FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Don Neuen Atlanta
ANSWERED by DON NEUEN, Senior Vice President of Operations...

Q:  HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENT A "SLEEPER COACH"?

A: Well, that's a lot like calling Delta Airlines and asking them "how much does it cost to fly in a plane?

"
My quick "ball park" answer is between $1,200 - $1,700 / day when everything is factored into the equation...


To elaborate: First, you need to understand that there are three major costs involved in leasing a sleeper coach:

a) the cost of the coach...

b) the cost of the driver...

c) the cost of fuel...

After those three big costs, everything else is rather minor...



COST OF THE COACH: Our fleet of nearly 60 coaches offers clients a wide variety and spectrum of coaches from our least expensive models (2000-2002 Prevost H3-45 non slide outs) to our brand new and high end specialty coaches such as "star configuration" (coaches with a rear bedroom suite)...


Generally, our entire fleet will fall in the range of $400 / day up to $750 / day...



COST OF THE DRIVER: Our Drivers offer the best value in the industry. High quality Drivers at fair rates...

A number of variables determine Driver's pay:



If the Driver is not pulling a trailer, the rate is $250 / day...


If the Driver is pulling a trailer, the rate is then $280 / day

...

If the Driver is driving an "artist" bus, the rate is also $280 / day

...

In addition, the Driver is paid for three services that usually take place on a weekly basis:



Generator Services (every 100 hours of use): $85 / service...


Weekly Interior Cleanings & Linen Changes: $100 / service...


Exterior Bus Washes: $50 / wash...   And additional $15 / wash is charged if pulling a trailer...



In addition, you will pay the following to an Entertainer Coach Driver:

Per Diem:  $30 / day

Overdrives (equal to a Driver's daily rate) are very common to the "Entertainer Coach Driver" world...

Basically, this is financial compensation to a Driver for driving higher miles in any given day while remaining legal within the guidelines set forth by The Department of Transportation (10 hours on-duty driving).



The Industry standard is that an overdrive is set at 451 miles...

Star Coaches Drivers give back to our Clients by not charging for an Overdrive until 501 miles.

This difference has saved our Clients thousands of dollars.



All Star Coaches Drivers are required to use ELD or Electronic Logs...  The systems are installed in all of our coaches and monitor not only the physical location of our fleet, but also record and monitor the Driver's time on duty, when the coach is started and stopped, as well as a number of driving alerts.

It should be noted that Star Coaches, and our Drivers, strictly comply with The Department of Transportation for both safety and legal reasons. The limit set forth by The Department of Transportation is 10 hours of "on-duty" driving per day.



If your tour involves daily drives that will exceed a Driver's legal limit, be prepared to incur the additional cost of flying a Co-Driver out to help with the long drive...

Bottom line: We stay safe and legal...



It should be noted that we are immediately notified via text message and email of certain "alerts" with our fleet of coaches...  These alerts include, but are not limited to speeding, hours on duty violations, harsh braking and cornering, and excessive idle times...  Again, our bottom line at Star Coaches is to always be safe and legal...

COST OF FUEL: Obviously, this is a major factor and a huge inconsistent variable that is very difficult to forecast... But I use a very simple formula to calculate and estimate the fuel needed for a tour...



Many people ask me: "How much does it cost to fill the bus fuel tank?"  The answer is "that's irrelevant"...

The useful information is:


a) how many miles are you traveling...


b) what is the expected MPG for the coach (6MPG without a trailer and 5MPG if pulling a trailer)...


c) how much does a gallon of diesel fuel cost...



In calculating your fuel estimate, I am very conservative... I'll "pad" your mileage slightly, as my objective is to come in a little high on your fuel estimate...



Here is the simple equation I use for calculating fuel:



Total Miles divided by the Bus MPG times Fuel Cost per Gallon...


For example, let's use a typical 45 day tour that travels a total of 14,805 miles, there is no trailer being pulled behind the bus, and diesel fuel is currently averaging about $3.25 / gallon...

So:

 14,805 miles / 6MPG X $3.25 = $8,019.37 is how much estimated fuel I would list on my proposal...



OTHER COSTS:  There are a host of other costs involved that are considerably less than the three big ones we have discussed thus far...  They are:



Tolls & Permits:  $50 / day

IFTA Fees: $10 / day


DirecTV In-Motion Satellite: $10 / day


Verizon based WiFi: $10 / day (not available in Canada)


Trailer Rentals: $65 / day


Main Engine Service: based on $.07 / mile


Transmission Service (if pulling a trailer): $.03 / mile


End of Tour Generator Service: $50


End of Tour Comforter Cleaning: $120


End of Tour Coach Wash: $50


End of Tour Trailer Wash (if applicable): $15


End of Tour Interior Cleaning: $150-$250 (depending on tour length)



In addition, you will need to provide the Driver with a hotel room each day (or night) of the tour (and any Deadhead days)... and you will need to cover the costs of any tolls, DOT permits, and parking costs...

I'll list suggested budget estimates for all that in my proposal...



So, that pretty much wraps up how much it costs to lease a rock & roll bus...

Q:  WHAT INFO DO YOU NEED TO SEND ME A PROPOSAL?



A: Many people try and get me to give them a "quick quote"... I don't do it... I never guess... Here is what I need in order to prepare a detailed and accurate line item proposal for you:

1. Band Name?



2. Your Name, Email Address and Contact Numbers?



3. Pick Up Date?



4. Pick Up City?



5. Drop Date?



6. Drop City?



7. Number of Bunks Needed?



8. Level of Coach Needed (this is important... We have 7 different levels of coaches and price ranges... Give me an idea of what level coach your artist needs and can afford...



NOTE: One of the most important bits of information that I can use is this: "How much can your band afford to spend on tour bus transportation?" Be candid with me... Most of the time, I will come in below that projected tour budget, and often times, I'll figure out a way for you to get your band into more bus than they can afford...



9. Is a Rental Trailer needed?

10. Is the coach going to need an exterior promotional wrap?

11. Lastly, and most importantly, I need a complete and firm itinerary (date and city)... Without this, I'm guessing... Something that takes up time that neither of us have to spare...

Once you have all of this, email it to me at: DonNeuen@Reagan.com

You may also fill out our "request a proposal" form by simply clicking on the link in the right side bar of this page.

I would also encourage you to experiment with our "Tour Cost Estimator" (see the link in the side bar to your right).  This unique form gives you the opportunity to play with variables to determine how much bus you can afford for your next tour.  No other coach company offers such a transparent and useful method of preparing tour budgets!

Q:  WHY IS YOUR PROPOSAL MORE EXPENSIVE THAN YOUR COMPETITORS?

A:  That's simple...  My proposals are thorough and accurate...  I do not leave anything out of my proposals...  No stone is left unturned...  I list every possible expense or cost that you will encounter on your tour... Many of my esteemed colleagues in the industry are simply not as thorough and detailed in their proposals...  It is very easy to create a proposal that "looks good"...  And I do not fault some of my colleagues for doing just that...  The bottom line is this:  At the end of the tour you will encounter the line item costs that I list in my proposals...  And you will encounter the line item costs that are NOT listed in other proposals...  Either way you will encounter these costs...  Would you prefer knowing about them BEFORE going to contract, or after the tour is over?

Q:  OK, IF YOUR PROPOSAL IS SO GOOD, CAN I SEE A SAMPLE?

A:  Absolutely, click on this link to see an actual proposal that I created on December 5, 2017:  SAMPLE PROPOSAL

Q:  WHY WOULD YOU PUT A REAL SAMPLE PROPOSAL FOR ALL TO SEE?

A:  Because I play with my cards face up on the table and have absolutely nothing to ever hide from a client, or prospective client...

Q:  I'VE HEARD ABOUT YOUR "TOUR COST ESTIMATOR"...  WHAT IS THAT?

A:  Glad you asked...  This is an exceptionally valuable tool for Tour Managers, Band Managers, Business Managers, Record Labels, and even Artists to bookmark and use every time they start planning for a tour...  I created this estimator in January of 2016, and as of December 2017, it has been used over 24,000 times!!  It is an extremely accurate and completely transparent cost estimator for any US tour...  If you know your tour mileage and can answer a few simple questions, you can generate a line item cost breakdown and analysis in less than 10 minutes...  Save it as a PDF and share it with your team...  You can change various numbers to determine exactly how much bus your tour can afford...  You can compare your findings with the Star Coaches Online Tour Cost Estimator with my proposals or with my competitors proposals...  This tool is invaluable!  Check it out:  STAR COACHES ONLINE TOUR COST ESTIMATOR

Q:  WHAT IS DEADHEAD?

A: We position of coaches primarily in Atlanta, GA... We also position a few coaches in Indio, CA... The term "Deadhead" simply means the travel needed to get from one of our bases (Atlanta or Indio) to the pick up location... Deadheading can also refer to the travel needed to get back to our bases after dropping...
In a proposal, I will list deadheading costs separately for the Coach, the Driver and the fuel...

Q:  CAN WE USE OUR OWN DRIVER?

A:  No... We are regulated heavily by The Department of Transportation...

These are commercial vehicles and we must maintain in depth Driver files for each of our Drivers...



In addition, our Drivers are very loyal and valued members of our team... Bringing in an outside Driver to drive for your band would bump one of our guys out of a seat, and therefore a job... We just won't do that...

Q: DO YOU HAVE RENTAL TRAILERS?

A: We have a large fleet of Rental Trailers that we can provide...  And while I will list the cost of a trailer on your proposal (and eventually, your coach contract), you will be invoiced for the trailer rental by the actual trailer company for legal and liability reasons...

Q: WHAT ARE THE SIZE AND WEIGHT LIMITS OF YOUR RENTAL TRAILERS?

A:  Our rental trailers are a big as you can legally pull behind a 45 foot bus in the United States and Canada...  After far as weight limits, we restrict the GVWT (gross vehicle weight) of our trailers to 9,700 when fully loaded...  This means you can put about 6,000 pounds of gear / merchandise / production in one of our trailers...  If you feel there is a good possibility of exceeding our GVWT limit, I strongly suggest that you move into a box truck...  Enterprise Truck Leasing is who we recommend that you use if you need to rent a box truck...  If you need an experienced box truck driver, I can help...  Here is a link to our RENTAL TRAILER page with much more info...

 

Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF WE HAVE A MECHANICAL BREAKDOWN?

A: Anyone who tells you their buses never breakdown is simply lying to you...

Buses, just like any other mechanical equipment, have problems... It doesn't matter if it is a brand new bus, or an older budget bus, they can have mechanical problems at any time, and any place... most with little or no forewarning...



What separates Star Coaches is how we handle problems...

First, our owner, Danny Hamilton, and I NEVER turn off our cell phones... Our Drivers can reach us 24/7/365...  As a former driver, I cannot express how important this is...



Secondly, since 1990, we have built an excellent and reliable network of repair facilities all across the United States and Canada...



Next, we don't cut corners... We understand how critical a quick and thorough repair is to a band on tour... We will go the extra mile, and more importantly, spend sometimes ridiculous money to get things resolved quickly and properly...



Next, we have our own full service repair shop with certified mechanics... Preventive maintenance plays a major roll in not having problems out on the road...

Any coach owner will tell you, road expenses are terribly costly and preventive maintenance reduces them significantly...

Let me put this into perspective... One repair can cost more than the coach is earning for an entire tour... It makes absolutely zero sense to send a coach out on a tour knowing about the possibility of a mechanical breakdown...



Lastly, we are founding members of the Entertainer Motorcoach Council... All of the major "players" in our industry are members... We take care of each other... It's a great network...