SME Diaries: Covid-19 was tough for our car rental business. We made it a priority to protect our hirers and staff


Little- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which kind 99 for every cent of corporations in Singapore, have felt the effects of Covid-19 keenly. TODAY’s Voices area is publishing initial-hand accounts from SME entrepreneurs and supervisors on the highs and lows of working a organization in the pandemic.

In this instalment, Mr Jimmy Ong, 42, whose organization leases cars and trucks to private-retain the services of drivers, describes how expenditures quickly escalated when Covid-19 ground commuting to a halt. Regardless of that, the organization chose not to acquire the “easy” way out by retrenching staff members or demanding payment from drivers. Alternatively, it relied on its reserves, as effectively as various assistance schemes, to experience out the storm. 

Responsible Rides began as a compact vehicle rental enterprise in 2016. Our principal action is the leasing and leasing of cars and trucks to private-use motorists. 

We did well for the to start with two yrs, increasing from 20 cars to a fleet sizing of 400.

We commenced to feel the affect of Covid-19 two months in advance of the pandemic strike us tough in Singapore. 

In February 2020, there was a considerable fall in travellers as many of us had been by now minimizing outside activities. 

Then, several firms ended up now functioning remotely. Our rental cash flow started to drop as drivers began returning their motor vehicles to us. 

With the drastic tumble in passengers, our drivers’ incomes ended up also badly influenced. Numerous of them saw their day-to-day earnings drop by between 50 and 70 per cent. 

As a car or truck rental organization, our resource of earnings is rental revenues. If our drivers’ income is influenced, the outcome will ripple. 

The challenge was exacerbated throughout the circuit breaker from April to June 2020. 

Our motorists recorded a further earnings fall by as a lot as 90 for every cent. A lot of of them even had zero profits. With no income, they have been not equipped to pay out their rental.

We desired to help our hirers get via this hard period jointly, in particular these who experienced been with us considering the fact that we started off. 

We extended a 50 to 70 per cent rental low cost and permitted them to defer their payments. 

The corporation was caught in a condition exactly where rental cash flow lessened significantly and nevertheless we still needed to spend for regular monthly expenses these types of as salaries, auto financial loans, insurance policy and maintenance. 

Our losses promptly escalated to about S$500,000 a thirty day period.

It would have been uncomplicated to implement payment from prospects and retrench personnel but our mantra then was to “leave no person behind”. 

We refused to allow the several years of hard function go to squander, and tried out various means to retain the business enterprise going so that our consumers, and most importantly our 10 staff members associates, were taken treatment of.

We did this by tapping our company’s reserves and our individual personal savings. 

The Government’s Careers Aid Plan for SMEs was vital in serving to us keep all our workers. 

In the meantime, the Covid-19 Driver Aid Fund and Place-to-Point Guidance Offer served keep our hirers on the road. 

A lot more than two several years following the pandemic struck, we have learnt the great importance of diversifying the organization in great instances. 

For case in point, in the course of the down period, we encouraged our employees to master new expertise these kinds of as digital internet marketing. 

In late 2021, when we ended up appointed the authorised reseller of DFSK electric cars in Singapore, that schooling arrived in beneficial. 

Our workers were being able to set up electronic internet marketing strategies to obtain sales potential customers, a career which would have been outsourced earlier. 

Wanting back, the corporation was greatly motivated by the resilience and grit of our earlier generations. 

It is the “never give up” frame of mind which receives us by tough periods and will chart our training course into the long run. 


Jimmy Ong, 42, is the functions director and 1 of the co-founders of Responsible Rides. He begun the automobile rental corporation in 2016 and is influenced by the resilience and grit of Singapore’s Pioneer and Merdeka generations.

If you are an SME proprietor or manager with an encounter to share or know anyone who wishes to contribute to this sequence, create to voices [at] with your complete identify, address and telephone selection.


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By Kelli