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Business plan makes bus business "look good" says Alberta entrepreneur

Location
CompanyRental Bus Lines
Industry:Transportation and Warehousing
City:Spruce Grove, Alberta
Amounts: various  Find what funding programs you qualify for

Business plan helps company realize their potential

Fourteen years ago, Barbara Battaglini was at home taking care of the kids while her husband, Kevin, operated a variety of businesses. This included landscaping, septic pumpouts, and a single-bus school bus route. Today, that one bus and one bus route grew into 29 routes as well as a fleet of more than 200 buses. And the Battaglinis' Alberta business in Spruce Grove, Rental Bus Lines, is poised to grow even bigger. With new contracts in the offing and the building of a new eight-bay shop on a large piece of land they've recently purchased, and a new business plan, the future looks bright for the bus business.

Bus business grows steadily

It all started when Barbara purchased the bus from her husband, who was driving it some of the time, and hiring a spare driver when he was busy with his other ventures. She started focusing on that end of the business. "We went up to 10 school bus routes, and then in 2004, we went up another 11," she says. "We purchased another contractor's equipment in a different school division, and we were awarded the contracts. Since 2004, it's really zoomed."

Expanding into rental bus lines

That same year, they also got a contract for crew buses onsite at Petro Canada, and a similar opportunity is opening up again. Unlike the school bus business, Rental Bus Lines leases the buses out to pipeline companies, ski academies and the like, who operate them with their own drivers. "During the summertime, we were leasing out to a rafting place," says Barbara with a laugh. "There seems to be high demand all year round." At the moment, the company operates with a one-bay shop, and employs a mechanic part time. But with business booming and the new shop, they'll need one or two full-time mechanics by next year.

Financing growth with the help of a business plan

To finance the growth, Barbara decided to prepare a business plan, something she'd managed to avoid so far. She called on the Centre for Business Plan Development. "This was the first time we've ever done anything like that," she says. "And when I saw the finished results, I was like, 'Wow, we look good!'" she laughs. "You don't think about all the things you've done, because you just do it. But to see it on paper, that was good." The plan helped her realize the potential for the company, too. "They took the information I gave them and made us look good. We looked at the results, and realized the growth we have accomplished. And we have room to grow yet. We feel that's going to happen once we move up to a bigger shop."

Integrating the family into a business

The Battaglinis' kids are grown now, but the company is still family focused. "It just works, the hours and everything else, when you have a family," she says. "Most of our drivers have kids, and they can take them on the bus." She laughs. "We're more ma and pa, that's our kind of business. We're not all high-tech. If we can get things done and done right, then we can just do it that way."


rentalbuslines.ca

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Please note our Centre is not affiliated to programs profiled in the above article and no claim is made that funding is due to our Centre unless stated.
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