Guest column: why a supplier might not want your business

Rob Ingram, director of business development EMEA at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental, explains why they decide not to bid on all RFPs

Sometimes, business travel buyers have invited us to pitch for their car hire contract and we’ve politely declined. That’s because when we’ve sat down and analysed their actual rental needs, we’ve realised that we’re simply not the best fit. 

For this same reason, we often decline to quote hire rates in situations where the company isn’t willing to talk through the requirements in detail first.

That analysis can be the vital piece of the jigsaw that enables companies to truly reduce travel costs when they retender – which is generally the reason for reviewing suppliers in the first place. 

Because the target is to cut expenditure, the focus is on cost – rather than on service, network, availability and all the other factors that determine what a business will actually end up spending on rental. And often, the only information available is how much the company spent previously. 
This means it may end up with a supplier that’s lower cost but cannot support its requirements. Other more expensive providers might need to be retrofitted to the main contract to fill the gaps, so any benefit it might have gained is lost.
In fact, the businesses that are successfully reducing their travel costs are those that place the emphasis on better understanding exactly how they use rental vehicles. 

For example, most companies require hire cars at more than just airports, but the lowest-cost supplier might not have the branch network in cities and suburbs across Europe and beyond to service those needs.

In addition, many business travel buyers even might not know what and where their mobility needs are in the first place. 

They might know how much Spain billed the global HQ for rentals last year, but do they know in which cities those cars were picked up and dropped off? Or what type of vehicles they were and how far they travelled? And what about how many of those hires were internal trips by Spanish employees rather than people visiting from elsewhere?

Business travel is hugely complex – and fortunately, there are more and more solutions available to corporates. 

This means helping companies to design travel policies that will save them money by picking the best rental option, and collating the information that enables them to understand employee travel patterns in the first place.

So before talking price, map your business mobility needs against what potential suppliers can offer. If your employees are mainly travelling from the UK to Germany, rental branches at German airports may well suffice. However, if you have regional offices there then you’ll need access to closer city locations to service them.

A better understanding of your own requirements means the tender will be more specific and tailored to your actual usage, so you’ll get better value, better customer service, and won’t end up having to bolt on a more expensive supplier later on.

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