NP Auto Group staff and franchisees of the Nextcar, Priceless, and Rent-A-Wreck brands were back...

NP Auto Group staff and franchisees of the Nextcar, Priceless, and Rent-A-Wreck brands were back in Las Vegas for the largest meeting in the convention’s 16 years. Jason Manelli, president of Rent-A-Wreck, kneels in front.

Photo by Chris Brown

NP Franchise Group held its annual convention at the Tuscany Suites and Casino in Las Vegas Oct. 10-12. Franchisees from the Nextcar, Priceless, and Rent-A-Wreck brands came to understand how to grow, profit, and prosper in an era of restricted vehicle supply, high revenue per unit, changing business types, and a public still hungry to rent cars.

Bill Cash, vice president of Fitzgerald Auto Malls, the parent company of NP Franchise Group, kicked off the convention by sharing a dealer’s perspective on the vehicle supply crunch. While Cash presented a realistic look at today’s landscape of severely curtailed inventory, he shared strategies on how franchisees can find vehicles through alternative channels such as Facebook marketplace and work deals for new cars by understanding OEM’s stair-step programs for dealers.

Cash also sees opportunities with dealers’ loaner fleets. “New car dealers are in desperate need of help with loaner car commitments because they sold their loaner cars to retail,” he said. “You (franchisees) could fill that gap with rentals.”

Mike DeLorenzo, president of Nextcar, followed with a recap of events affecting car rental over the past two years, including information on the new and used vehicle markets, an assessment of the electric vehicle market for rental, and tips on how to prepare for next year.

This year’s convention drew the most attendees in its 16-year history, said DeLorenzo, adding that he had completed his most profitable year in car rental after 52 years in the business.

The educational agenda also included a car rental market overview by Chris Brown, editor of Auto Rental News; an analysis of the auction market from Danny Brawn, general manager of Manheim Nevada; a panel on fleet funding with Garrett Kautz of 1st Source, Jason DeLorenzo of KFL, and Matt Groller of NP Auto Group; and an insurance update from Kathy Egan of Lancer Insurance and Ted Demetriou of NP Franchise Group.

Other seminars included an explanation of phone-as-key technology, how to use AI and machine learning in rate management, understanding automation of toll management, and a demonstration of cleaning technology.

Jason Manelli, president of Rent-A-Wreck, demonstrated ASAP Rent, NP Auto Group’s new car rental system software for its franchisees, with help from Pat the Trainer, a perennial convention favorite on stage.

Manelli shared that prepaid reservations — which only made up about 10% of reservations in 2019 — now comprise more than pay-on-arrival reservations.

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