The Real Super Bowl Winners: Indiana’s Limo Industry

Posted on February 8, 2012

Barbara Branstetter of Indianapolis-based Carte Blanche Limousine
Barbara Branstetter of Indianapolis-based Carte Blanche Limousine

INDIANAPOLIS — If a victory’s greatness is measured by the level of difficulty in achieving it, then the chauffeured transportation operators of Indiana can consider themselves among the greatest champions in history.

Overwhelming, hectic, challenging, frustrating — these are some of the adjectives operators used to describe their Super Bowl experience. Another word? Rewarding.

Barbara Branstetter of Indianapolis-based Carte Blanche Limousine said that even though her company has experience with large sporting events, such as the Indy 500, nothing compared to the magnitude of the Super Bowl. She bulked up her fleet by adding about 30 vehicles, bringing her 25-vehicle fleet to around 55 vehicles. Carte Blanche also teamed up with affiliates Belaire Limousine of Baltimore and Leader Chauffeur Services of Kansas City to handle some of the overflow.

Affiliated Transportation, a 12-vehicle operation also based in Indianapolis, hired 40 extra chauffeurs and rented 40 SUVs for the Big Game. “About 90% of our business was SUV,” said Affiliated Transportation’s Larry Roberson.

Both companies began preparing for the Super Bowl early. Branstetter said she began heavy planning about six months ago, when her entire fleet of sedans and SUVs was reserved by a DMC, and Roberson began his preparation a year ago.

Some of the challenges operators faced were the incredible volume of phone calls, from both clients and affiliates, as well as the street traffic and road closures. Permitting was fairly easy — unlike the permit issues Dallas operators faced during last year’s Super Bowl — and the only extra fees were the $50 airport permits required for each rented vehicle.

“Indiana is a very easy state to deal with, and we just had to pay a one-time $100 fee for the operating on game day and we could get as many permits as needed for both our regular and rented vehicles,” Branstetter said. “The whole thing, despite its challenges, went very smoothly.”

“The City of Indianapolis did an outstanding job to keep things flowing as best they could; the city deserves a big round of applause,” Roberson said.

Both operators expressed the importance for bulking up office staff for large events such as the Super Bowl.

“Make sure you have a lot of office staff and support staff around you, as well as extremely well-trained chauffeurs who know the streets and are able to react to last-minute road closures,” Branstetter said.

“We turned off our GPS systems because they’re useless when streets are closed,” Roberson said. “We dispatched with four-full time dispatchers on duty, each on their own signal channel so that no single dispatcher was overwhelmed. Operators need to know it’s very important to beef up communication and dispatch staff, office staff and customer service staff. Have plenty of people working under a 2-3 shift operation instead of expecting people to stay longer hours. The same holds true with your chauffeurs. It’s challenging at best to run 15-16 hours a day every single day.”

At the time of the interview, Branstetter and the Carte Blanche team were still closing out rides and were unable to provide financial figures, but she said they far exceeded expectations. Roberson said Affiliated Transportation projected to do $400,000 in revenue over the course of the four-day period, and his preliminary numbers came in quite close, at $367,000.

And as far as the NFL Championship Game’s results: “We’re happy because Eli’s our little brother,” Branstetter said, referring to Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, the younger brother of Indianapolis’s very own Super Bowl superstar quarterback Peyton Manning.

Related: Indiana Operations Merge To Form Diversified Company

—    Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor

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