The optimistic results of the recent Limousine & Chauffeur Buying Plans Survey show that two out of every three limousine operators plan to buy a stretch, sedan, van, or bus in 1991. Moreover, each company planning to purchase this year expects to pick up two stretch limousines.
Of the 904 respondents to the survey, 596 report that they plan to purchase a new or used limousine, sedan, bus or van this year. This buying confidence may be interpreted as a sign of an industry on the rebound. The respondents who plan to buy reported they will purchase 1,062 stretch limousines and 779 sedans this year, or about 1.7 limousines and 1.3 sedans per company. The figures show that operators plan to turnover about one-third of their fleet this year. Apparently, operators are sticking to their regular replacement cycles. Regarding larger vehicles, respondents intend to buy 208 vans and 84 buses during 1991.
The survey also asked operators if the current economic climate had affected their business. Responses ranged the spectrum from optimism to hesitancy to negativity; however, the common thread among all the replies is that operators are keeping a watchful eye on the economy. Many limousine services have decided to merely update their existing vehicles and have put growth on hold for the time being.
A common response was, “We are being cautious with a kind of wait-and-see attitude,” says Anjum Y. Dada of Fort Wayne Connection in Fort Wayne, IN. Most operators are wary of the recession, but still plan to purchase during 1991 in order to update their fleets. “There seems to be a trend for lenders to steer clear of the limousine industry,” cities Frank Shade, Jr. of Esquire Limousine Service in Safety Harbor, FL. “There is high risk, therefore, we’ve decided to stay with our existing equipment.”
“We intend to grow despite the promise of a sluggish economy,” says Jules Peter Nyiri, director of special services for the Manhattan International Limousine Network in New City. Some larger operators like Manhattan see this time as an opportunity for acquisition and absorption of smaller companies and a chance to gain a larger share of the market.
“Currently, things look rather gloomy now; however, with the predicted amount of limousine operators who will be going out of business in 1991, it will let the larger operators absorb extra business. This should result in good times for some,” notes Fred Visconti Jr. of Visconti Limousines in Newburgh NY. He plans on updating about 50 percent of his 26-vehicle fleet in 1991.
The survey was mailed out to 7,000 subscribers to L&C in late December. Since the end of the Persian Gulf War, it is safe to anticipate that operators are more even optimistic today.