From fleet management, routing, and recruitment to earning and upholding the trust of local families, student transportation contractors know there’s much more that goes into the business than driving school buses. For busy contractors, getting a look “above tree line” to build and execute a growth strategy can prove difficult. So, what’s the most efficient way for school bus contractors to grow their businesses while staying in control?

By seeking out a partnership with an investment firm that specializes in the student transportation industry, focused on optimized business operations, improved processes, and ongoing investments in people, equipment, and technology.

What can an investment partner do for school bus contractors?

The right partner will offer the capital, expertise, and resources necessary to expand or enhance your services, enter new markets, and make strategic, long-term business decisions. It’s important to choose a partner that shares your vision and values, and invests the time and resources to fully understand your business and what’s important to you. 

For example, at ASTP, we leverage our deep experience in the student transportation industry throughout the M&A process, which allows us to build mutually beneficial partnerships focused on growth. At the end of each acquisition process, we have an aligned understanding of our future partnership. This allows us to work together to quickly add value to your business.

What does growth via acquisition look like?

Access to capital

One of the most significant advantages of acquisition is access to capital. Steady, targeted investments can spur growth and shorten timelines to key business goals, whether they’re focused on upgraded equipment, improved technology, or strategic staffing.

Operational expertise

The right investment partner offers significant industry expertise. When contractors are able to draw from the collective knowledge of a team of experts, together they can more easily identify areas for improvement and put plans into action. These back-office processes can be some of the most complex aspects of a student transportation business, including supply chain management, hiring and onboarding, preventive maintenance, and fuel-purchasing processes. Improved functionality in any of these areas can provide an immediate boost to both productivity and profit.

Improved marketing and growth

An experienced acquisition partner also offers support with marketing and organic growth. With a clear, consistent public image and accompanying sales materials, contractors are better equipped to respond to RFPs, connect with school district leaders, and expand market share.

Reduced risk

In many cases, acquisition can reduce risk for the original business owner. Investment partners, by definition, have a vested interest in seeing your student transportation company succeed. This can help to reduce risk for you as the original business owner and provide a financial safety net as you grow your business.

What should you look for in an investment partner?

Level of control

One of the most significant aspects of acquisition is deal structure. With ASTP’s creative deal structuring, business owners can enter into mutually beneficial relationships that offer as much – or as little – control as they prefer. It’s through these creative deals that we’re able to show a path to growth that also considers a contractor’s preferences and goals.

Long-term focus

When considering the sale of a business, it’s not unusual for school bus contractors to express concerns about short-term versus long-term goals. Will an investment partner retain and develop key team members, for instance? Will the contractor’s hard-earned reputation and legacy be maintained, or will quick, short-term profit become the priority? These are important conversations to have, to ensure you choose a partner that shares your vision for the future.

At ASTP, we focus on long-term growth and investment, as opposed to cost-cutting measures and short-term gains, bringing a “built to last” attitude to each deal.

Financial strength and stability

The success of any acquisition rests on the financial strength and stability of the investment firm. ASTP’s access to capital and sound business practices mean our contractor partners are better able to manage assets, mitigate risk, and expand their reputations as safe, reliable student transportation providers.

People-first mindset

The importance of cultural fit cannot be underestimated. A mismatch of vision or values between a contractor and an investment partner can mean an unhappy business relationship over time. We see student transportation as a mission-driven industry, one where success comes only when we focus on people first.

This people-first mindset comes through in our deal process, where we take time to learn about you and your business and share ASTP’s vision for what partnership can look like with us.

Next steps: Contact us

If you’re a student transportation provider seeking growth, reach out to us. We’re ready to build a path to partnership.

American Student Transportation Partners (ASTP) is a national network of reliable student transportation providers. We’re driving the future of student transportation by providing access to education through safe, reliable student transportation programs. Exceptional bus operators choose ASTP because of our innovative approach to partnership, as well as the resources we provide to help “future-proof” their operations.

To learn more about partnering with ASTP, contact Tod Eskra, President, at [email protected] or call (314) 560-5946.