SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- This February marks the fifth anniversary of Vehicle Replacement Consulting Group, Inc., the Southfield, Mich.-based company that works in 20 states to help small to mid-size car rental operators realize their company's potential through business strategy.

VRCG was founded in February 2001 by Michael Kane, a former Enterprise employee with two decades of industry experience under his belt. Months later, partner Thom Amick – a former co-worker of Kane's – joined, and the company hasn't looked back since.

Kane explains that VRCG is designed to help companies in need. But, noting the high cost of constant consultation fees, he says the company works one step at a time on an as-needed basis.

"It's a tough business, and it would be difficult and expensive for a small to mid-size company to have people like us on their payroll full-time," Kane says. "So, what people are doing is basically renting expertise. We're kind of like a timeshare – you couldn't afford it on your own, but since you don't need it 52 weeks a year, you use it when you need it; you use it when you want it."

In the last five years, people have needed VRCG's expertise the most regarding fleet management, executive coaching and employee development.

"Their engagement with us is fairly wide-reaching," says Dan Ewald, owner of Mayfair Rent-A-Car, a Wisconsin outfit operating nine locations in the southeast portion of the state. "We're better organized in our loss control, and they've helped with our fleet management, both on the buy side and the sell side with remarketing."

Fleet is the most expensive branch of the car rental business, and Kane says that if companies see even a 5% to 10% decrease in fleet costs, then the consultation has paid for itself.

Ewald points out that, oftentimes, many smaller businesses don’t have a sounding board with which to work and bounce ideas off of. But for Mayfair, VRCG serves that purpose.

"They’re further raising awareness that a small company can survive against the majors," Ewald adds.

"There is an absence of educated, common-sense, experienced people that a business owner can chat with about all kinds of issues," Kane says.

And that is a void that VRCG has been trying to fill for five years now.