Operations

Operator Builds Success In A Rural Market

Lexi Tucker
Posted on February 5, 2018
Michael Spreadbury loves the state he lives and works in, and hopes to remain the go-to business for transportation in Helena. The company has a statewide license and can handle affiliate needs in Montana. (Photo by Image 406 Photography)
Michael Spreadbury loves the state he lives and works in, and hopes to remain the go-to business for transportation in Helena. The company has a statewide license and can handle affiliate needs in Montana. (Photo by Image 406 Photography)

Who: Michael Spreadbury, owner, The Helena Town Car Company, Helena, Mont.

Lessons learned: Finding the right kind of commercial insurance at a reasonable price was difficult. Because Montana is so rural, it’s notorious for many accidents. He met his agent through the NLA, which has since saved him a lot of money and headaches. “It’s important to find someone who is willing to grow with you and help you grow. My previous insurance agent was almost holding me back,” he says. “It’s so important to work with vendors who want to help your business; surround yourself with these kinds of professionals.”

Biggest success: Finding contracts where he operates because there wasn’t a history of a traditional limousine company use there. He serves freight crews and hotels.

Customer service strategies: Since he didn’t have a newer fleet and lived in a rural area, impeccable customer service was vital to help his company stand out. Small businesses thrive on word of mouth and recommendations since everyone knows everyone in a small town. “I always thank them for being a customer, and explain what we can do with the different vehicles we have.”

Fast Facts

Location: Helena, MT

Owner: Michael Spreadbury

Founded: 2015

Vehicle Type: sedan, SUV, van, stretch limousine

Fleet Size: 5

Employees: 3

Website: www.helenatowncar.com

Phone: (406) 437-8585

Advice: Everybody’s market is different; his nearest competitor is one mountain range and 100 miles away. Instead of worrying about competition, he has focused on properly budgeting. “You have to have your own study that will help you determine if this is something you can make work and be profitable.”

Origins: Spreadbury started the company when he noticed the city lacked a professional transportation provider. “The taxi service is so bad, I started acquiring contracts because the cars and drivers they provided were literally scaring executives,” he explains. He saw a few older Town Cars for sale and everything just fell into place. “I thought it could be a viable business; I wasn’t aware of LCT or the NLA at the time, and didn’t realize there was such tight-knit group of supporters waiting for me.”

Start-up costs and methods: In an attempt to reduce startup costs, he produced a tight business plan so he would stick to priorities without breaking the bank. He acquired his first Town Car, and then bought a second in case of a break down or conflict.

Marketing strategies: He has put up an ad near baggage claim in his local airport, and did a lot of Facebook ads to gain brand recognition for his company. He’s also reached out to the local radio station manager to trade his services for on-air advertisements, which has succeeded.

Future plans: He next hopes to build satellite offices in other Montana cities. “We’ve grown so fast we just want to maintain things for now,” he says. He enjoyed and learned a lot from the sessions at LCT-NLA Show East in November 2017. He hopes to find quality people to help him relinquish some control so he can get out from behind the wheel to drum up new business. He is also partnering with a local charter company, and may share garage space so they can go after more transportation requests to the national parks and seek more limo/charter work together.

Free time: His hobbies include fly fishing, swimming, hiking with his dogs, and enjoying the natural beauty of the state he calls home.

Related Topics: business management, business travel, customer service, Montana operators, operator profiles, small-fleet operators

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
Comments ( 2 )
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  • D. Gallon

     | about 9 months ago

    He's done business for my company as an affiliate, nice to work with, great story!

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