Running a car rental company is not easy, and in the daily flow of business we don’t give much thought to being car rental ambassadors.
Yet, it is imperative that we develop relationships with our local papers, Chambers of Commerce, trade associations, and local elected officials to explain issues and concerns of the car rental industry. Someday you might get a call from a reporter for your opinion. Think of the free press for your business as you articulate your expert opinion in the local media!
The car rental industry provides travel services to millions of consumers. Surveys show that car rental agents are doing a great job moving millions of people from one place to another and that the majority of renters believe that rental car pricing is still the bargain portion of the trip in comparison to the airlines and the hotel industry.
We need to get the word out that behind the 1.8 million rental cars on the road in the U.S. today, there are more than 100,000 employees and their families making the wheels turn. Those employed in car rental work 365 days a year and some 18 hours a day. They get emergency calls at all hours. They rush to help renters who break down. And they take customer care very seriously.
Car rental companies are working hard to go green, from renting more fuel-efficient vehicles to hybrids and even electric vehicles, to being proactive in seeking social, economic and environmental sustainability.
Each of the major car rental companies has a foundation set up to handle the number of charitable requests they receive. Independents and franchisees generously donate their rental cars to various charity programs, auctions and golf tournaments, as well as filling multiple requests for transportation for seriously ill patients who need transportation and cannot afford it. Many car rental companies are national supporters of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The generosity and philanthropy of rental car companies is immense but under-reported.
Change is happening as a result of your involvement, as ACRA continues to interact with members of Congress on the state and federal levels to introduce and affect legislation that has a direct impact on your businesses.
It is easy to get involved. Write a letter to the editor of the local paper. Suggest writing a guest column. Issue a press release when you donate a free rental.
It will take your effort to change perceptions — lobbyists and public relations firms can never replace the voice of each car rental owner, operator or manager.
The rental car industry is more than a profit-driven corporate entity. It is small-business families working together. It is hard-working employees driving shuttle buses, cleaning and fueling vehicles, and frontline customer service representatives facilitating the rental process. They are community members, caring neighbors and tax-paying contributors across the United States.
The car rental industry needs to start bragging a bit. Making yourself into a car rental ambassador is a good start.