Many renters think of AutoSlash as a great service to save money on rental cars and a source of advice on how to avoid the rental car company's various pitches and fees. Rental car companies view us as disruptors to their business model, and we really are! You see, rental car companies are designed to be sales organizations that maximize the cost of rentals, while our goal every day at AutoSlash is to help renters minimize the cost of rentals. When we remind customers to use their loyalty cards, reserve online (instead of calling the rental company's sales agents), and to carefully read rules and conditions on a rental, it's because we have years of experience dealing with the games and structure of rental car companies! We truly aren't kidding -- the rental car staff you encounter during a transaction are all salespeople. Need some proof?
Before we proceed, repeat after us
- The reservations agents on the phone are salespeople.
- The staff members at the rental car counter are salespeople.
- The agents working from home on the remote assistance kiosks are salespeople.
When you call a reservations line, the staff member is not going to search more than 1,000 rates to find the best possibility (like AutoSlash will)! And if you walk up to the counter without a reservation, the desk agent's goal is to get you to pay the highest price you are willing to pay. (Contrast that with AutoSlash, where our goal is to minimize the amount of the confirmed total—and we hope you always book well in advance!)
The staff at the counter or kiosk one encounters at check-in? Their goal is to upsell and convince renters to accept products and services that may well be unnecessary. One of AutoSlash's goals with our blog is to help renters understand how to avoid those costly purchases! Have trouble saying "no" to a salesperson? A rental car can become far more expensive than it could be (in our belief system, should be)!
Job Descriptions of Counter Staff
The rental car companies don't even attempt to hide that the counter staff members are salespeople first, despite other job responsibilities. While the phone staff get some incentives for upselling, the counter staff get big commissions for upselling. And when a salesperson is heavily paid on commission and/or gets a better position based upon sales volume, expect a lot of questions and "recommendations". A rental car transaction takes far less than the "90 minutes" of a timeshare presentation but the sales staff have similar sales pitches (and quota systems) to timeshare, mattress, and used car salespersons! The people who know the precise details of their reservations and demonstrate that they aren't going to buy any add-on services? Those are the folks who get keys and leave the rental car counter quickly!
Every rental car company actually describes their salespeople as such! A quick search of their "career" websites lifts the veil. Counter salespeople tend to require 6-12 months of previous sales experience and not much more (age of 18, high-school diploma, modest attention to detail). AvisBudget Group is the most transparent when it comes to their Rental Sales Associates. Their job descriptions are 100% sales-focused. Those staff members are expected to follow company programs and the desired outcome is to increase sales.
Enterprise Holdings has Rental Sales Agents and Hertz Global Holdings has Counter Sales staff. Even though the positions with the Enterprise and Hertz companies have activities not related to sales, the core outcome is indeed sales and meeting sales objectives! Words have meaning and that's the only term in these positions common to all three major corporations -- not enough upsells (increasing average transaction size) and the tenure of that salesperson will be brief. In fact, most of these salespeople wash out within months.
How well are these agents compensated?
In the eyes of the rental car company, an excellent sales agent brings in more revenue for the company. The salesperson gets awarded for the increased sales and an exceptional sales agent can do very well at a major rental car company, convincing everyday renters to add products, services, and upgrades on their reservations. Just how well can those agents do by making "recommendations" here and there? Those who get past the washout phase (hence the frequent presence of a trainee or six) and stick around really earn 3-5 times their base rate through commissions, incentives, and bonuses as Avis stated in the description above. Other agents are actively seeking to increase sales for promotion opportunities. In either case, there's a strong financial incentive to push products and services you don't need at the counter.
That one counter agent you've seen for years at your most frequent airport destination? There's a chance that salesperson is consistently meeting sales quotas and earning well into the six figures per year. The exotic car in the back corner of the rental lot probably belongs to a staff member, not the rental car company!
If you see your sales agent singing Calloway, now you know why.
When we advise renters to avoid the refined sales pitches of the rental car companies, we do so for a reason! The rental car company wants to do everything within their power to get you to add cost to the rental transaction, while AutoSlash (and AutoSlash users) want the lowest costs possible for their reserved vehicle! When communicating with a sales associate that doesn't consider the lowest possible rate for the consumer to be the most important factor, the renter is harmed. Yet there are a few different ways to ensure the renter's best interest is first and foremost.
- Use AutoSlash to help with your "Pay Later" bookings. The rental car companies would like for you to book directly (at non-discounted rates) or to book "Pay Now" rates -- the former results in more revenue for the rental car company and the latter results in *guaranteed revenue* (even if you need to cancel the trip).
- Join the membership programs of your chosen rental car companies and use those at the time of booking. When you click on a quote, there's really a place to add your loyalty number at the time of booking! Depending upon the program, a customer can avoid (or greatly shorten) the time at the rental car counter. Our team only rents from programs that allow us to bypass the rental counter.
- Read the Rules of your reservation and know about the options a salesperson may offer. If a service is listed as "optional" in the Rules you receive, then there's no requirement to pay for the service! Reading the rules does help consumers learn of potential gaps in their coverage, however -- for instance, a driver without personal automobile insurance would be considered an uninsured driver in California unless liability coverage was purchased.
AutoSlash users know what we do -- we search for the lowest possible rates on rental cars and help renters avoid unnecessary fees. The major rental corporations hold a directly inconsistent goal!
Ready to book your next cheap rental car? Don't fall for the sales pitches of your preferred rental car company but do take advantage of their loyalty programs. Click below to request quotes and we'll send you the best possible offers within minutes!