Sure, Molly Flodman’s flow of reservations has turned to a trickle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But she’s not wringing her hands, or sitting on them.
Flodman, a franchisee owner of the Dollar and Thrifty brands serving Omaha’s Eppley Airfield, is looking to rent vehicles to a segment that is booming as a result of the pandemic — deliveries.
“We didn't have any business and I thought we’d better figure out a way to get some,” she said. “We have all these cars and there's companies needing to get their products to people.”
Flodman is contacting local grocery stores, restaurants, and food-related businesses that don’t deliver through national food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash. “I'm imagining they have shelves of perishable food and a need to get groceries out to older customers,” she said.
However, many local businesses aren’t set up yet for deliveries and may need some counseling to think outside the box. “We're trying to get the word out to these places, and I feel like they're a little shell-shocked,” she said.
The response from these businesses wasn’t encouraging out of the gate. “They thought we were spam calling them, that they didn’t need anything like this,” she said. “As time goes on, we're getting a lot more response.”
So far, Family Fare Supermarkets in Papillion, a suburb of Omaha and The Market in Louisville, Neb. have rented her vehicles to make deliveries.
Flodman is coordinating her new local initiatives through her downtown location, which is much smaller than the airport. “We're offering to do whatever it takes. We'll bring them the car,” she said.
She said her lender is working with her regarding delay of payments on fleet vehicles during the crisis, which isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary for the lender. “We've had the same lender for over 20 years,” she said. “In Nebraska, we're a little unique in that we’re smaller and it’s more of a community.”
She has space to park her cars during the crisis. “Yeah, it’s bad, but I don't feel the need to do a fire sale,” she said, adding that her fleet is 100% risk.
Flodman admitted that this new business isn’t enough to pay the bills, but it’s keeping her employees working too. And right now, she’s concentrating on where her rental business can make a difference.
“We’re the only locally owned car rental company in Omaha,” she said. “We're lifelong Nebraskans and we want to help.”
Do you have a story of business ingenuity in a time of crisis, or helping your local community? Tell us about it.