The car rental business is expected to continue growing at an annual rate of 14% between 2017 and 2022 and is expected to reach $125 billion in revenue by 2022. If you are part of this growing industry, you will want to maximize your share of that growth and maximize the profit you can take from your fleet.

The cars you are renting out and the staff you hire are the two most substantial expenses. Maximizing the return on those investments is an essential part of making your business profitable. That is where rental software solutions come into the picture—they are much more than simple booking engines for online reservations. If you are using the right software, you can maximize the efficiency of your fleet, minimize expenses, and keep your staff efficient.

Comprehensive car rental management software is defined as software that delivers all the tools needed to run a vehicle rental business. They include modules for fleet maintenance and tracking, reservations, contracts and information on customers, and payment processing.

In short, it is an operating system for your rental business that manages your automotive assets and maximizes the efficiency of your employees. It can also improve the demand side of your business by helping you to attract and keep customers. Small companies can focus on four areas to increase how much money is kept as profit:

  1. Offer clean and well-maintained cars.
  2. Create associations with other companies like local hotels.
  3. Provide services with your vehicles that consumers appreciate.
  4. Give your customers a wide range of vehicle options.

The best car rental software options address each of these areas. How? The maintenance management portion addresses keeping your fleet fresh and attractive. Marketing tools can be used to engage with other businesses. Features in your mobile app can be the primary means of delivering additional services that specific customers want. And managing a broad spectrum of vehicles is made easy with fleet management tools in good rental car management software.

It is helpful to break down rental car software by its features for managing your fleet, your customers, or your business. We will look at each of those and how, when done right, they can drive profit. Then we will discuss how to choose or create a tool that is right for your business.

Managing your fleet

Car rental companies are essentially organizations that acquire vehicles and then loan them out to other people, often via online booking systems. Keeping track of those vehicles is essential to turning a profit because they are your single largest cost. This includes not only the cost of buying or leasing them, but also the cost of maintenance, repair, and insurance. Fleet management software is what rental companies use to track their wheeled assets. When done right it can control costs, increase efficiency, monitor your drivers, watch what your customers do with your vehicles, and give you the data you need to understand the actual costs of ownership.

A good fleet management module will collect all activities—from rental details to repairs—in one place. A schedule that automates reminders for regular maintenance and when a vehicle is ready to be sold is also helpful. Most fleet management tools also include GPS tracking via a mobile app or sensors in the car, so you know where your vehicles are and how they are being driven.

Empowering your customers

Giving your customers a secure and easy rental experience is critical to your company’s success. Your online car rental reservation website and mobile interfaces for iOS and Android will be the primary way customers interact with you, so they need to be more than just user-friendly. Offering a low price is not enough; you need to make the user experience, including customer support, noticeably better than what they experience with the car hire systems and booking software used by major auto rental companies.

Think about the buyer experience and provide a simple and intuitive interface for the journey. Actions that should be easily accomplished on the side of the company or the customer include:

  • Find out what cars are available.
  • Get a quote.
  • Reserve the vehicle.
  • Interact with the reservation system: check, change, or delete reservations.
  • Put the contract in place.
  • Arrange for pickup or delivery.
  • Provide information and support while renting the car.
  • Streamline drop-off.
  • Deliver secure and easy payment with a credit card, digital wallet, or payment gateway.
  • Collect and deliver feedback.

All of these features need to be in both a web and mobile interface and must talk with your fleet management modules and the business side of things. The customers must be able to access information about their car rental booking in real time.

Running your business

The asset management and customer-facing tools sit on top of the back-office part of your car rental solution. Your software should link every interaction and transaction to a vehicle, employee, or customer while streamlining your business processes.

Your daily operations should be integrated into one cost-effective management system. Once you have the important data collected from customers you can reduce the overhead of your business by automating critical tasks that can add to your costs. Key features must include:

  • Interfacing with your accounting system.
  • Keeping track of insurance claims.
  • Billing and invoicing.
  • Rate management.
  • Tracking employee activity.
  • Automating marketing to previous customers.
  • Handling customer comments and complaints.

The most important part of the business modules is your rental car software’s interface with your accounting system. Revenue and expenses need to flow efficiently on to your books where you can keep track of things and look for ways to reduce costs.

Choosing the right solution

Choosing rental car management software that is right for your business is an important decision. A great way to start is to take a look at the standard features already on the market in this class of tools and then prioritize them.  If you are running a rental service that focuses on high-end luxury vehicles, tracking and scheduling maintenance may be the most important thing for you. If you are focusing on offering inexpensive, fast, and local car bookings then making the mobile app experience outstanding may be your priority.  Know your business goals before you start looking at software.

Once you have that list of priorities, take a look at the off-the-shelf solutions available. We did a review of the best vehicle booking systems—including favorites like Navotar—recently and found some capable solutions. As with any enterprise software, make sure you get references and talk to users before you invest in any commercial solution.

If you don’t find what you are looking for, or want a software solution that will give you a competitive advantage, then a custom car rental software program is your best option.

The right software lets small rental agencies compete with the giants by offering better service, low overheads, and optimized business practices. During your evaluation of commercial solutions, you identified what is important to you. With that information in hand, find the right custom software development partner to create the tools you need.

Complete car rental software is a large and complex platform that interfaces with other programs, your employees, and your customers. Make sure you choose a company that understands integration, efficient workflows, and creating outstanding user experiences.

At Zibtek, we offer custom software solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our digital strategy, design, and custom software development solutions have helped clients across industries including the vehicle rental business meet their goals. Ask for a free consultation to find out whether we can do the same for your business.

The right rental car software can be the most powerful weapon in your arsenal when going up against the large rental companies. Your profit is dependent upon keeping those cars on the road generating revenue. When done right, your solution will bring customers and their friends back for more rentals. Consider your options carefully!