National Rental Car

Edelman Award Paper

Revenue Management Saves National Car Rental
By M.K Geraghty and Ernest Johnson

In the January/February 1997 issue of INTERFACES magazine, M.K. Geraghty and Ernest Johnson were presented as finalists of the Franz A. Edelman award for their presentation on a state-of-the-art Revenue Management System that would turn a huge money losing rental car company, National Rental Car, into a profitable business within two years.

In 1993, General Motors took a $744 million dollar charge against earnings related to its ownership of National Car Rental Systems.  National was facing liquidation and a layoff of more than 7,500 people unless it could post a profit in the near term and prove that the car rental business was worth saving.

Before National began using the Revenue Management System, it faced the same issues as its competitors.  The car rental industry relied heavily on corporate customers that paid fixed rates and only traveled during the week leaving most rental car companies with large fleets of idol cars on the weekends.  Whereas the competition was making adjustments to try and capture leisure weekend customers to generate more revenue, National remained solely focused on the business renters missing out on potential opportunities.  National also planned its fleet in one-year cycles as opposed to shorter cycles more often, which led to failure in meeting changing customer demand.  

The bottom line was that National did not have the proper communication tools in place to be able to react to the industry’s changing environment.  National did not pursue leisure weekend customers even for break-even profit, was not able to ad ...
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