Enterprise's VP and COO answers to GHTM student's questions in exclusivity
Franchising the world into a new ageGranddaughter of Enterprise Holdings founder Jack Taylor, and current Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the company, Chrissy Taylor answers questions from Global Hospitality and Tourism Management students in exclusivity.
Having previously been Vice President of North American operations and serving as a member of the corporate board, she now oversees the company’s operations, which include 9,600 fully staffed branches, over 97,000 employees and a fleet of almost 2 million vehicles worldwide. Taylor represents the third generation of the family managing Enterprise, a holding that generated $20.9 Billion in revenue during 2016 and has grown by adapting to new ages with services such as car-sharing and car-pooling.
This is what Ms. Taylor has to say to our students.
[GHTM] Self-driving cars are by far, your business and the company's imminent future. What is your take on this? Is the company ready to adapt?
[Taylor] We have every reason to believe the car rental industry will play an integral role in the eventual rollout of autonomous vehicles. But we are not the only ones. As TheInformation.com news site recently reported: “Enterprise is one of the few companies that can manage large fleets of cars at scale. That’s a skill likely to be in demand as more companies launch ride-sharing services using self-driving cars.” In fact, many drivers experience new automotive technologies for the first time in rental vehicles – we call them “extended test drives.” As manufacturers move further down the line with self driving vehicles, the car rental industry will be an early adopter and will help introduce autonomous driving technology to millions of consumers … just as we have done with anti-lock braking, stop-start technology, hybrid electric vehicles and all of the other new technologies that are introduced every year.
[GHTM] Do you believe that on-growing sharing/collaborative trends like Uber and Lyft will disrupt and/or re-invent your sector completely? If so, how would you address this, in the next few years, if you were the company's next CEO?
[Taylor] Uber and Lyft are in the business of ride-hailing – competing far more with taxi and limousine services. In fact, some of these new players are creating new opportunities for us. Two years ago (2015), we launched a partnership with Uber to rent cars to their drivers in cities across the country. That partnership is now in seven major cities, and it’s still growing. It’s an exciting time to be in the mobility business. We find that our Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car customers are combining multiple forms of transportation throughout their travels – with car rental playing a significant role at the airport as well as in their local communities. Mobility is such an integral part of each day that, when a transportation option is unavailable, it disrupts our lives in a very substantial way. Over the years, drivers have learned they can come to us for their travel needs. And as driving habits keep evolving, we keep reminding our customers that we too are evolving and always have their backs. Our robust global network provides a comprehensive portfolio of transportation solutions that includes not only car rental, but also car sharing, ride-sharing, online ride-matching, as well as car sales, truck rental, and affiliated fleet management services. Fortunately, our brands have always been known as brands consumers can rely on. For us, interactions are more important than transactions. That’s key to the future and to forming customer connections that last over the long term.
[GHTM] How does Enterprise Holdings look like in 15 years?
[Taylor] It is hard to know what we will look like in that far in advance, but continuous evolution is a key to our success, so we have never become complacent. That is how we have become a total transportation solution – not just a rental car company. We are enabling urban, suburban and even rural mobility. And we’ll keep introducing new solutions that our customers tell us they want and need. We listen to our customers. Because our network reaches such masses, we have a great opportunity to keep helping communities everywhere and meeting their transportation infrastructure and urban mobility needs. They key for us will always be balancing the introduction of new technology and services that give customers greater connectivity and convenience with the need to maintain our culture of personalized service.
[Tristan Rehrig] As VP and COO, what do you consider the biggest threat both, internally and externally to your company, and why?
[Taylor] Our reputation is our most valuable asset. We must protect that and continue to measure it. We reward employees based on our customer service feedback and that makes it top-of-mind for everybody. We’ve been very successful for a very long time. But, we can’t ever let ourselves take that success for granted and become complacent, that’s why we listen to our customers and employees. This is key to ensuring that we never stop innovating and trying out new things – or losing sight of our customers’ needs. It’s important that we always keep working to be even better at what we do.
[Elizabeth Davis] What is the top quality you look for in applicants?
[Taylor] Our recruiters look for confidence, social skills, a strong work ethic, a team player mentality, leadership potential, flexibility, persistence and a customer service-centered attitude. Our local teams look to hire smart, motivated employees and then teach them to deliver our style of exceptional customer service. For students, we find these skills are often demonstrated through their participation in student organizations, athletics, or through a job or internship.
[Anna Shinnick] How do you ensure that the values of the company are maintained throughout every business decision made?
[Taylor] For me, in terms of hard work, determination and a passion for our business, I inherited the DNA of my father, Andy Taylor. I’ve grown up in this company, and I have experience in just about every aspect of Enterprise’s operations. One of the keys to Enterprise’s success over the years has been our family’s steady, consistent leadership. As Chief Operating Officer, I oversee the company’s operations. I am passionately committed to continuing the Enterprise legacy of success. From a more formal perspective, my grandfather, Jack Taylor didn't just talk about founding values when he started up his business back in 1957 – he and his team lived them. They set the example through a personal commitment to the company and its customers. And today, Enterprise, National and Alamo employees are called on to live those values, day in and day out, through interactions with customers, vendors, community partners and one another. And, In 2003, we launched the Jack Taylor Founding Values Award program, which recognizes those who remain committed to six business priorities: Operations, Diversity and Inclusion, Work Life Quality, Business Ethics, Public Affairs and Philanthropy, and Environmental Impact. These six key areas define Enterprise Holdings’ Cultural Compass – a planning-and-goal-setting tool that helps our local operations identify and incorporate best practices, operating enhancements and strong partnerships into the way they run their business. Meanwhile, our Founding Values have been formalized into a set of guiding principles that every employee can understand and embrace. This simple, yet powerful set of beliefs is what drives us – and how we hold ourselves accountable every day.
Enterprise Holdings began its operations when Jack Taylor leased seven vehicles at an automobile dealership and began renting those five years later. The first car he ever leased to his first customer in February 1957 was a 1957 Chevy Bel Air, produced by General Motors from 1953 to 1975; a scale model is shown in GHTM’s offices, as gifted to the program by the company.
In 2007, the company acquired National and Alamo, growing its market share at airports from 27 to 34 percent. In 2012 they acquired 15 percent ownership stake in eHi Car Services; a Chinese car service provider company, and IGO Car Sharing in 2013, fueling their international expansion and their ability to tap into new markets.
Enterprise Holdings has evolved exponentially throughout the years, trying to stay ahead of the curve, but one thing has never changed and that is the well-being of their employees; the legacy that his grandfather left behind.
Interview by Hugo Reyes Duran