Uncovering the Secret of Nippon Rent-A-Car’s Great Leap Forward
—What it Takes to Be Number One as One Team

May 8, 2024

In the previous article (Uncovering the Secret of Nippon Rent-A-Car’s Great Leap—Defense and Offense Strategies that Turned Crisis into Opportunity), we asked Mr. Yuji Itagaki, Senior Managing Executive Officer of Nippon Rent-A-Car Service Inc. (Nippon Rent-A-Car), what the company did to achieve a great leap forward after the COVID-19 pandemic and about the themes and strategies of the new medium-term management plan. For this article, we interviewed Ms. Ayaka Shiratori, manager of Nippon Rent-A-Car’s Fujisawa Station Branch, who received the company’s Customer Satisfaction Excellence Award for the second consecutive year. Ms. Shiratori embodies the Nippon Rent-A-Car Group’s slogan “One NR,” which means unifying the Group as One Team and providing the Number One service through enhanced communication. We asked her about her top priorities in communicating with customers and building an organization.


Ayaka Shiratori, Manager, Fujisawa Station Branch , Nippon Rent-A-Car

Creating a Comfortable, Enjoyable Workplace that Fosters Employee Happiness, Leading to Customer Happiness

――I understand that the focus of your company’s medium-term management plan is to achieve employee happiness and customer happiness. Could you share what you know about frontline initiatives?

Shiratori: Our branches interact with customers, take phone calls, and manage our fleet of vehicles. They’re also handling the rental of cars to be used as loaner vehicles to dealers and maintenance shops.

As a manager, I focus on establishing a comfortable and enjoyable working environment with the aim of keeping employees happy. I communicate with them, including those working part time, about work and any personal concerns that are relevant. And I do this to build relationships in which we can comfortably consult one another. A manager’s facial expressions and body language, not to mention the feel of a place, can affect the entire office. So, no matter how busy I am, I always try to smile and relax while working so that frontline staff never feel too anxious or rushed.



Shiratori: I joined the company because I love driving. Since I was a new employee, my strongest area of branch operations has been in sales. I always try to respond promptly to any request, no matter what it is.

Shiratori: As for customer happiness, my top priority is to take on their points of view. For example, if a customer needs to load a lot of stuff into a vehicle for a move, I’ll let them know its dimensions and how much it can hold. Or if children or elderly people will be passengers, I’ll recommend a vehicle that’s easy for them to get in and out of. My main concern is to resolve any issues customers have when they make a reservation.

I also encourage customers to use Nippon Rent-A-Car’s app so they spend less time on procedures and payment before departure. For inbound customers, we’ve introduced a translation tool so that we can accurately provide information on traffic signs and how to respond in the event of an accident. We know inbound travelers are really looking forward to visiting places in Japan, so I make sure to wish them a nice drive or make some similar sentiment in basic English when they leave, and I think they appreciate this sort of unexpected courtesy.


Establishing a Unified Organization through Close, Inter-Branch Cooperation

――In relation to Nippon Rent-A-Car’s group slogan “One NR,” have you observed the mutual cooperation among branches across the organization?

Shiratori: The nine branches in the Yokohama area, including the Fujisawa Station Branch where I serve as manager, and the recently renovated Yokohama Station West Exit Branch, are constantly exchanging information on everything from reservation status to the types of vehicles needed by specific offices. We do this through a shared data platform, which efficiently facilitates the movement of vehicles between our locations. The allocation of personnel as well as vehicles has been streamlined, with an ample support system in place. So if an office is short-handed, staff from other branches can be sent to fill the gap.

Getting to know the members of each branch is also important. Before a new employee is asked to drive a vehicle from one branch to another, for example, the managers of both locations will have liaised on a number of matters. These include parking space availability, vehicle condition, cleaning-related details, and the assigned driver too—their skills and personality, for instance. And by doing so, they establish better relationships for the future, that go beyond branch boundaries.


Left: Renovated Yokohama West Exit Branch
Right: Guiding a customer to a parking space at the Yokohama West Exit Branch

Providing the Number One Service with a Smile and Personal Consideration

――When serving a customer, what’s most important to you?

Shiratori: Smiling and being considerate, and doing the work in a way that makes me happy so the customer in turn wants to use our services again. I also want everyone I work with to enjoy coming to work. This is what motivates me to keep working.

I’m also encouraged by direct customer response through surveys. I always try to be polite and cordial, especially on the phone since I can’t see the caller’s facial expressions. I remember a customer coming to our branch after calling in a reservation, and she recognized me right away by my voice. Later, in a customer questionnaire, she wrote, “Ms. Shiratori seems to really enjoy her work, and I’d like to feel the same way in my own job.” That made me very happy—a customer picking up on how much I was enjoying my work.

We also reflect on survey responses when making quality improvements to our company-wide services, and for our award system, aiming to enhance the customer service skills of each staff member.



Shiratori: I always try to resolve complaints on the spot so customers don’t go home disappointed. Then I promise we’ll make improvements, as this gives us a chance to make up for and provide better service next time they come back.

――Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, but before we finish, can you tell us about your goals?

Shiratori: I’ve been in charge of training new employees since my second year with the company, and I was appointed manager in my fifth year. Coworkers who joined the company around the same time have had similar careers. It’s part of Nippon Rent-a-Car’s corporate culture to entrust us at a relatively early stage with positions that are important to the entire organization’s growth. Thanks to that, my career has been quite fulfilling.

In addition, listening to the opinions of frontline staff is something the company has instilled in all of us. So if there’s a need to purchase a vehicle, for example, the whole process goes quickly.

With an eye to advancing my career further in this rewarding workplace, I hope to manage a wider service area and continue training employees. I’d also like to continue combining what I know about human resource development with my understanding of building relationships of trust with customers and keep sharing this knowledge with those who are still early in their careers so I can grow with everyone I work with.


Ayaka Shiratori

Manager, Fujisawa Station Branch, Nippon Rent-A-Car

Joined Nippon Rent-A-Car Urban Net, Inc. in 2017 and was assigned to the Totsuka Branch. In 2019, Ms. Shiratori was transferred to the Fujisawa Station Branch, where as a supervisor she was responsible for training new employees, in addition to her other duties. In 2022, she became head of the branch and has since been involved in branch operations and area support. Additionally, the Fujisawa Station Branch has in the past received the Customer Satisfaction Excellence Award for two consecutive years.

Note: The contents of the article and the position titles are current as of the date posted.




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