How to Build a Rent-a-Car Website: Site Features & Tips


How to Build a Rent-a-Car Website: Site Features & Tips

When it comes to renting a car for most travelers (yourself included) you might often find yourself trying to get a hold of someone over the phone to make a reservation, or you are at a noisy place where it’s difficult to understand each other.

It’s something we face every day, however, it’s a hassle we shouldn’t put up with. To make things more efficient, car rental software can speed things up, not to mention, simplify everything greatly. It can also give companies opportunities to be more competitive and more omnipresent in the market that’s continuously gaining ground in the digital sphere.

And while having a website is only half of the battle, to remain relevant in the market, you also want comprehensive and reliable booking software and a myriad of different features to show the market (and your visitors) who’s the king of the road.

 

The Though Landscape and the Benefits

Running an already existing business and creating a website and booking software to accompany it is by far easier than investing in a large vehicle fleet. On the other hand, the competition is already really tough with enterprise-sized players on the market, so, as a small entrepreneur, you need to put even more accent on the value you are giving to your visitors and customers.
Apart from that, you will also have to count and recount every penny as 1% saved will matter in the big scheme of things.

Why are we saying this? If you want a return on your investment, as a small entrepreneur, you will also want a comprehensive online system that makes things easier not just for your clients but for you as well.

Things like:

  • Reservation process
  • Payment process
  • Customer support
  • Vehicle management
  • Automated confirmations and notifications
  • Online Advertising
  • Statistics, analytics, insights
  • Partnership management

To some degree, you’re already performing these tasks offline, oftentimes in-person, or in an Excel file. The problem with this is that you pretty much have to do everything manually, and you lose precious time on these routine tasks instead of focusing on refining your services and expanding your capacities.

That being said, a solid car rental website can help you with money reinvesting thanks to a more accurate accounting system, can help you come up with more competitive prices thanks to your integrated analytics system, and will give you extended working hours to 24/7 thanks to the automated workflows.

 

Website Features

By just the intro above, you can see that a car rental website should be more than a reliable booking feature and some content here and there. For starters, you have to include the bare necessities, like the reservation form, login, payment functionality, car guide (fleet), testimonials, and blog section. These are all must-haves and such, we would like to focus on other automation processes that will enable you t reduce routine management tasks.

rent-a-car website design idea

Image source: DmitryBlackx via Dribbble

Booking Engine

If you opt to operate your booking functionality manually, most of your reservations that you didn’t catch will end up in Neverland. It’s only normal to choose a top-notch engine that will not only help your visitor get through the process but will set up scheduling and transaction tasks, not to mention sending out the proper confirmation emails and notifications. Naturally, you can oversee and edit everything in your admin panel if needed.

Fleet Management

This will be a handy feature both for you and your clients as you will be able to see every vehicle on your feet, their status, details, expenses, insurance expiration dates, and much more.

Availability Status

Being able to see up-to-date information about your fleet’s availability status is a crucial feature not just for you but your clients as well. Knowing which cars are available, damaged, under repair, or currently rented with a few clicks can speed things up significantly.

CMS and CRM

Managing content and client relationship with efficient systems will also make a world of a difference. With a custom-built content management system you can update fleet info and your blog section with ease, while the second will help with better client retention, marketing, loyalty programs, customer rewards, specials, and identifying frauds and other “hazards”.

Finance Management

As mentioned earlier, to stay on top of your game, you will also need an intricate system that will give you the ability to track your payments, transactions, and other accounting data in one place. A superior finance management system can also help you run an accounting infrastructure where you’ll always know your financial stats, enabling you to run several partnerships (with tourist agencies, retailers, restaurant, hotels, and so on) within the same system without additional accounting tasks and further manual input.
The financing system should also have easy-to-follow billing and invoicing features to keep everything in order.

Fine Management System

This will help you identified who infringed the rules and oversee fine statuses.

Reports

Insights that help you see the most popular vehicles, the segments that bring you the most profit, and those that are wasting your money. To run your business as efficiently as possible, real-time reporting can help you a great deal. This can work if you’re a regular service provider, or if you’re in more of a niche setting, like exotic supercar rentals on race tracks, for example.

Other Mentionable Features

Everything we’ve mentioned above is crucial if you want your website to be a one-stop-shop both for you and your clients. Apart from that, some several other functions and features can help you stick out from the crowd. These can help you with customer retention, better engagement rates, advertising, and so on.

Multimedia

If you’re already spicing things up with more upscale rides and not the run-of-the-mill Camry or VW Golf, you can further enhance your brand vision by special media content on your website. From fancy photos of your fleet to exciting video footage and stats data, you can give your clients a more immersive experience taunting them to revisit your website to learn more.

Inspection Checklists and Damage Recording Systems

Such data pools will help with managing your fleet, your finances, and your reports.

Electronic Identity Verification

These systems help prevent fraud as they can detect counterfeit credit cards and other documents before the driver leaves the garage with the car.

GPS Tracking and Operator-assisted Services

This shouldn’t be a revolutionary feature, however, if we realize that rental companies lose millions because of car theft, it should be considered a must. By linking GPS tracking to your system, you can see your entire fleets’ actual coordinates anytime.

On the other hand, with qirg sensor technology and other telematics features, you can track the condition of your vehicles remotely and assist customers when they encounter malfunctions or possibly evade them by navigating them to the nearest service.

Loyalty Programs

In such a competitive market, special offers, membership specials, promo codes, and discounts can go a long way in ensuring that more people will flock to your site.

Gamification

Why not make a game out of things? Let your clients earn medals for miles traveled, keep updating their profile with fun stats like “favorite vehicle”, “favorite route” and features like that. Combine it with your loyalty program offers and boom – you’ve managed to create a car platform that’s actually fun to spend time on.

rent-a-car app design

Image source: Armin Mohammadi via Dribbble

Technicalities of a Car Rental Website (Custom VS Pre-made Solutions)

There are several ways you can build a good website, however, the right approach will most probably depend on your needs and future plans.

You can probably find articles that will help you with DIY website projects, given that you know the basics of software development and know-how servers and plugins tend to work. There are also many drag-and-drop solutions you can use without too much coding knowledge or any in-depth development background.

If you opt for these, you can still hire developers to set the system up, meaning you don’t have to do it entirely on your own, however, most development companies will tell you, that if you want an easily scalable, complex, all-in-one option, then you would benefit more from a custom website.

A custom web app means that your site will be created from scratch, taking all your requirements into accounts. It will have all the necessary functions and features (the ones listed above) and even more can be implemented based on the needs of your brand.

One huge advantage of custom web development is not just the fact that it can be built to handle every possible trending feature you can think of, it can also sport a design and user interface that will be unique to your company, helping you with better brand recognition. Also, developers can help you implement several custom features that will help you even more with your marketing efforts (marketing automation, newsletter features, and more).

It’s true that custom development is on the pricier side when you compare it with pre-made and DIY projects. However, with a fully custom option, you get your own unique features, design, tailored exactly to your needs, with a professional team behind your back who will most probably take care of your maintenance needs, look after hosting plans, and much more. Not to mention, with a custom solution, you can create an almost-automated ecosystem that can help you run your business more efficiently, while letting you focus more on the business-side of your operations.
You indeed have several out-of-the-box options you can opt for, however, if you want the most flexibility and a strong online presence, custom solutions will always be more superior to “off-the-shelf” packages.


Finishing Thoughts

Based on your needs and possible business model (owning your fleet or by providing peer-to-peer renting) you can find yourself taking a fairly different route than the one we’ve managed to draw with these tips and features. However, a few things are certain. The rental market will remain fairly competitive and the nature of the business will remain filled with often daunting tasks to ensure that everything’s running smooth and your vehicles are all safe and in great condition.

It’s up to you whether you want a system that automates most of the tasks that are related to these processes or a simple site with a reliable booking engine. The latter option presents your clients with a straightforward interface while the first functions more as an interactive platform with more engagement options, and also doubles as your to-go reporting dashboard, accounting system, fleet management tool, and everything in between.

Szabolcs Szecsei
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