Two car rental professionals were honored as the Professional of the Year Award winners during Tuesday’s award ceremony at the 2017 Auto Rental Summit in Miami.
For the second year, a Professional of the Year Award was presented in a category dedicated to an associate from a vendor company to the car rental industry. This award was judged based on several elements including customer service, operations management, sales, leadership, and industry and community involvement.
The second Professional of the Year Award was given in the operator category. It honored an associate from a corporate, franchise, or independent location who demonstrates and promotes outstanding customer satisfaction within the car rental process.
The two winners were chosen by a panel of five judges, including Sharon Faulkner, executive director of ACRA (American Car Rental Association); Leslie Pujo, attorney/owner at LaPlaca Pujo, PC; Ziad Khoury, founder and president of the Frontline Performance Group (FPG); Jim Tennant, principal of The Tennant Group; and Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News.
Presented with trophies at the Auto Rental Summit, here are the two winners:
Phil Spink, operations manager of Sixt Rent A Car/Tom Wood Rental, won the Professional of the Year Award in the operator category.
As operations manager, Spink is responsible for several business activities, including hiring, vehicle ordering, damage control, daily rentals, and financial statements.
Spink has developed several processes to help the company reduce spending and increase revenues. When purchasing cars, he has established procedures to save money on monthly depreciation and has negotiated lower purchase rates. He has implemented a rate philosophy that has increased year-over-year revenue. He has also worked with the fleet manager to find a better tracking service, which has cut down on lost and stolen vehicles and saved the company 50% on its monthly costs.
Spink is recognized for including his management staff in decisions that impact the overall company and for coaching staff members when needed. He has changed the company culture to allow growth from all employees.
“I’m flattered to receive the Professional of the Year Award,” said Spink. “It’s an honor to receive this recognition for over 22 years of franchised rental car management and ownership. Over the many years of management, I have witnessed an ever-changing business environment, business models, and customer service initiatives. I have embraced every change [not always willingly at first] and ran with it. I’m looking forward to many changes on the horizon in regards to transportation and mobility.”
“In this business, you must love it to be able to succeed in it,” added Spink. “It’s a great business to be a part of and I want to thank everyone who has taught and mentored me along the way. I’m looking forward to many more years of working with the Tom Wood Automotive Group — managing their franchised car rental operation and learning from the ever-changing business.”
Angela Margolit, president of Bluebird Auto Rental Systems, was selected as the winner of the Professional of the Year in the vendor category.
Bluebird provides rental companies with car rental management systems. RentWorks, its vehicle rental software, includes features such as a two-screen rental process, reservation sales, fleet utilization, and rate management.
Starting as a sales representative with the company in 1988, she purchased the division from Bluebird Systems in 1993. According to Gordon Rozek, Bluebird’s former vice president of sales and marketing, she manages everything related to the company, including support, sales, marketing, and administration. She helped develop Bluebird’s rental software program.
Margolit is recognized for her involvement in day-to-day duties from handling the most basic support issues to customizing reporting requirements following a customer’s request. She will take the time to work with customers, even visiting customer locations and working on the weekend. She treats employees and customers as if they were part of her extended family.
“By treating her employees like family, she has been able to maintain a staff that has a tremendous level of experience,” said Rob Hano, Bluebird’s director of sales. “Many of them have been part of Bluebird for 15 to 20 years, and as a result, they are able to provide an unparalleled level of expertise to her customers. She is always available to help resolve any issue with endless energy and enthusiasm. Leading by this example, Angela has created a work environment that puts her customers first.”
Outside of the office, she is involved in many local organizations, including serving on the board of directors for Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, being a part of the Sea Scout program, and serving as a board member for the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurs Corp.
“I was really surprised that this award would be given to a computer software vendor as there are so many of us,” said Margolit. “The fact that my employees are the ones who nominated me for this award is a tremendous validation of what I try to do: Make people feel good and enjoy life. I have many employees who have been with me for over 20 years. And I always hope that they are looking forward to work each day and feel like they are making a difference.”
By Amy Winter-Hercher