Thinking about opening a school bus transportation business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Entrepreneurial Opportunities in School Busing
Rising demands and shrinking budgets are causing many school districts to rethink the manner in which they provide transportation for their students. While some districts have elected to reduce the number of routes they offer, others have decided to completely privatize busing to contain costs and minimize liabilities. The hasty exit of school district's from the busing business has created gaping holes in the marketplace, which transportation entrepreneurs are happy to fill – for a price.
Emerging school bus business owners can engage their target market in several ways. Although an exclusive contract to provide daily and/or extra-curricular busing for one or more school districts is the brass ring, it's also possible to provide fee-based yellow bus service to families that have been cut from their school district's bus plan.
Securing Vehicles for a School Bus Transportation Startup
You don't need an MBA to know that your startup can't afford to waste money and vehicles have the potential to be the most expensive cost in your school bus transportation startup. Your first challenge as a business owner will be to find a way to secure safe and reliable yellow buses at an affordable price.
The secondary school bus market is a great place to look for your initial fleet of buses. Depending on the situation, it's possible the school district may be willing to sell their entire existing bus fleet to facilitate the privatization of their busing activities.
Another option to reduce upfront costs is to lease your bus fleet. Leasing typically costs more in the long run. But for transportation entrepreneurs who are unable to secure capital or financing for the upfront purchase of a bus fleet, leasing is a reasonable strategy for securing the vehicles you need to get your startup rolling.
HR Issues for New School Bus Companies
Hiring is tricky for any transportation provider. But for school bus transportation businesses, driver employment is particularly sensitive. In addition to screening drivers for substance use and clean driving records, you'll need to comply with state guidelines regarding background checks, first aid training and clearances to work with children.
Many school bus companies install onboard cameras to record the actions of drivers and students. From a liability standpoint, cameras can mitigate the consequences of baseless accusations against your drivers. However, the most important tool for minimizing your company's liability is a hiring process that targets drivers with experience in child transportation.
For more information about safety and efficiency in school bus transportation, consider participating in the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and other trade organizations.
How to Write a Top Quality School Bus Transportation Company Business Plan
A business plan is the skeletal framework for your school bus transportation business's mission, goals and strategic vision.
In contemporary business culture, business plans are also litmus tests used by external interests to assess real world viability and marketability.
Early in the process, it's worth your time to learn how to write the market analysis section of a business plan. While a robust market analysis can be a selling point for a school bus transportation business startup, weak market research is a sure giveaway for a business that hasn't invested adequate effort in planning.
Assess the Competition
Prior to opening a school bus transportation business within your community, it's a good idea to see how many competitors you have. Use the link below to get a list of local competitors in your area. Simply enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of school bus transportation businesses in your town.
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
After you've evaluated your local competitors, it's a smart move to speak with somebody who is already in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. What's in it for them?
On the other hand, an individual who has a school bus transportation business in another town may be more than happy to give you a few tips, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. Indeed, many experienced entrepreneurs enjoy offering advice to startup entrepreneurs. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
What's the best way to find a school bus transportation business entrepreneur that lives outside of your area?
It's easy. Here's a link you can use to find a mentor outside of your area.
Getting Started in School Bus Transportation Business Ownership
Would-be school bus transportation business business owners can either launch a new business or acquire an existing operation.
A startup gives you the ability to create a school bus transportation business that conforms to your personal goals and leadership style. But financially, startups present significant challenges because lenders are typically hesitant to fund startup school bus transportation businesses.
Acquired school bus transportation businesses are known quantities - and are less risky for lenders. Although buying a business doesn't guarantee success, it substantially increases your odds of obtaining financing and achieving profitability.
The odds of achieving your primary goal of being a successful business owner are substantially improved when you choose to franchise rather than going it alone.
Before starting a school bus transportation business, you would be wise to check out whether buying a franchise could help you on your entrepreneurial journey.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you currently own a school bus transportation business, try these useful resources:
If you sell to school bus transportation businesses, we've got better information for you elsewhere on our site. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.