Top 5 findings
Limousine industry revenue is up to $4.3 billion from $3.5 billion.
Business increased dramatically, with a whopping 71 percent reporting gross revenue increased an average of 25 percent.
Rising insurance rates remains the No. 1 issue facing operators, followed by fuel costs.
The estimated number of operators in 2004 is 11,722, up nearly 4 percent from 2003.
The estimated number of total vehicles in service is 126,597, up 2 percent from the previous year.
We took a different approach to our survey this year. Not only were surveys mailed to some subscribers, but on July 15, we posted the survey online. All responses received by Aug. 13 were considered.
In all, we recorded 738 responses, up from last year’s 574. Of those surveys, 489 were sent online, while 249 came in the mail.
Some data had to be deleted from the results. If answers were way out of line or appeared to be mistakes, they were stricken. Also, we received 44 international e-mail replies, but our survey analyzes only U.S. statistics.
This survey has a statistical confidence level rating of 95 percent, while the sampling error is plus or minus 3.6 percent.
Any numbers derived from sources other than our survey are noted.
Webster defines statistics as “facts or data of a numerical kind, assembled, classified and tabulated so as to present significant information about a given subject.”
LCT’s annual Fact Book represents the most comprehensive analysis of statistical data for the limousine industry. Brent Bell, president of Bell Trans in Las Vegas, says, “It’s my favorite issue each year. I get a lot of valuable information from it. I’ve pulled facts and figures out of there when I go to the state legislature.”
This year marks LCT’s 19th annual survey. Many of the questions show how much the industry has grown and changed over the years. While some problems have remained constant, new technology, high costs and terrorist warnings have brought on different challenges.
The majority of our respondents were from the Mid-Atlantic (25.2 percent) or Southern (22.9 percent) regions. They’ve been in business an average of 10.7 years, although most are relative newcomers to the limousine industry, with 25.4 percent having worked only three to five years as an operator.
One-third earned a gross revenue of less than $100,000. But business increased dramatically from 2002 to 2003, with a whopping 71.1 percent saying their gross revenue increased an average of 25.4 percent.
Industry revenue is measured at $4.3 billion, up from $3.5 billion reported last year. This figure represents the average percentage increase in the industry from the prior year.
The estimated number of operators in 2004 is 11,722, up nearly 4 percent from 2003. This total is an average derived from Dunn & Bradstreet, Info USA and our own circulation database.
The total number of chauffeurs is 211,582, which includes both full-time and part-time drivers, but excludes owners who also chauffeur clients. It’s based on the average number of drivers per operator.
Overall average fleet size for companies having less than 75 cars is 9.8 cars. The overall average for companies having more than 75 cars is 195.
A new question on this year’s survey tracked midyear revenue. As of June 2004, 70.7 percent of respondents reported an average revenue increase of 26.4 percent over the same period in 2003.
The average hourly rates charged per vehicle increased moderately for each vehicle type, with the exception of motorcoaches. Those rates jumped in one year from $106 per hour to $120.
Corporate travel, including airport runs, constitutes 48.5 percent of U.S. limousine business. Weddings and proms rate half that number at 24.3 percent. The highest corporate travel statistics belonged to the largest limousine companies. Those with one- to three-vehicle fleets ranked business travel at 44.6 percent of their revenue, while 20-plus fleets responded that 52 percent of their business is corporate.
Rising insurance rates remains the number one issue facing operators today, with 70.2 percent of them seeing an increase in premiums. Last year that figure was 84 percent. Fuel costs ranked second, while price competition, government regulation and vehicle safety were almost in a dead heat as the hottest issues affecting the industry.
Another new question on the survey asked the percentage of chauffeurs that are female. Although the industry average was 10.6 percent, three companies said all their drivers were female. Next year we may follow this up and ask how many operators are female.
More and more operators are seeing the benefit of going online. Last year 66 percent said they had a Web site. This year the number is up to 79.9 percent. Of that number, only 39.3 percent give clients the ability to make online reservations.
Sedans account for about half of this nation’s limousine fleet, a figure backed up by purchasing statistics. Those sedans drove nearly 50,000 miles in 2003, down from 57,000 miles in 2002. Some of that slack has been taken over by motorcoaches, which have seen an increase in yearly mileage from 25,000 in 2002 to 34,000 in 2003.
Model year purchases sited in our survey were made from September 2003 to August 2004, and were provided by Cadillac and Ford with additional reports from coachbuilders. The number of 2004 limousine base units sold was 3,500, an increase of 13.5 percent. This figure includes VIP limos, six-door funeral models and stretch SUVs. The number of 2004 hearses sold was 1,275.
When it came to salaries, the average hourly rates held fairly stable, although there were more workers now listed in the highest pay rate of $14-plus per hour.
On average, three to five readers peruse each copy of LCT magazine, although several operators said at least 50 read their office copy, including drivers and clients.
All in all, it has been a very good year for our industry – a $4.3 billion industry.