Q: What are some creative ways I can make sure my frontline staff understands that it is also their responsibility to help prevent our cars from being stolen?

- Matt P., fleet manager, Chicago

A: As an operator, you definitively understand the impact that one converted car can have on your profit and losses. In many cases the write-off of one or two cars can mean the difference between being in the black or in the red. Utilizing these techniques and coaching exercises for your team will help convey urgency:

● Explain how thin the margins are: Show your team that if your operation, in a good year, posts a 5% profit margin, the loss of a $25,000 vehicle will need $500,000 in top-line revenue to repay/offset that loss. In many cases it is the manager’s responsibility to dispel the notion that car rental owners have a magic machine that prints money. Ask your team how much of each dollar generated in time and mileage revenue drops to the bottom line? In most cases their perception is wrong.

● Build the value of the frontline’s role: Stressing the importance of their role in the operation as a “frontline risk manager” will help you change their mindset. Make statements that create urgency like “no one can impact profitability like this team,” or “the best line of defense against vehicle theft and fraud is a good CSR.” Get your team involved with working the overdue list or “watch list” for overdue renters.

● Provide the correct incentives and measurements: Provide your entire team with an incentive if zero cars are stolen throughout the year. Provide your team with updated statistics on the number of vehicles overdue versus total rentable fleet. Creating this ratio makes it easier for the frontline team to understand the impact vagrant renters have on their fleet and the operation’s availability. Please note that some operators do not feel comfortable being this open about their fleet statistics, but sharing these statistics builds the frontline’s view of their value and creates a “knowledge is power” mindset.

● Educate your team on terms and conditions of the rental agreement and local laws: Share with your team how the law protects you and them as an operation. Remind them that rental agreements and laws are established because someone in the past took advantage of the system and acted illegally.

Q: In our local market location what is one item — besides service or rates — that can set us apart from our competition?

- Sammy N., general manager, Phoenix

A: Although you described two of the key items that help you win market share, showing your existing customers and team the importance of your community relationships and customer testimonials casts a huge message to anyone who walks into your location. Implement these relationship strategies:

● Create a “Thank You Thirty Club”: Any local business or customer who rents 30 times or more in a 12-month period receives a free week of rental and/or annual luncheon. Take pictures of the event and have them framed and placed somewhere of prominence in the location.

● Post recognition of your support for local community groups: Little League teams, churches, hospitals or schools all need sponsors. Getting involved will help them and it will get you recognized. Post awards or thank you letters from your groups in prominent spots of the location.

● Ask for testimonials: Ask your influential customers and repeat renters to write a testimonial about your team and service. Request that the testimonials be printed on their company letterhead. Place the letters in a frame, or if you accumulate many of them, in a nice leather binder.

● Ask for more rentals at the end of each rental: What communicates a relationship-focused approach more than wanting to see your customers again and again and again.

Investing in professional looking frames, plaques, shelving or supporting supplies will also demonstrate your intense focus to detail with regards to communicating the importance of good relationships.