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Old 11-21-2013, 09:12 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Preparing to purchase my first bus

So I'd like to start by introducing myself! I'm a 26 entrepreneur with a lot of skills/interests and no finalized plans. I gave up a great job bartending for a crap management job at a nightclub in Minnesota. Here lies my dilemma..
I took a large paycut with the job change and am trying to make something of myself. So I got the idea to run a bus 3-4 times a month from outside of the clubs area to draw in customers that wouldn't otherwise go. I need a bus that can facilitate this! I've started researching the differences between busses and information for starting..but I don't have a lot of freetime and I could spend 5 hours a day reading on busses for a month before actually getting to know what I need to.

Most of the business will be from outside the Minnesota state, meaning I'll be driving between MN and WI. So I must be registered with both states.

Funding will be an issue. I make $10/hr which doesn't allow a lot of savings. I have a 1998 Trans am that is currently in rough shape but I won't take less than $5,500 for it. This leaves me with roughly $7000 if the car is sold or traded. If not financing is available while i wait to sell the car.

Decisions I'm unsure about are:
How big of a bus? I was thinking of starting small and buying a second if I'm successful. Or is it wasteful because I can easily fill up a 50 person bus with the shows that we have. It cannot be less than a 20 person bus or I wouldn't make enough profit to pay a driver, insurance, fuel cost, and half of the ticket costs for shows.
Party or non? It looks like MN doesn't allow drinking on an actual bus..Wisconsinites aren't going to be happy.
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:37 AM   #2
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Welcome to the site!

There are a ton of implications that come with using a "party" bus in conjunction with a business - at least here in the State of Iowa. If you are thinking of using a party bus service with a bar, you need to make sure that you can obtain affordable liability insurance through a business policy for the bus. There have been several lawsuits in the last year involving party buses and people either fighting on the bus (bodily injury ensues for which the bar, the owners and the driver could be liable), or accidents involving the bus in which plaintiffs put forth the rowdy environment on the bus as a reason the driver hit another vehicle, person, etc. The precedence seems to be that bar owners, drivers and passengers will be judged financially liable if there are injuries. Here's a good example of a bar currently facing a lawsuit - even though they DIDN'T own the party bus:

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/articl ... ck-lawsuit

From a business perspective, it seems like the majority of your revenue would come from drinks / food served within the bar. Statistics show that having at least two drinks at one establishment raises the percentage drastically for additional drinks / food at that establishment, so it might be a better leverage of your revenue to keep drinks within the bar instead of starting on the bus. Plus, you would have to pay close attention to the legal implications in more than one state which might be labor-intensive. I don't know what the implications are as far as a liquor license when you are driving a bus between states. That could be tricky too.

I used to manage a bar and grill in Georgia and we proposed a similar idea, but the expenses associated with the bus didn't seem to equate when we factored in liability, inventory, and other expenditures such as maintenance, fuel, driver fees, etc. People seem to tip bus drivers really well when they are teetering on the brink of inebriation, but less so when they are sober.

If you are looking for a service that ensures patrons aren't drinking and driving after their night at your establishment, (bus without the alcohol), Illinois State University has a good system. Granted, this applies mostly to a group of 21+ students all concentrated in a very small, localized area, but it might be applicable to your business, too. The bus shuttles people throughout an 8-mile radius periodically through the evening with a cost of $3/person each way. I don't know if the city subsidizes a portion of the cost, and I don't know if this bus service shuttles to several different bars, but it is a great idea and students in the area appreciate the service.

That's my $.02 worth. I'll let the experts tell you about their awesome bus conversion ideas!
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:41 AM   #3
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Sara way to go with almost the perfect answer, cheers mate
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:48 AM   #4
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

As I have gotten older, it seems I'm less concerned with fun and more concerned with protecting my assets. Let's be honest: party buses are awesome. Lawsuits aren't. Haha.
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:35 PM   #5
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Thank you for the awesome reply! To be a bit clearer I'd be working in collaboration with the promoters of the shows put on. The nightclub itself has no connection to me. The revenue comes from part of the ticket sales for bringing in new customers and charging an average $25 fee to ride the bus. The trips are roughly an hour long..drop off would be roughly 3 am since the shows end at 2am.

When the bus is not in use for the shows at the club I'd like to use it whenever I can for other services. Weddings, parties, games, etc. I haven't decided if I'll allow drinking but chances are it'll happen.

I'm trying real hard not to loose motivation for a project and this is the only thing I think I can make work right now. Renting a bus to the location and back is $1300 coach. If I did it Id spend roughly $100 in gas, $100-120 for the driver at $15 an hour, insurance is roughly (based on 5k from my reading/yr) $400 a month (so $100 per show at the least). $320 total leaving the rest for payment of the bus. I'm sure I'm missing something but I'm in a rush atm.
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:00 PM   #6
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Sell the trans am for it's real value $2000 or less, and buy a small Honda car for $1000. The savings on gas will pay for your bus over the next year.

I have a 86 Trans Am in almost mint shape, never been winter driven. If I sell it, I would be lucky to get $4000.

Gas pigs get almost given away. Because they dig their owners into a financial hole.

Nat
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:29 AM   #7
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ucwarrior1
The nightclub itself has no connection to me.
The liability portion of this project might just be worth the fee to consult an attorney - just to make sure you bases are covered. People will sue whoever they can for whatever reason exists - even if it doesn't seem practical. (9 times out of 10 they will win, too.)

This could be a great service if it was marketed successfully. What kind of capacity are you looking for? How big is the demand? I have been on a few party bus bachelorette parties and it seems like around 20 guests is an average mark for some of my friends. Are there any laws about how seating has to be designed within the bus? If you wanted something that gives you that true transport utility along with the option for more of a "party" bus kind of design, you have a ton of options I would think.

I have to respectfully disagree with getting rid of your Trans Am. Nothing says "awesome" more than a classic vehicle - albeit a gas hog. (I don't have to be practical... I'm a woman.)
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:15 PM   #8
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Woooow this is proving difficult. 9 calls later I'm stuck with no information about insuring a NEW transporting business utilizing a bus. I did get a suggested quote of $10k-12k for a 5 million dollar coverage policy. They require 25% down right away as well. Does anyone have suggestions on companies that may offer insurance for me?

To answer your questions sara:
I may consult an attorney when that becomes available but right now I'm limited to a budget of $8000 ROUGHLY.
I'm thinking of a 30 pax bus. Check out the link below for examples. The demand is large enough that I think I can sell all seats on the bus continually throughout the year. I have other promoting companies that can assist me with this.
I'm unsure about seating..I'll save that research for tonight.

I knoooo getting rid of the trans am is a burden but it is a must if I'm to be successful in the world. Business leaders have always starting at rock bottom somewhere...I have to take the risk
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:39 AM   #9
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sara
Welcome to the site!

There are a ton of implications that come with using a "party" bus in conjunction with a business - at least here in the State of Iowa. If you are thinking of using a party bus service with a bar, you need to make sure that you can obtain affordable liability insurance through a business policy for the bus. There have been several lawsuits in the last year involving party buses and people either fighting on the bus (bodily injury ensues for which the bar, the owners and the driver could be liable), or accidents involving the bus in which plaintiffs put forth the rowdy environment on the bus as a reason the driver hit another vehicle, person, etc. The precedence seems to be that bar owners, drivers and passengers will be judged financially liable if there are injuries. Here's a good example of a bar currently facing a lawsuit - even though they DIDN'T own the party bus:

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/articl ... ck-lawsuit

From a business perspective, it seems like the majority of your revenue would come from drinks / food served within the bar. Statistics show that having at least two drinks at one establishment raises the percentage drastically for additional drinks / food at that establishment, so it might be a better leverage of your revenue to keep drinks within the bar instead of starting on the bus. Plus, you would have to pay close attention to the legal implications in more than one state which might be labor-intensive. I don't know what the implications are as far as a liquor license when you are driving a bus between states. That could be tricky too.

I used to manage a bar and grill in Georgia and we proposed a similar idea, but the expenses associated with the bus didn't seem to equate when we factored in liability, inventory, and other expenditures such as maintenance, fuel, driver fees, etc. People seem to tip bus drivers really well when they are teetering on the brink of inebriation, but less so when they are sober.

If you are looking for a service that ensures patrons aren't drinking and driving after their night at your establishment, (bus without the alcohol), Illinois State University has a good system. Granted, this applies mostly to a group of 21+ students all concentrated in a very small, localized area, but it might be applicable to your business, too. The bus shuttles people throughout an 8-mile radius periodically through the evening with a cost of $3/person each way. I don't know if the city subsidizes a portion of the cost, and I don't know if this bus service shuttles to several different bars, but it is a great idea and students in the area appreciate the service.

That's my $.02 worth. I'll let the experts tell you about their awesome bus conversion ideas!

Ummm...what she said. I mean Sara. If I were smarter, I probably could have come up with something like that, but since I'm not, I will give it too you in Cal-speak. I have been in the transportarion business for over 30 years and what you have in the making is a SHITSANDWICH without the bread. Driving drunks is not fun. Even one can be a pain in the ass. There have been several incidents in the last few years involving party buses and limos that have involved deaths as well as criminal and civil actions against the owners. The most recent that comes to mind is the limo fire on the San Mateo Bridge that killed 5 women. Another one that I remember was a woman falling or being thrown out of a limo bus.

You need have all your operating authorities in order and insurance up the ass because you will need it. Your bus needs to be in top mechanical condition. In California, buses need a mechanical inspection every 45 days. Your bus will be put out of service by DOT for certain mechanical issues. Your driver will need to have a commercial class B licence. Our state requires random drug testing. You will need workmans comp. You will need to collect payroll taxes. Your bus is now an inspected commercial vehicle. You can't drive it without a class B license, even for personal use.

For your reading pleasure...

https://www.google.com/#q=limo+fire+san+mateo+bridge

https://www.google.com/#q=woman+fall...bus+santa+cruz

I guess it doesn't just happen in California.

https://www.google.com/#q=woman+falls+from+party+bus

Oh, I almost forgot, good luck with your new business venture.
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:05 PM   #10
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Re: Preparing to purchase my first bus

Word of the wise....

Get yourself away from the intoxicated people work environment, Get a trade or two in the construction world of work, and keep your Trans Am. Making good trades money, you will be able to afford to drive it.

It's simple realy. The environment, or energy that you place yourself in is what you become over time. Do you want to wreck your life in that scene?

Plumbing is a good trade. It's like Lego. I realy like it.
Electrical is one more of the cleaner type trades. Needs more brain power than plumbing.
If you want to sit on your butt, there are many other driving jobs around.

Good luck

Nat
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