Industry sector: Transport

Limousine hire: Market research


It's important to find out whether there is enough local demand for your limousine hire service, and whether you will be able to compete successfully with any existing businesses.

Your market

Depending on the type of limousine hire service you intend to offer, your customers might include:

  • members of the public
  • local business people
  • local celebrities
  • trade customers such as funeral directors, travel agents and hotels
  • large firms requiring business travel services
  • organisations such as the local authority
  • sports clubs
  • tourists

Demand for a limousine hire service

The level of demand for limousine hire will be largely influenced by the nature of your surrounding area and the size of the local population. Potential demand will generally be highest in large towns and cities, but other factors will have an influence too. For example, the proximity of an airport, the size and number of local businesses and whether there are colleges and universities in your area will all affect demand. Offering extra services or specialising in a particular niche might attract additional custom too.

Bearing this in mind, think about the types of limousine hire service that would be most in demand in your area. For example - if you live close to an airport, an airport transfer service for business people could be worth offering. Stretched limousines have become very popular for parties and are likely to be in demand in larger towns and cities. They are often rented for stag and hen nights, birthday parties, office parties and increasingly, to take students to end of term proms and balls, which is worth considering if there is a large student population in your area. Wherever you are based there is likely to be a demand for wedding car hire, although the level of demand will again depend on the size of the local population.

Competition

Having thought about the potential demand in your area, you need to consider the level of existing competition.

Limousine hire differs from normal car hire in that the limousine is hired with a driver. 'Normal' car hire is widely available from a number of firms, including large national and international hire firms such as Avis, Hertz and Europcar. Limousine hire tends to be offered by smaller local or regional firms and it is these that will be your competitors. The sector has grown rapidly in recent years and you may find that there are several limousine hire businesses already operating in your area.

Try to identify how many other businesses are already offering limousine hire locally. A look through the Yellow Pages and other local directories should help to give you a good idea about this. You could also look online on Yell.com or on one of the numerous UK limousine directories for possible competitors in your area. Depending on the range of services that you intend to offer, you might be competing with a variety of businesses - not just other specialist limousine hire businesses. For example, potential competitors could include businesses that specialise in providing wedding services, local taxi firms that offer a limousine service as a sideline, car hire firms that offer a selection of prestige, classic or sports cars, or coach operators providing a luxury minibus service.

In practice, you will probably only be competing directly against some of these businesses, especially if you have been able to identify a niche in the market that you are aiming to fill.

Have a good look at existing limousine hire businesses in your area and any other potential competitors to establish:

  • what kind of vehicles they operate
  • what prices they charge
  • over what area they are prepared to travel
  • which additional services they offer - for example, airport collection
  • whether they are members of a trade association or professional body

Why will customers choose your limousine service

You'll want to make sure that enough customers will choose your limousine hire business rather than use existing services. It is important to find out what people want and whether the type of services you are thinking of offering will attract customers. You could try carrying out a local survey of potential customers, such as the local authority, multi-national businesses that have a branch in your area as well as members of the public, such as school children going to 'proms' or celebrating birthdays, students and any others who might occasionally wish to hire a limousine. Doing some market research like this might reveal that there's an unfulfilled demand for a particular type of service in your area.

Use the Record sheets to note down the results of your market research.