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Author Topic: Bus Conversion Business  (Read 3482 times)
Busted Knuckle
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« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2011, 05:10:32 PM »

IF and I said IF you were to get into it. The only way I would do it is if the customer brings you their shell/bus and both you & the customer do a complete job list together.
Then set a reasonable goal for X amount of work to get done & have them pay that amount up front.
Once that part is done they can inspect what you've done, an then the 2 of ya can line up the next "phase."
That is what a good friend of mine that builds custom hot rods, race cars and does custom fabrication does and he says it's the only way to do it and survive.
He has in the past done work for customers who call and say do X # of hrs and I'll be by next week to pay you and bring you this or that for the next project. And one Chevy II he did that way is still in his shop 8 yrs later and still not done and the guy still owes for the work done so far! (many of his customers are "biz" professionals, Dr's, lawyers, pilots and other non-mechanically inclined folks that don't know which end of a screwdriver to use where! And he says even they are hurting and cutting back on their "toy" $ !)

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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
KY Lakeside Travel's Busted Knuckle Garage
Huntingdon, TN 12 minutes N of I-40 @ exit 108
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robertglines1
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« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2011, 06:23:04 PM »

Need to finish the one you got first. See if you can sell it then build another for your self with the intention of selling it or using it. This experience will tell you where the market is and how your abilities stack up. Think the market is in the repair or upgrade area now and not in the conversion market.  You need product to display your abilities.   You need a hook(something special) to get people to come to you.  Slides,  super paint jobs, wow interiors. all of the above.
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« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2011, 06:33:05 PM »


Just do a little repair work, here you are thinking about a full blown business that even the big boys are dropping like a rock  most of the small converters have been long gone only a few hanging on by doing repair work and they don't have any employees










 
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wal1809
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« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2011, 06:41:53 PM »

I think Clifford is correct. The falling bus prices would indicate what you can and cannot accomplish.  However working on them is a different story.
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niles500
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« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2011, 10:30:19 PM »

robert and clifford pretty much told it all - FWIW
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« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2011, 02:23:33 AM »


  I used to own a very successful Aviation Charter company both in the US and in Europe. I employed over 45 people and had 14+ airplanes at the height of the business.

  As others have said, go with what you know. The mere fact other small companies have dropped out of Aviation is all the more reason to use your talents and know how to make something work. Aviation is not dead, is just in a state of refinding itself.

  I personally feel the Bus market is about dead, and will be remain dead indefinetly, and I think anyone who has thoughts its coming back anytime soon is smoking something. The market is flooded with Buses. And there are many more out there stacked up, half done projects, repos waiting for a sea change thats not coming, its going to get worse before it gets better. But people still need, or want to fly.

  I keep thinking someone should organize a private club for flyers, so they dont have to go through all the security BS. Make everyone a part owner, or figure out a way to make them a shareholder. Gotta be a way to make that work. I think many people would just about pay double to get out of the slow lane and away from hands up their skirts or people fondling thier little kids.

  Anyway, id stick with Aviation myself, I think youll go nowhere with the Bus thing.
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boxcarOkie
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« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2011, 02:50:01 AM »

Artvonne:  I personally feel the Bus market is about dead, and will be remain dead indefinetly, and I think anyone who has thoughts its coming back anytime soon is smoking something. The market is flooded with Buses.

  I keep thinking someone should organize a private club for flyers, so they dont have to go through all the security BS. Make everyone a part owner, or figure out a way to make them a shareholder. Gotta be a way to make that work.
  
Anyway, id stick with Aviation myself, I think youll go nowhere with the Bus thing.


Buses, whether or not lower-end or top drawer, are in the dumper and most likely will not make a comeback.  Look at the RV Industry, companies with over 40 years experience and sales, bellied up and now long gone, over 35 of them in one year.  A new term was coined to cover the folks with their products ... Orphans.

We no longer build things in this country, we service them (service economy) and that is the bottom line.  The days of being out in front of the pack and doing what you are contemplating doing, well frankly, they are long gone.  Established bus or coach manufacturers are far and few between today.

The club for private flyers is already in place, charter air fare is doing well, it saw a marked increase in service after 911 and continues to be a healthy viable alternative to the majors, if you can afford it.

Which is basically what all of this comes down to ... Whether or not you can afford it?

BCO
« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 02:55:50 AM by boxcarOkie » Logged

pipopak
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« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2011, 04:17:30 AM »

. There is only 2 ways to get money in America, Inherit it or earn it.

Big John
You are forgetting politics and lawyers, but I guess you meant just honest ways...
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« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2011, 04:42:43 AM »

I've been a small business Irene fire a long long time and although its just a service business in peoples homes, it has gone way down from what it once was. People just don't need my services like they used to. Oh sure I still keep busy but nothing like it was.
Ask yourself this. Do people need your services? Look at this board and see how many do their own work. Most everyone here do and the most they would want from an outside source is help or questions answered.
Personally as others have stated, buses and converting them is a hobby. Something the owner can do on their own, spending what they want, at their , and doing it their way. Its been proven, that everyone does a conversion without following any codes so there its no right way.
Look at and compare other hobbies. Actual hobby shops have all but closed up with the internet being available. The example bring the internet is the first pricing source for people these days. They look there first, then decide if the local guy or store is worth going or not.
If your only looking to do 1-2 buses a year then you must have a pretty good bank roll to carry you. The guy helping you is going to want something as in pay, regular! Each week, you will have money going out with nothing coming in until you deliver. But something i would'nt want to have hanging over my head. I like to get in, do my job, get paid, and get out! Go on to the next one. Coverting a bus isn't that easy or quick. You would have to get a substantial deposit to cover your cost/expenses and there isn't a lot of people that are willing or CAN for that matter, fork out big money and wait for the results!
Good luck in whatever you decide....
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Ace Rossi
Lakeland, Fl. 33810
Prevost H3-40
MEverard
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« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2011, 05:49:54 AM »

I am a General Contractor in California, and I have a Cabinet Shop. It is hard enough to get people to spend money on their houses right now. I can't believe many people are going to spend a lot of money on conversions, especially with the market in the tank. The people with monopoly money are going to buy brand new coaches at any cost. I would love to convert busses for a living. However, I don't see that as a reality. As it is now, I am converting one with free labor, but that's what happens when you own one.

I know you will make whatever decision you feel will work out best.

Good Luck.

Mike
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Mike Everard
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Antioch, CA
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« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2011, 05:50:31 AM »

So far we haven't seen foreign motorhomes or bus conversions entering the American market except from Canada.  

Bus conversions are still built in America, but the problem is there are few buyers for them.  Some of the buyers of million dollar conversions lost a lot of money in the economic crash and can't afford one now.  In some cases fuel costs are an issue.  Big buck entertainers and politicians will still lease buses as the fuel is a small part of the overall cost.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2011, 09:32:52 AM »

I have known people that flip houses as a side business.  They buy one that needs work and live in it while doing the work.  Then they sell it and use the proceeds to do it all over again.  Yes, this economy makes selling tougher for them but it also provides better deals on the next project too.

So perhaps one way to gauge start your business would be to finish the bus you are working on and then see if you have any success selling it.  If so, use the money to do the next one.  If at any point you cant see one, you are no worse off than you are now.  Actually better off because you have a bus finished to enjoy yourself  Smiley

Combine that with doing some repair/remodeling work and you might make a few bucks with little to no risk.
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« Reply #27 on: August 31, 2011, 10:48:16 AM »

I'm with most of the other people in this thread. The market has pooped and I don't think will ever make a come back until there is a better answer for the cost of fuel. The only thing else I would suggest is maybe a niche potential market in customising a bus to be completely self sufficient in a time of Apocalypse or some sort disaster. IE. making it camouflage, having secured food and water storage for longer term survival, making it to run on veggie oil or kerosene or even chocolate bars, etc. Survival type stuff, I think, would be about the only angle that "might" be good.
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Len Silva
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« Reply #28 on: August 31, 2011, 01:12:19 PM »

Now that is brilliant, out of the box thinking.

That is one niche market that will only get better as the economy gets worse.

An armored, weaponized bus, completely sealed, able to convert urine to drinking water, oxygen canisters, sovereign citizen license plates, run flat tires.

Man, you are going to make a killing in Arizona and Montana.

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prevosman
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« Reply #29 on: August 31, 2011, 01:38:16 PM »

Actually there are several factors at work at the same time.

The folks who can buy a new coach are starting to return. They hunkered down when the economy and the market went in the dumper, but they are coming out of hiding and actually new coaches are selling. Not in the larger numbers of four or five years ago, but compared to the last few years things are looking good.

That means trades. That market is starting to come alive also. It doesn't mean coach values are going up, but if they are going down it is much slower and coaches are selling. The problem for owners who wish to sell is that the buyers know they are in control and those with cash or who can get financing are driving the market and it is still depressed but at least not plummeting.

At the low end of the market, coaches with 8V92 engines, or 20 years old I think I am seeing this segment continue to get slammed. Buyers who are capable of paying cash or financing even older or less expensive coaches want things like the Series 60 and that adversely impacts two stroke coaches. I have seen a 1997 H3-45 Vantare Conversion that should have been in the $200,000 range go for $103,000. That coach has a series 60 and the six speed Allison. I have seen a early 90's Country Coach that looked really well maintained go for $50,000. That coach had an 8V92 and the five speed Allison. When professional conversions by established converters are given away for far less than their replacement cost, then any coach that started life as a seated coach is really going to suffer in value no matter what the quality of the work.

I long ago stopped worrying about what my coach is worth and I value it as a hobby that allows me to travel and exercise my limited mechanical skills when it is in the garage. There is no way with the selection of used coaches of every description that have been on the market forever that making a new conversion or even extensive upgrades can be justified unless the owner does it himself and treats his time as having no value.

I see some fantastic coaches on this site but I seriously doubt if anyone could do the conversion and recover what they have invested in the coach. Unless and until the used coaches dry up and unless and until financing institutions start lending money we all are faced with the reality that we can never justify building a conversion and expect its value to equal what we have invested, not counting our time. If I were to start a business in bus conversions I think I would aim toward chassis work and conversion systems repair. I suspect a businessman who can create a following can do OK replacing air bags or brake chambers or Norgren valves or ride height valves or shocks than he could justify what he has to charge to redo an interior.
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Jon Wehrenberg
Knoxville TN
1997 Prevost Liberty
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