DESCRIPTION: A LIMOUSINE SERVICE OWNER DESCRIBES HOW
TO EVALUATE A COMMUNITY TO SEE IF IT WOULD BE A GOOD AREA
FOR A LIMOUSINE SERVICE. IT LEADS THE ASPIRING LIMOUSINE
SERVICE OWNER THROUGH THE MAZE OF GOVERNMENT, LEGAL, AND
INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOUND IN ALL STATES. IT EXPLAINS
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIMOUSINES USED, HOW TO STRETCH THEM,
AND HOW TO PURCHASE/LEASE THEM. PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY,
THE MANUAL DESCRIBES HOW TO ATTRACT CUSTOMERS AND KEEP THEM
AUTHOR: RANDELL LYNN NYBORG
You have selected an exciting business. In the limousine business, you have the opportunity to rub shoulders with movie actors, musicians, politicians, business executives. Most of all, you will have the opportunity of rubbing shoulders with "average" people, because they will comprise the majority of your business It is a special occasion when people go to the expense of reserving a limousine for a night out on the town. They usually put on their best clothes and manners, and eagerly look forward to a night of excitement and glitz. Obviously, you do not want to disappoint them and it is incumbent on you to learn as much as you can about the business before you offer your services to the public. Starting a limousine service involves much more than obtaining a couple of used limos and running a yellow pages ad.
In all areas, limousine services are regulated by government agencies, much the same as with taxi cabs. The reason for this is you are physically transporting human beings and you must be concerned with their safety and comfort. The government bodies will require you to obtain adequate insurance and comply with their very strict regulations. This manual will help you wend your way through the regulations in addition to providing information on other areas such as marketing, purchasing cars, etc.
A limousine service does not necessarily have to use limousines, per se. Airport shuttles quite often use vans or other vehicles to transport people. This makes more economic sense in many cases as larger numbers of people can be moved. A large limousine service may contract with a smaller competitor (possibly you) to handle any overflow in the event of a particularly busy night. You may want to contact existing companies to pursue this particular possibility.
When getting started, you will need more than $100,000 if you purchase just two new limos and then have them custom stretched. Leasing plans are available and they help with the cash flow. Even so, plan on spending $40,000-$60,000 down payment for two or three limos. The other option is to purchase used limousines. This is the most realistic alternative for someone on a shoestring budget. Used limos however, usually will require a significant amount of rework to make them acceptable. In a limousine service, quality and image is very important. You need repeat customers to survive for very long. What was that? You need repeat customers to survive for very long. Using unsatisfactory limos may save on cash flow in the short run, but they will surely cause the demise of your service in the long and not so long run.
Make sure you are in a market that can support a limousine service before you start spending great sums of money. Generally, you need a diverse community, with at least some affluence. Things to look for in your, community would be large corporations, fancy hotels, lots of high schools, airports, operas, symphonies, convention centers, etc. You would want a community of at least 500,000 people. How can you identify a dynamic community? Here are some indications: new corporations seeking to locate there, plentiful skilled jobs, high growth rate with minimal out migration, low housing vacancy rates, favorable ratings in one of the "best places to live" surveys, low unemployment rate, above average incomes (40,000+) a healthy business community, constant opening up of new shopping malls, restaurants, etc., a large portion of the population in the 25 to 55 year old range.
Communities that have a lot of "snobs" is good for a limousine service. These type of people are trying to impress others. Obviously a hippie commune in the Idaho wilderness is not going to supply the type of people you are looking for. Look at the existing limo companies in your location. Are they running full? Are they planning on adding limos? This is a good place to practice a little business espionage. Make a chart of all the limo companies in your area, and call them weekdays, weekends at various hours, and find out how many cars they have available. You will have to pose as a potential customer as they will not want to help a potential new competitor. Doing some homework now can save you a lot of consternation later. If the existing companies are running only half full or less, what do you have that will make you any different? This is where you should use some creativity and develop a unique limo service that would have the potential of attracting customers away from the existing entrenched companies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:Introduction