As the Vice President of Finance for Europe at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Daryl Scales oversees the company’s accounting and administrative functions in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany, as well as the reporting and integration of a growing number of franchise partnerships across the continent. Having been with Enterprise for nearly 30 years, joining as Group Auditor in 1986, he relocated to London in 1997 to open Enterprise’s first overseas corporate office. Here he talks to Finance Monthly about his role, business looking forward into 2016, and employee diversity.
Has 2015 seen an increase in customers renting lifestyle cars? Why do you think this is?
We’re seeing growing demand for car rental across all our customer groups, both business and lifestyle. We’re also seeing a lot of correlation between these customers because work and lifestyle habits are changing.
That means our business customers become our leisure customers, or customers who receive a replacement vehicle through our motor insurance partners then turn to us when they need a vehicle for work or for the weekend. This has underlined our business strategy, and in particular, supports our acquisitions of commercial vehicle specialist Burnt Tree, which now trades as Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, and car sharing company City Car Club in 2015. We’ve also just launched the Enterprise Exotics Collection, which allows customers to rent high-end luxury vehicles such as those from Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche and Mercedes.
As we see demand for shared access to transportation growing, our vision is to be able to offer customers rental for every type of vehicle whether that’s for an hour, a day, a week, a month or much longer.
The role of CFO is well positioned to drive cultural change within a company. What goals did you arrive with as CFO of Enterprise Rent-a-Car?
I’ve been fortunate that my ethnicity has never affected my business and career opportunities, but I know from my work with Business in the Community on the board for Race for Opportunity that this isn’t the case for everyone.
That’s why I’ve actively sought to use my position to advocate for diversity in business. As part of this, Enterprise became a founding member of Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK), which drives inclusive procurement by introducing ethnic minority owned businesses to public and private sector organisations. In 2008, Enterprise Rent-A-Car was named by MSDUK as Corporation of the Year, which gave me a huge sense of pride.
Supplier diversity is something that I continue to champion across all our business relationships. I firmly believe that working with diverse suppliers helps us to be a better business.
For example, a recent study by McKinsey & Company has shown that companies with ethnically-diverse leadership teams are 35% more likely to have greater financial returns than their peers.
You have had a key role in expanding Enterprise Rent-A-Car into Europe, and more recently in integrating acquisitions both in the UK and overseas. What are the challenges involved with this?
Most of the challenges involved in integrating a business after an acquisition are fundamentally addressed by listening and engaging with the new division’s employees and understanding their business goals. It isn’t something that can be rushed.
One of the main challenges can be the pressure to demonstrate results in the short term, instead of focusing on how the people, processes and policies of both of the organisations can be most successfully integrated. Of course there can be practical challenges like language, culture, distances and time zones.
At Enterprise we’re very fortunate that our private family ownership gives us the time and resources needed to plan for the long term, even at the expense of short term profits if necessary.
Employee and supplier diversity is a hot button issue in the press of late. How do you ensure that you keep on top of these things?
Diversity provides access to the widest range of talent, whether they’re employees or suppliers. We invest time in building relationships and developing partnerships with organisations such as Race for Opportunity and MSDUK that help us to keep our doors wide open to people from all backgrounds.
That’s why in 2015 Enterprise Rent-A-Car co-sponsored a research project by Race for Opportunity that resulted in the largest survey published on race equality in the UK workplace.
The result, a report titled Race at Work, provides a greater understanding of the issues around the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the workplace and at senior levels. Hopefully it will lead to greater understanding and an increase in the number of inclusive workplaces throughout the UK.
We were also able to extend the survey to our employees so that we could benchmark against different industry sectors. Nine out of 10 Enterprise employees said they had at least one senior leader who actively promoted diversity, which was far higher than the wider retail sector.
Looking forward into 2016, what do you anticipate for your role and for Enterprise Rent a-Car?
The sharing economy is transforming the role that car rental business has traditionally played. For starters, it isn’t just car rental any more. We rent everything from small electric cars right the way through to performance sports cars and then high capacity and specialist vehicles for the haulage industry. People hire vehicles for anything from an hour to a couple of years.
This is a huge opportunity for both businesses and individuals who need many different types of vehicles.
This means we have to shape our service, the technology we use and how our customers can physically access our vehicles to a new set of requirements. This is both a very exciting prospect and also a huge endeavour in terms of systems development and integration.