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Bargaining Table Car Rental Tips for Corporate Planners

Five ways to up the value of your car rental program, from the negotiating table to the gas tank.

What’s the view like from the other side of the car rental bargaining table? Bob Shaw wants to give you a glimpse. As director of strategic accounts, central and western Canada, Enterprise Holdings Inc, parent company to global car rental outfits Alamo, National and Enterprise, Shaw has the inside scoop on how corporate planners can position themselves to get the best bang for their client’s buck.

1.   Quantity means savings. Corporate travel management should carefully evaluate every possible car rental requirement, whether for meetings, events, business travel, promotions, even for yourself when conducting site inspections and other needs outside the company’s travel policy. Says Shaw, “Base it on historical data so we can work with true numbers. When everything is on the table, corporate planners have better leverage and we can match the most suitable program.”

2.   Compliance is crucial. “This is huge for us,” he states. When putting together the program, the car rental company expects to get the business, and the corporate planner ultimately benefits. Shaw notes the chink in the compliance armour tends to occur when company policies are not clear cut or mandated.

3.   Magnify the fine print. When comparing car rental companies, Shaw has a warning: “There is a real difference in standard business practice of value and costs savings. Uncover all costs because it will affect the daily rate.” Three surcharges that may go unnoticed: energy recovery fee, refueling costs and vehicle licensing fee. Best defense? Complete transparency. Corporate travel managers should request from suppliers a detailed breakdown of all the costs.

4.   Rise to the challenge. A last minute, move-mountains request like a bannered fleet of flashy cars for a promotional or incentive event is de rigueur for corporate planners. Can your supplier keep pace? If you’ve signed on with an established, well-stocked vendor, the odds will be heavily stacked in your favour.

5.   Cherry on top. The next time you negotiate a program, put this “cheat sheet” in your pocket: It’s a list of the most popular concessions as reported by respondents to Runzheimer International’s annual Car Rental Negotiations survey, published this past June. • Unlimited mileage (91%)
• Insurance concessions (85%)
• Premium club memberships (79%), and upgrades (74%)
• Fifty percent (50%) are assured waiver of drop-off charges for one-way rentals and, likewise, 44% of respondents are assured waiver of add-on charges for one-way rentals
• Free delivery of vehicles to corporate headquarters or other office locations (41%) and city surcharges waivers (38%)
• Caveat: In order to secure commitments for discounts or concessions, forty-seven percent (47%) of survey respondents offer vendors guaranteed annual dollar volume, and an additional 16% provide exclusivity. One-fourth (24%) made no commitments in exchange for discounts.

By Sherryll Sobie

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