Saturday, August 25, 2007

Things I Don't Understand, Pt. 1

Usually, Hertz is great.

But not yesterday.

I approached the counter, said hello, and asked for a car.

“Do you have a reservation?” asked the desk agent.

“Actually, this is totally last minute. So, no,” I replied.

She checked her computer.

And with a Bill Murray-like deadpan, she said, “We don’t have any cars.”

Say what?

“You … don’t have ANY cars?” I asked.

“No. I’m sorry Sir.”

I tilted my head like a dog that didn’t realize he was being scolded.

“But … you’re a CAR rental company!” I said. “That’s like, what you DO.”

“Yeah, but we’re all sold out this weekend.”


“But … you’re a CAR rental company!” I joked.

“I know, I know,” she chuckled, “but there’s nothing I can do.”


So, let me get this straight:

Your company rents cars to travelers. That’s it. You have one product: cars.

And you’re completely sold out.

THAT, I just don’t understand.

Frustrated (but mainly confused) I thanked them for their time.

Luggage in hand, I slid down to the next counter: Dollar.

“Hi!” I smiled.

“Good afternoon, Scott!” the desk agent greeted.

“So, I know this might sound like a silly question … but do you guys have any cars?”

“You’re in luck!” she cheered. “Let me see what we have here…”

Ten minutes later, I buckled the seatbelt of my shiny red Nissan and headed off to my hotel.

And that was it. That’s how easy it was for Dollar to 180 me.

1. She offered a friendly greeting.
2. She used a Reassurance Responder, i.e., “You’re in luck!”
3. She sold me the (one and only) product her company offered: a car.

Now. I admit that not having a reservation for Hertz was my fault. And I can certainly understand that priority goes to the customers who plan in advance.


Shit happens. People forget things. And companies need to have backup plans installed into their systems so they don’t lose customers.

For example:

1. Maybe Hertz could maintain a small fleet of “Emergency Cars,” just in case they run out.

2. Maybe Hertz could partner with a local car dealership as a preventative measure.

3. Maybe Hertz could, um, stock more cars.

I don’t know. My knowledge of the Rental Industry is limited. These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.

THE POINT IS: will I ever use Hertz again? Probably. I’ve never had a problem with them up until today. And I’m an extremely forgiving person. Not to mention, an extremely loyal customer.

Because that’s how I roll.


Because of Hertz’s inability to provide the ONE product they offered:

1. I spent a few hundred bucks with Dollar. So, there’s that.
2. I told this story to a few hundred people at a recent speech. So there’s that.
3. I also wrote this entire article based on how Hertz messed up, and posted it on my blog for (potentially) millions of people to see.

So there’s that.

It’s like my dad always reminds me: “You can’t sell from an empty wagon.”

I mean, isn’t being sold out of your ONE and ONLY product, like, really, really dangerous?

Because if you only have one product to sell...

And you don’t have any of those products to sell…

And you work in a commodity-based, lead-with-price industry with no discernible differences between competitors…

Then customers will have no problem sliding down to the next counter.

But maybe it’s just me.

Maybe this is something I just don’t understand.

What’s one thing YOU don't understand?

Share your confusion here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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