10 Years and Counting – a Decade of Raising the Bar
10 years is a long time! But in an industry not known for innovation, or a great deal of customer-centricity, it doesn’t always feel that way. And so, on February 25th in the heady days of 2008, a company dedicated to the sole mission of proving that customer-focus, independence and innovation can be a winning formula in the car rental industry was born. Carlease Rent a Car has been pushing the boundaries of what car rental excellence is ever since.
Managing Director Aswini Borkotoky – a veteran with almost 30 years of experience in the gulf automotive sector sums up his experience. “Carlease has not always found it easy, especially since we landed ourselves in the 2009 recession almost immediately after setting up shop. But ever since then, we have remained focused on one core belief: that we will always push the boundary in every small way we can. We think that our customers have appreciated our efforts. We, in return, are always thankful to our customers for supporting local businesses like ours.”
To that end, Carlease has consistently demonstrated its willingness to break with industry tradition and set a path that is soon followed by many others. Some of these were big changes, but most were small, incremental improvements. These improvements were aimed at giving our customers and suppliers a better experience than the one they may receive from other companies. Our tradition of breaking with tradition started almost from get-go, and the list below is a look at some of the things that we have accomplished in the last 10 years.
2010: Choice for everybody!
Carlease started out with a simple insight: customers care about their cars. They should be given a car that provides the best combination of cost effectiveness and features in the market. We were the first car rental company to have noticed that many other manufacturers had caught up with the Japanese manufacturers in terms of reliability and features. And so, we diversified our fleet portfolio to include cars from manufacturers who had traditionally been locked-out of the car rental industry. In fact, we were the first large-scale rental company to have introduced cars from Kia and Hyundai. This move now has been followed by almost every other rental company in the industry.
We continue to maintain one of the widest ranging fleets in the market, with over 70 different models of cars from over 10 different brands. Over the last 10 years, we have been a top-10 buyer for Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Chevrolet, Ford, Peugeot and VW. In each case, we were one of the first large scale fleet buyers to demonstrate that these cars were reliable enough to be in our industry. Customers have benefited from a wider variety of fleet ever since.
2012: “Or Equivalent” is just a Phase
We were also the only car rental company fully committed to making sure that long term customers don’t just get the category of car they selected. We promised that they would get the actual make and model they desired. In 2016, we reinforced our commitment to the idea by developing a proprietary Vehicle Replacement Tool. When a customer is given a temporary upgrade or an equivalent car, we don’t just pay lip service to getting them the car they want. Their request is logged in our software, and reminds our fleet team to conduct the replacement whenever the desired car becomes available. No request for a vehicle is ever “forgotten”.
2014: Minifying a Great Deal
In 2013, Carlease was the first rental company in the UAE to introduce the concept of a ‘mini lease’ in the form of a six month contract. The logic here was simple: we had a number of month to month customers who were paying for added flexibility, but not taking advantage of it. Why not give them the cost advantages of a long term contract, while reducing the term to give them flexibility as well. Voila! The 6 month lease was born.
2014: More Fun with Friends
In 2014, we become the first car rental company in the UAE to offer a Refer a Friend Bonus program. If a customer refers a friend who takes a car for a month or longer, the customer will receive up to one week off their rental! Why do this? We recognized that when customers are good to us, we should be good to them in return!
2015: Advice for People Who Need It
Carlease has always considered itself to be a core part of the UAE’s welcome to new expatriates. We have always been committed to helping new expats familiarize themselves to the UAE with some tips and advice. In 2015, we became the first car rental company in the UAE (and perhaps the world) to offer a truly useful blog, with advice on everything from how to drive safely in a sandstorm, to updates about great road trip ideas.
2016: Farewell to Dead Trees
Carlease was the first car rental company to introduce an entirely digital booking process in to its operations in 2016. Documents and details are processed electronically through our online customer profile page (again, a UAE first), reducing in-branch wait times. Walk-in customers don’t fill paper, they get tablets onto which they upload their information.
2016: Unity for Petrol Heads!
Similar to our blog, we are also the only car rental company in the UAE (perhaps the world) that provides honest reviews of each of the 70+ models of car in our fleet. We recognize that people want to know intimate details about the vehicles, information about safety features and creature comforts. All of these can be found on our car reviews page.
2016: No More Shackles
The Lease Exchange platform was conceived from a simple set of questions: why can leasing customers only take advantage of their low rates by being forced into a draconian contract enforced by an early termination penalty? What if someone has a family emergency and needs to return home earlier than expected?
Our platform allows our customers to rid themselves of the stress of an early termination fee. The proposition is simple: let customers advertise their great deal. Once they find someone to take over their lease, simply transfer the contract. Not only does this allow the original customer to take advantage of the low rates, it also allows the customer to bypass their early termination fee. The current customer benefits, Carlease keeps its car on the road, and the new customer gets a long-term rate on a much shorter contract. It’s a win-win-win transaction, and it is the first and only program of its kind in the UAE! As a result of our innovation, we have permanently changed the landscape of the leasing business. Customers who were previously apprehensive about signing long term can now get a great deal without worrying about being penalized.
2018: Carlease Maintenance Bot is Born
Shortly after our 10 year anniversary, Team Carlease once again took a step ahead of the rest of the UAE’s car rental industry by introducing the Carlease Maintenance Bot. Getting car repairs and servicings done had remained a painful, labor-intensive process for most long term car rental customers. No longer. With the Maintenance Bot, Carlease customers can now make a booking to have their car repaired or serviced in real-time. No more waiting, no more phone calls! Bookings can be made 24/7 through their phone or through their computer. In addition, customers can also manage, reschedule or cancel their appointment by themselves. They will also receive reminder emails and SMS text alerts.
The technology was implemented and operationalized through a number of different platforms. These were integrated and brought together using development work developed in-house by Carlease.
With Hard Work Come Rewards
Carlease is the only car rental company to have been nominated consistently in the MEED-Gulf Capital SME Awards. We have been nominated in the Customer Focus category in 2015, 2016 and 2017. We were nominated as one of the top Transportation companies in the MENA region at the 2017 annual MEED Awards. All of this is thanks to our team who works tirelessly every single day.
Value, Variety, Service. Always.
Carlease will be the most admired automotive and fleet company in the UAE, and a provider of transportation that people love. As a small business, we have been able to deliver because of our commitment to core principles:
Value: All customers will be treated fairly. We provide the clearest rental contracts in the market; every agent explains key points line-by-line and physically highlights them. We communicate with each customer monthly, explaining every charge. We provide 24-hour notices on traffic fines. Excess mileage and damage charges are notified upon every service.
Variety: With over 70 models, we have the widest fleet in the market and a variety of contract structures. Customers who are bored of their car can exchange it for an equivalent for no charge. We are the only rental company in the UAE running a Lease Exchange program. In this program, customers can bypass their pre-termination penalty by transferring their car to someone else. Over 90% of customers get the exact make and model – not just category – of their choice; the remaining 10% are guaranteed to get their car through our proprietary Vehicle Replacement Tool.
Service: All inquiries received are responded to within 2 hours during the day, and 6 hours at night. The majority of our customers leave our branches with their car in less than 20 minutes. Courtesy calls are made (and tracked through our CRM) every two months. In fact, some of the courtesy calls and emails are made directly by the Managing Director of the company!
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