When it’s time to expand your student transportation business, how do you choose an investment partner that can provide a clear path to growth? School bus contractors who are ready to grow need a strategic partner that delivers capital as well as valuable resources and experience.  

In this post, we’ll discuss key capabilities your investment partner should have. We’ll also include important steps student transportation providers can take to assess a potential partner prior to acquisition, to create the best opportunity for success. 

Key capabilities for a successful partnership 

For student transportation providers seeking growth, any potential investment partner should be able to demonstrate the following capabilities: 

Industry experience 

An investment partner with deep experience in student transportation brings valuable insights and operational knowledge to the table. By leveraging the wealth of information an experienced partner can provide, school bus contractors put themselves in a better position to navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of the industry and create value. 

Just as a potential acquirer will conduct thorough due diligence regarding your student transportation business, you should research a potential partner’s experience. Engage with other school bus contractors who have worked with the organization. References, testimonials, and case studies can provide a real-world view of an investor’s experience and ability to make good on promises.  

Financial stability 

While getting to know a possible investor, don’t hesitate to ask for information about a partner’s fiscal health, including financial statements, creditworthiness, and funding sources.  

The right partner will be able to demonstrate financial strength and stability, not only to enable the acquisition process, but also to provide ongoing support and resources after acquisition that will help you achieve your agreed-upon goals. 

Strategic vision 

Student transportation providers considering acquisition should look for a partner with a clear strategic vision aligned with their own long-term objectives. Seek out an organization that can demonstrate a pathway to partnership – before, during, and after the deal is inked. This means evaluating how you as a contractor fit into your potential partner’s overall investment strategy.  

For example, school bus contractors wishing to sell their businesses often express a desire to keep their legacy and community ties intact. Digging into the strategic vision of your potential partner will shed light on how they intend to preserve the business reputation and relationships you’ve built. 

As you become familiar with the team, ask yourself: Are they willing and able to align with my company’s long-term goals? Can they demonstrate a well-defined plan for how our partnership will create synergies, generate value, and drive growth?  

Operational strengths 

The operational strengths of a school bus contractor and an investment partner should complement one another. For contractors, conducting an honest assessment of areas in which to improve can help determine the right investor.  

Key operational capabilities that contractors may struggle with include processes and personnel in support of fleet management, organic growth, technology, or recruiting – all areas that enhance the overall performance and efficiency of a student transportation business. 

Examine a potential acquirer’s operational track record and its ability to provide and support the people, processes, and technology its partners need. You should have a clear idea of how the organization can help fill in any existing process gaps and grow your current operations. 

Cultural fit 

A strong cultural fit allows both parties to begin effective collaboration and integration immediately after acquisition, unified in their mission to provide safe, reliable student transportation services. It smooths the transition to partnership and helps create a cohesive business entity that is better prepared for growth. 

To assess whether an investment partner’s organizational culture and values align with your own, take a look at factors such as leadership style, communication approach, and overall “vibe.” The most important question you can ask is also the most personal: Does this feel like a good fit for me?  

An acquisition is the start of a long-lasting relationship between two organizations. It’s important to assess whether you’ll be comfortable in day-to-day business with a new partner. Talk with key executives, get to know the team, and develop a feel for what working with them might be like. In the end, personal relationships are the key to every successful partnership. 

Contact us 

Ready to learn more about building a mutually beneficial partnership? Reach out to us. 

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, dependable 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.