Sam Telikyan knows the rental industry. A former co-owner of several Video Hut stores in the Los Angeles area, Telikyan watched firsthand as his industry rapidly declined in 2008. However, rather than throw in the towel, he used the opportunity to start Platinum Car Rental.
Fast forward to today, and Platinum Car Rental, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, encompasses all aspects of luxury and exotic vehicles, including rental and chauffeur services.
Rentals of a Different Type
Unsurprisingly, Telikyan credits his time in the video rental world for his current operations success.
"We had a great thing going and a successful chain of video stores but got killed because of technology moving so rapidly," he says. "So going into [the auto rental] business, I knew from day one that I had to concentrate on a certain niche where technology was going to have a very hard time in taking me out like it took us out in our video store days."
In 2008, when Telikyan left the video rental business to pursue his passion for working with cars, he enlisted the help of his cousins, who owned and operated the customization and body shop, Platinum Motorsport & Platinum Collision Center.
"They were my platform on where to start, because they were giving out their car rental business to other car rental companies," Telikyan says. "So I saw the business opportunity and started earning all their business. That was very helpful and was my foundation."
Telikyan's plan was to focus on luxury and specialty vehicles. He says that serving upscale clientele buoyed the business through the economic recession of the late 2000s.
Steady Clientele Base
"The 1% I focused on from the beginning, no matter if the economy is good or bad, their lifestyle remains the same,” he continues. “If the economy is bad, it might slightly affect them or, instead of renting the big Range Rover, they will rent a mid-sized Range Rover. But at the end of the day, they will still rent a luxury vehicle because that's the lifestyle they know and are used to.”
With limited seed funding, Platinum Car Rental's first fleet initially didn't consist of Lamborghinis. Instead, it began with a 6-year-old Honda Accord that Telikyan rented out to customers who would drop off their own cars at his cousin's body shop.
Shortly after, Telikyan with Automotive Finance Corp. Rental Sales Manager Wayne Yocum at the Car Rental Show. Yocum gave Telikyan $30,000 for two more cars, setting the stage for the brand's growth over the next 10 years.
"One of the things I did throughout the entire life of the business is building relationships," Telikyan says.
The primary philosophy behind growing the Platinum Car Rental brand since its inception involves maintaining good relationships with banks, insurance companies, and vendors — and, most importantly, treating the team well and creating an inviting workplace culture.
A decade of Platinum Car Rental has not been without its stumbling blocks. The brand attempted to expand its fleet of standard vehicles, and even rented Can-Ams. Growing Platinum Car Rental involved trial and error, but luxury vehicle rentals kept business steady, Telikyan says.
Looking toward the future, Telikyan still has plans to diversify the Platinum brand beyond luxury rentals. He says the company is currently developing an equipment financing and insurance arm, with a focus toward small- and large-scale businesses. By working toward diversifying Platinum Car Rental, Telikyan hopes to set the company up for continued growth in the future.
"I have a very clear picture of my future and will continue growing what I've been doing,” he says. "It’s brought me here. But, I'm going to start diversifying to build a bigger and brighter future for my family and team."