FINANCIAL SNAPSHOTS: Two former LCT Operator Of The Year winners share some anecdotal evidence of an industry rebound and provide examples for other operators.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. and RED BANK, N.J. — Operators H.A. Thompson and Bill Atkins recently disclosed company revenue figures to LCT Magazine that at least provide some proof of an industry starting to rebound.
The operators are in sync with other anecdotal reports that LCT gleaned from discussions and networking with operators during the 2011 International LCT Show. While the chauffeured transportation industry has yet to return to pre-recession levels, enough operators have seen enough of an uptick in business to warrant cautious optimism.
Thompson, owner of ROSE CHAUFFEURED TRANSPORTATION in Charlotte, N.C. and a 2008 LCT Operator Of The Year, credits his quick comeback to a change in his business model toward more motorcoach service.
Revenue 2008: $4.8 million @ 37 vehicles
Revenue 2009: $3.7 million @ 30 vehicles
Revenue 2010: $5.7 million @ 39 vehicles
As the recession took hold, Rose bought a 49-passenger bus in May 2008 because it was booking motor coaches with local bus companies and not getting good service from their drivers, Thompson said.
Thirty-two months later, Rose bought its 11th motorcoach, a 57-passenger. All Rose buses are used and upgraded to company standards.
Last year, the motorcoach business generated $1.5 million of Rose’s $5.7 million in total sales. “We're spending time selling to schools, sports teams, churches and retirement centers plus corporate,” Thompson said.
Last year, Rose hired a mechanic and set up a shop in the corner of the garage with lifts and equipment to service the buses.
“We still do most of our business with corporate and we work the affiliates, but we are now a bus company and that's where the future is,” Thompson said. “Charlotte bus companies are weak and we're knocking the passengers’ socks off with chauffeurs giving awesome service.”
Thompson reports he stopped promoting the stretch limousine business since the company was not getting enough business from them. “We're down to one stretch and we'll sell it by the end of the year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bill Atkins, owner of RED BANK LIMO in Red Bank, N.J., and a 2010 LCT Operator Of The Year, told LCT his company had its best February ever last month. The company reported a 24% increase in the number of trips and a 32% increase in revenue when compared to February 2010.
Atkins has been a strong proponent of not lowering rates during a recession, since such a strategy can cripple a chauffeured transportation company during a comeback. Instead, he opts for rewards programs, earned rides, and gift giveaways to repeat clients.
“It's not the economy or the politics,” Atkins said. “It's the old fashion relationship building that the customer wants. Fall out of love with your product or service and fall In love with your customers wants."
[NOTE: Operators who would like to share revenue performance and lessons learned with LCT should contact LCT editor Martin Romjue at Martin@LCTmag.com or LCT assistant editor Michael Campos at Michael@LCTmag.com.]
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor