- When you buy used buses, you must know the seller and the history of the bus. Rose mostly bought buses that already had the engines replaced.
- When you buy a used bus, upfitting it can cost $6,000 to $10,000 for painting, new signs, Wi-Fi service, new upholstery, new parts, etc. Make sure used buses look the same inside and out as new ones.
- Toilets are a problem. You have to build a dump station and keep toilets regularly cleaned and serviced.
- Bus driver pay is higher than for other vehicles. Operators also must pay for hotels, overnight per diems, and fuel costs for longer tours and runs.
- A bus needs to look corporate, with a modest, simple logo that does not embarrass or put off more conservative corporate clients. "If you don't create your company and logo and name so you can be remembered, you've lost out on a sale," Thompson says. "Your bus is a rolling billboard with a name and picture that people will remember."
- Find a reliable source for fast maintenance. Buses can't be down for days. You need a network of service when something goes wrong out of town or state. Maintenance and repairs on buses average $1,500 to $2,000 per bus per month. An oil change is $500 versus $30 for a Lincoln Town Car.
- Hire the right people to handle buses. Rose has an experienced bus company executive to handle and market group sales.
- Maintain tight financial controls and accountability.
- Most important: Put CHAUFFEURS behind the wheel to deliver personal, professional, and courteous customer service. If you don't, you're wasting your time in the business. Chauffeurs are more important than equipment.
Big Bus Econ 101: How To Make It Work