Rent a Dent celebrated it's 25th birthday in 2012 and a number of its original franchisees are still with the company. Now it’s expanding again with opportunities in New Zealand and over the Tasman in 2016.
Rent a Dent has been a real family business from the start. Founded by Denis Hansen in 1987, it’s now run by his son Dean. ‘My first job as a nipper was cleaning the cars, then I joined the company full-time in 1999,’ Dean recalls. I learned the business from the ground up, then managed the Auckland Airport Rent a Dent office for eight years. I spent three years away getting experience elsewhere, but now I’m back running Rent a Dent and it’s like coming home.’
Rent a Dent began life when Denis saw an opening for a car hire business in Tauranga. He was stuck for a good name when my 8-year-old sister Tami suggested ‘rent a dent.’ The joke stuck, and we are so well-recognised because of it we wouldn’t dream of changing it now!’
The old adage of satisfying your customers is ‘under promise and over deliver’, and Rent a Dent certainly does that. Far from offering old cars, we provide late model, pre-owned quality rental vehicles. They are pretty much what you would get from a big international firm but at much lower rates. In addition, because all our outlets are owner-operated, all our franchisees give the absolute top-notch service that comes from having a vested interest in their own business.’
Rent a Dent started franchising in 1992 and within about six years had the country covered with 24 branches. ‘We must have got something right, because our Wellington franchisee is still there 20 years on. Generally, our franchisees have stayed with us for 10 to 15 years, and I think that speaks volumes for the franchise’s systems and the overall culture of the business. It’s an enjoyable industry that delivers results.’
The company has had plenty of time to analyse its success, and Dean says that the reason so many customers return time and again is because it is a locally-owned New Zealand company offering great vehicles, great rates and great service. People are becoming more aware of the consequences of corporate operators and don’t like to see profits simply flowing overseas. They know we are local to New Zealand and our franchisees are local to their particular area, and they see us re-investing within our community. That gives us another big advantage over the international firms,’ he says.
Dean isn’t prepared to change a winning formula, but has introduced some initiatives to refresh the brand and enhance its personality. ‘For example, we’re introducing “extreme benefit” cards for all our customers which will give them discounts at over 1000 venues throughout New Zealand and Australia: restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, etc. That appeals to both our regular domestic and international visitor markets, and is unique to Rent a Dent. We’re also expanding our internet presence so you can easily make a booking from anywhere in the world, and setting up a competition via our Facebook page.’
Dean is confident that this and other elements of the new marketing strategy will reap benefits both for his franchisees and the company. ‘I think it will set us up very strongly for the coming years. We’re proud of who we are and we’re stating our unique offer very clearly: “Rent a Dent quality rental vehicles,” with the promise, “Pay Less, Experience More”.
A good business depends on a regular flow of good ideas and Rent a Dent has made a virtue of ensuring everyone in the franchise has a voice, says Dean. ‘We have a regionally-based advisory council made up of our franchisees that meets regularly and takes on board every idea that is presented. Our desire is that all our franchisees are equally successful and one thing we have learned is that every region is unique. What works well in one area may not work in another, so you look to find and share ideas to help everyone grow.’
Rent a Dent has covered most of New Zealand but does have some opportunities around the country, including a gap in the network in Wanganui. ‘$250,000-300.000 would get a suitable candidate into business with 25-30 cars,’ says Dean. ‘You don’t need experience, just a good head for business and a determination to help people. We’ve also had an operation running in Brisbane for some years now and will be looking to open in Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns next year, so I’m also keen to hear from applicants who want to pop over the Tasman and set up their own Rent a Dent business there.
‘Rent a Dent is a proven, mature, effective and rewarding franchise. Contact me to find out how you can be part of our next chapter.’