January 2007

Innovative Operator Profile: Expansion Efforts in Effect

by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

People from all over the world come to Florida, so Brian Scott, vice president of Escot Bus Lines, has to think far beyond his Tampa-Orlando service area. Interviewed by phone during his recent three-week trip to Europe to strengthen ties with overseas counterparts, Scott said Escot has been working for the past six years to establish an international presence through its attendance at the World Trade Mart, a huge gathering of movers and shakers in industries from food service to transportation.

Scott works with an IMG committee that was established this past July with the “ultimate goal of establishing an international reservation system.” With “good technology and hardworking members,” he sees this coming about “sooner than later.”

Until that day, Scott and the company founded by his father, Lou Scott, are busy extending their reach by opening a new office in Orlando and adding services that weren’t offered by anyone else before.

One previously untapped revenue stream is Escot’s twice-weekly run from Sarasota and Fort Myers to and from Tampa’s Hard Rock Casino. This run has proved so profitable that Escot will soon be adding a route from Ocala in the northern part of the state.

“We haven’t been in scheduled service for many years,” says the younger Scott. “This is a new line of business, and we’re very excited about the response so far.”

“Expansion” is the defining word around Escot these days, as not only has the company opened a new office and initiated new runs, but it has also expanded its fleet through the acquisition of four Prevosts, added much-needed parts storage space and a dedicated tire-changing area to its garage, and installed new technology on its coaches.

All Escot airport shuttles are equipped with DriveCam recording units that allow the company to monitor driver performance and cut down on unsubstantiated passenger slip-and-fall claims. Recently installed wireless DriveCams have taken the process one step further, as computers no longer have to be removed from the coaches, making downloading much easier and quicker.

Brian Scott points to the RTA maintenance program that is “extremely comprehensive, greatly improves mechanic efficiency and gives us much better control of our parts inventory.”

Driver performance has been enhanced through requiring all existing drivers and new hires to pass the IMG program. Recently, Escot was awarded a grant from the Office of Homeland Security to put GPS into its coaches.

“We feel that more efficient, safer drivers greatly improve customer satisfaction,” says Brian Scott. “And that has always been our top priority.”

But in the end, Escot’s success is not attributable to high-tech wizardry, but good, old-fashioned customer service. “We’ve grown an awful lot in the past 23 years,” says Lou Scott. “If our customers weren’t happy with us, we’d probably be out of business by now. We’re not, so we must be doing something right.”

AT A GLANCE

Motorcoaches: 39, 8 minibuses

Fleet mix: Prevost, MCI, Van Hool

Employees: 85

Services: Charter, athletic, airport shuttle

Service area: Entire East Coast and Canada in summer; Orlando and Tampa metropolitan areas in winter

Drivers: 70

Annual mileage: 2 million

Year started: 1983

Vice president: Brian Scott (pictured) 


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