Developing clear strategies to fulfil objectives within cultural aims and values an enterprise rent

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Introduction

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car was founded in 1957 by Jack Taylor in St. Louis and is still operated by the Taylor family. Since its formation, it has grown to become an internationally recognised brand. It is part of the world’s largest car rental group which has 8,100 corporately owned rental offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, France and Spain, and has 78,000 employees.

In the UK, Enterprise has more than 370 branches, which means that more than 90% of the population lives within 10 miles of one of its locations. It specialises in providing daily and weekend car rental to business and leisure customers. Enterprise is also a leading provider of courtesy cars for customers who need a replacement vehicle after being involved in accident.

Enterprise’s market-leading position has been achieved by using effective strategic planning to monitor the markets in which it operates. By identifying trends in its markets, Enterprise has been able to identify opportunities to develop new services to meet its customers’ needs. These include car leasing, replacement rentals, car sharing, and hourly rental programmes.

Vision and values

Enterprise has combined its vision, aims and values to improve its customer service and market competitiveness across a range of markets. An organisation’s vision describes where the business wants to be. It should be ambitious, relevant, simple to communicate and capable of motivating employees.

Values express an organisation’s core beliefs and motivations. They are a fundamental part of its culture and should underpin all decision making. Values relate to how staff and customers are treated and other ethical considerations.

Vision and values can best be seen in the setting of the mission model. This consists of four key elements that should be clearly linked in order to reinforce each other and inspire the workforce: Purpose, Values, Standards & Behaviours and Strategy. This mission model is summarised below:

Enterprise Rent A Car 19 Diagram 1

Enterprise’s values and the standards of behaviour expected of its employees are extensive and give it a unique edge over its rivals. The main ones are outlined below:

  • Acting with honesty, integrity and fairness at all times
  • Providing employees with a work environment where they feel safe, respected, informed and given opportunities for development and promotion within the business
  • Operating sustainably, minimising the impact on the environment by reducing its carbon footprint and waste generation through alternatively fuelled vehicles where viable and designing facilities with sustainable features
  • Contributing to its local communities through charitable donations and employee volunteer efforts

Enterprise managers and staff live out these values, which enhances both customer and staff satisfaction. This is clearly evident in this statement from Enterprise Holdings, CEO, Pam Nicholson:

Culture

Culture has been described as ‘the way we do things around here’. It refers to the attitudes and behaviours shown within the workplace by all employees, built up over many years. Culture, rather than simply being something hoped for or stated, is the culmination of the interaction of many elements, the main being:

  • Company aims and objectives
  • The behaviour of company directors and senior staff
  • The attitude of senior managers to opportunities and risk
  • A company’s recruitment and training procedures

Culture has been likened to cutting a Battenberg cake. It does not matter where in the cake you cut it, the pattern of the slice will always look the same. It is not always easy to specifically define a particular business’s culture but usually it will show in a combination of some or all of the following ways:

  • Attitude to customers – customer-centred or focused inwards
  • Attitude to hard work
  • Staff rivalry or team-work
  • Ethical stance
  • Quality of provisions
  • Attitude to innovation

Enterprise management and staff are intensely aware of the company’s culture and how important it is to maintaining its competitive edge in the multiple markets it serves. Enterprise has a planning and goal-setting tool called ‘The Cultural Compass’ which is applied across the entire business to ensure the best practice is consistently delivered by all.

Enterprise Rent A Car 19 Diagram 2

Enterprise is proud of its stance on all of the six areas detailed in the compass. These represent far more than just ways of staying ahead of the competition – they reflect the whole attitude and commitment of all staff, from senior management to new recruits. This culture is what defines Enterprise and is a key to its ongoing growth and success.

Vision, objective, strategy and tactic

It is one thing to state aims and have a set of core values that underpin the whole way a business operates, but success requires a business to make its vision a reality. To implement its vision, a company needs to set an objective, create a strategy and develop the tactics it needs to implement in order to achieve this goal. This is called the ‘hierarchy of
objectives’ and is outlined in the following four stages:

  • Vision – a long-term aim / belief held by the organisation
  • Objective – is a measurable goal that the company wants to achieve in line with its vision
  • Strategy – is the approach / plan of action that it will take to achieve that goal
  • Tactic – is a specific step or action to deliver the strategy. Most strategies have a number of tactics

Applying the ‘hierarchy of objectives’ to Enterprise, it is clear to see how each of the four stages works:

  • Vision – For Enterprise to have a greater market share of business market within Europe
  • Objective – To raise awareness of the Enterprise brand to a business audience in Europe
  • Strategy – To develop a marketing programme to increase brand awareness and preference
  • Tactics – Enterprise developed an advertising campaign that was deployed in major transport hubs used by business travellers across Europe
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A strategy is the plan by which objectives will be put into action. An objective is a goal, it is what the business intends to achieve in the long-term and is consistent with its vision. Objectives might include targets such as increasing profit, increasing market share or reducing the company’s impact on the environment.

A tried and tested tool when setting objectives is to try to make them SMART. The letters of the acronym ‘SMART’ stand for: Specific, Measurable, Agreed (or Achievable), Realistic and Time-specific. By setting SMART objectives, it’s easier to assess whether or not those objectives have been achieved, and, if not, enables changes to be made to bring the business back on track. Enterprise has many SMART objectives for the business as a whole, as well as within each of its branches. For instance, Enterprise set itself the aim of expansion by increasing its operations in Europe by 2012. SMART objectives associated with this were to acquire two leasing/rental businesses by 2012 in France and Spain. This led to Enterprise buying Citer SA and its subsidiary Atesa from PSA Peugeot Citroën. Having acquired these businesses, each adopted Enterprise’s values, ensuring staff and suppliers were treated the same as elsewhere within the company.

A strategy usually follows on from conducting internal and external audits. An internal audit looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the business across all departments. An external audit focuses on the business’s opportunities and threats in its constantly changing trading environment. Internal audits ensure that managers are aware of what the business is doing well and what areas need to be developed. A recent internal audit of staff indicated a skills gap in certain areas of the Enterprise team. A human resources strategy was prepared to plug this gap. This involved recruiting people and
developing skills through its training and development programmes. The external audits keep the leadership team up to date with threats from both competition and changes in the business environment. They also help identify opportunities for further growth and expansion. By combining both the internal and external audits’ data into a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat) analysis, management teams have the basis to create effective strategic plans.

Enterprise ensures a global consistency of its brand values and customer service through replicating its strategies in different countries. For example, it recently introduced its 'Come Alive Graduate Training Programme’ in France.

The company’s commitment to developing effective strategies, matched by financial support, and the monitoring of these strategies, has ensured Enterprise’s continual growth over the past six decades.

Monitoring and Evaluating

The whole success or failure of a business’s planning comes down to how well the leadership team keeps track of the extent to which its aims have been achieved. This monitoring process is vital and should be carefully completed. The four aspects, referred to as the ‘hierarchy of objectives’, are carefully monitored to determine how successful the business has been. Enterprise’s vision is to look after its customers and to provide

value within the service they offer to those customers. This is measured by the Enterprise Service Quality Index (ESQi), a tool which the company uses to gauge the level of services being provided to their customers. Service is only deemed to be of the level expected if the customer was ‘completely satisfied’. At the end of the month the percentage of ‘completely satisfied’ customers is calculated. Enterprise has set 85% as the minimum expectation for any of its branches.

A local branch that was consistently below Enterprise’s ESQi target was tasked to raise it above the 85% minimum requirement. The management team started an investigation to find out why they were not achieving a higher rating. Through phone calls and face-to-face interactions with their customers, it found that the majority of leisure renters were happy with the service they received. The issue was with regular business customers who had to provide the same details every time they picked up a car, which they found time-consuming and frustrating.

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 This then gave the management team an insight into what was causing the ESQi issue and
 allowed it to readjust their current strategy to offer the service its customers wanted. Management then decided to pre-write the contracts of all business renters. This meant that the contractshad been customers pre-populated and printed the previous night, so all the had to do was simply sign the contract before heading off on their journey.

The example above shows how effective it can be to evaluate all tactics and methods developed under a strategy. If the local branch had continued using existing strategies and tactics, their ESQi would have been below par and reflected negatively on the branch. The monitoring and evaluation process helped branch employees revise their tactics, thus leading to a positive ESQi score. By constantly monitoring their customer service through the ESQi system, it allowed the local branch staff to identify issues with the current strategy.

Conclusion

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Enterprise has established itself as a market leader through its clear focus on maintaining the highest standards in all that it does. At the heart of its success has been the setting and updating of clear strategies that all internal stakeholders are aware of. Its management has never rested on its laurels, but has remained focused on growth through clear planning and monitoring of its strategies. Central to all that Enterprise does is its commitment to a set of core values that underpin every action that it is involved in.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car | Developing clear strategies to fulfil objectives within cultural aims and values