East Coast Car Rentals has played a significant role in changing the car rental industry for the better. According to its CEO, Mark Kingsman, it was the first company of its kind in Australia to actually purchase new cars to rent out, rather than going down the second-hand route like most of its counterparts. “We changed the model,” Mark says. “There used to be the top-tier-style rental companies, which would commonly be the multinational brands; then there would be second-tier car rental companies that would have maybe 100 to 150 older cars in its offering, many of them imported vehicles. The cars would be rented out for $27 a day. We changed that model by buying brand-new cars but still renting them out for $27 a day.”

Mark says that during those early days, the reputation of the industry — particularly for the second-tier organisations — was pretty tragic.

“That even included ourselves, to be completely honest,” he says. “But we knew what we needed to do and how we could change the way people perceived East Coast as a company. We wanted to be at the point where our staff would recommend our services to their mums or other close family members.”

The first part of the transition was to change the fleet mix, to get the new cars as part of the sales offering and ensure consistency across the brand. “We made all our cars white; that was a deliberate branding decision,” Mark shares. “There’s a cost attached to that branding exercise, but it pays off in the long run. It’s about giving people the confidence that when they’re driving down the road and they recognise one of our cars, they know exactly what they can get from the East Coast brand.”