Thanks to technology, gone are the days when car rentals are a strictly in-person process. Forget being physically present at the counter to fill up hardcopy forms over and over again.
WAHDAH, founded by Johorians Muhammad Raden Anwar and Ahmad Amran, provides a hybrid car rental and sharing platform. Its goal is to minimise the hassles of renting cars and form partnership with vehicles owners to turn their unused vehicles into passive income.
“Most individuals, micro-preneurs and even SMEs that are involved in car rental businesses manage their operations manually with limited market access which mostly depend on the social media platform,” said Raden.
“Car rental operators on WAHDAH enjoy a comprehensive fleet management system that automates and simplifies car rental daily operations.”
In 2011, Raden started things off by renting out his own vehicle for personal income to make month ends meet.
Due to overwhelming demand, he then continued the idea with another 5 more vehicles in 2012. It led him to start a travel business, Wahdah Travel & Tours which focused on the tourism industry particularly in the car rental segment.
After going through an extremely painful experience and acknowledging the importance of having a system in running the car rental business, he decided to venture into the IT industry with his new partner Ahmad Amran Kapi (an IT expert in a web-based development) and formed Wahdah Technologies Sdn. Bhd.
Their startup is located in Melaka, where they source tech talents through its many universities and colleges.
Renting a car within minutes
WAHDAH caters for a full cycle or end-to-end rental process.
“It simplifies and empowers current industry on how people book, collect vehicles and serve customers,” he added.
“There is no more paperwork upon vehicle collection and manual card authorisation is a thing of the past. All processes are cashless and paperless for the end-users.”
The booking process is relatively simple.
- Select your car including the period and intended date of travelling.
- Upload your identification card or passport and driving license.
- Choose your pick-up and return location. Additional charges may apply should you decide other than WAHDAH’s dedicated location.
- The booking is confirmed after making online payment based on the invoice issued. The booking confirmation will be sent to your email together with information including the contact person and the car plate number.
About 2,000 cars registered in the platform. Anybody or any organisation may register their vehicles but they must meet certain criteria set by WAHDAH.
Those who obtain good reviews and comply with the company’s standard operating procedure (SOP) will continue to receive bookings through this platform.
“This is part of the control to ensure high customer satisfaction when using WAHDAH,” Raden said.
“We only partner with car rental companies or individuals who undertake the delivery of vehicles to customers. The owners drive the vehicles themselves to the requested locations. It is available in 10 cities within Malaysia.”
Educating about themselves and the industry
For the time being, WAHDAH would rather improve on current features and processes than go for new innovation.
“I feel it is too early to have a fully automated car rental especially in Malaysia, and execution of the ideas will be too costly,” Raden commented.
“We believe this an educating time and full automation will be here soon enough, it just not now yet.”
Also, maintaining the relationship with team members and partners with WAHDAH is one of their challenges.
“Most of the team members are from diverse backgrounds who already influenced by previous work culture which may work well with previous employers but not necessarily suit with the culture that I prefer,” he added.
” To change it was not easy as it takes time but constant reminders through formal and one-on-one discussions seem to have an effect.”
On the other hand, their partners comprise of car rental companies, small enterprises and individuals who some may have their own procedures and others may not have at all. “It is really challenging to educate partners on how to serve customers and use the platform optimally,” he said.
These are done through face-to-face meetups and simple telephone calls but cases and solutions may vary from one partner to another.
Reaching the spotlight in Malaysia’s car rental market
In terms of business scalability, the WAHDAH team feel that they would have better chances in expanding the business as a crossover platform or service between conventional car rentals and e-hailing services such as GrabCar and Uber.
This is due to marginal capital requirements to finance operations as compared to other traditional car rental operators which require high capital layout particularly in purchasing their vehicles.
Many Malaysians today seek extra income to cope with the increasing cost of living and car or vehicle are commonly sought by Malaysian as another source of income. Based on current trends, about 150,000 vehicles were purchased purposely for income generation and this number is increasing by the day.
“Ride-hailing startups like GrabCar are the most famous option today but there are people would prefer to rent out their idle vehicles to generate additional income or at least cover the vehicles bank monthly commitments,” he added.
“There are also people who look at car rental as their main business and not just a side income anymore.”
WAHDAH has been recognised by Malaysian government agencies like Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation, Cradle Fund and Invest Penang.
Some of WAHDAH’s major achievements include:
- About 1,700 and 3,000 number of bookings in its 1st and 2nd year of operations respectively with a corresponding rental value of RM1.6 million and RM2.4 million.
- The respective growth, in terms of the number of booking and value, was about 77% and 50%.
- 2 government grants of RM300,000 and RM50,000 from Cradle Fund Sdn. Bhd. and Invest-In-Penang Berhad respectively.
WAHDAH aims to lead the car rental industry in Malaysia, particularly in most major cities and tourist-prone states.
They plan to expand in the Southeast Asia region but remain focused on the tourism industry. The expansions will be selected based on each individual country that possesses a huge number of inbound tourists.
Their ultimate goal is to digitalise the tourism industry, particularly in the car rental segment which empowers micro businesses through systemisation of business processes and non-conventional marketing activities.
He added that the changes in perception and expectations of vehicle ownership are also critical to be in line with future direction. The ownership will be least relevant as the market is changing towards long term lease, rental and ride-hailing as the main option of transportation.
Feature Image Credit: WAHDAH