Bidding for motor coach services can be very complicated. Unless you carefully prepare your bid specifications, your groups could end up high and dry on the side of the road! Comparing bids strictly on price can leave the person responsible for securing the transportation in a very precarious position.
To help you get all the service and reliability you want and need, we offer these tips for better chartering. We hope that they will help you prepare better bid requests and keep your groups safe, comfortable and satisfied.
Does your group have any special needs that must be met?
Things like the need for video, galley, or other special equipment…
Clearly spell out your schedule and what is involved in detail.
Be sure the company knows what hours the driver must be available to the group, and if the driver must stay at the same hotel.
Ask how long the company has been in business.
Find out when the company was established, and how long it has been offering charter motorcoach services. A good track record is always desirable.
Request that the company supplies its ICC and DOT Numbers.
Such numbers are assigned by the U.S. Government and are required to operate legally.
What is the company’s DOT Safety Rating?
A satisfactory rating is standard. Never charter from a company with an unsatisfactory rating. Call the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Motor Carriers at 1-800-832-5660 to verify a carrier’s safety rating.
Request a Certificate of Insurance.
Your carrier should supply a Certificate of Insurance. This certificate shows the carrier’s levels of insurance and effective policy dates. Accepted levels of insurance call for a minimum of $5 million for combined single-limit liability.
Ask for references.
Request and contact references from similar type groups traveling on similar type programs. Never charter from a company unwilling to provide references.
Ask how many coaches are in their fleet.
Overall charter fleet size is important. It provides a gauge to the operator’s ability to supply alternate vehicles in the event of a mechanical problem, on multi-motor coach movements, or on weekends and during peak seasons. It also provides some insight into the success of the company.
Is the company adhering to Department of Transportation driver regulations?
The DOT limits drivers to 10 hours of continuous service. If your itinerary requires more than the limit, ask how the charter company is going to handle it.
Ask the company’s procedures for on-the-road emergencies.
The operator should have access to a nationwide reciprocal maintenance agreement which will assure you of prompt servicing of equipment in all regions of the U.S.A.
Is the company available for inspections?
You should inspect the motor coach equipment, general offices and garage facilities before signing any contracts or agreements. You can tell a lot about a company just by looking.
What is the average age of the equipment operated?
Vehicles must be properly maintained on a preventive maintenance basis.
Are video equipped motorcoaches available?
Video-equipped coaches can be a genuine asset. You can view educational videos or provide movies to help pass the hours. Sports teams can even view game videos; a great way to see your opponent, or review your own performance.
Is the carrier legally licensed to show first-run motion pictures?
Only carriers which hold such a license may show these films. Request to see a copy of the license.
Are bids really necessary?
Often, bidding is only required if the total cost will exceed a set dollar amount. Breaking down larger movements into smaller segments may eliminate the need to bid at all.
Does the company have a drug screening program in place?
Specify that your carrier supply a copy of their written drug policy and drug testing program.Never charter from a carrier that does not strongly enforce a drug-free workplace.
Can the company supply a list of qualified drivers?
Ask the carrier to submit a list of current qualified drivers, who have a CDL — commercial driver’s license, have passed the DOT physical examination requirements, and carry approved driver qualification documentation.
Who pays for the driver’s hotel?
Find out if the driver’s room is included in the cost of the charter, or if you are responsible for it.
Who is responsible for extra mileage costs above the contracted amount?
Find out the carrier’s policy before the trip — not when you get the bill!