In a sure sign of how much the limousine industry has changed, North Carolina operator H.A. Thompson reports why his company kissed its last stretch limousine good-bye after 27 years in business. The big shift started in 2008 when Thompson’s Rose Chauffeured Transportation branched into full-scale motorcoach service, now a highly profitable venture. Rose ranks among the first traditional limousine companies to grab hold of a permanent trend line in chauffeured transportation toward more practical group transportation.
Thompson reports to LCT:
Twenty-seven years ago, Rose Chauffeured Transportation started doing weddings on weekends. We've always had stretch limousines in our stable. By 1990, we owned three and at the peak we had six stretch limousines. We could do eight or nine weddings on a weekend. Our business grew steadily as we added small minibuses and sedans to do corporate work. We had a good business doing party rides and corporate sedan work. As our corporate work expanded, our social and party rides declined. At the time, the Charlotte business culture was changing rapidly due to the expansion of the banking business through Bank of America. We eliminated one stretch about every year until 2010 when we were down to one. The last one we bought was new 120-inch, 10-pax for $63,000 in 2008. We just sold it for $25,000 with just short of 100,000 miles. The long recession had a lot to do with the final sale.
We don't own a stretch limo anymore. The stretch business dried up for Rose except for a few months in the Spring and Fall. All of our other vehicles gave us a better ROI. Charlotte is not a limo town like some cities and we changed our business model in 2008 when we bought our first motorcoach. We now have 14 and do an average of 240 motorcoach rides a month. Our projected revenue this year is $8.3 million. Our stable of “horses” now stands at 18 sedans, five SUVs, three vans, 10 minibuses, and 14 motorcoaches. We also have 20 independent contract drivers with sedans and SUVs at the Westin Hotel.
President, Rose Chauffeured Transportation
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