Auto Rental Summit Tackles Recalls, Fleet Planning, Wage Issues

Geoffrey Toffetti from Frontline Performance Group presents the opening keynote address. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.
Geoffrey Toffetti from Frontline Performance Group presents the opening keynote address. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.

Gathering car rental managers, executives, and employees from corporate, franchised, and independent companies, the 2016 Auto Rental Summit convened this week at the B Resort & Spa near Orlando — a new city and new headquarters hotel for the annual event.

Now in its fifth year, the Auto Rental Summit welcomed car rental operators and vendors from 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Canada, and Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as a delegation of 13 executives from Brazil.

The agenda focused on the event's theme of “People, Process, and Profits.”

Geoffrey Toffetti, president of Frontline Performance Group, delivered the keynote address. In “Critical Steps to Inspired Leadership, Employee Engagement, and Peak Performance,” Toffetti emphasized the importance of acknowledging employees’ work and giving them a purpose in their positions. In fact, productivity can increase by 50% when a manager simply acknowledges an employee’s work.

“As a manager, you have to love your employees enough to give them an environment where they feel safe and inspired,” said Toffetti. “Leaders need to spend more time inspiring, coaching, and mentoring employees rather than dictating.”

Returning for the third year, the Fleet Jam Session included a dive into current fleet issues and solutions. Anil Goyal, senior vice president of operations at Black Book, provided insights into depreciation trends, values by segment and mileage, and factors affecting volume and demand, including how compact crossovers (CUVs)/SUVs and pickups have been outselling compact cars.

Seminars featured discussions on current topics affecting the car rental industry. This panel seminar tackled the issues of the new recall law. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.
Seminars featured discussions on current topics affecting the car rental industry. This panel seminar tackled the issues of the new recall law. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.

With small car values continuing to depreciate, a panel of fleet experts discussed the importance of changing up a fleet’s vehicle mix. This includes adding more crossovers. Michael DeLorenzo of International Franchise Systems recommended that CUVs and SUVs make up 50% of a rental fleet or more.

The seminars focused on hot topics currently affecting the car rental industry.

Employment lawyer Richard Alaniz shared his insights into how car rental companies can prepare for new employment laws, including the recently passed $15-hour minimum wage in California and New York. He also provided strategies for the upcoming rule — as of Dec. 1 — that all employees must be paid overtime if they aren’t paid at least $47,476 as a yearly salary. His suggestions included checking whether employees’ actual duties meet exemptions and determining who is working overtime and why.

With cyber-attacks occurring more often, Shawn Concannon of TSD delivered best practices to protect customer data such as encrypting information, securely storing documents, shredding documents as a means of disposal, and using anti-virus software and fire walls to fight viruses. To prevent employee theft, he recommended limiting employee access to important documents, including utilizing password security and software security permissions.

The event offered several opportunities for attendees to network with various vendors in the exhibit hall. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.
The event offered several opportunities for attendees to network with various vendors in the exhibit hall. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.

New technology providers presented their products that can help boost utilization in rental fleets. Hyrecar discussed its platform of renting fleet vehicles to Uber and Lyft drivers while app-based Skurt demonstrated how its platform can leverage excess vehicle inventory through delivery of rental cars. Turo announced that its peer-to-peer carsharing marketplace has expanded and independent car rental companies can now list their vehicles through its platform.

Five months into the new recall law, a seminar focused on how rental companies can address operational and customer service challenges. A panel featuring two car rental executives revealed some of their ideas in complying with the recall law. By building relationships with local dealerships, DeLorenzo was able to get all of his company’s 250 Ford Transit vans — affected by a seat belt recall — fixed quicker once the parts were available. Another solution is using a monitoring service from Recall Masters, which tracks recall news and data. Recall Masters will send out reports to help rental companies expedite the identification of grounding and repairing any recalled vehicles, minimizing downtime.

A staple of Auto Rental Summit, vendors and operators were able to network in a variety of intimate settings, including the exhibit hall reception, networking breaks, client dinners, and a late-evening cocktail hour.

New for this year, the annual Professional of the Year Awards featured a new category dedicated to an associate from a vendor company to the car rental industry. The second Professional of the Year Award honored an associate from a corporate, franchise, or independent location.

By Amy Winter-Hercher

A group of international car rental operators visited the new ACE Rent A Car facility near Orlando International Airport. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.
A group of international car rental operators visited the new ACE Rent A Car facility near Orlando International Airport. Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.

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