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Recently, our blog included a reminder that rental car companies are highly refined sales organizations. Profits are driven more by the add-on products and services than the rental cars themselves -- the cars are expensive and depreciate every day. And while Sixt has bucked recent rental car trends by releasing strong financial results, the company decided to prove their sales orientation by sending the Fee Detective a survey asking which "innovative" products and services he might be willing to purchase. However, Sixt made three strategic errors by sending me this survey:

  1. I'm probably the worst possible survey respondent among Sixt elites, as I only add a product or service when I get a direct financial benefit (such as 300 points in National's One Two Free promotion by adding satellite radio).
  2. I write blog posts about the rental car industry and am willing to call out companies when needed.
  3. Most organizations sending out surveys of this type include a statement that the ideas contained within should be considered confidential. Not Sixt!

So What Trial (Lead) Balloons Did Sixt Throw Out?

Sixt really thinks some customers can easily be separated from their cash. Well, we're acutely aware -- by watching television, reading the news, and viewing advertisements -- that many customers can easily be separated from their cash. But what ideas did Sixt come up with to gauge potential interest as well as willingness to pay? The ideas range from everyday practices we see at other rental car companies to ideas that violate Sixt's own Terms and Conditions to ideas that are intended to appeal to vanity or convenience. 

Many of the "ideas" to generate revenue for Sixt were either basic expectations we would have with other rental car companies or fees that we routinely help rental car consumers avoid:

  • When was the last time you rented a car in the U.S. without cruise control? Would you pay a daily fee to guarantee cruise control?
  • Would you like to drive outside your immediate region? Sixt currently limits driving radius based upon the State of rental while other major companies do not.
  • Have a child who needs a stroller? Your airline may allow checking the stroller from home for free or you might be able to rent a pre-used one from Sixt.
  • We talk about how to avoid costs of satellite radio by actions as simple as bringing an Auxiliary cable but Sixt is willing to charge you to make a Spotify playlist.
  • Would you pay a daily fee to exclude responsibility for small damages your credit card likely already covers? If so, Sixt's Small Damage Protection might be for you!

Other ideas were targeted toward specific client groups and mirror services offered by other rental car companies already, such as terminal drop-offs (offered to some Avis and Hertz customers), charging cables for sale, and travel tablets. And some ideas appealed to vanity or convenience that's not necessarily convenient: 

  • Have an eye for a yellow Chevrolet Camaro? Would you pay one additional fee for that specific model and another fee for that specific color?
  • If you rented from Sixt, would you be willing to pay for parking at other Sixt locations while out running errands?


Almost all of the cost, none of the convenience, plus the need for Sixt's Small Damage Protection (at an additional cost)!

Towing is prohibited by the current rules of all companies (including Sixt) but Sixt might be willing to rent a tow hitch if the price is right!


The tow hitch that violates rental policy is a bit puzzling.

Finally, at least one product was intended for bad parkers:


A driver knows his or her parallel parking skills are bad when opting for this daily fee.

We have to admit that Sixt is trying! The company recognizes that the profits of a rental car company come from more products and services, not the cars themselves. Yet when the Terms and Conditions document is already 14 pages, does any rental car company really need to make rental transactions more complicated or time-consuming? If Sixt finds new products some consumers are willing to pay for, expect to spend more time at the counter and an even longer rental agreement.  

 

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