Limo Hire Companies Cut Running Costs

Cutting off your nose to spite face may sound a bit much, but Dave Barton did have to cut his own pay check. While it may seem a bit drastic, it was one of the many things he did to help keep his limousine business afloat during the current economic decline. Coupled with a 40 percent-plus rise in fuel prices in the last year, Burton like a lot of limo hire company operators has been doing it tough.

Barton, who is the owner of Orange City-based Goldrush Productions and a board member of the Greater Orlando Limousine Association, said that it has been rough and with business being down 40 to 50 percent; a lot of smaller operators havenít survived. And, the price of fuel hasnít helped either.

But, the problem is not just isolated to one state; the problem is nationwide. Richard Kane, president of the National Limousine Association, said 4 percent of members have shut down in the past year, mostly pressured by fuel costs. But overall membership is growing as operators scramble for information on how to stay afloat and make their limo business a success.

Barton trimmed his company's budget by 40 percent, almost $75,000, he said. His salary topped the list that also included relocating the business from a rented storefront to his home. He also amended and reinforced driver policies to drive slow, start easy and turn off idling cars, all intended to save fuel consumption. Fuel cost has grown from 5 percent of the business expense to 15 percent.

Barton said he actually cut prices to attract business, and that people looking for a limo can get some great deals at the moment. Chris Hundley, long-time owner of Limousine Connection in Los Angeles, has also made his operation more efficient, as he tries to limit limo fuel consumption by driving more than one passenger at a time; he also uses e-mail invoices to stay paperless and rents Priuses when patrons request them.

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