Enterprise Holdings announced today that for the first time in its more than 55-year history, the company is franchising its Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand and is appointing Guerin Car Rental Solutions as a franchisee in Portugal.

“While this may be the first franchising agreement for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand, it won’t be the last,” said Peter A. Smith, VP of global franchising for Enterprise. “In fact, we plan to continue this same growth strategy throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.” 

Enterprise Holdings confirmed that there are no plans to franchise U.S. car rental operations. “We are committed to developing a comprehensive network of rental car businesses across Europe and beyond,” said Jim Burrell, senior VP, Europe for Enterprise Holdings.

Enterprise also said that it is rebranding the recently acquired Citer and Atesa operations in France and Spain, bringing the total number of corporate-owned and franchise Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations in Europe to more than 1,000. Today, the European Enterprise Rent-A-Car network operates more than 100,000 vehicles. (More on the the rebranding can be read below.)

The Franchise Agreement

The agreement with Guerin Car Rental Solutions brings the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand’s European presence to six countries — the U.K., Germany, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal — representing more than 65% of the European car rental market, according to Enterprise.

The new franchise agreement not only enables both companies to better meet customers’ needs, it also marks Enterprise Holdings’ entry into the Portuguese market. Since 1989, Guerin has been a leader in Portugal’s car rental sector with a nationwide presence in all metropolitan centers and major airports, including the international gateways of Lisbon, Faro, Madeira and Porto.

“We’re careful to choose strong, stable domestic businesses as our international franchise partners, and Guerin certainly meets that standard as a well-respected travel industry leader in Portugal,” Smith said.

“Enterprise Rent-A-Car is known for great value and superior service,” said José António Figueiredo, managing director of Guerin. “Now, together, we’ll extend that same level of value and service to customers throughout Portugal.”

As the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand expands its global footprint, special training will be provided to underscore Enterprise’s customer service approach, including management techniques designed to give branch employees greater autonomy to meet the needs of local customers.

To further ensure that the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand remains synonymous with customer service excellence around the world, franchised locations also will apply the Enterprise Service Quality index (ESQi), which measures employees’ success in satisfying their customers. Customer feedback is tabulated and tracked every month to determine the ESQi score, which links employees' career and financial aspirations with their ability to provide consistently superior service to each and every customer.

“We’ve learned how to successfully work with franchisees and maintain the integrity of our brands – especially our reputation for providing exceptional customer service,” said Lee Broughton, assistant VP of global marketing and communications for Enterprise Holdings. “As a result, we are in an even stronger position today when customers tell us they also want to use the Enterprise brand wherever they travel.

“We are confident that this new partnership with Guerin will enable us to offer Enterprise Rent-A-Car customers a consistently positive experience when their travels take them to Portugal. Our brands share a common commitment to serving the needs of business and leisure travelers alike, and we look forward to working seamlessly together to serve our customers in this dynamic European market.”

Founded in 1957, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is an internationally recognized brand that has grown organically to almost 7,000 neighborhood and airport locations. Today, Enterprise Holdings has a presence in 39 countries worldwide, including 8,200 corporate-owned and franchise locations.

Currently, through its regional subsidiaries, Enterprise Holdings operates a National and Alamo franchise network throughout the Americas. Earlier this year, the company also made a strategic investment in China-based eHi Auto Services.

Rebranding Citer and Atesa

Paris-based Citer SA and its former Spanish subsidiary, Atesa, will be rebranded to Enterprise Rent-A-Car effective Feb. 1, 2013. The rebrand adds 350 new locations to Enterprise's network.

Enterprise said that the rebrand outlines its intention to develop in France, and that it expects to add more locations and to increase employee numbers by the end of 2013.

Like with the franchises, the physical rebranding of the branches is  supported by a personal development plan for all existing employees. This will be combined with internal training to introduce Enterprise’s customer service approach, as well as management techniques designed to give branch employees greater autonomy to meet the needs of their local customers.

“The rebranding of Citer as Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the result of 12 months of learning and understanding of Citer, its employees and customers, and the French market," Burrell said. "We wanted to determine a value proposition that will fit the needs of our new French customers as well as international travellers in France."

Burrell said that all the existing branches will remain open.

James Ware, general manager of Enterprise Rent-A-Car in France, commented: “Like Enterprise, Citer is a business that cares passionately about customers, and it is this shared value between the two businesses that has made our acquisition and rebrand a smooth one. Enterprise brings a specific approach to measuring customer service — and rewarding employees based on evidence that they are good at looking after customers — and our new French team has been very receptive."

This article was updated at 1:56 p.m. on Dec. 5 to include more information about the rebranding of Citer SA.