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By: Jennifer M. Drummond This April, Coretta Kingston, Co-Founder and President of Certified Auto Rentals, LLC (CARS) will launch her car rental enterprise in Richmond, Virginia. “You do see more women getting into leadership roles lately and it is beginning to change, but it is still a predominately male industry in leadership and management,” said Kingston. She continued, “I think the most important thing is you have to be confident in who you are. You have to be bold about it and unapologetic when it comes down to it because a male presence can be intimidating especially when you are a female and a woman of color.” Coretta refers to her business as “on demand” and “self-service.” She has the mobile app to prove it. In the beginning her fleet will Co include three cars parked in strategic locations throughout the city. You can find her first car parked on Main Street near the train station. Other locations will follow. The website takes you through easy steps to get you to the car so you can go. Coretta’s market includes millennials and densely populated areas. “Often times when you live in the city, there is not always a long term need for fo a car…it could be a need for an hour to four hours, to go to the grocery store, mall or job interview,” she said.


Kingston started in the car rental industry right after graduating from Johnson &Wales University in Rhode Island in 2001. Her first job was at Logan Airport in Boston with Budget Rental Car, where she worked two years. Within those two years Coretta decided she wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was at that time she had the opportunity to be an independent contracwith the organization.

“I ended up planning my first agency operations when I was an independent contractor for Budget Rent a Car,” she said with excitement. This became the foundation for her learning the car business. She learned everything from administration to marketing to hiring personnel she explained. “Once I learned the system, the culture, it was a perfect fit for me and it’s something I find I excel in. I know it, I enjoy it and I do it well.” At the end of the day, a car rental is a car rental and there aare so many of us in this industry. It is saturated almost and the way I handle that challenge is through innovation. You’ve have to get creative, whether it’s with your customer service satisfaction or just with how you promote the business itself,” said Kingston. In five years Kingston said she would like CARS to be in the D.C. market and the Norfolk/ Hampton Roads area. Her closing piece of advice: “Challenges will come, delays will happen, set backs are going to be there, but 14 CEO Business Spotlight ] don’t you quit.”