Luxury Coach & Transportation

November 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 33 of 75

OPERATOR PROFILE A group of bus and limousine services headed by CLT Express Livery finds ways to adapt to a consolidating marketplace. Article and photos by Martin Romjue, LCT editor C HARLOTTE , N.C. / AIKEN, S.C. — Growing client revenue throws up challenges for even the best of operators now, as tech-driven services saturate the ground transportation sector. Advancing a business in this environment requires new approaches tailored to specific business models serving unique markets. In the last few years, Jeff and Laura Canady, own- ers of four Carolinas-based luxury transportation companies, have pursued a successful strategy that offers a role model for opera- tors facing disruption. "I'm always trying to save money," says Jeff Canady of his core focus. "If you spend it on something, you have to make it up elsewhere; if not cars, then with property, if not property, then on over- head. You have to diversify to survive. e sedan-SUV- limo business model no longer works on its own." Compounding industry shifts are the recurring chal- lenges of rising fuel and in- surance costs, and in strong economies, the need to find chauffeurs and drivers who often are "always looking for greener pastures," Canady says. e Canadys are building upon two major business pillars to compete in this climate: A strong push into motor- coach service, while finding economies of scale through five acquisitions of regional transportation companies. ey now run complementary services that span like a javelin from the Charlotte, N.C. metro area south to Aiken, S.C., and eastward to Columbia and Charleston on the coast. ose brands include the flagship CLT Ex- press Livery, SC Express Chauffeured Transportation, SC Coach Charters & Tours, and SC Express Charleston, which it acquired as Charleston Style Limo on June 11. It connects the largest cities in South Carolina with Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, which is also the second largest in the South informally referred to as "Atlanta 20 years ago." Charlotte is seeing growth outward from suburbs to exurbs, reaching small towns like Belmont that rim the city. An LCT onsite visit this summer yielded some insights on how an opera- tion makes the most of its situation. Buying And Merging e company started its ac- quisitions in 2002 with Char- lotte Limousine. In 2010, CLT bought Aiken Limousine, which is now SC Express; then Charlotte Party Charter in 2014; Busy Bee Coach Tours in 2015; and Charles- ton Style Limo this year. e Canadys buy regional companies because it en- ables them to save money by combining operations and sharing fleet vehicles. at requires an investment in time, as Canady estimates it takes about two years to get an acquired operation fully trained and integrated. Running car washes, detailing, and maintenance in-house has proven far cheaper than contracting those services out. ey also have more control over supplies and parts ordering. e company employs me- chanics and detailers onsite. By grouping fleet ve- hicle types under separate brand names, the Canadys also save on insurance costs, with sedans and vans under SC Express each requiring $1.5 million in coverage and the motorcoaches under SC Coach running with $5 million in coverage. As a result of growth and savings, the CLT Express group is on track for $7 million in annual revenues this year with 70 employees. e regional strategy to push into the southwestern side of South Caro- lina has proven a big plus for CLT since 3 2 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION NOVEMBER 2018 Company Succeeds On Cost-Saving Strategies Owners Jeff and Laura Canady have grown their motorcoach operation to the point where they have a separate company, SC Coach Charter & Tours, with a fleet of 12 buses.

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