Having expanded from one Hobart depot to 12 sites across Australia over the past 16 years, Bargain Car Rentals has certainly gone the distance.
And so has General Manager Matt Montgomerie, who started with the family owned company at its inception as an Accounts Manager while completing his university degree.
Montgomerie has been a key member of the relatively small team of 200-odd staff members for quite some time, and was promoted to General Manager three years ago.
The owners of Bargain Car Rentals are family, so there is a lot less red tape, and the environment allows for real personal connections and development.
The owners – a father and son team – saw potential in Montgomerie even in those formative years, offering him a position they had to create in order to retain him and keep him motivated.
"It was a role they saw me growing into, so it was really exciting," he tells The CEO Magazine. "The opportunity allowed me to continue to develop my leadership, but also spearhead a team of people that are passionate about what they do and passionate about the business."
Montgomerie then jumped at the opportunity to take over as General Manager, knowing he could help jump-start an even more prosperous future for the company.
"We all see there’s a lot of potential and there’s a lot of growth still within Bargain Car Rentals to be bigger and better, being one of the few current car rental companies owned by Australians," he says.
"It’s a pretty unique opportunity. The owners of Bargain Car Rentals are family, so there is a lot less red tape, and the environment allows for real personal connections and development."
This agility has been an advantage in keeping up with industry changes and technological advancements, Montgomerie explains.
"We aren’t the same business we were when we first started versus even five years ago," he says.
Changing with the times
Since its inception, Bargain Car Rentals has consistently adapted to technologies and processes as well as how it interacts with customers and competitors.
"We’ve continually shifted our processes, how we buy fleet, how we train our staff, what sales techniques we use, how we price our vehicles," he says. "Every department has undergone extensive scrutiny in order to maintain the highest quality service."
When summing up his leadership style, Montgomerie highlights innovation, community and growth.
If you can communicate, and if the team can effectively communicate with each other … that can be the difference between a positive outcome and a missed opportunity.
"We understand as a business that if you’re not growing, you’re dying," he muses. "So being out there and doing what we can to find new ways to be innovative and to meet what our customers need, or help our customers find what they want, has been a core value for us."
Those core values center around community.
"By community I mean the concept of, ‘How do we help our customers, suppliers and staff all feel part of the Bargain community?’ It’s not just about saying, ‘Well, we’ve got a good staff community and respectable values’. We make it a point to extend that to our customers and our suppliers so that they feel included and part of the journey that we’re on."
Leading with empathy
It’s no surprise that Montgomerie emphasizes the importance of clear communication when asked about the best advice he’s been given.
"There are so many things that come to mind, but leading with empathy is a big one for me," he explains. "Having a genuine care for the people under my leadership, and that flowing through to all facets of the business and people in general I think are crucial.
"Sometimes accidents occur or flights are delayed, and it can be a frustrating situation for our customers. We do everything we can to help them through this and ease the stress or pressure they are feeling. We’ve even taken on a customer experience manager, which is something we’ve never had before. I think that starts to speak to the value we want to place on our client."
Communication is key to Montgomerie as well.
"If you can communicate, and if the team can effectively communicate with each other and up, down, left and right across multiple layers of leadership, that can be the difference between a positive outcome and a missed opportunity," he says.
Looking to the future
With Bargain going from strength to strength – recently consolidating its presence in Tasmania and boosting its standing on aggregator GoSee – what’s next for the Australian operation?
"In the next three-to-five years, I’d love to see more locations across Australia," Montgomerie says.
"I’d love to see different markets explored as well. Traditionally we’ve focused heavily on the retail sector, but I’d like to see us move into the corporate and government sectors. I think there’s a great opportunity for the business and the team to grow into different types of markets."
I think there’s a great opportunity for the business and the team to grow into different types of markets.
Additionally, Montgomerie envisions an international expansion, whether that’s under Bargain Car Rental’s own steam or under a partnership with a car rental company outside of Australia.
"That would be a great opportunity for an Australian brand to take what we do offshore," he says.