This year’s annual operator survey was collected at the Las Vegas show last November, and at the Atlantic City show in February. With the assistance of Paulette Dicocco of Dav-El, surveys were also distributed to members of the Dav-El network… many of whom completed the survey and are represented in the following statistics. Altogether, approximately two hundred companies completed the survey.
Although there is no accessible way of documenting the number of limousine services in the United States, Limousine & Chauffeur estimates the total at approximately five thousand. Based on the locations of Limousine & Chauffeur readers, limousine services are heavily concentrated in two parts of the country: The tri-state area on the east coast, and California.
Using the Mississippi River as a geographic dividing line, there are approximately equal numbers of companies in both portions of the country. With these two distinct areas in mind, we have divided this year’s survey responses into two groups in order to statistically compare aspects of the industry in both the east and west.
First… the similarities. Newer vehicles are predominant throughout the country. Fifty-eight percent of the livery vehicles in the east were reported as being less than two years old, while forty-six percent of western vehicles fall in that category. Thirty-seven percent of vehicles are between three and five years old in both parts of the country.
Vehicles older than five years account for seventeen percent of the vehicles in the west. Eastern operators reported that only five percent of their vehicles were more than five years old; a fact that may reflect harsher weather and road conditions in the east.
Another similarity is that operators average approximately nine and a half trips per week per vehicle across the country. Stretch limousines average nearly 38,000 miles per year in the east and 35,000 miles per year in the west.
The average hourly rate for a stretch limousine in the east, based on a three-hour minimum, is $43.66, compared with $47.75 in the west. This is up slightly from last year’s nationwide average of $41.10 per hour.
The average for a formal in the east is $33.12 per hour, compared with $37.59 in the west. The average sedan rate in the east is $29.36, while the reported average in the west is $33.43.
Three-piece suits are the required attire of male chauffeurs in seven out of ten livery services across the country. The remaining thirty percent of companies specify that male chauffeurs wear some type of uniform. Female chauffeurs are typically required to wear a blazer or tuxedo outfit.
Eastern operators average eight full-time chauffeurs and eight part-timers, while western operators average three full-time chauffeurs and three and a half part-timers.
Another similarity between operators in the east and west is that slightly more than half of the companies farm out work to other services. There are also similar percentages of companies that keep accurate records of operating costs with twenty-three percent in the east and twenty-eight percent in the west. The national average cost to operate a limousine, as reported in this year’s survey, is $.89 per mile.
In the east, fifty-eight percent of companies include chauffeur gratuities on customer invoices compared with sixty-one percent in the west. Fifty-five percent of eastern operators charge customers for breakage and damages, compared with a western figure of seventy-six percent. Approximately ten percent of the chauffeurs in the country are women... a figure that is up from eight percent last year.
One last area of similarity is that approximately fifty percent of the livery services across the country are less than two years old. The east, however, has twice as many services that have been in business for more than six years.
Eastern companies are also considerably larger, on the average, than those in the west The eastern average of 11.41 vehicles compares with 5.89 in the west. The main difference in fleet profiles is that eastern companies average about four sedans while only one out of every two western services operates a sedan The east also averages approximately one more stretch limousine per fleet than companies in the west.
Another area of difference is that approximately half of all eastern operators utilize a computer to process at least some aspects of the business, while computers are used by less than a third of the western respondents. There is also a higher percentage of operators who are members of limousine associations in the east. Sixty-two percent of eastern operators are members of either the National Limousine Association or a local association, while association membership totals only thirty-six percent in the west.
In Atlantic City, operators were also asked to note the amount of their insurance deductable. Sixty percent said that their deductable amount is $1000 while twenty- three percent have a deductable amount of $500. The remaining seventeen percent varied from $250 to $10,000. A handful of operators noted that they are self- insured.
Although limousine services in the eastern portion of the country tend to be slightly older and larger than their western counterparts, these two geographic market areas both reflect growth in fleet size, business volume, and sophistication. Overall, the economic indicators reflected in the survey imply that the limousine industry is continuing to progress as it has, continually, thus far in the ’Eighties.