Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Hourly car hire service Minute Rentals eyes hospitality, cruise markets

Published:Sunday | January 26, 2020 | 12:31 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter
Minute Rentals Chief Executive Officer and founder, Ferone Bryan.
Minute Rentals Chief Executive Officer and founder, Ferone Bryan.

Minute Rentals, a business which holds itself as the only hourly car rental company in Jamaica, will use the $300,000 it earned as winner of the JSE Pitch Room towards the development of a real-time customer relations management system.

The Pitch Room is a feature of the annual JSE Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference, which was staged January 21-23 in New Kingston.

The development of the dashboard is the first step in General Manager Ramone Dunkley’s plan to snag a greater share of Jamaica’s car rental market which is currently dominated by Avis, Island Car Rentals, Enterprise and Hertz.

Minute Rentals, which is just a little over a year old, operates from 78¾ Hagley Park Road in Kingston and is in the business of contracting cars from registered owners in building a fleet for its hourly car rental service.

The auto owners are paid 70 per cent of revenue earned by the car before servicing or mechanical fees in exchange for use of the vehicles.

“What we do is give Jamaicans and visitors to the island the ability to rent a car for a minimum of four hours. So an individual that has a car idle at work, they can place it in our fleet during work hours and we deal with all the technicalities of getting it rented,” Dunkley told the Financial Gleaner.

Minute Rentals got started with two Suzuki Altos and today has a fleet of 24 cars. Its fee structure ranges from $400 to $700 per hour and daily rates of up to $7,500. Dunkley noted that while the company periodically gets requests for rentals for up to 30 days, Minute is focused on the hourly rental market.

GROWTH STRATEGY

As part of its growth strategy, Dunkley is looking to expand Minute Rentals’ footprint to Montego Bay, St James, and Ocho Rios, St Ann, to carve more business from the hospitality sector.

Dunkley hopes to partner with Airbnb property managers and luxury bus company Knutsford Express, and is also eyeing acquisitions of small rental companies.

But before that, the owners are hoping to invest in the business to make it more efficient at delivering its services. The $300,000 that Minute Rental won in competition with a pool of 16 businesses, the largest set of participants ever to enter the JSE Pitch Room competition, is just a fraction of the $25 million it is seeking from investors to build out the business. In return, Ferone Bryan, the owner of Minute Rentals, is willing to give up 15 per cent of the company to financial backers.

“Five million dollars from that will be spent on marketing the business and another $5 million for leasehold improvements. We need a proper space to present our vehicles to our renters and to enhance our offices,” Dunkley said.

The remaining $15 million will go towards converting Minute Rental’s dashboard into a real-time system.

“When we’ve been using the dashboard since we started the company in 2018, but because it’s still a work in progress, everything has to be manually entered into the systems, and the collation of data from the system takes up a lot of man hours,” he said.

Dunkley envisions the real-time CRM system linked to the QuickBooks accounting software and its integration with Google maps and the Amber Connect system to allow the company, affiliates and motor vehicle owners to track vehicle speed and location.

“We have been putting money towards the development of the CRM system but, of course, it’s the most expensive part. It’s a critical part of the business because it contains all the data for accounting and management purposes,” he said.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com