If you’re thinking of starting a party bus business, you know when it comes to partying and celebrating special events and occasions, nothing beats a party bus. Not only does it provide a fun and unique way to celebrate, but it also ensures that everyone arrives in style and, most importantly, safely.
But with so many party buses and sizes available, choosing the perfect one for your crew can be a daunting task and an expensive lesson if not well thought out. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll share our top tips for picking the ultimate party bus and help you throw an unforgettable party on wheels.
Cruising in Comfort: Tips for Picking the Ultimate Party Bus!
There are many exceptions, however, as someone considering their first bus, keep this simple rule in mind. Busses come in two primary flavors, the first is the “short bus” the smaller bus that generally can have 16 people, with 15 partying passengers and one driver. The other flavor is the big bus, this is the typical school bus sized vehicle. Within these two primary flavors, there’s two more key considerations I’ll discuss below after taking each size one by one.
The first thing you need to consider is the size of your target group. Make sure to choose a party bus that can comfortably accommodate everyone. You don’t want your guests to feel cramped or have to sit on each other’s laps for the entire ride. Consider the number of seats, standing room, and overall space when making your decision. You also need a market for any sized bus. This is important because both your fixed and variable costs are massively different between each size.
LARGER BUSSES COST A LOT LOT LOT MORE TO OPERATE
If your target market is for groups over 15, you have less of a choice because while you can have 15 people in a large bus, the smaller bus has a hard limit you don’t want to violate. However, because of the increased costs, including insurance, a fixed expense, if you are not able to generally fill, or at least charge for, a larger bus, you won’t have an easy time operating at a profit.
The cost of fuel is also important as it’s likely obvious a bigger bus will generally cost more to move. However, the driver requirements to operate a larger bus are much greater. Generally, anyone with a valid standard license (based on the states I offer insurance in) is legally able to operate a smaller bus. For the larger bus, a CDL with air brake endorsement normally is required. This brings up another valid point, the braking system (air verses other braking systems can have an impact on your ability to find qualified drivers). Insurance companies also consider the length of time and nature of driving for CDL drivers.
Breakdowns can cost a lot more for big busses (ie think the difference in towing the different sizes), as well as finding an alternative for your clients if a breakdown happens.
Next, think about the amenities that you want on your party bus. Do you want a bar? A dance floor with or without a “pole” (called dance pole or stabilizing pole, they mean the same)? A sound system? A flat-screen TV or more than one? Some party buses even have built-in photo booths and an upper deck on top of the roof. Decide what features are important to you and look for a bus that fits the bill.
Lastly, consider the route and duration of your ride. If you’re planning on a longer trip, you’ll want a party bus with comfortable seating, and perhaps even a bathroom. If you’re just cruising around town for a few hours, you might be able to get away with a party bus that’s a little more basic.
Party On Wheels: Type of Fuel
Within the two sizes, the next consideration is gas verses diesel. You’ll likely have a lower cost of operating a diesel vehicle verses a gas-powered vehicle. For smaller busses, gas is much more common, and generally cheaper to initially buy. Repairs tend to be less expensive, albeit often not by as much as you may think if you have a good relationship with a repair shop.
Gas powered vehicles tend to need more repairs based on the feedback I’ve received (however, some online sources say gas powered engines require less), and they also tend to get a lot less milage, making the cost per mile usually higher than diesel. If you anticipate (correctly) that the bus will sit much of the time while on the clock (for example stopping at bars and other locations) and proportionately less driving for any given hour on the clock, gas may make sense. However, it’s often hard to know before you’re actually up and running. That said, I would recommend diesel over gas with all else being equal.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, be sure to check out the party bus in person. Take a look inside and make sure that everything is in good condition.
If you’re buying one from out of state, do your homework and make sure the bus capacity in your state matches the other state’s capacity rules. Often, especially between busses that are close in capacity of 16 (15+1), one state may view the bus as a large bus while another state may allow it to fall under the smaller bus size rules. I have seen this happen on more than one occasion, so it’s not exactly uncommon. Again, the fixed and variable costs for a large bus is magnitudes higher than a short/small party bus.
I mentioned repairs, and it bears repeating. Repairs while you’re on duty and on the road can not only destroy your profits, it can also ruin your reputation. The good rule of thumb is that vehicle loan payments cost a lot less than repairs. You must assume any bus will require unexpected repairs, and the difference between an old bus and newer bus is the frequency of repairs. If you feel a brand-new bus isn’t economically viable, it’s likely a good sign your business model will struggle if it’s viable at all. Most new party bus operators don’t buy new busses, and I’m not suggesting you need to, however, you should be able to buy a newer bus with a lot of expected life in it, or you should expect to be miserable and unprofitable trying to solve a lot of unnecessary and expensive problems.
Finally, make sure that the party bus company making the conversion (or selling you the bus) you choose is reputable and professional. Read reviews, ask for references, and make sure you understand what you’re buying.