Opening a new limo business can be a daunting experience. For those of you looking to make your mark in the limousine industry, you not only have to have good business sense, you have to be a trained chauffeur, know how to deal with all different members of the public, be a good marketer, economist and, among other things, a part-time mechanic. Any trip can range from an adventure to a nightmare, so it helps to first and foremost have clear, written goals for your limo business with steps you will take to accomplish them.
What To Do First
Your first task is to understand what having a limo business entails. You have to prepare for spur of the moment reservations, late and long hours, dealing with people who could become unruly, meeting on-time expectations and working every weekend. You have to consider and plan for a myriad of “what ifs”: What if you have an accident? What if a passenger is injured, even away from your limousine? What if a client doesn’t show up? What if you’re late? What if a client is dissatisfied? What if you don’t get paid? What if your limo breaks down? What if you get lost? What if you get sick or a passenger gets sick? You have to have a plan for every scenario if you’re going to be successful. If you uncomfortable handling the “what ifs”, then is the limousine business really for you?
Once you’ve accepted the challenge of becoming a limo business owner, you can take the next steps.
- Investigate the regulations pertaining to opening a limo business in the state you wish to operate in. There will always be rules regarding the licensing and establishment of a commercial enterprise, including proof of insurance, zoning rules and tax liabilities. The more you know about creating a limo business plan and how you will turn a profit, the better off you will be at start-up.
- Make sure you understand your specific insurance needs for both your limo business and your vehicle. Don’t assume you are covered under your personal vehicle policy, and in any case, you should keep your business separate from your personal expenses. You will need liability and physical damage/collision coverages, with limits to adequately cover you if the worst should happen. An experienced, reliable passenger transportation insurer like LimoDirect can give you the peace of mind you need to concentrate on getting yourself established as a successful limo business.
- Does the state you intend to register your limo business in require a Chauffeur’s License? Not every state does, but there may still be some restrictions to driving a vehicle for hire. Some states may have age restrictions, others will add an endorsement to your regular license, and others may require background checks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) specifies that drivers of vehicles with sixteen or more passengers, including the driver, must have a Commercial Driver’s License with a passenger (P) endorsement. Knowing this information upfront will save you time and money.
- Do the necessary research. What is your market? What competition is already operating in the area you want to be in? Will you prefer to “specialize,” such as weddings, proms and graduations, airport transfers, concerts, sporting events or funeral services, or do you want to be available for any type of trip? Your best bet is to operate and market your services in proximity to larger communities with corporate parks and industries rather than in rural areas. Take some practice runs to familiarize yourself with the surrounding areas, its traffic and alternate routes.
- Unless you intend to only be a broker, purchase a vehicle. The cost to set up, including the purchase of a vehicle, can be in the $50,000 to $100,000 range. It’s not an inexpensive proposition, so make sure you’re committed to your goals.
- Plan to market your business using ads, mailings, business cards and the internet. Network through state and national limousine association conventions and memberships. Be creative in your approach to your business. Develop relationships with clubs, restaurants, hotels, local theatre, concert venues, year-round activities where people like to get dressed up for a day or night on the town. Suggest a “package” of limo-and-a-meal or limo-and-a-ticket promotions. The more people on your side, the more successful your business will be.
- Be familiar with your vehicle. Read the owner’s manual and know how to do some simple mechanical maintenance, change a tire, fill the fluids and do a minor repair on the road if necessary.
Nothing successful or worthwhile is ever easy. It takes knowledge, ambition, the right attitude and a lot of hard work to make a business flourish. Good luck and drive safely!
If you would like to speak with a limo insurance specialist about starting your own limo business, call 800-782-8902 x3042, visit our website www.limoinsurancedirect.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- http://www.sba.gov – The Official Business Link to the U.S. Government. The site has lots of information for start-ups.
- http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/business-laws-regulations/business-regulations/ – Another site with links for limo business start-ups.
- http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99021,00.html – An IRS site with links to every state government.
- http://www.dmv-department-of-motor-vehicles.com/ – Provides links to every state and the District of Columbia to DMV.
- http://www.inc.com/guides/201105/10-tips-on-how-to-research-your-competition.html – From Inc. Magazine on researching your competition.
- http://www.sba.gov/content/conducting-market-research – Another SBA site which offers advice on researching markets.