A party bus business allows you to offer groups of customers the ability to book transport for special events that can be handled by a single vehicle. For example, you might find yourself doing business with the general public for events such as bachelor parties, proms and football outings. Your business customers might hire you for corporate events or for travel to and from conferences.
Get licensed. Most states, and some local governments, require specific types of permits and licenses in order to operate a party bus business. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to verify the type of driver’s license that your employees will need and any special permits that will apply to your bus. You may also need to apply for local parking permits, city commercial vehicle tax stickers or inspection stickers as a legal requirement.
Identify and purchase insurance for your vehicles, business and employees. Make sure to get adequate liability insurance, comprehensive and collision insurance and accident insurance. In the event one of your vehicles is involved in an accident or a customer is injured during a trip, insurance gives you protection for both your personal and business finances. Work with an insurance agent familiar with commercial requirements for your state.
Obtain the party bus. Factor in the type of business and size of bookings you are interested in obtaining before you choose a bus. Carefully research different manufacturers, conversion companies and models to identify the vehicle that best suits your needs. Investigate lease options as a way to reduce initial cash outlay.
Hire drivers. Unless you intend to drive the party bus personally, you need to hire drivers. As a rule, do a background check, check references, perform a drug test and obtain a recent driver’s license record. These steps help you weed out potential high-risk candidates who may cause your insurance rates to increase or who are more likely to have an accident for which you will be liable. In addition, hiring courteous, personable and friendly drivers helps promote your business and encourages repeat customers.
Determine price structure and services. In order to accept profitable bookings, you need to decide your service area, the types of bookings you'll accept, and a price structure. Be sure to include items like insurance costs, fuel, employee wages and bus maintenance into your hourly or job costs.
Advertise your business. Print up fliers to hand out at local businesses and companies, schools, colleges and restaurants. Simple business cards are good value and offer extensive exposure for the money. Leave a few wherever you go as a networking tool. Contact local event planners and venues and tell them about your business -- they may recommend you to their customers or hire you themselves. Connect with other party bus operators to establish a relationship in the event they need to subcontract a rental that they can’t handle alone. A website is a great way to promote your party bus business for very little money.
In most states, a commercial chauffeur’s license, similar to those used by taxi drivers, is required to operate any type of “for hire” vehicle. If you plan to finance your bus, the bank will enforce insurance minimums for the vehicles involved. Leasing your party bus allows you to upgrade to a newer or more expensive model without the hassle of having to sell the older bus first. Drivers should be trained in basic first aid, CPR and defensive driving to better ensure passenger safety. Establish a regular maintenance program for your bus and encourage drivers to report any issues immediately. Damage and cleaning deposits will limit your cost if the party bus requires repair or extensive cleaning after a rental.
Clean-up after each rental will take some time and may require several hours to accomplish. Unless you fully understand your state and local laws, never provide alcohol to passengers.
Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.