Case study

Helping Hertz Leverage Technology to Capture New Markets

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Industry:

Car Rental

Region:

USA

Focused on Delivery: Built and deployed mobile application that allows the Hertz recovery team to detect, track and recover stolen vehicles. Built and deployed portal for TNC team to get necessary documents to rideshare renters. Developed software to build a last-mile delivery market.

Focused on Results: In the first 3 months of using the mobile app, the recovery of numerous stolen vehicles saved the company hundreds of thousands in inventory. The last-mile delivery app contributed to Hertz’s bottom-line increase in revenue.

Focused on Partnership: Focused Labs built and deployed numerous applications with quick turnaround times — showing the developers at Hertz that technology solutions can be fast, functional, and profitable. Focused Labs took a very enablement-centric approach during the development process. Although Hertz had a very capable engineering team, they relied on Focused Labs to bring new, impactful, and sustainable engineering practices into their organization.

Helping Hertz Leverage Technology To Capture New Markets

Diversifying lines of business is one of the best ways to leverage technology within a company. More and more, technology and outside forces are shaping industries in new, quick ways that can make age-old businesses feel like they are in a constant state of flux. For instance, car rental giant Hertz and similar companies were upended as the pandemic shut down almost all global travel and put the need to rent cars at a standstill. Technology has helped Hertz rebound and opens up new lines of business while also finding solutions to old problems. But they didn’t always have the technology infrastructure to respond proactively to these issues.

Hertz hired Opal Perry as Global CIO — to rebuild a technology-forward culture that would see digital solutions as a way to grow new business and not just a functional necessity.

In the past, Hertz had outsourced a lot of its technology needs to external vendors. While it was functional for the ways technology had previously served Hertz, using outside vendors left their technology arm with a lack of innovation. An agile technology team within a business can know the pain points and work to fix them swiftly. Putting the innovation needs of a business into a third party is hard if you want to move quickly.

Perry needed to build up a technology team at Hertz that could be proactive in finding new solutions to their fast-paced business problems.

That’s why she hired Focused Labs.

Navigating a culture and technology transformation

Focused Labs’ work with Hertz started in January of 2020. The company had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic that globally put all travel to a standstill. Hertz needed to build technological solutions to pivot their business to encompass new ventures that could live outside of the usual model of renting cars direct to consumers.

To do that, Hertz also needed to change the development culture. This transformation could leverage technology to discover new lines of business or improve older ways of working.

“We wanted fast help to get the work done,” says Perry, “but also to embed the culture and ways of working that we want to be our target state.”

Two Focused Labs developers paired with two members of the Hertz RevLab team to get to work. By working directly alongside team members of Hertz, they were able to learn the kinds of methods and curiosity Focused Labs keeps top of mind when developing a new piece of software.

Building a more durable business with technology solutions

Work between Focused Labs developers and the Hertz RevLab in Bannockburn, IL started with finding out what business opportunities currently exist and could exist in the future. They were looking for ways that technology could pivot to new business lines and software to support that business line could be built and deployed. The quicker a business can adjust to a market in flux, the more durable that business can become in the long term.

SVU: Stolen Vehicles Unit

The initial engagement between Hertz and Focused Labs started with a discovery process to identify areas in which Hertz may be underutilizing their existing vehicles. Through this process, they found that substantial time was being lost within the organization due to vehicle theft. It was time-consuming to identify a vehicle had been stolen and the longer the vehicle went undetected as stolen, the less likely it was to be returned.

Hertz RevLab and Focused Labs embarked on a project called SVU (stolen vehicles unit). The teams built and deployed a mobile application that allows the Hertz recovery team to detect, track and recover stolen vehicles. So far it has been wildly successful. In the first 3 months of use, numerous stolen Hertz vehicles were recovered — which saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory.

Working with stakeholders inside Hertz, including the executive team, helped Focused Labs to scope, shape, and prioritize the way software was ideated, built, and deployed into use.

TNC: Transportation Network Company

One of the business lines outside of Hertz's standard consumer rentals is TNC — a program that rents vehicles to Uber and Lyft rideshare drivers. Often someone will decide against buying another vehicle or using their own in favor of renting a vehicle to drive customers where they need to go. Uber and Lyft are both technology-forward companies with everything necessary to their business living within an app on the driver and rider’s phones. Hertz needed a similarly easy-to-use portal for TNC partners to access all of the necessary compliance documents that come with standard rideshare agreements.

Being able to adjust to the needs of fast-paced markets like ridesharing is a big benefit to doing this work in an agile way. “We’re no more than a week away from making a change in the iteration planning process. We’ve gained speed-to-market and agility,” says Brandon Mendoza, VP of Hertz’s Transportation Network Company. “Now we’re never a week away from making a material change to our strategy.”

Gaining new revenue streams for Hertz with last-mile delivery

As the pandemic cut down on vehicle rentals, Hertz had to develop new ways to use the existing fleets of vehicles and staff still on hand. There was an opportunity in the fact that delivery services were booming as so many people were no longer doing their shopping in person.

Making tens of thousands of software-enabled deliveries within retail shipping

In less than 3 weeks, Focused Labs and Hertz developers built an initial dispatching system to fulfill a new market for Hertz — last-mile delivery. A retail partner hired Hertz to finish off deliveries they needed to reach their customers. This opened the door for Focused Labs to help develop that software.

From July - November 2020:

  • The dispatching system was iterated and improved upon
  • Focused Labs built a mobile application to support both delivery drivers and deliver customers package insights
  • Focused Labs built an invoicing system so Hertz could automate billing their retail partners using this new service.

These pieces of software-enabled Hertz to provide the retailer with the capability to reach a broader customer delivery base. Hertz generated revenue that would not have been able to happen without quick technology solutions.

Increased revenue captured via logistics

Hertz leveraged its logistics partnerships to fulfill last-mile deliveries. Focused Labs helped lead the team in building the software to make this highly profitable venture feasible.

In a short time-frame Hertz and Focused Labs:

  • Built and deployed a React Native mobile application to the Google Play store in 2 weeks.
  • Built a backend API and integration with a partner to enable delivery manifests to automatically deploy to the app.
  • Provided support for partner last-mile deliveries.

This extremely quick app deployment helped Hertz and its partner realize a material increase in package deliveries and generated a new stream of revenue. These quick turnarounds for such large deliverables proved out the methods of Focused Labs.

Changing the future of Hertz technology

The deliverables in these quickly turned around projects is undeniable, which is why the partnership between Focused Labs and Hertz is still going. The number of Focused Labs developers engaged has increased to ten, to cover more ground in building and embedding culture. Thanks to Focused Labs’ enablement approach, Hertz is steadily evolving its technology culture to be a place where the kind of agile developers who can deliver the best technology will want to work.

In hiring Focused Labs, Hertz not only gained agility and flexibility but also learned new engineering practices. Focused Labs helped show Hertz developers the kind of autonomy and confidence needed to build the right piece of software for right now.

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