Dealership rentals: a key source of fleet business
Mariano Rivera Honda is a relatively new dealership on Long Island, about an hour northeast of New York City. Service Manager, Jorge Rosas, said he’s adopted a customer-obsessed approach to deliver premium dealership experiences. He knows customers want their dealerships to keep them moving. In addition to providing loaner cars for service customers, Rosas launched a dealership rental program and found it was an effective way to get more money out of his existing fleet vehicles.
“We’re getting people coming in all the time to rent cars,” Rosas said. “It’s advantageous for us to have the rental program because it reduces the cost of the loaner program, which is a tremendous expense to the dealership. If we can recoup some of that money back, why not?”
Rosas said about 20 percent of the fleet business goes to rental customers, with the other 80% reserved for loaners, and rentals are almost-but-not-quite covering the cost of the loaner fleet. Now, as the dealership’s customer base is growing on the strength of great customer service and 5-star reviews, the fleet is growing, too, to keep up with volume and demand for more options.
“I had a guy come in and ask me ‘do you rent hybrid vehicles?’, and at the time I didn’t have any hybrids. Now I just added six more cars, I’ll have hybrid vehicles to rent out as well,” Rosas said. “People are into that stuff, they want to travel and by renting the hybrid car, maybe they can take the HOV lane into Manhattan or just save some gas.”
More options for customers means more cash flow for the dealership
Mariano Rivera Honda’s dealership rental program serves a few needs: daily rentals for people who just need a car are the most straightforward, but Rosas says he also rents to customers using a nearby body shop who can take advantage of insurance reimbursements. By giving customers more options than the local rental agencies, Rosas is able to cut into a market that dealerships often overlook.
“If they can do it, more dealers should rent out cars,” Rosas said. “Because [the rental agencies] have the market cornered out here and they’re actually low on cars.”
Competing is paying off, too. Rosas jokes that if dealers want a loaner business that’s free, “…rent cars. There you go.”
“People come in and rent cars for the day or the week, and we have our prices set up to try to recover some of the costs for the loaner cars, let’s say it’s $70 a day,” he said. “You multiply that by 10 cars that are out and guess what, that’s thousands of dollars a week.”
How to build a dealership rental business
The way Rosas describes it, the extra thousands of dollars a week isn’t coming in with extreme expense or effort. The dealership rental program’s success is built on simple strategies carried out with confidence.
Mariano Rivera Honda is “advertising like wildfire,” Rosas said. The dealership rental program is on full display “we even have signs out in front of the dealership that say “RENTAL CARS,” Rosas said.
He explained that everyone in the dealership contributes to advertising the total experience that draws customers to Mariano Rivera Honda. They’re advertising dealership rentals, loaners, free car washes and more, all on their website, on mailers, and on social media.
“Our advisors make videos, our salespeople make videos; we have a tremendous social media presence,” Rosas said. “Our owner knows that’s the way of the future, so we’re constantly marketing and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful.”
How Dealerware makes dealership rentals simple
Dealerware’s mobile contracting tools help Mariano Rivera Honda deliver fast customer experiences. As Rosas describes it, “the check-in and checkout are just very, very simple, and it works really well.”
On the backend, more robust fleet management features also make it simple for Rosas to use his vehicles for whatever use case he needs at the time, loaner or rental.
“When somebody comes in to rent the car, it takes me 30 seconds to get them into a vehicle with rental pricing set up,” Rosas said. The multi-program support in Dealerware allows him to customize pricing by vehicle model and by source of business, so he can automatically charge different rates for the Accord, Odyssey and Passport in his fleet, or waive the fees altogether for service customers receiving a loaner.
The same team that manages loaner vehicles can manage rentals, limiting any dealership’s effort to get a rental program off the ground. Dealerware makes it easy to associate different agreement types to different programs making dealership rental programs as simple to operate as any loaner car service. Simply set up the appropriate agreement for each of your programs and customize the daily rate by vehicle model and you are ready to start offering rental at your dealership.