With locations in more than 100 countries worldwide, Germany-based Sixt rent a car has its sights on expanding in the United States. First entering the American market in 2011, Sixt now has more than 30 U.S. locations — about one-third of which are franchises.
To help boost its U.S. expansion, Sixt has been seeking to recruit new U.S. franchisees. In January, Sixt Franchise USA, LLC launched its new franchise website.
“We continue to expand both corporately and via franchising to service airport, downtown and local markets,” said Craig Olson, executive vice president North America franchise development for Sixt Franchise USA, LLC. “2014 will be a very active year with Sixt corporate and franchise branches opening in several new key markets. We look at each market on a case-by-case basis, evaluating a number of factors before deciding which direction we will go. Most importantly, we need a strong growth-oriented prospect committed to upholding Sixt brand and service standards to consider franchising.”
So far, Sixt franchisees have opened locations in Las Vegas, Charlotte, N.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Hartford and West Haven, Conn., Weehawken, N.J., Springfield, Mass., and several in Florida, including Tampa. Additional franchises are set to open airport, downtown and local market branches in 2014.
These new franchises are helping to expand Sixt’s presence across the U.S. and its territories — from Boston and Las Vegas to San Diego and Puerto Rico.
To learn more about its new franchisees, Auto Rental News talked to six rental operators who have recently joined the Sixt U.S. franchise family.
Interest in Sixt
Serving the island of Puerto Rico, Omar Figueroa has been the owner of an independent car rental company for three years. Figueroa first heard about the Sixt brand when working as a consultant in different rental markets.
“Sixt is a company that has been in business in Europe for many years,” said Figueroa. “I have seen what Sixt has done in the United States in a short period of time, and it gives us security that our Sixt franchise will be in business for many years to come.”
With six locations in Eastern Massachusetts, family-owned VERC Car Rental has been in business for 35 years. Owner Jack Vercollone was drawn to Sixt after learning more about the company at the 2013 Car Rental Show and visiting its U.S. corporate headquarters in Florida.
Vercollone sees the Sixt brand as an opportunity to expand his rental business from the local market to the airport market. In fact, he will be opening a Sixt franchise location at Boston Logan International Airport this summer. “We now have the opportunity to grow our business and compete as Sixt with the major car rental companies on a level playing field.”
Sixt’s innovative marketing methods stood out to Michael Black, owner of three car rental locations in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. As the Internet started to dictate marketing and reservations, his company’s long-time method of converting telephone calls to reservations was becoming obsolete.
“The phones weren’t ringing like they used to,” said Black. “We were not moving quick enough. Today, our new Sixt locations have seen a drastic increase in reservations derived from the Sixt website and its online travel agency partnerships.”
Pablo Gotelli liked that Sixt’s mission wasn’t only about renting cars; it was also about focusing on customer service. After renting a car from Sixt in 2012, Gotelli was impressed with Sixt’s overall experience. A year later, Gotelli opened a Sixt franchise at the Las Vegas airport — with plans for his second Sixt franchise to open at the San Francisco airport soon.
Sixt’s eye-catching stores and branding caught Andrew Almand’s attention. Working as an operator for car and truck rentals in the Austin, San Antonio and San Francisco markets, Almand first saw Sixt when renting a car in Florida. “Sixt has built a very sexy and sleek brand that has built happy customers and strong margins. We are on the ground level of a major change in the car rental business.”
With a finance and investment management background, Robert English wanted to take a chance in the rental car industry. When exploring the franchise route, English — and his two partners — identified with Sixt’s vision of expansion. By joining the Sixt franchise network, English hopes that his San Diego location is just the start to eventually expanding throughout Southern California.
Becoming a Sixt Franchisee
To Almand, the switch to Sixt has been a dream come true for his rental business. Through Sixt’s support, his Austin franchise has updated its software and reduced its use of unnecessary paperwork, as well as renovated its store.
“Sixt wants its franchisees to succeed and carry the brand well,” said Almand. “All the tools are available for your success. Headquarters has supported us with every step, and I can honestly say I have never been affiliated with a company so organized and so proficient.”
Sixt’s partnership has allowed Figueroa to offer his rental customers in Puerto Rico a fair price with five-star service. Additionally, he said the strong Sixt brand will help his business expand. “Sixt brings us business that as an independent we are not able to get. It will allow us to grow in many areas of our business that is not possible without a strong brand.”
As a first-time rental car operator, Gotelli describes his experience with Sixt as professional, courteous and enriching. “Our organization has been working with other franchisors in the food and fast food industry for well over a decade and we have never had such a helpful relationship. We are free to choose almost all aspects of our business, but we are constantly offered opinions and suggestions.”
At his current Massachusetts stores, Vercollone plans to keep the same team of employees and learn the Sixt way. This includes changing its name to Sixt and redesigning the offices to the Sixt look. But when his company opens its airport location in Boston, Vercollone said he will hire a new team of employees and implement the Sixt business model from the start.
“I strongly recommend franchisees to join Sixt only if they are open to learning and embracing the Sixt model of success,” said Vercollone. “Sixt expects a lot from their franchisees, but they have a highly successful and proven track record.”