Andy Taylor
Enterprise Rent-a-Car
By Kemp Powers

(FORTUNE Small Business) – If only all father-son relationships could be as symbiotic as Jack and Andy Taylor's. Jack, a Navy pilot who flew in World War II, launched Enterprise Rent-a-Car in 1957. Andy took the reins in 1980 and made the company into a global force with $7 billion in revenue. Enterprise has some very satisfied customers these days, but as Andy explains, that wasn't always the case. —KEMP POWERS

"The company was called Executive Leasing when it opened. My father, Jack, was a member of the decorated Fabled 15 Air Group during World War II. He spent time on the U.S.S. Enterprise, after which the company is now named. Enterprise just sounds better.

When the business was smaller, Jack really wanted to know his customers personally. He would keep track of who was taking delivery of cars, so we could call and thank them. Back then there were more customers than cars available, so frankly, the service at most dealerships was not particularly good. He started the business because he thought he could give customers a better experience.

I became president in 1980, and we made $78 million in revenue that year. We were growing rapidly back then, and problems were starting to arise. We were doing more business, getting more customers, but we were also getting a lot more complaints from customers.

So we decided that we had to add some metrics to our customer satisfaction. We created a measurement called ESQi, which is the Enterprise Service Quality index. It's a statistically valid sample of customers' opinions taken monthly, at every one of our branches. The customer gets called seven to ten days following the close of the rental. We have an outside company collect the data, and there are basically two questions. The first asks about the customer's satisfaction level, with five answers ranging from "completely satisfied" to "completely dissatisfied," and the second asks how likely he would be to return to Enterprise. Beginning in 1996 we told all our employees, If you're not at corporate average or above on your ESQi, you're not getting promoted. And all of a sudden, customer satisfaction went to the top of the list. The ESQi has given us a greater sense of urgency, and I would consider that the greatest change that has occurred here. The process enabled us to go from being a nearly $2 billion business in 1994 to a $7 billion--plus business today. We lost a few people along the way, but it was the best thing we could have done.

My father was the true entrepreneurial risk taker. He was the guy flying airplanes off carriers. He did not see taking a $25,000 second mortgage to invest in a business as a huge risk, because he saw real risks being taken during World War II. On the other hand, my father would not have the patience to run a large business like this. He wouldn't be good at it, and he wouldn't be having fun. So he and I laugh at times about how fortunate we are that he came first, and I came second. He's 82 now. I still call him almost every day. I call him the minister of culture, because when we talk, he always says, "Andy, are the customers happy?"