Global Snapshot: Turks and Caicos’ GBCRS Wins Thrifty Franchisee of the Year

Todd and Leslie Foss started Grace Bay Car Rentals and Sales Ltd. in Turks and Caicos in 2006.
Todd and Leslie Foss started Grace Bay Car Rentals and Sales Ltd. in Turks and Caicos in 2006.

With no experience in car rental and looking to move to a warmer climate, Todd and Leslie Foss left their teaching jobs in Western Canada, moved to Turks and Caicos and decided to enter the rental car business.

Starting with only 11 vehicles in 2006, the couple’s independently owned Grace Bay Car Rentals and Sales Ltd. has grown to approximately 300 vehicles with locations on the islands of Providencials and Grand Turk.

Named as a Thrifty franchisee in 2011, Grace Bay Car Rentals received the Thrifty Franchisee of the Year for the Americas and Caribbean in 2013.

Owner Todd Foss talks about how his company has grown and the hardships it has faced to become the largest car rental agency in Turks and Caicos.

What’s your total fleet size?

We began with 11 units in 2006 and now have approximately 300 vehicles.

How many locations do you have and in what types of areas?

The Turks and Caicos Islands are made up of 40 islands and cays, with only five islands inhabited. We are the only rental car company in the country to operate on multiple islands — Providencials, the largest populated island, and the capital island of Grand Turk.

On Providencials, we are the only agency with our own facility at the international airport and have locations on Leeward Highway and the tourism area of Grace Bay.

How did the business start?

My wife Leslie had taught for 18 years and I was a teacher and principal for 15 years. We were looking to take a temporary timeout from teaching. And originally from Western Canada, we were hoping to experience life in another country — one that had a warm climate with white sand instead of white snow.

Our high school friend was living in Japan and exporting cars around the world. He had just started getting inquiries from this tiny country called the Turks and Caicos Islands. We flew there to check it out and ended up falling in love with the islands’ beauty.

Without any plan, experience and little capital investment, the three of us purchased one of the original rental agencies on the island, which was not even in operation at the time.

Leslie and I quit our teaching jobs, moved to Turks and Caicos and entered the rental car business. Most people thought we were crazy, and we were not sure if they were wrong.

What are your primary sources of rental customers?

Our main source of business is the tourist industry, which is made up of about 90% North American travelers. We have the majority of the commercial market segment, as well.

Are you an affiliate of any kind?

Our independent brand Grace Bay Car Rentals was successful in acquiring the Thrifty brand in 2011. The Thrifty team has been extremely supportive and helped us grow the brand in Turks and Caicos to one of the largest agencies in the country.

In 2013, Grace Bay Car Rentals was awarded the Thrifty Franchisee of the Year for the Americas and Caribbean. We expect our Thrifty operations to triple in size by the fourth quarter of 2014.

Are you pursuing new sources of business/customers?

We are always interested in new sources of business and work hard at partnerships with both traditional and online travel agency partners. However, we spend the majority of our marketing efforts and budget on our existing customers. Repeat business accounts for 68% of our annual revenues. The relationships we have with these customers are strong and on a first-name basis.

How has the car rental market in your area evolved in the past 10 years?

When we first traveled to Turks and Caicos nine years ago, most of the roads were not even paved. The original car rental operators tell stories of keeping containers filled with shocks and front-end parts, which were needed just to keep the vehicles operating due to the terrible conditions of the roads and trails.

Currently, most of the main roads are paved and the number of resorts has tripled since we rented our first car back in 2006.

CONTINUED:  Global Snapshot: Turks and Caicos’ GBCRS Wins Thrifty Franchisee of the Year
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Comments

  1. Cindy Alston [ March 12, 2014 @ 03:49PM ]

    Congratulation to Todd, Leslie and the Staff of GBCRS. A true success story. I have never hesitated to recommend this company to family and friends visiting the island as we have used them many times over the last six years. Thank you Thrifty for recognizing their competent, professional and friendly team.

  2. Marilyn Alston [ March 12, 2014 @ 05:39PM ]

    I met Todd and Leslie Foss while visiting family in Turks and Caicos.
    At that time he organized Friday evening dinners with their many friends. I experienced how they were most welcoming to their friend's visitors.
    What the story of Todd and Leslie omitted was their honesty. To know them (albeit briefly) is to trust them and I believe that holds true in any business. Hence their repeat customers.
    All the best Leslie and Todd,
    Marilyn Alston

  3. Rick Merritt [ March 13, 2014 @ 07:15AM ]

    Congrats to Todd, Leslie and all the folks at Grace Bay Rentals well deserved. A great selection of clean, reliable and well maintained vehicles. Great customer service experience. How cools is it to be able to do an island hop to Grand Turk from Provinciales and have a friendly Grace Bay staff member waiting for you when you arrive with a car for your adventure exploring Grand Turk. Well done Thrifty!!

  4. Kevin Garinger [ June 22, 2015 @ 05:06AM ]

    Congratulations, Todd and Leslie. Great to learn of your success story with Thrifty. Anyone who knows you had zero question that you were going to be successful. Will look forward to connecting In the near future.

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