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Thread: Honest Party Bus Startup Tips

  1. #1

    Default Honest Party Bus Startup Tips

    Start up would be in Grand Rapids MI. It is legal here and we do have quite a few competitors. Hi there I am a 32 year old woman who works for a good company, but recently got my degree in Business Managment with a focus on entrepreneurship. I have a bit of experience in owning a business but it was online and I have no experience in this industry. I have done a lot of research regarding permits, insurance, and have a meeting with a consultant at the SBA. Before I go forward and do a ton of industry research I would like some honest feedback as I dont want to quit my job or put it at risk with the low possibility of reward.

    My questions are:
    1)Would it be possible to begin with one bus and make a profit? If not, how many buses (average) would be required to make a profit after the costs of liability insurance, auto insurance, and insurance on the driver, passengers, etc...

    2) Would I need a commercial location at first for operations, such as a space to park a 15 passenger bus, garage, office, etc..or in the beginning could I park it in my driveway and just take it monthly for an inspection (if thats necessary) and run the business from home until I can afford a commercial location.

    3) I would only have time to put in about 30 hours a week in the beginning. My father and mother are both retired and can work for me part time. For example she would man the phones, keep maintenance records, handle accounting/paying bills, book reservations, etc.. Dad can help with driving on the weekends but I believe i would need to hire another driver.

    4) Do you find yourself having to deal with police, court, drunken out of control people/situations/, issues with club owners, etc. And if so do you have an attorney that represents you or do you represent yourself?

    5) What other concerns should I have before even thinking about going any further?
    Last edited by IntriguedLimoEntrepreneur; June 22nd, 2015 at 10:53 PM. Reason: add location, edit questions

  2. #2
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    I noticed my profit margins were the highest with 1 bus. You are doing most of the work yourself and when you have 1 bus your bookings per bus is way higher than it would be if you have 10. The more buses you have the lower your profit margin gets, but you are scaling so you make more money overall if done correctly.

    This business is hectic and requires lots of dedication. I would not recommend doing it if you do not have the time for it.

    Before you do anything you want to see if it's even legal in your area and if you can get insurance. Post your city and I'm sure someone on here will give you more insight to what you should watch out for.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Billy Bob's Avatar
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    Just a quick post to your reply. First, can you get insurance? Will the vehicle be required to operate with a CDL/P?

    As for a weekend service, "keeping your day job", stay with the wedding market to start off with.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #4

    Default In Grand Rapids

    I could put in 30 hours a week, and my father is retired and is getting his CDL. He would help me with bookings, phone calls, driving, investing, and the legal stuff. He owned his own business also until he retired so we have a little experience to go on.

  5. #5

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    Thank you Billy Bob. In Michigan I do believe you need to have a CDL, 2 million prop and personal liability insurance for under 15, and 5 mil for over 15. A certificate of authority is required upon inspection of vehicle, and I know its 300 for yearly renewal, but not sure how much else. Also not sure how much it would be to get licensed in Michigan, but I should find that out when I meet with the consultant this week.

    Would you advise driving your own bus first? To avoid overhead costs?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Bob View Post
    Just a quick post to your reply. First, can you get insurance? Will the vehicle be required to operate with a CDL/P?

    As for a weekend service, "keeping your day job", stay with the wedding market to start off with.

    Hope this helps.
    Do you mean have i checked with my own insurance to see if they would insure me at all? Or if Grand Rapids MI even insures that type of business?

  7. #7
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    You're looking at close to 10k a year if you get insurance in Michigan. Your vehicle needs to be inspected by a MDOT inspector to be licensed. The $300 is to register your company but its only $25 to get the vehicle licensed and $25 per additional vehicle. It's $5mil for a bus which is over 15 including the driver, if it's less it's considered a limo and licensing is completely different and much cheaper/easier.

    Here are additional requirements:

    http://michigan.gov/documents/MDOT-P...20140806142541

    and the main page:

    http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,...337---,00.html

    If you decide to move forward I may be able to send some business your way in the future and also have some vehicles for sale that are licensed in the state of Michigan already.

    Here's a list of my marketing websites in your area:


  8. #8
    Senior Member Billy Bob's Avatar
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    Have we decided if it will be a 15 passenger (with driver) and below or a 16+ passenger vehicle? Do not buy a limousine. I would start with a small one (15 Passenger). If it did not work out, it is difficult to write off a $150,000 Limo Bus. We operate a 26 passenger Limo Bus and a 24 passenger Executive Bus. The limo Bus is limited and the Executive Bus runs during the week. I just finished an $1,800.00 run today with the Ex. Bus. I will admit people have more fun in the Limo Bus for weddings than the Ex. Bus. You may visit our web site www.eShuttle.Net

    As for meeting with a consultant, most of the information on this site is free. You just have to look. Also, I just found out today, if you place two spaces after a period, you are considered to be old. Old people are easily distracted.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Billy Bob's Avatar
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    Also, have you ever been to one of the limo shows? I would attend one of these events before you did anything.

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    Create videos for your specific YouTube channel.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Cedar Mill Limousine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IntriguedLimoEntrepreneur View Post
    Start up would be in Grand Rapids MI. It is legal here and we do have quite a few competitors. Hi there I am a 32 year old woman who works for a good company, but recently got my degree in Business Managment with a focus on entrepreneurship. I have a bit of experience in owning a business but it was online and I have no experience in this industry. I have done a lot of research regarding permits, insurance, and have a meeting with a consultant at the SBA. Before I go forward and do a ton of industry research I would like some honest feedback as I dont want to quit my job or put it at risk with the low possibility of reward.

    My questions are:
    1)Would it be possible to begin with one bus and make a profit? If not, how many buses (average) would be required to make a profit after the costs of liability insurance, auto insurance, and insurance on the driver, passengers, etc...

    All depends on your market. With only one vehicle to move, you need less advertising and all other overhead will be cheaper. I agree with Brandon's remarks earlier.

    2) Would I need a commercial location at first for operations, such as a space to park a 15 passenger bus, garage, office, etc..or in the beginning could I park it in my driveway and just take it monthly for an inspection (if thats necessary) and run the business from home until I can afford a commercial location.

    Depends on your local codes. That being said, I would suggest setting up as much as possible as you want the business to be. Everytime you change location you will need to update DOT records, etc. Also, make everything from the very beginning completely separate from personal. Different email address, phone, credit cards, gas cards, EVERYTHING! This will make accounting easier and also if you decide to get out and sell it will make it easier to sell those assets.

    3) I would only have time to put in about 30 hours a week in the beginning. My father and mother are both retired and can work for me part time. For example she would man the phones, keep maintenance records, handle accounting/paying bills, book reservations, etc.. Dad can help with driving on the weekends but I believe i would need to hire another driver.

    I figured on having 3x more drivers on the roll than needed. Runs will not end when planned, flights will be delayed, drivers will get sick, etc. Either need to over hire on drivers and/or become real good friends with other companies so they can help in a pinch. Get it figured out beforehand what rates, etc. are with them.

    4) Do you find yourself having to deal with police, court, drunken out of control people/situations/, issues with club owners, etc. And if so do you have an attorney that represents you or do you represent yourself?

    Depends on your clients. We rarely had any issues. Having a lawyer help set up your business early is a good idea as it helps build the relationship with them. If you are set up as a company (most States) will require you to have representation in small claims court.

    5) What other concerns should I have before even thinking about going any further?

    Make sure you have plenty of start-up capital. Most companies go under in first 3 years do to lack of capital. We suggest at least 6 months of all expenses on hand. Hopefully you are busy enough to not need it, but it will take a while to get a client foundation. Good luck!
    See responses above in bold/italic.
    Rich Rottier
    219.808.0976 | richrottier@gmail.com

  12. #12
    Senior Member Cedar Mill Limousine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Bob View Post
    Do not buy a limousine.
    I would disagree. We did not have any buses and did quite well. I would check with your insurance company to see if there is any difference in premiums between buses and limousines...you may be surprised. Sidenote: we have a couple of nice stretches for sale if interested (we sold our business 12/31/14)!
    Rich Rottier
    219.808.0976 | richrottier@gmail.com

  13. #13
    Senior Member Billy Bob's Avatar
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    One thing I would like you to look at is the availability of CDL Drivers in your area. They are hard to find. If you are going to have someone obtain their CDL and not have the proper experience, you may be in for a difficult start. Start with a smaller vehicle first. Non CDL vehicle.

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