publications

Stuck in the Past

My daughter is a 19-year-old at Syracuse University who along with three of her friends wanted to return home and spend a weekend in Washington, DC. Because it was a spur-of-the moment decision, the cost of four students flying from Syracuse, NY, to the nation’s capital was prohibitive. If they went to Avis, Hertz, Budget, National or any other legacy car-rental agency, they would not have been able to lease a car because they are not old enough to lease a car from any car-rental agency. That did not deter the group. Instead, they rented from Zipcar, which is located right on Syracuse’s campus. 

Zipcar exemplifies the difference between forward-thinking companies and those that are stuck in the past. The cost of a weekend rental, Friday-Sunday, was a little more than $200. If someone 25 years or older wanted to rent a car for the weekend from Syracuse, a comparable car would cost $58 from Budget, $54 from Hot Wire and $52 from Hertz (according to a Kayak.com search).

Zipcar charged four times the amount of legacy car-rental companies, made it more convenient to use its service and did not care about age. Is there a reason why legacy carriers won’t rent to someone under the age of 25? If they are worried about risk, why not make taking insurance a requirement of the rental? The legacy carriers could also put other restrictions on the rental to reduce risk and charge more. Zipcar certainly does. 

It is difficult for entrenched successful businesses to change. But change today is part of the cultural and economic landscape. When you let processes dictate your actions instead of looking at the outcome you want to achieve, you close the window of opportunity.  The sharing economy exemplified by Uber, Airbnb and Zipcar among others is in the news daily and appears to be the wave of future. How come the legacy car rental companies are so slow to react?

What policies, processes and practices have been institutionalized at your properties and management company that prevent you from winning more business and creating a more compelling resident or tenant experience? What business practices are trending now and how can your business capitalize on them? If you walked to the center of your leasing or management office, closed your eyes and rotated three hundred and sixty degrees, what would you see that is different than what you might have seen 10, 15 or 20 years ago?