2020 will be remembered forever as a game changer

2020 will be remembered forever as a game changer

Interview with TAL LAHAV , CEO, Sixt Group Romania

Q: Erich  Sixt,  the  CEO  of  Sixt,  said  in  a  recent interview for CNN that, despite a serious  dropdown,  the  financial  results  for  the  first  half  of  2020  were  actually  better  than  expected,  all  things  considered.  What  has  been  your  company’s  dynamic  locally,  for  the  first part of 2020? And what are your expectations or forecasts for the end of this year?

T.L. 2020 will be remembered forever as a game changer. All  the  economic  segments  suffered  and  all  the  people  experienced  challenges  both  economically,  psychologically, sociology, health and wellbeing. The coronavirus affected our business and the industry in  general.  However,  we  overcame  it  and  survived  with as minimum implications as possible. Now, we increased the speed with the intention to reach the levels  of  pre  virus.  With  the  right  attitude  and  the  proper  adapted  services  and  mind  set  this  will  be  achieved.   Further,   we   are   part   of   a   powerful   multinational group that is always prepared to face different  challenges  including  situations  never  met  before. Moreover, SIXT Global took various strategic investment steps during the period and is optimistic and ready to take on what will come along the road. In  Romania,  we  are  a  group  that  experienced  and  overcame    many    challenging    periods    since    its    evolution  on  the  market  and  this  helped  us  to  be  prepared  and  have  the  financial  ability,  knowledge  and  the  proper  strategy  and  management  to  pass  through  all  this  with  minimum  implications  and  a  lot of experience and new know how gained.

Q: What has been the impact of the corona-crisis over the Rent-a-Car and Operational Leasing   market?   And   now,   after   the   lockdown  period,  with  most  of  the  travel  and  traffic  restriction  lifted,  does  the  market  see  any  change?

T.L. The  corona  virus  had  disastrous  effects  over  the  automotive industry. The main effect was over the leisure rent a car activity coming from outside the country created by the borders closing and various restrictions     imposed     by     governments     and     countries. This has not been completely lifted and the    market    is    still    experiencing    tremendous    challenges to regenerate this segment. At the same time,  the  domestic  market  have  developed  during  this period, both for lease, rent, and buy segments. Post  lockdown  period  we  do  see  an  increase  of  used cars sales and increase of domestic lease and rent demand, directly resulting from mixed reasons like   preference   for   own   mobility   independent   solutions   at   an   affordable   costs   and   also   an   understanding   of   the   need   for   flexibility   and   quality   through   outsourcing   mobility   solutions.   The  present  and  the  future  are  dominated  by  the  experience, safety, reliability, and trust attributes.

Q: Yet, studies show that 4 in 5 CEOs expect that remote work will continue in a long term,  as  their  fears  regarding  decline  of  productivity  when  working  from  home  proved  unfounded.   Does   this   affect   the   Operational   Leasing market? How do you see it?

T.L. It   is   indeed   a   very   good   question   on   whether   productivity   is   affected   or   not   while   working   remotely   and   also   whether   remote   work   will   continue long term also due to aspects as employees’ preferences and health and safety considerations.Personally, I have extensive previous experience in working   in   USA   where   the   remote   work   is   something  more  customary  even  pre  corona  era.  An employee that works from home does not mean it  is  blocked  at  home.  Definitely  he  needs  more  mobility  to  move  from  different  places,  including  meetings.  Also,  the  remote  work  is  not  a  proper  solution for all the employees and for all business segments.  Specifically  for  operational  leasing  and  rent  a  car,  it  is  more  challenging  industries  for  remote work yet it is possible to implement a right balance of it.  If you are an accountant, a mechanic, a logistic  or  operational  employee,  or  a  sales  person,  you may need to come to the office also on different intervals.  I  think  the  mix  between  working  from  home and working from office stimulates more the mobility need of the companies that can be covered through  operational  leasing  and  corporate  rent  a  car.    My  view  is  that  remote  work  will  stay  in  our  lives for long terms, but depending on the industry and  the  position  and  responsibilities  the  remote  work will need to be balanced with office time and interpersonal time which is a must to continue our business and humanity development.

Q: The    auto    industry    faces    numerous    challenges  as  a  result  of  the  pandemic  crisis,  such  as  a  significant  decrease  in  sales,   a   slowdown   in   production   and   even   problems  in  ensuring  liquidity  and  financing.  How does this reflect in your activity?

T.L. There are no clear market information related to all automotive segments at the same time further to the above  mentioned,  with  estimated  Romanian  total  car  park  of  over  8  million  cars  with  less  than  10%  newer than 5 years and one of the oldest car parks in Europe and with one of the lowest cars per capita in  Europe,  the  car  industry  in  total  and  the  leasing  and   rent   segments   in   particular   should   be   a   tremendous pillar for sustainable economic growth for long period. Even having said all these potential elements,  the  short  term  effects  of  the  coronavirus  over the market will lead to a significant decrease in 2020 compared to expectations pre corona. Yet with such       fundamental       need       combined       with       infrastructure  development  and  regulatory  clarity,  stability,   and   inducement   of   the   industry,   the   automotive sector will clearly be a main element in the economic development of Romania.

Q: Which  are  the  top  5  priorities  on  your  CEO    agenda    today?    How    the    new    economic    reality    will    look    for    the    automotive market, referring specifically to your lines of business?

T.L. We are unique in our “One-Stop Shop System” and our  Always  Yes  concept.  SIXT  Group  Romania  is  a  market  leader  in  its  activities,  as  a  direct  result  of  concentrating  on  providing  top  quality  services,  flexibility,  tailor  made  solutions,  and  partnership  to our clients and stakeholders. Through the „One-Stop  Shop  System”,  SIXT  Group  Romania  offers  all  the services under the same umbrella: operational leasing (www.sixtleasing.ro), rent a car (www.sixt.ro), SH cars (www.sixtsh.ro), new cars (authorized dealer   Opel   –   www.opel-unionmotors.ro)   and   workshop  service  –  one  of  the  largest  in  Romania  (authorized  Dacia,  Renault,  Opel,  and  multi-brand  – www.union-motors.ro).In  order  to  mitigate  the  effects  of  the  coronavirus  we  have  taken  firm  steps  and  have  adapted  our  services to the situation and the need of the people and  the  market,  both  from  the  perspective  of  our  clients,  employees,  and  suppliers.  We  have  taken  the  main  investment  in  our  lease,  rent  a  car  and  cars sales and service divisions through the human capital   of   our   company   and   further   through   products     developments     to     support     clients     experience using our services. We created solutions that enable client to have safety, trust, convenience, and   flexibility,   all   wrapped   in   a   package   of   professional excellence and excitement of renting, leasing  and  buying  experience.  And  last  but  not  least,  we  are  concentrating  on  giving  back  to  the  community  by  focusing  on  CSR  programs  under  the #AlwaysYesToEducation platform

Q: Adapt   and   reinvent   seems   to   be   the   winning    strategy    for    companies    to    survive   and,   moreover,   to   flourish   in   these  uncertain  times.  Does  this  also  apply  to  your   sector   of   activity?   Where   do   you   see   opportunities into this "new normal"?  What are your  short-term,  and  also  your  long-term  plans  regarding your company strategy?

T.L. This has become an extraordinary question in the post coronavirus era. How could someone go about setting   plans   and   targets   when   the   world   has   different  plans  for  us?  At  the  same  time,  we  all  must continue our development, our progress, our education,  our  creation,  our  innovation  and  our  strive  for  results  and  achievements.  Above  all,  my  personal  and  professional  targets  are  combined  with each other and are fairly simple yet so complex – to enjoy and appreciate the moment, to challenge myself and my surroundings to new achievements, and to be ready for anything. Appreciation for what we  have,  strive  and  stride  for  new  achievements,  and  flexibility  and  adaptability  to  all  curves  along  the  way  are  our  new  world.  On  medium  term,  we  are focussed on business development, continuing SIXT    Group    Romania    development,    progress,    education,   creation   and   strive   for   results   and   achievements.  We  aim  SIXT  Group  Romania  to  be  the  chosen  mobility  provider  by  Romanians  in  all  automotive segments; lease, rent, buy, and service. At  SIXT  Group  Romania,  we  are  looking  for  local  expansion    possibilities,    both    organically    and    further through potential acquisitions. We further look  on  all  automotive  and  mobility  segments;  from private to public, from retail to corportae, and also  from  traditional  to  new  trends  as  electrical  mobility (also through our BYD importer)

Q: It has been talking a lot lately about new consumer  habits.  Is  it  also  the  case  of  the  Rent-a-car  consumer?  Do  you  see  a  change    in    your    consumer    habits    after    the    lockdown period?

T.L. The present is dominated by the experience, safety, reliability,  and  trust  attributes.  Client  seek  more  emphasis on these at the same time what remained constant  was  the  need  of  mobility.  The  corporate  market  continued  to  develop  due  to  even  more  enhanced mobility needs while the leisure market was    mechanically    stopped    (isolation,    border    restrictions)  but  once  the  barriers  dropped,  the  demand of mobility services will return also to the leisure market.

Q: You  are  known  as  a  good  strategist,  an  experienced executive and a remarkable leader, and your company’s results back this up. What’s your „Focus on ...“ advice for the managers  of  companies  during  this  challenged  period?

T.L. My  advice  is  to  remember  that  success  does  not  come  easily  rather  it  is  a  result  of  hard  work,  commitment,    attitude,    creativity,    consistency,    continous learning, and flexibility and adaptability. When  there  is  a  will,  there  is  a  way.  There  are  no  failures in our world; failure is another step on the road  to  success  and  obstacles  are  only  challenges  and opportunities that build character and lead to achievements.Never stop running and never give up. Remember that  the  Sun  shines  after  the  darkest  moment  at  night. And   above   all   this,   enjoy   and   appreciate   the   moment, challenge yourself and your surroundings to new achievements, and be ready for anything in the future.

You can also consult the interview in the document below: