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The podcast featuring finance leaders driving change within their organizations.

Feb 28, 2021

When Ed Goldfinger is asked to relate a moment of strategic insight that he has experienced as a finance leader, he draws our attention to his CFO tenure at Zipcar, the car-sharing upstart that targets the short-term needs of its customers by being billable by the hour as well as the minute.

At Zipcar, Goldfinger would achieve the fabled CFO milestone of taking a company public. However, the biggest takeaways for him were related to the experience of growing a company widely recognized as an industry disrupter—and thus member of a cohort known as much for innovation in business modeling as for often startling deficiencies in benchmarking data.

“You couldn’t point to any existing player and say that this was what we should look like over time,” explains Goldfinger, who notes that Zipcar grew from roughly $55 million to $300 million in annual sales during his term as CFO, a 6-year tenure that ended with the sale of Zipcar to Avis Budget Group in 2013.

Among the more sizable obstacles that Zipcar’s finance team faced was the lopsided rental habits of its weekly customers.

“There were probably 50 percent more rentals on the weekend than on weekdays,” comments Goldfinger, who reports that the spike in customer demand on weekends burdened Zipcar with growing numbers of dormant vehicles on weekdays.    

He continues: “I invented a metric that we called ‘weekality,’ which was simply weekend usage over weekday usage, with the goal being to lower it.”

What’s more, Goldfinger says, the company introduced incentives to make overnight rentals more appealing to weekday customers and at the same time launched a “big push” into the business rental market by using promotions specially designed to attract weekday corporate customers.

Still, Goldfinger admits that few incentives were more effective than pricing when it came to striking a weekday/weekend balance: “We charged a lot more on weekends on a per-day basis because there was just no way that we could hit our revenue-per-car numbers if we didn’t achieve a better balance during the course of the week.” –Jack Sweeney 

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