Motorcoach

2015 Innovative Operators: Blue Lakes Charters and Tours

Posted on January 5, 2015 by Kelsey Nolan, Assistant Editor

Value-added customer service is a driving force for the company, particularly in regards to clients who make use of Blue Lakes’ bus wrap service, which the operation will cover the installation costs for.
Value-added customer service is a driving force for the company, particularly in regards to clients who make use of Blue Lakes’ bus wrap service, which the operation will cover the installation costs for.

Blue Lakes Charters and Tours, headquartered in Clio, Mich., is a third generation family-owned and -operated bus company serving Michigan and northern Ohio and is the largest privately-owned charter bus company in Michigan. According to Dave Cupp, president, the company’s bread and butter is charter bus trips for a number of various organizations, but is also able to offer package tour deals and custom bus wraps for client advertising.

Additionally, Blue Lakes has dedicated line-run services to hotspots and 25 to 30 cities throughout Michigan and northern Ohio. The company has also secured a contract with Walmart to offer free line-runs to Walmart’s patrons six days a week.

Since the company began in 1989, Cupp explains Blue Lakes has been dedicated to customer service.

“If you don’t give customers what they are looking for, they aren’t going to be a repeat customer. That’s where we focus a lot of our energy,” he says.

According to Cupp, success can be attributed to offering value-added service, being family-owned, taking care of employees, embracing technological changes, and the continual update of its fleet — with the addition of four new midsized buses and eight new buses, a mix of Van Hools and Ameritrans, being delivered over the next three months.

Value-added service is a driving force in the company’s customer service, particularly in regards to customers who make use of Blue Lakes’ bus wraps to advertise their companies, such as Walmart or the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. Rather than charging clients an extra fee on top of the cost of the wrap, Blue Lakes covers the cost of installation.

“If that advertising is successful, those customers are going to keep booking buses with us. It’s another reason companies deal with us,” Cupp explains.

Mixing business and family can be tricky to navigate, Cupp says, but being family-owned has provided Blue Lakes a leg-up in the bus business. There is someone involved in every element, dealing with different facets — from maintenance to safety to sales to dispatch. “Family involvement really helps us have our thumb on the industry,” Cupp says.

Though being in a seasonal industry and having locations outside of the large metropolitan areas can be a challenge to retain staff, Cupp says the company has found a niche with people who already have jobs with odd schedules, such as firemen, who drive in their off-time.

All employees get a newsletter every two weeks with their paychecks about what is new in the industry so they can stay current. They also receive educational bulletins and attend semi-annual safety meetings to learn how best to deal with customers and remain safe. Seeing drivers on a day-to-day basis also allows for an open communication between employees and management, Cupp says. Taking care of the company’s employees, training them well and making sure they are professionally uniformed is what keeps customers coming back.

Since Blue Lakes has nine locations, remote access to company information is vital. Almost 10 years ago, the company switched from paper dispatching to the Internet-based software Motorcoach Manager, which has helped the sales and dispatch departments become more streamlined and efficient.

Since each location handles its own dispatch, and the main office handles the bulk of sales, driver routes and scheduling can get confusing. But since adding the software, the Internet access has allowed employees to view bus availability, work remotely, and assign bus routes and drivers accordingly.                       

Internet-based phones also allow for customers to not only work remotely, but also the potential to live remotely. This asset enabled a valued employee of Cupp’s to relocate to Florida while remaining a member of the team.  

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

U.S., Canada motorcoach sales up, ABA survey finds

For this study, a motorcoach — defined as a vehicle designed for long-distance transportation of passengers — characterized by integral construction with an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment.

Prevost delivers X3-45 Commuter coaches to Southeastern Stages

The wheelchair accessible Prevost vehicles are equipped with comfortable seating for 55 passengers and feature reclining seats, footrests, power outlets and wireless internet access among other amenities.

MCI delivers 5 J4500s, 8 D4505s To Village Tours & Travel, Anchor Transportation

The D4505 recently received improvements, including dual 150-amp Denso alternators, new parcel racks that expand luggage capacity and the REI A/V system.

Bay Area 'tech' shuttle services growing, study says

During a three-year period (210-2014), the number of shuttle vehicles on Bay Area roadways jumped by more than 60 percent and ridership increased by 45 percent.

Arrow Stage Lines adds 5 MCI J4500s with enhanced Kiel seats, more

The new seating option delivers increased legroom, while also maximizing passenger comfort.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close