'Is That An Elk's Head In Back?'

Coming soon to a strip mall near your office: Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Last year the privately held firm opened a branch a day, topped the list of college-graduate recruiters and made serious inroads into the corporate market. "What they did was take a basic business and Starbuck-ize it," says Neil Abrams, a Purchase, N.Y., rental-car consultant. "They put one on every corner." With 12,000 new employees in two years, and branches within 15 minutes of 90 percent of the U.S. population, the company says it's poised to become the favorite "secondary" car-rental firm of most major corporations. Vice President Rob Hibbard notes that as much as 20 percent of Enterprise rentals are now to business customers. You can even find an Enterprise storefront in Alaska.

Though it has started moving into airports, Enterprise is not focusing on the business travelers that Avis and Hertz seem to have sewn up. Instead, the company is betting its future on off-airport rentals that cater to fill-ins for corporate fleets and replacements for cars in the shop. But the firm isn't without growing pains. One Web site, failingenterprise.com, run by a disgruntled San Francisco business customer, is full of complaints put up by visitors who claim to be customers or disillusioned recruits. (Enterprise says it has no way to verify claims anonymously posted on the site.) Maybe it was too cold in Alaska.

'Is That An Elk's Head In Back?' | News