Cut Down on 'empty rides' and ‘buses that are not being used’

Lunes, Diciembre 30, 2013

What if together we could create a platform on which coach and minibus rental companies could collaborate  all across Europe. 

A few days ago, I spoke with José Luis Conde of Autocares Hnos Montoya who a few years ago formed a partnership between several coach rental companies in Madrid with the aim of improving the earning power of their fleet and companies. Speaking about the functionalities of our site this old idea came back to live. With the technologies of today and the higher penetration of internet it could be easier now to manage such a portal for matching supply and demand of fleet capacity between coach hire companies across Spain and Europe.

Can a company with a fleet of 20 vehicles function as though it has 100?

“I have too much fleet capacity” and “you are short on vehicles,” is a situation known by every fleet manager of a bus company. They  usually have a network on businesses with whom they collaborate to resolve this problem. In a lot of cases this local collaboration works but various problems and missed opportunities still exist:

a) We are all in the same situation: 

The times of a lot and a little need for buses can be the same for all the businesses in a collaboration. Most likely during high season summer months like August in Spain there are not enough buses for beach areas and other areas as well.  When this happens the possibilities for helping each other out with local subcontracting can be limited.

b)      Far from home: 

Collaboration is better established with companies that are near you. Because of that businesses that are very close to each other lose the opportunity to work with other businesses that are out of their circle. Possibly you need a bus or a trip to another part of your community, province or other European country.

c) Lack of reliability and quality: 

If you have a bus that is “standing still” or “a trip with an empty coach” in an area where you don’t have partnerships with other businesses, it’s difficult to know where to begin to look and if the business that you want to contract is reliable and has a good attitude towards service. A system where you can get the information that you need can be helpful to respond to any questions.

d)      It costs time

to know the availability of buses from other businesses and it takes a lot of phone calls.  Because of this, it is useful to be able to see if there are buses available in the areas or routes where you need them.  In addition it will help you to be able to see who has buses available, and in turn who could use one of your buses or coaches if not occupied.

Here we can describe some situations in which a platform for collaboration could be helpful:

Partnerships for “high season” and for “low season”  Imagine that you have bus rental company in Madrid that specializes is transporting school children and workers.  It could be that you have buses that are not being used during Easter’s ‘Holy Week’ (Semana Santa) or during July and August.  Maybe there is a business within your area, but outside of your circle of contacts that needs coaches or minibuses for the same period because they just signed a contract to provide services for a “summer event,” frequent transfers to a theme park, or with a tour agency that takes people on tours around Spain that leave from Madrid.

One or Two Week Long Trips:

It could be that you have sold service for the months from January to March, to take groups from Barcelona to ski resorts in the Pyrenees.  During the trips there are 5 days where the bus and the chauffeur are not working.  On one hand this is an expense that you have put in the budget for the trip, but on the other hand you know that you could make more money if you could find work for the chauffeur and the bus while they are not needed and waiting on this remote location.

Frequent Trips or Routes:

You have several contracts for taking groups to the airport, but because of how your planning went, you have trips that are “empty.” For both small and big businesses it costs more to fill the holes.

Collaboration with businesses in other countries: A rental bus business in France or Germany has sold a contract for two weeks to take 6 groups on a two week tour around Spain, France and Italy.  They do not have enough buses and are interested in working with a coach hire company from Spain.

In the situations that are describe above, a big coach hire business that is covering most of the national territory  has an easier job in avoiding ‘empty rides’ or ‘parked buses’.  If your company is based in Spain it would create an optimal mixture of transportation for workers, school children and touristic minibus hire services.  A bus rental company that can do this, will always be having a good occupancy rate and therefore a better change of for making a good profit.  The bigger the business, the more synergy can be achieved.

On the other hand for a small or medium sized business with a fleet and client base that is limited, this is much harder to do. These companies can benefit from a system that will help them keep to get the best use out of their fleet.

This is the first part about “the collaboration platform for coach hire and ground transportation companies”.  In the coming week, we will write about how we think this can be done.

What do you think? Can this work for your bus rental or chauffeured transport business? In what situation would you use this service? How should this platform work?  What features and functionalities should it have so that you’ll use it on a daily basis?