It’s time once again to celebrate the car rental industry’s customer service champions.

Auto Rental News is accepting entries for the second annual Professional of the Year Awards. Presented by American Express, the awards will be given to three associates, one each from an independent, franchise and corporate location. The winners will be announced at an awards luncheon at the 2013 Auto Rental Summit, to be held Nov. 4-5 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

Why is it important to recognize the industry’s best? Here are seven good reasons:

  • One of a Kind: This is the only industry-wide, worldwide award in auto rental that celebrates the associate, not a company.
  • Positive Imaging: An award that commemorates exemplary customer service delivers positive industry press and brings to light good works that would have remained unknown to the general public.
  • A Shining Example: The winners represent a model for others in the industry to emulate.
  • Team Morale: Within the winner’s company, the example set by the winner is a benchmark for others to strive toward.
  • Job Fulfillment: In turn, the winning associate feels more invested in the company and integral to its success.
  • Marketing Edge: An award is a marketing edge — a third-party seal of approval that makes your service more valuable to your rental customers, a window into a new client base and an opportunity to differentiate your company from your competitors.
  • Just by submitting an application on behalf of your associate, you are showing your team that you think they’re doing something right.


The Winners Speak

If you attended the awards ceremony at the 2012 Auto Rental Summit, you felt the passion and emotion in the winners’ stories. Last year’s winners reveal the importance of an award that celebrates individuals in the auto rental industry.

“It’s always important to recognize the efforts of the car rental industry’s ‘unsung heroes,’” says Elizabeth Alonso, area manager for Midway Car Rental in Los Angeles, who won in the independent operator category. Alonso oversees four rental offices and 50 employees.

“I am where I am today partly because I was recognized early in my career for providing great service, and it was a great motivator for me to keep improving and growing,” Alonso says. “Some 12 years later, I am now the one recognizing employees for their efforts. It feels amazing to see their faces when I tell them how great they are doing!”

“In our business, the customer is everything,” says Stacey Milliken, the night and weekend supervisor for Burgner Enterprises, the Thrifty Car Rental franchisee in Nashville. Milliken won in the franchise category. “Without the customer, there is no revenue to be made or business to be done.”

Veronica Weston, director of vehicle damage claims at Avis Budget Group, won in the corporate category. Weston has been with Avis Budget for 12 years and has won seven CEO awards from her department.

“I was honored to be recognized for an award that represents service excellence,” Weston says. “Each of us has an opportunity to delight our customers and understand the power we possess in providing a positive experience. This award reinforces that behavior. I proudly display my award for everyone to see.”

Alonso furthers that notion. “I look at my award every day sitting in my office,” she says. “It was an honor to be chosen as a recipient, and I hope it provides inspiration for my employees to continue following my lead.”

Click here for more information and to enter the 2013 Professional of the Year Awards. Nominate a customer service champion (or two) from your company, or allow them to fill out an application themselves.