Complex Made Simple

A franchise is born: A Dubai-based car rental brand’s roadmap to exp(l)onential growth

Finalrentals, which specializes in car rentals in the UAE and Saudi is launching a global 100% digital franchise opportunity

Time to disrupt our business model from just a marketplace to a fully-fledged car rental ecosystem We do not onboard any company having less than 4 locations and less than 1000 hirable rental cars if everything goes as planned, we will go for an IPO in 3 years’ time

An AMEinfo exclusive  

Finalrentals is expanding, literally everywhere. Today, customers looking for temporary wheels have about 1.2 million cars to choose from, across 40,000 locations worldwide.

That number is ready to explode to hundreds of millions more. 

“We are committed to making car rentals very easy for the users and allow them freedom of choice, not just in a specific country but around the world,” Ammar Akhtar, founder, and CEO of Finalrentals, said in a statement. “Our dream is to become the biggest car rental portal around the world.” 

Finalrentals, which specializes in car rentals in the UAE and Saudi, is launching a global 100% digital franchise opportunity.

Besides the UAE market, Finalrentals has already signed 3 deals in Poland, Malta, and Ireland, with the US being next, while aiming to grow to 15 franchises by the end of this year, according to Akhtar

AMEinfo caught up with Akhtar in October 2020, looking for insights into his business, and we recently had the following interview to inquire about this massive jump, and the calculations that went behind the launch.

We asked:

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1- What prompted the decision to franchise?

COVID-19 has changed a lot of industries, a continuing trend, and the car rental sector is no different.  We have travel bans, aircraft and airports are mostly stagnant running at a fraction of their actual capacity, and car rental is an industry that is mostly fed by airport locations.

As an entrepreneur who’s been working in the industry for over 13 years, I believe it is time to disrupt the business model from just a mere marketplace to a full-fledged car rental ecosystem while delivering a smooth running franchise to some of the most powerful groups in the automobile industry. 

Finalrentals’ frictionless customer service, the reason behind our growth, is and will always be at the heart of our ecosystem, and customers worldwide can now reap those same rewards.

2- What’s the rush? Why not consolidate before expanding?

We are a homegrown brand. When it comes to the number of locations covered and vehicles offered, we are the largest platform in the UAE. This latest launch is a natural step allowing car rental companies around the globe to test and drive a well-oiled machine, gunning for perpetual success. That is where the franchise model comes into the picture and the people who will own the franchise are those who know their country/territory extremely well but who can also expand and take advantage of innovative changes that we are introducing.

3-How do you investigate your current partners’ service and reputation?

In the beginning, we were onboarding almost everybody, but after a disastrous first year, we realized our mistake. We now have certain criteria on the basis of which we choose suppliers. We do not onboard any company having less than 4 locations and less than 1000 hirable rental cars. The rest is based on due diligence.  

The franchise deal is open and we receive letters of intent from many companies on a daily basis, but our FBU (Franchise Business Unit) initiates further talks, legal and otherwise, and this based on the market standing of the Franchisee Candidates, before we make a decision to grant the franchise. 

Suppliers must also sign a customer service excellence and learning agreement with us, following which we offer good learning and ample opportunities for our suppliers to excel and prosper, keeping the end-user and CX always top of mind.

4- Besides design guidelines, what can franchisees do or not do when it comes to running the business from abroad?

Design guidelines are very important as they are the visual elements of the brand. The Franchisee cannot operate anything out of the scope of the Operations Manual (part of the Franchise Agreement) and the Franchisee must comply with Finalrentals’ Customer Experience guidelines (part of the Franchise Agreement).  

5- What is the franchise deal (fee)? 

There is a one-time Franchise fee and royalty fees are charged as a percentage on every booking that happens at the Franchise level. The amount totally depends on the number of cars, makes, and models, and most importantly the number of car rental locations.

6- What is your company’s 2020 turnover and expected revenues for 2021? 

2020 was a year with incredible financial challenges and we were still able to generate $1.02 million in revenues. We are aiming to 1.5x that amount in 2021, and if everything goes as planned, we will go for an IPO in 3 years’ time.