As part of the 25th anniversary celebration of Auto Rental News, we queried readers with this question: What do you know now that you wish you knew 25 years ago?
Here is a compendium of responses.
“I wish I knew…”
“… that all of the company consolidations and mergers would have helped us little guys. We sold out too early; we should have waited for a big fish to swallow us up.”
— Andy Batchelor, owner, Midwest Auto Rental, Alton, Ill.
“… that everything works out in the end. Spend more time doing and less on the worry. Be nicer and spend more time making customers happy than accountants. Work hard but never forget balance.”
— Ciaran O’Brien, group operations director,
Europcar Ireland, Dublin
“… that mistakes are part of life. If you have a gut feeling go ahead and do it, if it’s wrong you can go back and retry. I’ve lost many good ideas by not being bold enough to make the leap.”
— Kevin Hall, OnlineRepublic.com, East Sussex, UK
“… the extraordinary impact that Enterprise Rent A Car would have on the domestic auto rental industry including recognizing the value proposition of the insurance replacement segment and focus on prioritizing and optimizing profitability on fleet disposal.”
— Neil Abrams, president, Abrams Consulting, Purchase, N.Y.
“… that it's worth the investment to belong to a franchise that works with and for you. Having access to their buying power, uniformity, branding and technology is extremely valuable when growing your small business to the next level.”
— Sharon Faulkner, executive director, American Car Rental Association, Albany, N.Y.
“… the rapid advancement of technology and change in our vehicles would make tangible counter products difficult to sell (i.e. GPS is now accessible for free on a phone). Knowing the definite technological changes now versus 25 years ago, a lot of wiser financial decisions could have been made.”
— Durga Narine, territory manager, Avis Budget Group, Farmingdale, N.Y.
“… that with the stroke of a pen, Mario Cuomo single handedly would kill the independent and franchise car rental industry with the bill outlawing CDW. Small mom and pop shops could not bear the financial burdens placed on us, and the lack of liability given to the consumer.”
— Jim Senecal, former Avis franchisee, White Plains, N.Y.
“… that car sharing and internal combustion engine alternative vehicles would be segments of the auto rental industry.”
— Michael Snyder, CEO, Hawaiian Electric Vehicle Company, Wailuku, Hawaii
“… That I should’ve gradually expanded once I knew the formula was working. My philosophy was to operate very limited locations and maximize volume and yield while keeping overhead low.”
— Jim Shapiro, past ACRA & ACTIF president, former franchise owner, Fla.
“… to know your market. Don’t trust that simply changing or upgrading your product will yield results. Your market will dictate what it wants. The changes you make to your business must first make use of your immediate clientele; then move toward growing your base.”
— Sean Cox, LLC manager, U-Save Car & Truck Rental, Colorado Springs, Colo.
“… that I had better understood that sometimes, ‘it’s not personal, it’s just business.’ It would’ve saved me a lot of hurt feelings and helped me be a better negotiator.”
— M.J. Thomas, manager, marketing/public relations, Sentry Protection Products, Lakewood, Ohio
“… that DTG stock would drop so low (and I should’ve bought) and would sell for so much in the eventual Hertz acquisition deal.”
— Philip LePage, coordinator, shipping & receiving, DTG Supply, Tulsa, Okla.
“… how tough the car rental industry really is.”
— Jeffrey Congdon, dad and “part-time shuttle driver,” U-Save Car & Truck Rental, Tampa, Fla.
“… that my partner was an ***hole.”
— Name and company withheld on request.