Operations

Funeral Transportation Becomes More Nuanced

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Tom Halligan - Also by this author

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Alpha Limousine’s fleet of white stretches is often requested for minority funerals.
Alpha Limousine’s fleet of white stretches is often requested for minority funerals.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Alpha Limousine owner Terry Kurmay joked that Florida is the land of “newlyweds and the nearly dead.” Fortunately for Kurmay, he’s tapped into a lucrative niche that keeps his fleet of white stretch limousines booked solid for weddings and funerals.

Ethnic Variation
Serving West Central Florida since 1983, Kurmay has honed relationships with regional funeral directors who specifically need white limousines often requested for ethnic minority funerals. In many African American communities, and among other ethnic groups, funerals are celebrated as joyous occasions with white limousines the preferred color for the service. Increasingly, funeral home operators outsource transportation services rather than incur the cost of owning and maintaining a fleet that sits idle most of the week.

Kurmay, who has established partnerships with funeral homes throughout the St. Petersburg-Tampa Bay region, maintains a modern fleet of white stretch limousines that often do double-, even triple-duty on Saturdays.

“Our white stretches go out around 8 a.m. for funerals and in the evening they are used for night outs,” he says. “Often, we may have one stretch do a funeral in the morning and another in the afternoon, then bring it in for a refresh, and send it back out again in the evening for an event or nightlife booking. They keep our chauffeurs busy working 10-12 hour days and the vehicles pay for themselves.”

In addition to white or black stretches being used for funerals, depending on the ethnic or religious connotation of the deceased and family, funeral directors also outsource for sedan, van and mini- bus services to transport funeral staff, relatives and friends to the service, cemetery and luncheon.

“We even use a white Hummer stretch that seats 18 people, and people are fine with that,” Kurmay says. “A funeral is a conservative business and you have to be respectful and work with the staff to take care of the family.”

Terry Kurmay says his white stretches can be on the road all day doing multiple funerals and weddings.
Terry Kurmay says his white stretches can be on the road all day doing multiple funerals and weddings.
Stiff Competition
Kurmay notes the funeral transportation business can be highly competitive. He charges an hourly rate based on a three-hour minimum. “Sometimes, if it’s a military funeral, or a policeman killed in the line of duty or even a child, the funeral can take five to six hours.”

Although Kurmay’s business is 65% corporate, the funeral business generates consistent revenue and also drives affiliate and customer referral work for other transportation services. “We have established relationships with funeral directors over the years and they’ll refer us to other funeral directors who need transportation services and family members will call us for transportation, like an airport run, because they know we provided good service at the funeral.”

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