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Minute Car Rentals in expansion mode

Minute Car Rentals Limited has rolled out a new affiliate programme called Minute RentCars, aimed at doubling the fleet it contracts from vehicle owners across Jamaica, with the aim of growing revenue, says CEO Ferone Bryan.

The business, which for the past four years has been marketing itself as the only hourly car rental company in Jamaica, now wants a bigger slice of the car rental market which is currently dominated by Avis, Island Car Rentals, Enterprise and Hertz. Bryan sees expansion of the vehicle fleet, coupled with ‘needs-basis’ rental, as the pathway to the target.

“Before now, the previous programme would’ve committed the car for a much longer period. This option allows for a shorter on-demand-type service. Instead of holding your car and you paying insurance, even if your car is not rented, we will take your car on an as-needed basis,” Bryan said.

The company has also partnered with BCIC, which allows for daily payments on insurance, he told the Financial Gleaner.

Bryan is the majority owner of Munute Car Rentals, while Kari Howell and Ramone Dunkley hold minority shares.

The new programme, Minute RentCars, targets individuals who own a 2016 or later model vehicle in good working condition, who are willing to put their car to work. In exchange for adding their vehicles to Minute RentCars’ vehicle fleet, Bryan will pay the owners 80 per cent of the revenue earned from the rental contract. Servicing or mechanical costs would be borne by owners of the vehicles, he said.

Minute Car Rentals’ fee structure starts at $908 for hourly bookings, while the daily rates begins at $9,900, and $7,650 for three days’ minimum bookings. The cost covers cleaning fee, basic liability coverage, taxes, and the rental fee.

Bryan said the programme allows for the company to scale its fleet faster with lower capital investment.

Headquartered on Hagley Park Road in Kingston, Minute Car Rentals got started with two Suzuki Altos in 2018, and today has a fleet of 40 cars. Bryan wants to grow the fleet to 100 cars by year end through the new islandwide car rental programme.

“Improving our fleet capacity is what’s going to drive our revenue base. We are on track for meeting our target for the 2022 financial year, but over the coming year we expect to see 150 per cent increase in our revenues once we are able to get our fleet up to the 100-car target,” he said.

As to the size of Minute’s market share, Bryan said he didn’t have enough information on the sector, which is made up of private players, to provide an estimate.

To facilitate its expansion, Minute Car Rentals will be opening a new leased location on Sunrise Boulevard in Montego Bay, during the first quarter of 2023, and is also in talks with service station dealers in Ocho Rios, St Ann, to create a venue for what Bryan says will be Minute Car Rental’s first remote location.

“The remote location will allow customers and affiliates to pick up or drop off a car at any time,” Bryan said.

“How it works is that once you’re not a first-time customer, you can pick up a car from the location. Our intention is to put infrastructure in place that will allow customers, once verified, to receive a code that will give them access to the key box,” he said.

The remote system is now being piloted for official launch next year.

Minute Car Rentals is targeting both the local and tourist markets for its expanded line of service offerings. Jamaicans looking to rent vehicles through the company typically use the vehicle for business runs, weekend getaways and family gatherings, while international visitors tend to use the vehicles for sightseeing.

Most of the business is said to emanate from foreign visitors.

Bryan has been using cash from its growing business to build out a real-time customer relations management system, which incorporate an accounting system for proper book-keeping records and Google maps, and the Amber Connect system to allow the company, its affiliates and motor vehicle owners to track vehicle speed and location.

Two years ago, Minute Car Rentals was looking for financial backing for the development of the systems, which was budgeted at some $15 million, but now Bryan says the business is generating enough cash to reduce its dependence on outside investors.

He also said the company had found a more efficient way to do the project, and has spent $2 million on it so far. It’s now 30 per cent complete, and will need another $5 million investment to take it to the finish line, he added.

Bryan still has plans to list the company on the Jamaica Stock Exchange within the next three years.

“Our intention is to be the very first car rental company to list on the stock exchange,” he said.

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