Does Avis really try harder?

By Scott Scheffey: Since the early 60s, Avis has been using variations of the motto “we try harder.” They adopted it when they were the #2 car rental business (behind Hertz) and wanted to give consumers a reason to choose the underdog. It’s a great strategy for any business … IF the company’s team backs it up. I don’t know if Avis actually does try harder, but Hertz sure blew it during our last rental experience. After we encountered an annoying problem, I asked the woman at the counter what Hertz could do to satisfy our frustration, and she said, “I can’t do anything. Just fill out the survey with your complaint.” How’s that for customer service? Not sure if or when we’ll be renting from Hertz again.

Companies develop slogans for influencing consumers’ expectations. Sometimes, an organization develops a slogan to shape – or reshape – its culture. Exceptional slogans do both. It’s likely Avis uses its “we try harder” phrase in orientations and trainings to constantly remind team members (who prepare cars between rentals, stand behind the counters, and inspect cars at drop-off) of the role they each play in differentiating Avis. Another great example is The Ritz-Carlton’s “Ladies & Gentlemen Serving Ladies & Gentlemen” motto. Imagine their employees’ uplifted attitudes with that respectful phrase? And it gives consumers the expectation that they’ll be treated with exceptional – and dignified – care. If you’ve ever been to one of their hotels, you’ll probably agree it’s working.

Of course marketing impacts a brand. But an organization’s culture fuels it. So I encourage you to put effort into shaping or reshaping your organization’s culture. Then your customers will experience some truly remarkable service. And we all know what happens then … WORD-OF-MOUTH marketing! The old-fashioned way and through social media.