St. Louis is home to the largest rental car company in the world — Enterprise Holdings. Besides Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the company owns National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car. The company earns $22.3 billion in revenue (yes, that’s a “b”) and has gained over $1 billion in revenue over each of the last eight years. So what does this have to do with HVAC? Enterprise is a family business that started out small, just like most HVAC businesses. Jack Taylor, the company founder, was selling cars for a local Cadillac dealership when, in conversation with his customers, he discovered that there was a need for rental cars. He purchased 40 cars, and as they say, “the rest is history.”
I had the opportunity to hear Andy Taylor, Jack’s son and company chairman, speak about the company and what they have done to grow as they have. While not suggesting any of us will grow to the size they are, many of the principles they have used in their business apply directly to an HVAC business.
Andy Taylor’s first statement was that they have always had four principles on which they have operated.
NO. 1 — THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS THE Most Important
He emphasized that it was his dad listening to customers’ needs that started the company. He joked that while the yellow (Hertz) and red (Avis) were fighting it out in airports, his dad was quietly opening up rental offices on as many street corners and in as many closed gas stations as he could find while quietly making huge inroads into the car rental business. It was actually many years before Enterprise put its first location in an airport.
One of the important points he made was the fact that since they are a family owned business, they had two main advantages. First, they were nimble and flexible and could make changes to improve. And second, because they didn’t have to answer to stockholders regarding quarterly dividends, they were able to make decisions that may not have been good in the short term but were extremely beneficial for the long term.
NO. 2 — HIRE GOOD PEOPLE AND TRAIN THEM WELL
While he didn’t say it, I know he was implying that they have a professional appearance as well. Enterprise Rent-A-Car desk employees wear shirts and ties or dresses. They look professional. When you are dealing with them, you know right away that they have been trained in the proper way to treat a customer. He really should start a training school for all customer service people, not just rental cars or HVAC, but everything else as well. For hiring, he endeavors to hire college graduates, or at least those with some college experience, and then they go through several weeks of training to learn “The Enterprise Way.” In addition, the company attempts to always promote from within, which gives the employees the added incentive that if they perform extraordinarily, there are other opportunities available.
NO. 3 — GROW THE BUSINESS
Andy Taylor feels that in order to hire the right people, properly serve the customers, and have a place for those employees who you want to perform extraordinarily, the company needs to be growing.
NO. 4 — MAKE A PROFIT
What Andy Taylor pointed out clearly is the order of their principles. It isn’t that the first goal is to make a huge profit. The first goal is that the customer comes first. If you keep that in mind and hire and train the right people, then there will be growth and profit.
I hope that you will apply these principles to your business. They do have a proven track record.
Publication date: 7/2/2018