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Automotive Franchises Remodel Their Image

The bad news from Detroit was once constant. But thanks to Washington’s help, it seems that the US automotive industry will at worst keep its head above water, and most likely, grow.

It’s still a good time to be investing in the automotive franchise market, as our automotive franchise report spelled out. It’s also interesting to see what some franchises are doing to attract a wider market. US Today recently profiled Rent-A-Wreck’s brand restructuring. Once the go-to destination for Americans looking for cheap cars to rent, the company is trying to put some polish on its image, and consumers can now rent some of the best cars in the country there.

Rent-A-Wreck, which is now trying to compete with the likes of Avis and Hertz, has shifted its advertising targets away from the phonebook and towards the internet. After some reluctance from franchisees, the plan seems to making some headway.

Larry Kirmsee, a Rent-A-Wreck franchisee since 1979 and a self-described "car guy," says he thought he knew about everything he needed to know about the rental business, and that included avoiding the Web. "Our business has always been about the phone book," he says. "If you were at the front page of the phone book, you were getting most of the calls." Now he's embraced the Web. "I actually think we could do more," he says.

One interesting debate the franchise faces regards its name. Should a car rental franchise that no longer rents wrecks be called Rent-A-Wreck?

Everyone seems to think so. This franchise may be targeting a wealthier clientele and a more diverse market, but there’s nothing like a clever name.

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