Hertz: Committed to the undecided
- Posted on Thursday 9th, February 2017
A pre-eminent name in the $80 billion global car hire industry, Hertz’ Australian business is surprisingly truck-focused, with long-term rental and leasing driving much of the company’s growth here in Australia.
Despite ranking among the three leading car rental businesses in the world, the Hertz name is often overlooked in Australian road transport, with many in the industry associating it more with short-term private rental than long-term contract hire.
Yet, with the traditional concept of vehicle ownership becoming increasingly blurred in Australia and around the world, the signature yellow and black logo is quickly gaining popularity in the trucking community. Australian Truck and 4WD Rentals, one of the largest Hertz franchisees in the country, counts 1,174 commercial vehicles in its 1,900 unit strong fleet, for example – making for a solid 62 per cent share.
“There is a common misconception that people moving house are driving demand in the light and medium-duty truck rental market, while in reality, that market is less than five per cent of our business,” says Paul Jukes, the Hertz State Operations Manager for Victoria. “The reality is that commercial applications account for the lion share of what we do. A lot of our hirers work with stage and entertainment equipment, for example, or in the courier sector. They all need flexible solutions and don’t want to see funds tied up in equipment, which is driving them to us.”
Servicing South Australia and New South Wales as well as six locations in metropolitan and country Victoria, Australian Truck and 4WD Rentals’ fleet of light and medium-duty commercial vehicles is entirely Japanese-made, the majority by Daimler subsidiary, Fuso.
Paul says the company’s 137 Canters and 44 Fighter models are on average two years old and spec’d to cope with any kind of freight – putting the pressure on suppliers to provide equipment that is versatile but can still go the distance. The use of automated manual transmissions (AMT), has led to what Paul calls a “dramatic reduction” of accidents over the past three years or so.
It’s just one less thing for customers to worry about,” he explains. “Back when we only had manuals we would go through a lot of clutches because people didn’t know how to use them properly, so AMTs have taken that variable out of the equation.”
According to Paul, Hertz’ standardised equipment can be rented out for periods ranging from a single day to a whole year, with short-term rentals still forming the foundation of the business. “For those requiring trucks for longer periods, the minimum term for an operating lease is one year and new trucks are provided as part of those extended packages,” he explains.
“The obvious advantage for the client is the provision of a fully and expertly serviced vehicle without the implications of ownership,” he says.
“Naturally we are willing to customise the vehicle for these kind of long-term contracts and work closely with the client to fit what they need for the job – be it WH&S features such as fold down steps or grab handles, or a refrigerated body on the back. We will tailor the truck and the deal to meet any requirement.”
Hertz also offers a comprehensive maintenance system, featuring skilled mechanics plus a 24-hour emergency breakdown service.
“The advantage to the customer is that, no matter what, they will always be able to get the job done. If there is an issue, we will give them a replacement vehicle. If they have an accident, we will get a vehicle out to them. There is no downtime,” says Paul, pointing out that smaller operators, who cannot afford losing business in the event of a truck being off the road, tend to enjoy the service package the rental company tailors around them.
Regardless of client or application, Paul says vehicle durability is key for the Hertz business to remain successful. “Despite the new technology we’ve added, a lot of our short-term trucks still have a fairly hard life, so we try to counter-balance that by performing daily checks of oil and water, brake lights and tyres. We also clean our short-term equipment daily to ensure that it is well presented, despite the beating it has to take.”
Paul says the company’s commitment to maintenance can actually pay a dividend at the end of a truck’s service life, because Hertz can often command a premium price at a disposal auction due to its equipment’s exceptional maintenance history.
Yet, the market is getting more competitive by the day, with new contenders – including established OEMs – trying to break into the renting and leasing scene with force. Paul says Hertz’ global expertise is serving as a key advantage in that context, but he is also aware that he and his team will ultimately be measured by performance only.
In that sense, the pressure is firmly on Hertz’ suppliers to provide reliable equipment, while the global juggernaut will ensure the right framework is established to make renting as convenient a process as possible.
“After all, that’s what it’s all about. Making quality easily accessible, with reliable service and less commitment for the client.”