33 years in vehicle rental industry

We interviewed Ray Booth, who has been in the Vehicle rental Industry for 33 years and now works with CABS car rental.

Ray Booth Interview

Q: What are your strengths?
A: One of my dominant skills is that of Leadership, with coaching and mentoring as the supporting strength. I have always enjoyed being part of the leadership team as it gives me an opportunity to in some way shape my destiny and that of the teams that I have been part of.

Q: What are your weaknesses?
A: I am intolerant of negative “it can’t be done” or “it has always been done that way” environments those thoughts are just draining of energy and of no benefit to anyone or anything. I don’t believe in “if it ain’t broken then we do not need to fix it!” but rather in “if it ain’t broken how can we improve it”.

Q: What keeps you interested in working in the rental industry?
A: What is exciting about the vehicle rental industry is that it is part of the service industry which entails you to be on top of your game at all times. The industry is dynamic and very fluid providing a day and a career that can never be classified as boring.

Q: Describe your educational background.
A: I matriculated in 1969 from Kearsney College. My military training was at 4 SAI (Middleburg) and my follow up camps were with Regiment Botha (Ermelo). On completion of my 9 months at 4 SAI, I joined the sugar industry in Stanger as a Trainee accountant, doing my B.Com and C.I.S simultaneously by correspondence, neither of which I completed. I did however complete a 3 year Diploma in Transport Management at Rand Afrikaans University, an MDP at the Unisa School of Leadership and a 1 Year Diploma course in Company Direction at the Graduate School of Management Technology. I recently also qualified as a NLP practitioner.

Q: Describe yourself when you were starting out, right in the beginning
A: I started out in the vehicle rental industry when I joined Avis in KZN as the District Admin Manager back in 1981. Over the past 33 years I have spent my time trying to understand this industry and I have come to the conclusion that it really complex. My employment in the industry has been with Avis Rent A Car, Rent A Bakkie and Budget rent A Car. I have during this period been part of Administration, Fleet Procurement, Operations, Sales and Marketing departments. My last 5 years before corporate retirement was as MD of Budget Car & van Rental—SA, Namibia & Botswana.

Q: Tell me about a time you made a mistake that you regret.
A: My biggest regret from a personal perspective is that I did not complete my B.Com and C.I.S. studies; even it had no impact on my life or career. It is just that I like to finish what I set out to achieve.

Q: What motivates you?
A: I strongly believe in leadership development in all aspects a person’s life. Leadership development should start at primary school and especially at least when a youngster is appointed Team Leader or Captain of a team. With the school subject of Life Orientation the leadership aspect should definitely be part of it. So what motivates me is that when I spend time in helping people with their growth, I see the “light come on” and they become focussed and motivated.

Q: Are there significant trends in your field? That you think will make a difference to the rental industry
A: The industry remains under pressure to generate acceptable returns for its stakeholders. The overall average daily rental rate has over the last 5 years only increased by around 10% (in total). Due to the competitive nature of the industry, I don’t see this improving in the short term. With the expenses (input costs) of the industry escalating annually at a higher than inflation rate, the focus will continue to be on, tighter expense control, vehicle utilisation (the right vehicle at the right place at the right time at the right rate) and last but not least the focus needs to be on improving productivity levels.

Q: What is good customer service?
A: Good customer service is something that is not always top of mind, however it is something that really makes a difference to all business. I don’t believe there are bad companies, but it is the people in those companies that give the company a bad name. In any business nothing really happens until a sale is made and to achieve this one needs to have a rapport with people to achieve that sale. In fact I believe we should be making customers not sales. A sale is a one shot deal, but a customer is for life. I still believe in the cliché that the people in the company are its greatest asset. My experience is that happy and focussed employees create happy customers.

Q: What philosophy guides your work?
A: My philosophy and advice to anyone who wants to listen is, set goals for yourself that encompasses your career, health and family. Try and live your life that you have no regrets. I believe there is no substitute for focussed hard work towards positive outcomes. As the old song goes “Do what you do well”.

Q: What are the top 5 things still to do on your bin list?
A: I had set my “Anchor goals” back in 1982 and with very little adjustment, was able to achieve all but one by my 60th birthday. The one missing is that I wanted to have taken my family to Disney in Orlando. So what is left on my Bucket list? I really want to get to Las Vegas and walk the strip. For the rest I just pray for good health.

Q: What was the last book you read for fun?
A: I am an avid reader of Self-development literature and my favourite fictional authors of fiction are Harlan Coburn and Lee Childs

Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I do not really have a hobby, however I am a keen follower of all sports that are played at a provincial and International level. In my “youth” I played Cricket, Hockey, Tennis and Squash at a relatively high level. As a consequence of my place of birth I am a Blue Bulls supporter. My real passion is “growing people” by contributing to their leadership skills development so that they can live their lives, achieve their goals and fulfil their dreams.

CABS car hire thanks Ray Booth for his input –