“We knew of Enterprise, of course, as the No. 1 company in the rental car market,” says Sylvie. “As employees of Citer at the time, we were very, very proud they saw our company as a way to build a presence in France.”
National Sales Director Sylvie Roland became part of Enterprise Holdings as a result of the acquisition of Citer in France. “We know there’s huge potential for Enterprise in Europe, and it’s exciting to take part in this adventure as the future unfolds,” she says.
That feeling only intensified as she and her co-workers learned more about their new owners. “We felt extremely encouraged to discover we had a common point of view about customer satisfaction,” says Sylvie, who today serves as National Sales Director for Enterprise in France, a role similar to the one she held at Citer prior to the acquisition.
Based on her own experience, Sylvie saw staying close to customers and finding creative solutions to meet their needs as a winning formula. “Citer was very small compared to Enterprise, but we had the same spirit,” she says.
That’s what enabled the upstart — with its 200 locations — to compete effectively against rivals more than twice its size in the French market over the past 20 years.
“We had made a big step forward,” Sylvie recalls. “At the time of the acquisition, the amount our largest customer spent a year in sales with us was 265 times more than it had been when I joined the company in 1993.”
The driving force behind their growth? A systematic approach to building sales volume — by developing one key segment of the market every three to five years. Sylvie and her sales team started by focusing on key corporate accounts, then turned their attention to other high-potential opportunities such as insurance replacement rentals, travel agency partners and leisure travellers, who they targeted with a robust website portal.
Because of Citer’s limited number of branches, the company often had to develop inventive ways to serve important customers — such as offering on-site rental options or shuttle buses for specific corporate accounts. “We couldn’t be everywhere for everyone, but we did always have an entrepreneurial spirit. Each employee felt very responsible for keeping the customer satisfied,” she says.
And Citer’s proven track record is expected to provide an excellent foundation for even greater strides going forward.
“It’s a big challenge for us — not an evolution, but a revolution,” says Sylvie. “Until now, we have primarily focused on rentals at airports and railway stations. We have a lot to learn about the home-city market in particular, and about the Enterprise strategy for working through auto garages, dealerships and insurance companies to develop this business.”
One key enhancement, she notes, is the Enterprise Rent-A-Car culture, which stresses business development as part of everyone’s responsibility. “It’s an amazing approach, the idea that operational people are trained to prospect — to support the sales team in their daily work,” Sylvie says. “All our people have started to embrace and respect these values because they know we will win with them.”
That’s not to say the job will be easy. Current plans call for an aggressive expansion effort in France — with work already underway to open locations in up to 40 additional cities across the country.
This growth initiative will require a substantial recruitment and training program. Meanwhile, the Enterprise team in France already has worked hard to integrate its IT systems and add business processes such as customer pick-up service. “That’s something we didn’t offer before, but it’s a really important element of the way Enterprise treats customers,” she says.
“Certainly, we have lots of challenges to address, but I’m proud of how our people have gotten so invested in the task,” Sylvie says. “We know there’s huge potential for Enterprise in Europe, which means there has never been a better time to apply for a placement, summer internship, or a graduate job with Enterprise, for the chance to play a part in our growth.”