Q: It seems as if we are getting blessed with a wide variety of candidates for car rental frontline positions. What are some items we should consider while going through the selection process?
Jeff T. - Independent Car Rental,
South Florida

A: Now is the time to find the best talent for your operation. Good candidates are out there and are coming our way because of the spike in unemployment. As well, people are in search of a quality company in an established industry; it is about time our industry caught at least one break!

Keeping these items in mind will help you and your team in the selection process:

1. Define your unique recruitment proposition: Knowing why your organization is a great organization to join and defining the main advantages of career development, compensation structure and personal growth, are just as important as knowing when and who to hire.

2. Look for candidates with the SEE Factor: Three key attributes that all candidates for a service-based sale role should have are sincerity, empathy and ego. These traits can easily be determined through an interview process. Sincere candidates build relationships and demonstrate them; empathetic candidates understand people and can build rapport very quickly; and ego-driven candidates want to be recognized for results and held accountable. These attributes can be found when they are presented with behavioral-based interview questions. Open-ended questions that allow the candidate to expand on their experiences of being sincere, empathetic or motivated by recognition are most effective if presented in the second interview stage.

3. Beware of too much frontline experience: “Journeymen” sales associates who approach you for employment may bring more baggage and questionable sales techniques than value. Ask these candidates to role play the rental process, check for their dialogues and see if they have been through any professional service-based sales training. Having a defined service-based sales training process will allow you and your recruitment team to think outside the box and look for candidates with very diverse non-car rental experience.[PAGEBREAK]

Q: How do we change our incentive plan to prevent sales associates from profiling customers?
Mike K. - Airport Rental Operations,
Western Canada

A: The good news is that you do not have to do anything to your incentive plan. Don’t change it. It is not the role of the incentive plan to hold sales associates accountable; it is the role of the manager. The bad news is that many managers do a poor job of holding associates accountable for these poor and unprofessional sales practices.

Following these techniques will greatly reduce these troubling behaviors:

● When the cat is away the mice will play: It is critical that your management team establishes its presence on the counter during peak rental hours. Managers should ensure that rentals are being equally processed by every associate.

● Set fair and obtainable stretch targets: If incentive targets are set unrealistically it will create an unfair expectation for your team members and their internal motivators will get the best of them. If no one in the location is receiving a payout, there is a problem.

● Go inside the numbers: Removing subjectivity and hearsay from the scenario will greatly enhance the manager’s ability to hold the staff accountable. Review individual associate length of rents, average rentals by hour worked and incentive earning per agreement. Calibrate all these trends versus the location’s team average.

● Play devil’s advocate: Ask your associates if they have ever been pre-judged or treated differently when they made a purchasing decision somewhere else.

Applying these techniques and having a relationship-focused approach with your frontline team will improve your team’s rental productivity and enhance your customer’s experience.

Q: How can we harness social media to enhance our business?
Elizabeth S. - B.E.A.P. Car Rental,
Orlando, Fla.

A Utilizing Facebook, LinkedIn and half-off daily deal sites are great ways to promote your business and keep track of repeat customers. Utilizing the following marketing methods will help your business grow:

● Ambassador’s Club: Have repeat customers sign your location’s Facebook wall with a positive comment about the experience. After five positive postings, provide the customer with a 10 percent discount on their next rental.

● Unique recruitment message: Utilize Facebook and LinkedIn to post great professional opportunities. You can only enhance your business if you attract top talent.

● Post daily deals: Use Facebook, Craigslist, LivingSocial and other online communities to run promotions, market weekend specials and communicate availability.

● Send a team “Thank You”: Sending an electronic “thank you” to your repeat customer on behalf of your entire team leaves one last great impression and communicates your ability to be focused on the relationship with the client.

Email your car rental operation-related questions to Auto Rental News care of chris.brown@bobit.com.

Consultants from the Frontline Performance Group/Khoury Group will come up with concise, insightful answers to help you better run your car rental operation. Feel free to contact them directly at questions@thekhourygroup.com.