RM Tips and Strategy

Knowing when to say 'NO' to business in the Car Rental Industry!

Adrian Treacy
December 6, 2023
Saying NO to business seems to be counter intuitive but sometimes saying no can in fact be more profitable for the business than chasing every last rental. But when is the right time to stop chasing new business and channels, and start optimising the business you already have? In this article we will explore this in more detail.

Knowing When to Say NO to business in the Car Hire Industry

Balancing Profitability through Revenue Optimisation, Fleet Control, and Cost-Cutting

In the dynamic landscape of the car hire industry, making strategic decisions is crucial to maintaining profitability and sustained growth. While the primary goal is to maximise revenue, it's equally important to strike a balance between revenue optimisation, fleet control, and cost-cutting. 

Sometimes, saying "no" to certain business opportunities can be the key to long-term success. In this article, we will explore when it's the right time to make these tough decisions and how they can positively impact the bottom line.

Revenue Optimization: Quality Over Quantity

In the car hire industry, the temptation to expand the fleet rapidly and cater to every potential customer is ever-present. However, a crucial aspect of revenue optimisation is understanding that quality often trumps quantity. 

Acquiring too many vehicles without considering the demand and maintaining service standards can lead to diluted customer satisfaction and increased operational costs. This has been seen in the industry during 2023 when, in many markets around the world, availability of vehicles increased to pre pandemic levels, but the cost of financing these vehicles was, in some cases, 15-25% more!

Knowing when to say no to expanding the fleet involves a deep understanding of market trends, customer preferences, and the overall economic climate.


It's essential to focus on data-driven decisions, ensuring that every new addition to the fleet aligns with anticipated demand. This approach not only helps in maintaining service quality but also prevents overstretching resources and minimises the risk of idle vehicles.

Fleet Control: Balancing Supply and Demand

Maintaining an optimal fleet size is a delicate balancing act. Saying no to certain business opportunities, especially during peak seasons or sudden spikes in demand, may seem counterintuitive. However, strategic fleet control involves assessing the long-term impact on profitability.

In times of high demand, it might be tempting to accept every reservation, leading to a surge in revenue. However, this can result in overcommitment and potential operational challenges. 

Long wait times, vehicle shortages, and dissatisfied customers can tarnish the brand image and lead to higher operational costs.

By saying no to excessive demand during peak periods, businesses can ensure that the existing fleet is not stretched beyond its capacity. This approach helps maintain service quality, reduces wear and tear on vehicles, and minimises the risk of breakdowns. Additionally, it allows for better utilisation of existing resources, leading to improved overall efficiency.

Sacrificing some demand and peaks in utilisation (and revenue) in order to keep costs under control are critical. A great example of this in many markets is Christmas. Too often, fleet is kept (at huge costs) in order to be in a position to take advantage of the Christmas peak. Cars are carried in the fleet through November and December, just to service this week of excessive demand. These cars then need to be carried again during January and February as the possibility to dispose of them is small. 

Incurring 3-4 months of costs in order to facilitate a week's worth of revenue is just not good business!

Cutting Costs: A Strategic Approach

Cost-cutting is a necessary component of maintaining profitability in the car hire industry. However, it's crucial to adopt a strategic approach rather than indiscriminately slashing expenses. Knowing when to say no to certain cost-cutting measures is as important as implementing them.

While it may be tempting to cut costs across the board, doing so without considering the long-term impact on service quality and customer satisfaction can be detrimental. For instance, reducing maintenance budgets may lead to a higher incidence of breakdowns, negatively affecting customer experience and increasing long-term costs.

Instead, businesses should focus on identifying areas where costs can be trimmed without compromising essential aspects of the service. This could involve renegotiating supplier contracts (such as Broker Rebates), adopting more fuel-efficient vehicles, or implementing technology solutions to streamline operations. 

The largest cost in any Car Rental business is the fleet and this is why it is critically important to keep it under control. At WeYield we have seen companies infleet vehicles that are not needed, at times that do not suit, and for durations that are less than ideal, simply because they were offered a deal from a manufacturer/supplier. What seems like a good deal now can have a lasting negative impact on the companies profitability for potentially years to come. The largest lesson that WeYield has learned is that you do not need to increase fleet in order to increase profitability.

Saying no to cost-cutting measures that directly impact service quality can help maintain a competitive edge and long-term customer loyalty.

The Importance of Data Analytics

Making informed decisions in the car hire industry relies heavily on data analytics. Businesses should leverage advanced analytics tools to gather insights into customer behaviour, market trends, and operational efficiency. By analysing historical data and anticipating future trends, companies can make proactive decisions regarding fleet size, pricing strategies, and cost-cutting measures.

Data analytics can also help in identifying unprofitable business segments. If certain customer segments consistently generate lower revenue or higher operational costs, businesses may need to consider saying no to serving these segments. This targeted approach allows for a more efficient allocation of resources and a focus on high-value customers.

Using the Data Analysis from the WeYield Apps, any car rental provider can thoroughly analyse the business brought in by each broker/partner. They can easily see the spread of the bookings (and cancellations) over the course of the year, which can simply identify those partners that are supporting your business in the off seasons and not just monopolising your availability in the high season. 

Been able to easily visualise this and break down their RPD/Ancillaries contribution can really place you in a position of power in the recurring partner negotiations, allowing you to prioritise those partners that provide a true contribution to your bottom line.  

Case Study: ABC Car Rentals

To illustrate the practical application of these principles, let's consider a fictional car rental company, ABC Car Rentals. ABC noticed a sudden surge in demand during the holiday season and faced the decision of whether to expand its fleet to accommodate the increased bookings.

After thorough data analysis, ABC determined that the spike in demand was temporary and not reflective of a sustained trend. Instead of hastily adding more vehicles to the fleet, the company decided to optimise its existing resources by offering promotions to encourage off-peak bookings. This strategic decision not only prevented overcommitment but also allowed ABC to maintain service quality and minimise operational costs.

In another scenario, ABC identified a customer segment that consistently generated low revenue due to discounted rates negotiated in bulk contracts. Despite the volume of bookings, the profitability of serving this segment was questionable. Blabla made the tough decision to discontinue these contracts, redirecting resources to focus on more lucrative customer segments. This move led to an overall improvement in profitability and customer satisfaction.

Conclusion: A Holistic Approach to Profitability

In the car hire industry, profitability is a multifaceted goal that requires a holistic approach. Revenue optimisation, fleet control, and cost-cutting should not be viewed in isolation but rather as interconnected components of a strategic business model. Knowing when to say no to certain business opportunities, whether it be expanding the fleet or serving unprofitable customer segments, is crucial for long-term success.

As mentioned above in the article, having the right data at your fingertips allows for these Data Driven Decisions to be made. At WeYield, this is exactly what we offer. 

Our Apps, in conjunction with the coaching, training and mentoring from Revenue Management professionals, gives not only the data but the knowledge needed to interpret it in order to make these critical decisions. 

With the introduction of the WeYield and Rate Highway partnership, now you have not only a Data Analysis and Decision Making tool, but you have the ability to Execute on those Decisions also.

Businesses that prioritise quality over quantity, maintain a balanced fleet size, and strategically cut costs without compromising service quality are better positioned to weather market fluctuations and emerge as leaders in the industry. 

By leveraging data analytics and adopting a proactive mindset, car hire companies can make informed decisions that drive profitability, sustainability, and customer satisfaction.

Published by
Adrian Treacy
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Customer Success Manager at WeYIeld and also Founder of Quantum-Leap Consulting. I help our clients to think more about 'why' they are doing what they do and how to maybe improve their results. As a Success Mindset coach I also help people to understand the 'why' behind what they do so that they can understand 'how' to get different results.

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