About Us

Cheap Car Hire in Cape Town

 

THE JOURNEY

Grant Baker, Founder of Rentacheapie

Grant Baker, Founder of Rentacheapie

In November 2006, my German neighbour approached me, requesting if he could “borrow” my old Golf for a few days. He offered to pay me R100 per day. I was smiling and so was he. My friend returned a few weeks later, inquiring for the “Cheapie” …… for R100/day.  I thought, mmmmmm….. “Cheapie”.  He carried on talking, but I couldn’t hear a word he said. My mind was blurred, in slow motion, in the zone. All I could hear was the word … Cheapie, Cheapie, Cheapie! In that moment I saw it………. cars and cars, hordes of them being rented out to young European kite surfers and visitors looking for a cheap runaround. Unbeknown to my friend Rentacheapie was born in my mind as he was busy negotiating the next deal.

I enthusiastically shared my ideas with Lorna, my Canadian wife and we decided to cash in on our small pension and purchased 3 Chico Golfs, cleaned out the double garage of all the surfing paraphernalia and whoopa, Rentacheapie was a GO.

Chris from the Surf Hostel was a key part in getting us up and going, he sent us all his valuable wind surfing and kite surfing clients that were looking for wheels. Flamingo Street in Bloubergrandt would have lines of Cheapies, heaped to the hilt with surfboards and windsurfing equipment. This really put us on the map. The popular surf spots and beachfront areas were littered with Cheapies. Our growth exploded.

We knew clients wanted cheap, reliable, clean cars with friendly ‘do what you say’ service. At first we delivered on all of that except “reliable”.  Man, did we get trouble. The phone calls would come all hours of the day. “De car won’t start,” in heavy German accent was a heart sinker. From Elands Bay to Witsand near Mossel Bay we did recoveries. We realized we needed to buy better cars and hire a proper mechanic. Along came Oliver Kabongo with a real knack for fault finding and fluent in French. He fitted in so well with his easy going style and our Parisian clients loved him – By the way, did you know that a Chico Golf is a fashion statement of some sorts in Paris? They just love the old Chico – Cheap and reliable was back and “bang” we had the winning formula.

Suddenly we were running 50 cars from a double garage and a 9 meter square office! We loved it. My neighbours loved it less, however we never had one moan from them. My debt to them is a deep hole. We soon relocated Rentacheapie to a suitable premise in Woodstock.

With growth comes new challenges and invisible ceilings to conquer. The administration was a big giant that seemed to have a life of its own, growing bigger, demanding more and more, especially tax and being compliant.

The legalities of becoming vat registered, returning vat, paying provisional tax, personal tax, UIF, SDL, submitting EMP201s and EMP501s, and the list goes on and on, was a huge battle……….    I basically had to learn how to become a mini accountant with a flair for tax. A very steep learning curve for someone who never even understood debit from credit at all during schooling years, never mind balance sheets! In my schooling years I lived for surfing. Often I would be seen in class with a blank faraway stare, as I used my accountancy class to fantasize about endless perfect waves, interrupted only by an occasional timely nod, keeping my monotone accounting teacher, Mr. Owen, happy. He had this habit of raising his voice, “Gentlemannnnn……and others!” Often in frustration or anger. The way he said “Others!” would suddenly bring me out of a deep blur. I would now rate my accounting skills as a possible modest “A”.  Once you understand the basics of debit and credit, you could teach anyone to apply common sense and do accounting well. Mr Owen, I am sure would turn in his grave if he heard me say this!

From accounting and tax to tracking stolen vehicles in Khayelitsha, we learned about negotiating good deals with crafty second hand car agents, signing property rentals, hiring new staff, encouraging staff, firing naughty staff. Keeping in touch with clients, keeping suppliers in check with prices, paying the bills and salaries on time all were part of the big mix. A mixture of fun, pressure, pain, but eventually new solutions and enjoyment. It is a wonderful experience when there is life on something and it begins to work even beyond your own ability, capacity or input. We now are a well-established car hire option in Cape Town.

Probably, our greatest accomplishment so far, has been about creating employment for our 30 staff members. It has been a privilege for me to work with our team at Rentacheapie, to grow with them and see them grow as people. Their willingness to increase in capacity and advance their skill level has not ceased to amaze me.

Yolanda is one of our brightest stars. She came to us as a casual cleaner 2 days a week. Her cleaning was so effective, we took her on full time. Soon, the place was bristle clean and she had time on her hands. I saw in her a trustworthiness and handed her the petty cash to count and the responsibility of purchasing milk and bread for the business. Her attention to detail was impeccable and we gave her the petty cash to administrate with a small increase. Her hunger to learn opened doors, and invoicing of clients, following up with suppliers and administrating the petty cash became her regular job description. We made a decision after the pain of hiring and kindly letting go more than one bookkeeper, that our new bookkeeper would be Yolanda. We hired the best contractor we could find, Victoria Bodley, an expert in financial systems, management and bookkeeping to mentor and train Yolanda, simultaneously sending Yolanda to a reputable business school to be formally qualified. Our cleaner has now become our Bookkeeper and Financial Manager. She is incredible. Loyal, trustworthy and gets the job done with excellence. You have done us good, Yolanda.

Fani and Lucky Dita are brothers and have been part of the team almost from the beginning. Fani anchors our front desk team, hosting our clients and administrating the quick release of vehicles. Lucky manages the wash bay and makes sure the many bumps and scratches get repaired well by our vehicle body repair team, keeping those cars looking new.

Our newly appointed Administration Manager, Annuscha van Dyk has risen through the ranks of the business with her likable personality and faithful hard work. She has made her mark through great team management and encouragement. Her team love her.  Hannes Herbst from Pretoria, our Operations Manager is a champion and manages more than half the staff and just less than 400 vehicles.

Then, a game changer, Nick Sophos joined me as a partner in October 2015. Bringing with him A level management and Sales experience from a large corporate company. Nick has imprinted most of the business with upgraded systems and operational efficiencies, strengthening the foundations on which we will continue to build.

I could include all our staff members as each contributes in a very meaningful way. I intend to keep this page alive, by hopefully including each member’s story in our unfolding tale.

We have ten years behind us now. We plan to continue offering cost effective, reliable cars, with friendship and integrity.

Viva Rentacheapie! Yours in car hire,
Grant Baker

 

Exciting News in 2016! – Rentacheapie welcomes a new Co-owner.

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Nick Sophos

I have often asked myself, “What do I really want to achieve with Rentacheapie?”

Initially, the passion to “make something work” was the driving force, though seeing the cash was an encouragement. Making a business out of Chico Golfs that meets a need in the market, and seeing this grow healthily is an incredible wonder, almost a mystery, and fills me with a sense of well being.

I probably have a real need to do something that is worthwhile and that I am proud of. This need still leads me, at times drives me and keeps me on the long road through the mundane. So, “making something work” and continuing to do this through the different risk barriers and challenges I find to be so satisfying.

In spite of our success, I was at a serious crossroads a year ago. My will to manage a bigger team of staff, to carry the weight of a growing organization, day in and day out, was weakening.
My capacity to produce stronger foundations and manage more and more became a challenge. Foundations in business are the values of “what we are to do”, “why we do these things,” “how we are to do these things” and “who should do them”. All of this needs to be implemented or managed into chewable daily activities that require constant forming and accountability, and with that producing desirable results. A great business always has a good balance between leadership and management.
I stopped enjoying this vital part of MANAGEMENT. It is really hard work for me to manage. I have done it and will keep on doing it, but managing more and more sounds like hard work, without the fun.
Besides this, it is not my primary strength and I am very dependent upon the fun that comes from creative work. I can work all day and have fun. But for me, management is a necessary evil.

So, a year ago, at the crossroad, my dilemma was that I could not keep on doing this, growing and growing and having more to manage. Could I keep doing this for five more years? After many months of pondering, my painful answer to that question was a clear NO!
So then came the hard questions to answer – Should I sell? Should I stop pioneering and just settle? Or hire big gun managers with big pay packages of R100k? I was really wrestling. Praying. Thinking. Occasionally talking.
What do I do? I cannot say that I really strategized the solution, I think it just emerged, or just seemed to find me.
My friend Nick Sophos had reached his own crossroad, he had spent over 20 years in the world of Big Corporate and was ready for a change. He was tired of the corporate animal and wanted to move on. I was honestly not thinking of him as a partner in business, in fact the thought of partnership scared me. However, as we talked, I realized Nick is so different from me, yet so the same in how we see things, how he thinks about both life and work.
So as we spent more time together and I saw how he lived his life, I realised that I could work with him and that I trusted him.

Nick and I were chatting one day about his house, and I discovered that he had built his own – in fact he did this twice. Building a house might not seem like a big deal to you but trust me, I have renovated 3 homes in the last 15 years and this is a massive task!
It was so stressful that my wife would sit in the car in the garage just to have a clean, quiet space, while I would spend hours trying to reconcile the budget after a long day of juggling the different contractors and constant curve balls.
To say that we were stretched is an understatement. I think we even needed marriage counselling after our second renovation and my wife is a psychologist!

To manage the building of a house within budget, on time, with good quality materials, superior workmanship and overseeing numerous labourers and craftsmen requires a huge skill set. This is nothing short of miraculous! Well, Nick pulled it off! As an amateur, his last home took him only 4 months to build from start to finish. He obviously had a gift.

So to cut a long story short, Nick has resigned from his Corporate job and has joined us to oversee our team and manage all of our daily Operations. As a co-owner he will imprint the business with the needed A-level management and together we will “make this thing work”, taking it from one level to the next.

I am totally excited about the possibilities of partnership and believe together we will do something special.

Founder and co-owner
Grant Baker
Rentacheapie Car Hire