Now’s The Time To Prep For Recovery
The car rental industry will bounce back after weathering the pandemic storm
With greater economic uncertainty concerning the COVID-19 virus and its effect on our lives, two things have become luminously definite. First, things will get worse before they get better. Secondly, things will get better. Those who hunker down and make plans to mobilize once the scare diminishes will be even better off for it.
It’s what the military might call the reloading phase in battle. In this case, while the travel and transportation industry has taken a beating with countries closing their borders and imposing lockdowns on large-scale social events, many car rental industry competitors have changed their contingencies when it comes to service.
Companies like Avis, Budget and Hertz have already introduced more flexible booking policies including the waiving of cancellation fees. They’re also stepping up the cleaning and disinfectant procedures of grooming their fleets. Some companies have offered rental discounts to essential workers and healthcare staff. Dollar & Thrifty franchisee Molly Flodman recently began offering her fleet to grocery stores and restaurants to deliver food.
Those measures might provide some relief, but as pointed out in Auto Rental News, companies should brace for recovery or else lose the opportunity to take advantage of increased demand once the pandemic is no longer a threat. Many learned the lessons of 9/11 after the dust settled and have plans for the big bounce back.
Meanwhile, thoughts of layoffs run rampant, although a few companies are asking for voluntary furloughs and shortening hours so that staff at least can take home some earnings. A few large companies are negotiating with parking service companies to find room for its unused fleet. One business is already unloading its vehicle inventory in the short term. Unfortunately that measure will leave the firm with a smaller fleet to handle the rebound.
While airport rentals remain the biggest revenue stream for a car rental company, many of them are negotiating with port authorities to at least cut them some slack on minimum airport guarantee payments. They’re also approaching automakers to cancel or at least delay orders of newer models until they’re in a position to add them to their fleets.
Advantages to Car Rental Companies
Those are some of the measures being taken across the U.S. and around the world. But even while people are in isolation, eventually people, especially those who don’t own vehicles, will need to drive. They will need cars for a variety of reasons, from getting supplies to checking in on families. Of all the options available, rentals are decidedly much safer than public transit, taxis and ride-sharing, which puts the industry at an advantage. Another plus is the statistics regarding customer service among car rentals, which are higher than ever. That’s one card itching to be played after the pandemic fog has lifted.
Companies who put forth a strategy that best works for their organizations will most likely surface from this alarming slowdown in one piece.