Avis Budget Group’s new CEO Joe Ferraro, appointed June 15, sat down for an interview with Melissa Lee on CNBC’s Power Lunch on Thursday. Lee first asked Ferraro about what Avis has done to right size its business to meet today’s market.
Ferraro said the company’s response was three-pronged: The first was to provide a safe environment for employees and customers. The second was liquidity, which Ferraro said the company is set for the coming year. The third was making sure the fleet matched the revenue environment.
Ferraro preferred to concentrate on the first point. He talked about the vehicle disinfecting initiative with Lysol, as well as the need to retrain internally.
Ferraro said a five-panel group of medical professionals led by Dr. Olajide Williams, the head of Neurology at Columbia University, gave Avis protocols on how to deal with behavioral change for employees regarding social distancing, cleanliness, and using proper personal protective equipment.
The initiative includes incorporating training materials from a company called Hip Hop Public Health.
“We're good at teaching people how to do customer service and manage the daily rigors of the rental business or fix a car,” he said. “But when it comes to fighting disease infection, we need help.”
When Lee then asked him about stock performance and how the Hertz bankruptcy might impact Avis, Ferraro largely sidestepped the question.
He said the company was on track for a potentially record year, up 15% in the month of February in the Americas, and then the pandemic hit.
“I'm proud of how we reacted and went about right sizing our business and getting ready for the uncertainty,” Ferraro said. “We have a plan in place that gets that gets us to where we can start seeing the light at the end of this tunnel, as difficult as the environment may be.”