.

The charge for the rental vehicle can be billed to the customer through the repair order, and can be paid with a single payment from the customer. Of course, it’s very easy for the dealer to pass those billings through to the factory through a warranty claim. And payments to dealers are expedited—much more quickly than payments to other rental companies.

Dealers often have an established relationship with the customer through previous car sales, routine vehicle service and community events. In smaller towns, dealers are well-known from vehicle purchases, from routine maintenance of their vehicles and through the sponsorship of youth sports teams and local events. That type of name and face familiarity doesn’t develop for traditional rental operations, which might not see a customer for four or five years at a time.

• Rentals Used as a Sales Tool

The rental operation can be an effective sales tool, and vice-versa. The new and used car departments should generate demand for rentals, and the rental department should routinely generate sales for those departments, creating synergies that are unavailable to traditional rental companies.

• Lower Cost Structure

The dealer should be able to offer competitive pricing because he can use an existing facility to house the rental operation, with little or no added overhead expense. Most operating expenses, including rent, utilities, Internet access, telephones, security systems, copy machines, credit card machines, etc., are already available in support of dealer operations.

CONTINUED:  Why Dealership Rental Operations Don't Work - And How They Could
« Previous  |  1  2  3  |  Next »


  1. mehrdad majzoobi [ November 8, 2015 @ 11:30PM ]

    great article! is there a way I can contact the author of the article Jon Dahlquist?

  2. mehrdad majzoobi [ November 8, 2015 @ 11:30PM ]

    great article! is there a way I can contact the author of the article Jon Dahlquist?

  3. Cooper [ October 14, 2016 @ 04:03AM ]

    I've worked within the rental industry for the past 30 years. During those years, my experience has included three manufactures, VW KIA and Toyota. The only manufacture that reflected the 'big boys' were VW. I firmly believe, dealerships are 'missing a trick' where there are opportunities throughout the UK, where dealerships can enhance there overall business overall.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Max. 10000 characters)  
Please leave blank:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


Newsletter: Sign up to receive latest news, articles, and much more.

Read the latest

Auto Focus Blog: A blog covering fleets, auto rental and the business of cars

The Problem with Valuing Safety Technology

As advanced safety technologies have migrated to mainstream vehicles, retaining value for these options at resale remains an issue.

ELD Mandate: Is Your Head Still in the Sand?

If you think you have 11 weeks to implement an Electronic Logging Device system to meet the Dec. 18 compliance deadline, you really don’t — for a few reasons.

Who Controls Your Vehicles’ Data?

In the name of security, an automaker’s alliance is advocating denial of third-party access to the OBD-II port. Is this going too far?

Job Finder: Access Top Talent. Fill Key Positions.