How to Rent a Car

Steve Portigal posted about his recent experience with Budget Rent A Car in Providence. Lots of examples of what not to do from a service design perspective. Peter Merholz also had a run-in with Budget a while back. He ended up asking if anyone actually likes renting a car.

I think so. My favorite rental company by far is Enterprise. They don’t just get the basics right (which Budget seems to have failed at); renting from Enterprise is actually a pleasure. Their employees seem empowered to go above and beyond the call of duty and no matter which city I’ve rented from, there’s always some little aspect of the service that’s unexpectedly nice. Last summer when I flew into St. Louis, they had a cooler with iced bottles of water on the shuttle from the airport. In Pittsburgh my car was waiting (already warmed up) by the time I walked from the agent desk to the garage. The winter before grad school I rented maybe a dozen cars from Enterprise with flawless service.

Maybe they’re not perfect, but they do enough right that it makes sense to look at exactly what’s going on with their service.

There’s a good analysis of the rental car industry in this PDF by Peer Insight Developing New Services [PDF 985K]. They reference Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation and apply those levers to the rental car service across four broad categories: Finance, Process, Offering and Delivery (pg 22). Most rental car companies engage in feature warfare by focusing on the offering. Enterprise gets the offering right, but they go beyond that and exploit the finance and delivery segments as well with innovations in business model, channel, brand and customer experience.


  1. That’s interesting about Enterprise. They kind of freak me out with their overly pushy cultish gregariousness. I just want a normal transaction (“normal” being my own definition of normal obviously) – I had too many weird interactions in different cities with Enterdroids, and I’ve actually stopped renting from them, too!

  2. Jeff

    Another bad rental experience. This time from Thrifty, posted over at ExperienceMatters. I still love Enterprise.




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