People

Operator Makes Magical Motorcoach Moments

Lexi Tucker
Posted on August 21, 2019
Erin Ducharme, director of finance and accounting for Bloom’s Bus Lines

Erin Ducharme, director of finance and accounting for Bloom’s Bus Lines

TAUNTON, Mass. — With an MBA and a degree in international business, Erin Ducharme, director of finance and accounting for Bloom’s Bus Lines, knew she wanted to be involved in a field that would test her talents. Little did she know she’d find that in a family owned and operated bus company.

Trying Something New

She knew she always wanted to be involved in business and started her career at Fidelity Investments. Eventually, an opportunity with Bloom’s arose and she was ready for a change. Twelve years ago, she joined the company as an assistant controller, and over the years has moved up the ladder to become director of finance and accounting; but that’s not the only department she oversees. She’s also in charge of the tour division, marketing, and customer service.

“I didn’t know it would develop into where I am today with all the other facets of it, but that’s what I love about it,” she says.

She enjoys an active role in each sector of the business and has benefitted from being hands-on and fully understanding how all aspects work. “It gives me a feel for the costs of each part of the business, and what’s worth spending on. My brain jumps from topic to topic multiple times a day, so I never have a boring day.”

Formidable Fleet

The third-generation family-run company serves both the motorcoach and school bus industry. In business for 73 years, it has two divisions: Bloom’s Bus Lines and H&L Bloom. The motorcoach sector specializes in charters, tours, commuter services, and athletics, while the school bus group serves six school districts.

They have 27 motorcoaches, including MCIs and Van Hools, and are constantly investing in upgraded equipment to provide the safest buses for clients.

“We believe in quality service, and that effects how we maintain our equipment. We have onsite maintenance departments for both motorcoach and school bus, and are able to service all in-house,” she says. Their fleet also contains 200 Thomas school buses and 75 transit vans.

Getting Involved

Ducharme joined the Women in Buses Council in March 2018 after she spoke with a friend about its mission and felt it would be a great fit for her. “The group is all about empowerment and provides an opportunity to network and build relationships. I’ve met knowledgeable women who I know I can collaborate and share thoughts with in a non-competitive environment. Women In Buses gives me the chance to bounce ideas off of other operators who are experiencing the same challenges,” she says.

After attending the group’s annual meeting, she knew she wanted to become more involved and share the message. She became the vice chair of membership and is working to create a community of women from all backgrounds. “The leadership works throughout the year to create webinars specifically designed to advance the role of women in the industry and provides opportunities for all sectors of the business, from operations and maintenance to executive management and travel, tour, and charter. There’s something for everyone.”

Passion For Service

Adapting to an ever-changing environment is vital for operators in the ground transportation space. “You can be thrown a curveball even during the most well-thought-out trip, but how you handle a stressful situation affects the customer’s rate of return. If a disappointing situation were to occur, customers can accept that when provided excellent service,” she says.

Expecting the unexpected can help industry newcomers daily, because there are so many moving parts in the transportation world. Each day comes with a new set of challenges, but you learn from the experiences which will help you change your outlook.

“A challenge we’ve had is dealing with the decline of group tours,” Ducharme says. “We live in a time when the internet is so readily available to book trips, and people are willing to do more on their own even as they get older. Promoting the benefits of motorcoach travel and increasing our tour business is becoming increasingly important, and this is where our customer service comes into play.”

She trains drivers, tour guides, and staff, and preps everyone before a tour. “Communication with the entire team is so important. I hope at the end of the day we all have the same goal: Strive to provide the best service and equipment to give our customers the best experience.” 

When Ducharme started, the company didn’t have a tour division and she helped it develop one. It has since become a successful sector of the business and produces 200+ tours a year.

“We want to produce quality trips at affordable prices to meet the needs of our customers. I love being able to provide a great vacation even if only for a day. Receiving positive feedback is so rewarding. I always remind staff although it may be just a day at work for us, this is someone’s vacation; having the right attitude is everything.”

Related Topics: American Bus Association, buses, charter and tour, customer service, eNews Exclusive, finance, Lexi Tucker, Massachusetts operators, MCI, motorcoaches, Sales & Marketing, school transportation, tourism, Van Hool

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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