Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They Can't Cure Cancer, January 13, 2009
This review is from: Exceeding Customer Expectations: What Enterprise, America's #1 car rental company, can teach you about creating lifetime customers (Audio CD)
This is a good book, but Mr. Sklar's reading of the material makes it sound like the guys at Enterprise Rent A Car should, by the 4th disc, have a cure for cancer! It is interesting to hear how CEO Jack Taylor was able to start the business from a small idea at a single car dealership in St. Louis. But, as the company grows, Jack and later his son Andy are given credit for anticipating every challenge, and solving them with their stunning execution of the business plan to provide "excellent customer service."

At every turn, Enterprise emerges as the leader, the innovator, the business where everything turns to gold! When talking about the succession plan from Jack to Andy Taylor, Andy is presented as the humble genius who has the vision that dad did not, while wise dad looks on with fatherly pride as his son and family members 'of course' think that running a family business 'is best' because after all, Enterprise Knows Best!

By the 3rd CD, I kept listening just to hear how amazing everyone could Enterprise could be! IT Systems? Deployed in a single bound. Partnerships with insurers? Progressive L O V E loves Enterprise, so much so that the CEO appears 'unscripted' in a "Thank You" commercial sent to Enterprise employees. Enterprise is so smart that they 'know' that if they reduce the number of days that their insurance customers are in a car (thus reducing immediate revenue to Enterprise), it will save the insurer money, which will result in more love for Enterprise among claims adjusters - truly a 'Win Win!' Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah.

When by the 4th CD, they admit some 'mistakes' the examples truly aren't mistakes because they recognize the challenges so fast that the mistakes barely appear as blips on their balance sheet.

As a claims adjuster who started in the insurance business in 1984, I am interested in the subject - insurance replacement vehicles. But I know from experience as an Enterprise customer that the genius and seamless technology touted only partly works. I've made reservations on the ARMS automated rental system, then called the office to talk about the order that I placed on ARMS. The local offices have told me that they don't know how to use ARMS, so they can't answer my question about how ARMS works. Or, if I assign a car at insurance rates, the local office will still try to sell supplemental insurance and ad ons even though the local office knows that it isn't part of my company's profile.

While the book makes it sound like the Enterprise field offices are entrepreneurial fields of dreams, they are sometimes run down and scuff walled lonely outposts in the backs of car dealerships and body shops. The book says that Enterprise doesn't want to spend much money on offices because customers won't be there long. This is balanced by the awesome customer service, and the free soda offered on a hot day. I've never been offered a free soda at an Enterprise office.

As to the culture, from speaking with former Enterprisers, after a while, the go go go atmosphere becomes too much. If you are not 25-30, young and willing to party it up, you won't keep up with the culture. I also get the impression that the work hours are very tough - 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at a job where you are running all day to move cars.

All that being said, Enterprise is the only car rental company that I refer as a claims adjuster. They get the job done, know the claims process, and have plenty of locations. I can confidently refer a claimant to Enterprise and know that the process will go smoothly enough, and Enterprise will be helpful to me and the claimant.

This book was written in 2007. Listening to the book in 2009, after the bank meltdowns and stock market flop, it's hard to be this enthusiastic about the wizards of car rental that founders of Enterprise are made out to be. This business book has some solid customer service ideas, many which are in practice at the $4B/year company I work for, but I would have liked a little less candy coating ala Mr. Sklar's reading of the material.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2009 9:19:22 AM PST
Enterprise has always tried to make its employees believe the company has never made a mistake. They have made their share, and their biggest ones seem to be coming back to haunt them now; namely, the acquisitions of Alamo and National, and the subsequent employee layoffs since the fall of 2008. They are in deep trouble, and upper management is to blame; creating a culture of fear, micro-management, and low morale.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2012 6:34:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2012 6:34:25 AM PST
T. Kendrick says:
Fast forward to 2012. Sorry, Larry, your comments just fall flat today. Even with the soured economy of the past few years, Enterprise is stronger than ever - mostly due to the continued dedication to do everything possible to make the customer experience exceptional and the opportunities for employees plentiful. No company is perfect, but Enterprise's longevity and high customer ratings prove that those who are willing to listen to customers and to work tirelessly to treat both customers and employees well can thrive even in a down economy. The acquisition of Alamo and National have given the company more exposure and opportunities - despite the early need to right-size the company to eliminate excess people and systems.
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