Enterprise aims for the stars with Sprinter fleet
The Sprinter: Making Christmas happen for 25 years
In our fourth edition of ‘The Sprinter: Making Christmas happen for 25 years’ we speak to Aisling Mc Cabe, Head Buyer for Enterprise Ireland. Aisling shares with us how Enterprise Ireland started in a small apartment in Dublin to now having locations in major airports and their ‘Home City’ locations nationwide and how the Sprinter makes Christmas happen for their customers.
Tell me about Enterprise?
Enterprise was originally started in America back in 1957. Today, it operates in 30 countries across the world, with a total of 7,200 branches. Enterprise came to Ireland in 1997 and was ran by George O Connor & Mike Hawkins in an apartment in Ballsbridge. George went on to become our General Manager right up until 2020, when Brendan Grieve then became our General Manager. Originally Enterprise started off small; knocking on doors and doing sales calls. The business then grew organically from there and we now have 25 locations in Ireland. We are in all the major airports and we also have our ‘Home City’ locations spread throughout Ireland. Our locations are very well spread geographically across the country. We now have 212 employees across all our locations in Ireland.
Our core business is car and van rentals, which we provide daily, weekly and monthly services for. We also have a flex-e-rent business where bespoke commercial vehicles are rented for longer periods of time; this is where some of our new Mercedes-Benz Sprinters have gone to this year. Our flex-e-rent offers long term rates with shorter term commitments. We then also have our home city locations where our vehicles would be going out to ‘replacement' customers, fleet customers, non-contracted or retail rental customers. You can rent our vehicles for any duration of time, it’s completely up to our customers and their needs. Our replacement customers are generally fleet management companies, whereby if they have a vehicle that’s off the road due to service appointments or brake downs and they need a replacement vehicle they come to us.
Tell me about your fleet?
We have over 3,000 vehicles in our fleet at the moment. Within our overall fleet we have a significant number of commercial vehicles. We’ve been a Mercedes-Benz customer since 2019. We now have a total of 90 Sprinters and 48 Vitos in our fleet.
The Sprinter is a great product and its very well known. It’s very reliable which is incredibly important to our own customers. It also has a strong residual value. We have diversification of vehicles in our fleet to protect the residual values of all of our product. We own all of our fleet so this is obviously very important to us. We also like to mirror the market, Mercedes-Benz is a big player in the market so it’s important to us that we have Mercedes-Benz product in our fleet. The reliability of the product is incredibly important.
What is the most attractive thing about the Sprinter in your opinion?
For us and our business model it comes down to what our customers need. It’s very much about the reliability and flexibility of the vehicle. It’s been referred to many times by our customers as a ‘workhorse’ vehicle. It works well for our customers, it’s comfortable and well laid out for them. It’s a good driver’s van.
Is your fleet in use on a day-to-day basis?
Our fleet is all out on the roads the majority of the time. Generally, we run a high occupancy on all vehicles. Anything that’s out on our flex-e-rent programme is out on the road from its inception date. I would safely say that if I was looking through our fleet now to find a Sprinter van that I wouldn’t find one, they are all currently out on rent.
Our Head Office is in Blanchardstown. We have operations in all Irish airports. Our flagship branch is on the Kylemore road in Dublin and then we are also in all major cities across the country and then also in smaller towns too. Every branch is within an hour-hour and a half from each other.
How has COVID 19 impacted Enterprise?
It’s been a monumental change in terms of the impact of COVID-19. We feel incredibly lucky that we have our home city business and our replacement business for commercial vehicles. Obviously, our airports have been massively impacted but we have a solid foundation for our business and I think that’s kept us going. We are an essential service so we’ve been operational throughout both lockdowns. Enterprise is very much focused on our customer services and our interactions with our customers. The welcome greetings and handshakes would have always been our way of conducting business but unfortunately, we can’t do that during COVID-19 so we’ve just had to adapt. We have incredible people working here at Enterprise, they are the backbone of the company and have managed phenomenally well throughout COVID-19 and continued to take care of all of our customers which is great.
We’ve introduced a new campaign ‘Low touch, No touch’. Our customers can now give us all their rental information over the phone, we have contactless payment & digital contract options available and then we can also deliver the vehicles with socially distant handovers to our customers so they do not need to visit our offices anymore. In a nutshell it means we can continue to serve our customers in a way they need but also keep them and our own staff safe. You can now get off a plane or come into our rental branches and literally be on the road in one of our vehicles within minutes, that’s how smooth the transition is now.
Is Christmas a particularly busy time for Enterprise?
Yes, Christmas is incredibly busy for us. It’s a busy time for a lot of our customers, so in turn it’s a busy period for us too. It’s all about managing our fleet and ensuring our vehicles are all in the right place for the right customers at the right time, it can be logistically challenging at times coming up to Christmas.
October time would be the beginning of our commercial vehicle busy season for Christmas. Most of our stock would be out by November for the Christmas period. Christmas is a huge time for some of our customers whereby they are incredibly busy and it seems to be starting earlier and earlier every year, but this year the volume of business coming through is huge. At the moment everyone is busy and most of our vans will be out until after Christmas.
Is the Sprinter a key player in making Christmas happen for your company and your customers?
Absolutely. For us it’s all about our customers, and our customers do love the Sprinter. They have them out on rent over Christmas time and if they didn’t have them, they wouldn’t be able to function to do their business. We’re delighted to be able to partner up with Mercedes-Benz this year. For us its very much about the relationship we have with Mercedes-Benz and we’d hope to see more Sprinters in our fleet next Christmas. We hope to see our business grow with our Mercedes-Benz vehicles over the next number of years and that we can continue our strong partnership.