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Starting a Charter Bus Company – A Complete Guide

Do you want to start a charter bus company? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a charter bus business with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample charter bus business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample charter bus service marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for charter bus businesses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a charter bus business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Why Start a Charter Bus Company?

If you intend starting a charter bus services business, it is very needful that you analyze the existing charter bus services businesses in and outside of your area. Also, you would be required to check the existing competition, as well as know their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing the weaknesses of the existing charter bus service companies mean that you would be able to learn from their mistakes and in turn come up with a better and more preferred charter bus company devoid of the mistakes and weaknesses of others.

A Charter bus Services Company as the name implies is a company that put up buses for charter. This kind of venture is such that needs the effort of more than one person and it is worthy to note that this business is a very lucrative kind of business in the United States of America and in most countries of the world.

So, if you have undertaken the required feasibility studies and market research, then you might want to venture into this business. If you have been tinkering with starting your own charter bus company but do not know how to go about it, then you should consider going through this article; it will sure give you the needed direction and information.

Starting a Charter Bus Company – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

Companies that operate in the Scheduled and Charter Bus Services industry provide scheduled and charter bus transportation services for clients. Scheduled buses provide intercity, rural and other long distance transport services on regular routes and schedules as requested.

Equally, charter bus services are contracted out on as-needed basis. It is important to state that urban public bus transport or school and employee commuter bus transport services are not classified under the Scheduled and Charter Bus Services industry.

A close study of the Scheduled and Charter Bus Services industry shows that as the economy recovers, more individuals will begin to spend money on trips and other vacations that may require scheduled and chartered bus services. In addition, charter bus service companies are projected to benefit from urban population growth, the aging US population, the green movement and the government’s continued attempt to promote alternate modes of transportation.

The Scheduled and Charter Bus Services industry will continue to experience growth in all parts of the world especially in developed countries such as United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, South Korea, Japan and China et al.

Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 7,472 licensed and registered Scheduled and Charter Bus Services Companies scattered all across the length and breadth of the country and they are responsible for employing about 53,310 employees.

The industry rakes in a whooping sum of $5 billion annually with an annual growth rate projected at 1.6 percent within 2011 and 2016. The organizations with the lion share of the available market in the industry are FirstGroup PLC and Stagecoach Group.

A report recently published by IBISWorld shows that the Scheduled and Charter Bus Services industry has a moderate to high level of capital intensity, with the average industry operator expected to spend $0.34 on capital for every $1.00 spent on wages.

The report further stated that the vast majority of industry capital spending is on the purchase and maintenance of bus fleets. A new bus is a form of fixed capital that must be used to transport passengers over a long period of time in order to recuperate the cost of its purchase.

In addition, industry operators usually make very heavy use of the buses they own, sometimes for days or weeks without stopping, in order to operate as many routes as possible with a limited bus fleet. Such heavy usage requires substantial spending on routine bus maintenance and less regular larger repairs.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own charter bus services business could be that the business is easy to set up and it is indeed a thriving and profitable business venture that an entrepreneur with little business skills and training can comfortably start.

Lastly, starting a charter bus services business in the United States requires that you get the necessary permit and license to be able to operate in any city of your choice, and you are expected to have a good grasp of the routes and perhaps financing plans for buses.

Starting a Charter Bus Company – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographics composition of those who require the services of a charter bus services company is not restricted to people and corporate organizations in your immediate community or state, but it cuts across people and corporate organizations who can afford charter bus services.

So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your charter bus services company, then you should make it all-encompassing. It should include tourists, business oriented people, celebrities, public figures, religious leaders, top government officials, investors and corporate organization in the United States.

List of Niche ideas Within the Charter Bus Industry That You Can Specialize in

Most charter bus services companies tend to provide a wide range of services as it relates to charter bus services, that is why it seems that there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, some charter bus service companies may decide to major in some key or niche area such as;

  • Scheduled bus services – interurban transit
  • Scheduled bus services – rural transit
  • Long-distance charter bus services
  • Local charter bus services

The Level of Competition in the Scheduled and Charter Bus Services industry

The level of competition in the Scheduled and Charter Bus Services industry depends on the location of the business. But over and above, there are several charter bus services companies scattered all around the United States.

So, if you choose to start your own charter bus services company in the United States, you will definitely meet stiffer competitions not only amongst charter bus services companies in the United States, but also among other forms of transportation such as car hire services, taxi and limousine charter services et al. Besides, there are larger scheduled and charter bus services companies that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for clients.

List of Well-Known Brands in the Charter Bus Industry

In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by the customers and general public than the others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long while and so are known for that, while others are best known for how they treat their customers.

These are some of the leading scheduled and charter bus service companies/brands in the United States of America and also in the globe;

  • MEGABUS
  • BOLTBUS
  • LUX BUS AMERICA
  • VAMOOSE
  • TRIPPER BUS
  • REDCOACH
  • Peoria Charter Coach Company
  • World Wide Tours bus crash
  • The Greyhound Corporation
  • Americanos USA, LLC
  • Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
  • Olympia Trails
  • Orange Belt Stages
  • Oregon POINT
  • GoBus (Ohio)
  • Great Lakes Greyhound Lines
  • Boston Express
  • Burlington Trailways

Economic Analysis

When it comes to starting a business-like scheduled and charter bus Services Company, you just have to get your feasibility studies and market research right before venturing into the business. It is good to mention that the scheduled and charter bus service business comes with its own fair share of challenges.

Starting this kind of business definitely entails that you raise plenty of capital because you will need capital to purchase the first set of standard buses or at least to finance the purchase of the first set of standard buses. Conversely, if you cannot, you may want to consider pulling the resources from family and friends. Depending on the scale at which you want to start from, you might require as much as multiple thousands of dollars and even millions to strike this off.

You will be expected to hire experts that will help you with comprehensive economic analysis and the profitability of the businesses within the location that you intend launching the business. If you get your economic and cost analysis right before launching the business, you may not have to stay the long before you break even. 

Starting Your Scheduled and Charter Bus Services Company from the Scratch versus Buying a Franchise

When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful scheduled and charter bus Service Company as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is expensive buying the franchise of a scheduled and charter bus Service Company, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.

But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the transportation industry, then you might just want to start your own scheduled and charter bus Services Company from the scratch. The truth is that it will pay you in the long run to start your scheduled and charter bus Services Company from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Scheduled and Charter Bus Services Business

If you decide to start your own scheduled and charter bus Service Company today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well-established scheduled and charter bus service companies, taxis and other forms of executive transportation services who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other threats that you are likely going to face as a scheduled and charter bus Service Company operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies, the arrival of a competitor within your location of operation and global economic downturn which usually affects purchasing/spending power. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.

Starting a Charter Bus Company – Legal Matters

  • Best legal entity to use for a bus charter company

When considering starting a scheduled and charter bus Services Company, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some charter bus service companies design their business and services for regional/community market, some for national market, while others for international market.

Generally, you have the option of either choosing a general partnership, or limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC for a business such as a scheduled or charter bus Services Company. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale scheduled and charter bus Services Company especially if you are just starting out with a moderate start-up capital. But people prefer limited liability Company for obvious reasons.

As a matter of fact, if your intention is to grow the business and have clients both corporate and individual from all across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.

For example, setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need board of directors, shareholders meetings and other managerial formalities.

Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for a Scheduled and Charter Bus Services Company

Generally, when it comes to choosing a name for a business, it is expected that you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

If you are considering starting your own scheduled and charter bus Services Company, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Silver Cloud Charter Bus Services, LLC
  • Green Haven Charter Bus Services, Inc.
  • Bell Dell Charter Bus Services, LLC
  • Executive Charter Bus Services, Inc.
  • Noel Klopp Charter Bus Services, LLC
  • Blue Strides Charter Bus Services Group
  • Brazen Belt Charter Bus Services, LLC
  • Alpha Plus Scheduled and Charter Bus Services Ltd.
  • Nelson Pearson Charter Bus Services, Inc.
  • Unicorn Scheduled and Charter Bus Services, Inc.
  • Red Star Charter Bus Services, Inc.
  • Headway Charter Bus Services, Inc.

Insurance Policies

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance policy covers and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your charter bus services company.

Here are some of the basic insurance policy covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own scheduled and charter bus Services Company in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Risk Insurance
  • Credit insurance
  • Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive insurance)
  • Deposit insurance
  • Financial reinsurance
  • Lenders mortgage insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark

If you are considering starting your own scheduled and charter bus Services Company, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.

Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Charter Bus Company?

Asides from safety and affordability of your scheduled and charter bus Services Company, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some scheduled and charter bus services companies stand out. If you want to make an impact in the scheduled and charter bus services industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization.

You are strongly encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business. These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own scheduled and charter bus Services Company;

  • Bus Driver Certification (Bus Certification Training – ESC-20)
  • IMG Certification (International Motor Group Certification)
  • Commercial Driver’s License

Please note that the higher your qualifications and experience (expertise), the easier it is for you to attract high – profile corporate clients.

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Scheduled and Charter Bus Services Company

The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized especially a business like scheduled and charter bus Services Company. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be long before the long arm of the law catches up with you.

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own scheduled and charter bus Services Company in the United States of America;

  • Business and liability insurance
  • Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration
  • Appropriate driver’s licenses for drivers (Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Assistant’s licenses for assistants
  • Proof of ownership, proper identification and vehicle license
  • Tax Payer’s ID
  • Fire certificate
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Employee’s Handbook
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy

Financing Your Scheduled and Charter Bus Services Company

Starting a scheduled and charter bus Services Company is indeed a capital-intensive business hence entrepreneurs willing to start the business ensure that they raise the required start-up capital from all available legal means.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things to consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start-up capital for your scheduled and charter bus Services Company;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell of shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank/banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends

Choosing a Suitable Location for your Charter Bus Company

Choosing a location for a charter bus services company can be in two phases. Firstly, it must be located in a city that has need for such services and also in a city that has good road network. So also, you are expected to secure administrative office in a visible and busy location.

Indeed, location has great influence on the success of charter bus Services Company. If you have taken your time to study the schedule and charter bus services industry, you will realize that charter bus services companies are willing to pay expensive rents in order to stay in a metropolitan city and of course a busy business district; a place where business and financial activities are at its peak.

It cannot be overemphasized that the location you cho0se to open your charter bus services company is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and organization with the required purchasing power and lifestyle.

Starting a Charter Bus Company – Technical & Manpower Details

On the average, there is no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for comfortable buses and software applications. So also, you will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the charter bus services company you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard charter bus services company, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning, structuring and expansion.

As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Professional Bus Drivers, Bus Assistant, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)/Chief Accounting Officer (CAO), Business Development Executive/Marketing Executive, and Customer Service Officer or Front Desk Officer.

Over and above, you would need a minimum of 10 to 20 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard charter bus services company. Please note that you would need the services of automobile servicing and maintenance engineers. If you are just starting out you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you. Hence you are expected to contract out some roles.

The Service Delivery Process of a Charter Bus Services Company

On the average, the way a charter bus services company works varies from one company to another company, but ideally, a charter bus services company is expected to first and foremost hire highly skilled and licensed bus drivers with commercial driver’s license, get their comfortable buses available for charter and then once a client books any of the buses, they drive the client to the destination; it could be short distance within a city or state or it could be long distance (inter – state). In most cases, it is usually to and fro.

It is important to state that a charter bus services company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them, good return on investment (ROI) efficiency and flexibility; the above stated business cum services process is not cast on stone.

Starting a Charter Bus Company – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies

As a charter bus services company, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before attracting high profile clients. So, if you have plans to start your own charter bus services company it will pay you to build first build a successful career in the schedule and charter bus services industry.

People and organizations will hire your charter bus if they know that it is going to take them safely to their destination.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your charter bus services company, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to charter bus services. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for clients.

Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your charter bus services company;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the corporate organizations, households and international business community in the United States
  • Advertise your business in relevant transportation magazines, radio stations and TV stations (make yourself available for transportation related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radio)
  • List your business on local directories/yellow pages
  • Attend international transportation expos, seminars, business fairs et al
  • Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your business (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people would consider you an expert in the field)
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing

Strategies to Boost Your Charter Bus Company’s Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity

If your intention of starting a charter bus services company is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media and also the social media (internet). As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and far reaching.

Another strategy is to sponsor relevant community based programs, TV and radio programs, advertise your business in relevant magazines and newspapers. Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and to promote and advertise your charter bus services company

  • Place adverts on transportation magazines and related newspapers, radio stations and TV stations
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth publicity from your loyal customers
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Badoo, Google+ and other platforms to promote your business.
  • Ensure that you position your banners and billboards in strategic positions all around your city
  • Contact corporate organizations, households and the international business community et al by calling them up and informing them of your charter bus services company and the services you offer
  • Advertise your business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Brand all your charter buses and official cars, and ensure that all your staff members and management staff wears your branded shirt or cap at regular intervals.
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