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Sending a customer off to retrieve a rental car is common while their car is serviced, but how are you able to keep track of that customer’s experience once they leave the dealership? For Dan Schofield, director of fixed operations for Weston Kia in Gresham, Ore., sending customers to an off-site Enterprise location posed concerns as the dealership no longer had control of how customers were handled.

Schofield remembers when the Enterprise was located 3–4 miles from the dealership. Although service experience was controlled at the dealership, it was difficult to know how rental vehicles were being handled miles away.

“Once they left here, we lost control,” he says. “We had no idea that they were sitting over there saying, ‘Well, we don’t have a car, but we can get a car from this facility and it’s going to be another 45 minutes.’”

In an effort to create a more transparent process with how customers are handled, the dealership found an opportunity that has given them insight on where their customers are and what their experience is like.

Schofield says the dealership looked at ways to stay connected with the customer, and says it made sense to move the Enterprise onsite, as that Enterprise location’s lot lease was coming to a close. In 2011, Enterprise moved from its previous location into an office space inside the dealership, which has since become one of its most successful franchises.

“It’s a big office beside the showroom, and we also have undercover parking that they pull their cars up for their customers and out of the [weather] elements,” Schofield says. “I don’t see a downside of having a franchise on board, other than the fact that if you’re cramped in a space.”

Since the move, the dealership has seen a number of benefits, including routine maintenance check-ups, new customers, and avoiding tense situations with loaner vehicles.

 

Benefit No. 1: Loaner vehicles stay onsite.

Loaning cars out to customers can turn into an uncomfortable situation if they damage the vehicle.

“If you don’t have an on-site [rental car] franchise, you’re going to end up loaning out your valuable vehicles,” Schofield says. “Then, of course, confronting the customer on damage with the vehicles is not something you want to do with your customers.”

Bringing Enterprise to the dealership has eliminated the stress of dealing with damaged loaner vehicles, Schofield says. The franchise now deals with issues outside of the dealership.

“I’m not trying to kill my customers relationships here over a scratch that may or may not have happened when they had it,” Schofield says. “If we didn’t do a proper walk-around and three or four times down the road, the customer that actually damaged the car it’s been three times rented since then, and we’re going, ‘Who did it?’”

“We’re not a rental company, so there’s people that do that very well—we don’t, we’re a dealership,” Schofield says.

 

Benefit No. 2: Service franchise’s vehicles.

After adding a rental car franchise to your business, it’s likely that your business’ services will be utilized by the franchise. At Schofield’s dealership, the in-house Enterprise has been a frequent visitor for service at the dealership.

“We do all of the fleet, as well as the maintenance,” Schofield says. “We’re close to the airport here in Portland, so it’s probably about 700 units, and, out of those, we end up with probably 30–40 visits per month just in additional maintenance repairs.”

The vehicles can also bring in additional income when recalls come into play.

“When you have recalls on some of those [vehicles], some of the recalls are $1,500 each and you’ve got 700 units,” Schofield says. “So we’ll just bring them in and do all of the recalls for them, as well.”

 

Benefit No. 3: See real-life examples.

With a parking lot full of vehicles at the dealership, having a franchise on-site can become a teaching tool when it comes to specific vehicles with which the service department is unfamiliar.

“Another cool thing is if we have a vehicle in the shop and it’s a 2017 Dodge and we’re not that familiar with what we’re looking at, we can go up to Enterprise and say,  ‘Do you guys have one of these in stock?’’’ Schofield says. “[If they do], we can pull that truck in and see [it in person].”

Seeing the vehicle in person can provide technicians with more insight on what the working model looks like.

“It’s the same thing we’ve always done with our franchise vehicles; this just gives us a little more depth because of Enterprise,” Schofield says.

 

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