In my 15 years working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the U.K – where I’m currently Assistant Vice President of Europe, I’ve seen the brand come a long way. And it’s sure to go even further thanks to our acquisitions in France and Spain, as well as the recently announced deals in Greece, Italy and Portugal.
In my 15 years working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the U.K – where I’m currently Assistant Vice President of Europe, I’ve seen the brand come a long way. When I began as a Management Trainee in the Chesterfield, England, branch — on its very first day of operations — I knew I’d definitely started at square one.
Not only did we not have any computers or phones, we didn’t have any cars. No one had even heard of Enterprise in our market at the time, so I spent the day going out and marketing to body shops with a colleague so we could better understand the business.
Today, the brand has evolved from a U.S. company operating in the U.K. to an entity that better reflects the best of both cultures — offering strong customer service and work ethic presented via an ad campaign that reflects British sensibilities. And it’s sure to go even further. My role, which I took on a year ago, is focused on the brand’s operations throughout the European continent. My most recent challenge was managing the transition of the Citer and Atesa locations in France and Spain, respectively, over to the Enterprise brand.
It’s been a lot of fun and certainly much different than any other role I’ve had here. We have brought in two new companies with completely different cultures, computer systems and employee philosophies. So we started by learning as much as we could about these new markets.
Coming in to the acquisition, myself and the rest of European leadership found an existing team that, while quite motivated, had grown accustomed to more simplified reporting data. The employees at the branch level there did not regularly receive information about financials, sales numbers or customer service scores. One of the earliest challenges was to set up the systems needed to share that data with the teams, then educate them on how to best act on it.
Fortunately, the core rental process in those two countries doesn’t differ greatly from the one in the U.K. One of the biggest challenges that remains however, is to fully understand how to maintain the existing business in France and Spain, then how to progress and grow it.
Stage one is to listen, learn and in the process, do no harm. Stage two is how we optimise the business in each location. We already have reasonable branch coverage but relatively small market share so we have fantastic opportunities to grow in France and Spain.
That, in turn, will allow the business as a whole to grow throughout Europe. After all, Enterprise can now offer greater pan-European coverage than it did before. All of the employees in both countries have been hugely enthusiastic. They have learned about the culture of Enterprise and they feel encouraged by how we plan to invest in them as people and a country. Overall, they’ve been very open to change and doing things in a new way.
Aside from the continued work with the France and Spain locations, in the coming months Enterprise Holdings will take on more franchising efforts to gain coverage across the continent, including the recently announced deals in Greece, Italy and Portugal. The brand also has completed significant airport expansion in Germany — gaining a presence at seven of the country’s largest airports, with the eighth to come in late spring.
I’m just one of many who have benefited from the opportunities our European growth has provided. We’ve seen numerous promotions already as people go from the U.K. to larger European roles. For those looking to land the next role on their career path, I’d offer these two pieces of advice: Remember to learn something new every day. And don’t make things more difficult than they need to be.
What we do doesn’t tend to be difficult or complex; you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. So learn what you can from the people around you. At the end of the day, if our employees focus on growing the Enterprise brand and reputation, we all can achieve our goals.