The Party Bus Industry is Expected to Grow by 35% by 2025. Individuals of all ages, legal age that is, love to party! You may see them posting their party adventures on their Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat pages. Sometimes it’s in their homes, at a friend’s home, or on this fancy-looking party bus with neon lights and a minibar.
This fancy bus is a lucrative business opportunity if you’re looking to start a party bus business. It’s one of the most stylish ways to party on the go, especially for those who don’t mind spending a good chunk of change on a birthday or special occasion. If you’re considering starting a party bus business, here’s everything you should know before you seal the deal.
How To Start A Party Bus Business
1.Write A Business Plan
A business plan helps you run your business. It acts as a guide to run you through every stage of beginning your new business venture as well as managing it.
Not only does the business plan bring some structure to your business, but it also may be required to establish funding related to business expenses and startup. If you find investors, they will also look to this business plan for reassurance that their investment is a wise choice.
All good business plans should give a detailed description of all projected costs that may be required for startup and operation. You should be sure to extensively outline all products and services you plan to offer. Additionally, you should express in detail how your company is going to stand out from the other party bus companies.
Business Plan Format
If you’re new to the business plan, just know that there’s not a wrong or right way to do it. The most important part of the process is that the plan meets your needs and expectations. You can write it in a traditional manner or a lean startup.
Traditional: The traditional business plans are the most common. They do require more work from you and can be extremely long, but they use a standard structure that requires a lot of detail. Your traditional plan should include:
- An executive summary
- Description of the company
- Market analysis
- Structure of the company
- Product or services
- Marketing strategy
- Projections for finances
- How much you think your company is valued
- Relationships with customers
- Target market
- How you will communicate with your customers
- The value of your company
- How your company will make money
2.Take Your Road Test
It may seem silly, but one of the most important steps in the process is to take your road test. Yes, you may have your regular driver’s license, but you need a commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement.
You can check with your local department of motor vehicles to inquire about what requirements there are for owning and operating the party bus. However, if you don’t plan to drive the bus, you won’t need the extra driver’s license, but your employees will.
Since you already have your business plan written up, you can now apply for funding. It’s important to understand that you can’t walk into a bank and ask for a loan without having some backup resources. Here’s what you should have with you when you apply for your loan:
Developing a budget for your startup costs and having a five-year projection of the cost of operation is a great way to start. This budget should contain projections for operating costs such as bus purchases, maintenance, cleaning, permits, amenities, and marketing. Additionally, you should also give a detailed plan of action for your marketing and advertising strategies.
Small Business Administration Loans
If you have a local Small Business Administration office in your area, you should first go to them and consult with the counselors that are there. This is a free service that allows you to pitch your business plan and they will place you with the local Small Business Administration partners that match your needs.
One of the most common loan programs through the Small BUSINESS Administration is the 7(a) loan program. The maximum loan amount is $5 million and some fees go along with it depending on whether or not the loan is over $150,000.
The loan officer will review your credit and other assets before they approve the loan. They are in control of the terms, but they guarantee up to 75 percent of the loan. This protects the lenders against default.
Home Equity Line of Credit
If you can’t get approved for a small business loan you can look to the equity in your home. If there’s enough of it, you can use the home as collateral and take out a home equity line of credit. You can use the money for your business, but it has to be paid back or you will be at risk of losing your home.
Crowdfunding has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years or so. You can use online platforms such as Kickstarter to start a campaign. New businesses frequently use this method for their startup costs.
You need to tell them a compelling story to convince people to invest in your new business. You can also choose to offer rewards for your investors. You can offer them a free night on the party bus or a discount on services.
Credit cards are easy to obtain if you have sufficient credit. You can use the cards to fund startup costs and a lot of them offer a 0% introductory rate. Generally, the higher your credit score is, the higher limit you will receive.
If you don’t need much for a startup, Revolving Loan Funds may be an ideal option. They are meant for entrepreneurs who may not have the proper credit or means to obtain a loan from a bank. The loans generally range from $500 to $150,000.
You don’t have to jump through the same hoops as you would with a bank either. The purpose of this type of plan is to help communities thrive.
Leasing is a great way to eliminate partial costs for starting the party bus business. You can lease the bus rather than buy it upfront. The downside to leasing is that it’s going to cost you more in the long run because you will need to pay for it each month even if it’s not in use. You can also choose to lease a building to run your business out of rather than buying it.
Online lenders are a quick and easy way to obtain funding. Since receiving loans from a bank is generally a lengthy process to go through, many small business owners choose to go through online lenders. There is a lot less paperwork involved and you may receive approval almost instantly or within a few hours to days.
3.Apply For The Proper Licenses and Permits
Before you apply for anything, you need to figure out where you’re going to operate. Are you going to stay within your city or are you going to travel to other cities in the area?
If you are operating within just one or two cities, you may need a specific parking permit or inspection to maintain legality. After you have decided where you want to operate your bus, you can then apply for the proper licenses and permits.
Why Get A Business License?
A business license is necessary for operating your own business. Small businesses are required to obtain a license before they can begin to operate.
Each county in your state has different requirements and regulations and failing to follow the regulations can lead to hefty fines, the revocation of your license, various penalties, and late fees. This is why it’s crucial that you determine which licenses and permits are required before you open your business.
Moreso, these licenses and permits give your potential customers, employees, and potential investors a clear picture of how dependable and honest you are. Additionally, it shows that your business is being properly operated under stringent guidelines.
Types of Licenses and Permits
There are various licenses and permits that you may be required to apply for before you can open your business. If you are unsure of which permits or licenses you need, you can seek legal counsel.
- Operating License: This license is the state and city-issues license that permits you to operate your business legally. Each jurisdiction has its own conditions and ordinances that must be followed.
- DBA: A DBA allows you to operate your business under a different name than what you have it registered as. It’s known as a “Doing Business As” permit. This is a trade name and the requirements for obtaining one will differ by location.
- Zoning and Planning: If you plan to run your business out of your home, you need to report it to zoning if your area isn’t zoned for commercial use. If it isn’t zoned for commercial use, you need to apply for a zoning variance. This ensures that your business isn’t going to disrupt your community in any way.
- Home Occupation Permit: As mentioned already, if you are going to operate out of your home, you may need to apply for a home occupation permit. This type of permit acquisition means that your business isn’t going to add additional traffic or noise to your community.
- Fire Permit: If you plan to run your business out of a commercial building, you need to acquire a fire permit. This is to ensure that your building complies with local fire and safety regulations.
When acquiring a fire permit, the fire department will conduct a very thorough inspection of your building. They will make sure your building is up to code and that it follows all local building codes.
You may need to acquire this permit even before your building opens, but some jurisdictions only require an annual inspection after opening the business.
EIN: The EIN is your Employer Identification Number and it permits you to hire employees. This is one of the most vital pieces of paper you will have. It’s a piece of paper that you have to hang somewhere in your establishment for customers and other officials to see.
This piece of paper also gives you the right to collect taxes for payroll. You will use the number given by the county or state on your future tax forms.
Sign Permit: In many states and counties, you need to have a permit for any sign you may use to advertise your business. If you erect a sign and don’t have the proper permits, you may be subject to serious fines.
This permit tells you how big your sign can be and where exactly you can place it on your property.
4.Obtain Proper Insurance
Since you’re going to be operating a party bus business, you’re going to need more insurance than a business without vehicles. Here’s all of the insurances you may be required to have before opening your business:
- Liability: Liability insurance covers any expenses that may come from client injury or property damage.
- Commercial Property Insurance: This is insurance that you need to have on your building if you have one. It covers the cost of equipment that may be lost or damaged by forces out of your control such as floods, fires, and tornadoes.
- Commercial Car Insurance: Car insurance is needed on every vehicle you own, but you will also need commercial car insurance. It’s specifically meant for vehicles that are used for business purposes rather than personal use.
- Physical Damage/Collision Insurance: Also known as Collateral Protection Insurance. It is meant to cover physical damage to your party bus. It may also include any medical expenses and liability coverage.
- Limousine Physical Damage Insurance: This type of insurance will cover the costs that may come with accidents and injuries involved in your party bus. The insurance covers the following:
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Workers Compensation: Covers the expenses that may come from lost wages or medical bills for an employee after being injured on the job.
- Liquor Liability: If you plan to distribute alcohol on your party bus, you will need liquor liability insurance. It covers claims of bodily injury or property damage that may be the result of an intoxicated person’s actions after being served alcohol in your party bus.
- General Liability for Limo: This is needed to cover any claims of bodily injury or property damage when operating the vehicle.
- Special Communications Equipment Coverage: This insurance protects you against theft or damage to any communication equipment needed to run your business. This can include GPS units, radios, and cell phones.
5.Decide What Services You Will Offer
Consider what you’re going to offer your party-goers. You don’t have to offer them anything other than a night out on the town with some drinks and fancy lights. However, the more things you offer, the more likely people are to want to use your service, especially if some of them are complimentary. Check out these possibilities:
If you’re drinking, you should probably be eating as well. You can choose to offer snack foods on your bus for free or for a small fee that’s included in the price or you can have each party fully catered with a host or hostess.
Additionally, you can give your party-goers the option to bring their own food. They will have more control of the menu and it ensures that everybody is well fed. If you do offer your own food, it’s important to take into consideration the dietary requirements of your customers. Ensure they don’t have food allergies before they consume the food.
Your party bus should have a decent selection of beverages. You can choose to offer beverages with the package or allow them to bring their own if they are all of legal age. You should also offer soft drinks such as soda as well as water to keep your customers hydrated.
Cutlery, Cups, and Plates
Having plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery on the bus will make eating finger foods much easier. It reduces spills and crumbs that may make your party bus harder to clean. It’s recommended that you use disposable items for easier cleanup.
Party buses should have spectacular sound systems that blast tunes everybody can enjoy. You can offer to let your customers use their smartphones to play their own music or you can bring along specific genres of music on CDsparty-goers or a portable device to play at their request.
Decorations & Favors
One of the most important aspects of your party bus are its aesthetics. You’re going to want to equip the bus with neon lights, strobes, and anything the customer has requested if you choose to offer that service.
Additionally, you can choose to let them bring their own decorations as well. You can choose to charge a small fee at the end of the night if you are going to clean the mess yourself.
6.Buy Your Bus!
Once you have all of your ducks in a row, it’s time to buy your bus. You can’t just buy any bus though, you need to buy the right one. Leasing a bus may be a good option if you don’t have the upfront funds associated with the purchase.
When looking at buses, it’s important to consider how large or small you want it to be. How many seats do you need? How much room will you need? How much extra space is needed for food and drinks?
Here are different types of party buses that you can purchase:
- Stretch Limo Bus: Seats up to 9 people
- Sprinter Van Bus: Seats 10-20 people
- Hummer or SUV Bus: seats up to 25 people
- Motor Coach: Seats up to 45 people
- Charter Bus: Seats up to 55 people
What’s Needed Inside The Bus?
When inside the bus, you have to ensure your customers are comfortable and that they can party safely. This is what has been seen in different party buses and some you may want to consider:
- Flat-screen television
- Gaming system
- Dance floor and poles
- Black lights
- Laser lights
- Luxury seating
- Premium sound systems
6.Market Your Business
Once you have acquired everything you need to get started with your party bus service, you will now need to gain some customers. The first step you need to take is to determine your market. There are four factors you have to take into consideration:
- The Size of the Market
- Market Wealth
- Market Competition
- Proposed Value
Once you have identified your market, you can then begin to build a keyword list. You can use this keyword on blogging sites and social media. The important thing to remember is to use a keyword that you think other people are typing into Google. You can use Google’s Keyword Tool to start the process.
Use Social Media
Social media is huge these days. Everybody is either on Instagram. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or LinkedIn. You can use these websites to your advantage. I know firsthand that Facebook allows you to create a company page and link it directly to your personal Facebook page.
You can then set it so that any post you make on your business page will go to your personal page.
Each social networking website is different, though. Take Twitter for example. You can schedule messages to be dispersed at certain times, but on Reddit, you can’t. You have to keep in mind what type of community and network you are aiming to reach. Facebook and Twitter may be more responsive since their demographic is larger.
Create A Blog or Website
If you’re internet savvy, you can create a blog or a website for your company. You can use free services such as Wix or pay for a specific type of software that will help create your blog or website. Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps Google and other various search engines locate and rank your content.
Once you have your blog or website set up, you can then share it on your social media websites. You can also use Google to advertise the website for a monthly fee.
Use Auto Mailers
Auto mailers were great for my business. I was able to go to the post office and ask them to send out all of my fliers to the zip code they delivered to. I was also able to do it online. They will deliver the flier to all mailboxes that are on specific routes. You can choose one route or multiple, but the more you choose, the more it’s going to cost.
Hiring employees is a huge step when opening your business. Luckily, with this type of business, there’s no real special equipment or training needed. All you need to think about is what type of employees you want to hire. Here are a couple of traits you should look for in a good employee:
- Dedication to the job
- Able to problem solve
- Previous driving experience
- Customer service
Once you’ve got the traits figured out, it’s time to put out a job posting. Your ad should clearly explain what you’re looking for and what the job consists of.
You should also advertise whether or not you’re offering benefits such as paid time off, insurance, or retirement plans if you choose to have them.
I used multiple platforms to post my ad when I was looking for employees. I used Indeed and Facebook. However, there are other options that may better suit you such as:
- Career Builder
- Your personal website
- Local newspaper
How To Hire Your Employees
After you’ve received a couple of good resumes, you can begin to review them. Separate them by your level of interest. Once you have a couple that are considered to be ideal candidates, you can begin conducting interviews.
During these trying times, many companies are using teleconferencing to conduct interviews. You can use Skype, a telephone, Google Meets, and other platforms. During this process, it’s a great idea to ask them some simple questions regarding their interest in your company and what they are looking for.
Interviewing potential candidates can show you their personalities. Take this time to ask them about what their previous job experience was, how far they see themselves going within your company MotorCoachis, and other questions that can tell you more about their dedication.
Once you’ve picked your top candidates, conduct background checks with their permission. They must consent to it before you do it. You can then check their references. Their references can tell you more about their work habits and personalities.
There’s really no training required when it comes to driving a party bus. You just need to ensure they have their commercial driver’s license before they can operate one. It may be a good idea to take them on a couple of dry runs to ensure they know the area they are working in and that they can handle your particular party bus.
8.Set Up Your Accounting System
You can’t properly run your business if you don’t have some sort of accounting system put into place. The accounting system can help you keep track of funds coming in, going out, current prices, and taxes. This helps keep your business legitimate and in good standing with the IRS. It will also track and monitor current trends that will help increase profits.
One of the most popular and affordable accounting systems is FreshBooks. This is a great software for beginners. It helps create invoices for customers, automatically schedule payments, charge late fees for any unpaid balances, and more.
What Are The Profit Possibilities?
Profit is what you want, right? Most party bus services charge roughly $750-$1,000 per trip. This depends on how far you’re going to go in terms of miles and what you’re offering them on the bus. It also depends on how many hours your customer wants the bus for. The more hours they ask for, the higher the cost is going to be. The average salary is around $37,000 per year minimum.
The startup costs of Party Bus Company
Unfortunately, the first couple of years may not bring a ton of profit. The startup costs alone can cost almost $65,000 if you don’t buy the bus outright. Here’s a quick breakdown of potential costs associated with your startup:
- Payroll (Min) $0 (Max) $4,000
- Misc. Employee Expenses (Min) $0 (Max) $1,000
- Employee Incentives (Min) $0 (Max) $500
- Office Equipment (Min) $500 (Max) $5,000
- Cleaning Supplies (Min) $25 (Max) $500
- First-Aid Equipment (Min) $25 (Max) $500
- Website (Min) $0 (Max) $100
- Website Design (Min) $200 (Max) $6,000
- Domain Name (Min) $12 (Max) $200
- Email Hosting (Min) $5 (Max) $75
- Website Chat Function (Min) $0 (Max) $75
- Server Hosting (Min) $0 (Max) $50
- Insurance (Min) $500 (Max) $2,000
- Permit & Licenses (Min) $50 (Max) $700
- Attorney Feed (Min) $0 (Max) $1,500
- LLC & Corporation Setup (Min) $50 (Max) $500
- Store Utilities (Min) $0 (Max) $1,000
- Rent (Min) $0 (Max) $8,000+
- POS System (Min) $0 (Max) $1,200
- Inventory (Min) $300 (Max) $5,000
- Inventory Storage (min) $0 (Max) $5,000
- Shrinkage (Min) $0 (Max) $1,000
- Fuel (Min) $50 (Max) $500+
- Travel (Min) $0 (Max) $1,500
- Credit Card Processing Fees (Min) $0 (Max) $300
- Advertising Expenses (Min) $75 (Max) $4,800
- Software Expenses (Min) $150 (Max) $2,420
Is Franchising An Option?
Once you’ve started to gain some profit from your party bus business, you may begin to think about franchising. Franchising your business allows you to quickly expand your business without having to manage new locations.
You have to carefully consider how your franchisees will operate their locations to ensure your brand is consistent. However, the benefits of franchising your business allows you to gain additional streams of revenue.
Before you think about franchising, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your business successful?
- Can you protect your brand?
- Is your business scalable?
- Do you have enough commitment?
- Do you have the budget?
How To Franchise Your Business
Franchising your business requires a couple of things. First, you have to do your homework. You should thoroughly research everything you need to know about franchising. Learn about the agreements, disclosure documents, and fees.
Additionally, you need to experiment. Evaluate the success and challenges of your business. Before opening another location, it’s imperative to ensure you aren’t getting in over your head. You should also never make the journey alone. Consider hiring professional help.
Lastly, create a great marketing strategy that’s going to catch the eye of potential franchisees. Keep your business models simple and easy to explain.
How To Determine Whether To Franchise
Determining whether or not you can franchise your company depends on the following factors:
- Your understanding of franchising
- Your personal goal evaluation
- Your business goal evaluation
- Evaluation of strengths and weaknesses
- The overall cost
- Determining what comes after franchising
Can You Start A Party Bus Business From Home?
Quite honestly, a lot of people start their party bus business from home. They want to ensure its success before they commit to opening a shop somewhere else. However, not everybody can make this happen. You need to ensure that your home can be used as a base location for your bus.
You may be required to obtain a home occupation permit. This permit is permission to run your business from your home, but only if your neighborhood is zoned for this type of activity. It shouldn’t add any additional traffic or noise to the community.
Also, do you have a garage big enough for the bus or can you use street parking? You may need to acquire a parking permit if you need to utilize extra parking spaces.
Ready To Get Started?
Now that you know all there is to know about starting a party bus company, you’re ready to get going. This is an extremely lucrative business, as already mentioned. It can gain you well over $37,000 per year just for driving people around.
Just remember, there are many party bus companies all over the United States who are all competing against each other to offer the best and most exciting experience. It’s important to get yourself out there and do whatever it takes to make it to the top.
Ruben has been doing online marketing for the last 4 years. Prior to that, he spent 15 years managing different brick-and-mortar businesses, in the home improvement and logistics industries. Overall, he has 20 years of business experience under his belt. Recently, he added SEO, affiliate marketing, and link building to his business skills.