Four car rental employees were honored as the Professional of the Year Award winners on Tuesday at an awards ceremony at the 2014 Auto Rental Summit in Hollywood, Fla.
Presented by American Express, the Auto Rental News Professional of the Year Awards honor associates who demonstrate and promote outstanding customer satisfaction within the car rental process from auto rental companies worldwide.
Winners from three car rental business categories (franchise, corporate and independent) were chosen by a panel of five judges, including Sharon Faulkner, executive director of ACRA (American Car Rental Association); Diane J. Clancy, director of ACRISS (Association of Car Rental Industry System Standards); Leslie Pujo, attorney/owner at LaPlaca Pujo, PC; Ziad Khoury, founder and president of the Frontline Performance Group (FPG) and Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News.
Because of a tie, two winners were chosen in the independent category.
“Now in its third year, the awards are a forum for the auto rental industry to celebrate its champions, enhance industry morale and promote its good works,” said Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News.
Presented with trophies at the Auto Rental Summit, here are the four winners:
Todd Foss, general manager of Grace Bay Car Rentals, a Thrifty franchisee, in Turks & Caicos was selected as the winner of the Professional of the Year in the franchise category. With locations on the islands of Providencials and Grand Turk, Grace Bay Car Rentals received the Thrifty Franchisee of the Year for the Americas and Caribbean in 2013.
Foss started the company from scratch and has done everything from washing cars to changing oil. Credited for his leadership skills and going above and beyond his call of duties, Foss is recognized for his willingness to serve customers, whether it’s organizing restaurant reservations or tours for visiting renters.
“It is both a great surprise and honor to be recognized in such a fantastic way by Auto Rental News and industry peers,” said Foss. “There is no doubt that the success of our firm is a result of our team’s promise to each other that we are going to exceed every customer’s expectations — Every day! Every Time! Without Fail! No Exceptions! We call this our ‘WOW’ challenge. The trick is to not only make customer service essential, but to make it fun.”
Richard Wilcox, strategic account manager for Enterprise Holdings, has been named as the Professional of the Year winner for the corporate category. He has worked with Enterprise Holdings for 25 years and has held multiple positions, including district sales and business rental sales executive.
During his time at Enterprise, Wilcox has been named salesperson of the year multiple times. And in his current position as account manager, his sales team has been named No. 1 in the company for three years in a row. His duties include implementation of new and existing accounts, managing day-to-day performance of accounts, handling customer service issues and communicating with operations teams.
“I am honored to have been nominated and awarded as a 2014 Auto Rental News Professional of the Year,” said Wilcox. “The entire team at Enterprise Holdings, that is over 83,000 of us, has a piece of this award. We all strive every day to exceed customer’s expectations. Our goal is to provide complete customer satisfaction.”
From Massachusetts-based Verc Car Rental, Matthew Vercollone was named a 2014 Professional of the Year for the independent category. Serving as the fleet manager assistant, his responsibilities include organizing rental fleet during normal operation, up-fleeting, down-fleeting and identifying vehicle damage.
After working for the company for nine years, Vercollone has held multiple positions, including a rental agent and driver. In the last 19 months, he has created a technology that allows Verc to take photos of the vehicle with the customer before it is rented. The DamageID technology has helped make identifying damage and collecting on the damages easier.
“I wish I could take all the credit for receiving this award, but it was truly a team effort,” said Vercollone. “We (Verc Car Rental) had to come together as a company to achieve our goal — doing away with paper and pen walk-arounds and pioneering a new way to find and record damage. Verc employees go the extra mile on a daily basis, so it was only natural that they embraced the challenge of adopting the new technology and putting it to practice in the field.”
Recognized for his management skills and high level of customer service, TJ Sammut, the assistant fleet/location manager at Bandago Van Rental’s Los Angeles location, was selected as a winner of the 2014 Professional of the Year in the independent category.
After working for Bandago for five years, Sammut has worked his way up from a sales and fleet associate. As the assistant fleet/location manager, his duties include managing the rental staff, rental operations, vehicle maintenance and location appearance.
“I am very honored and humbled to be named a Professional of the Year,” said Sammut. “This company [Bandago Van Rental] runs like a close knit family that is solely dedicated to its customers. This award would not be possible without the awesome professionals I get to work side-by-side with every day.”
By Amy Winter