Every year Americans experience new-school-year jitters as fall approaches, whether they are students, teachers or school bus operators — so when start-ups are smooth, it is cause for celebration as well as closer examination.
Asking and answering the question “What are we doing right?” can ensure that companies keep building on their current success.
For North America Central School Bus, positive feedback from customers in Illinois and Minnesota has reinforced that the school bus contractor is on the right track, said Patrick McCarthy, director of community and customer relations.
“This was one of our best start-ups ever. We’ve added more professional staff at the administrative level this year — a director of safety, a new human resources VP and a new chief operations officer,” McCarthy said. “The addition of these folks and many others has resulted in quality service.”
With 150 school contracts, McCarthy noted that the seven-year-old company continues to expand despite the shrinking budgets and staff experienced by district transportation departments nationwide. North America Central School Bus has subsidiaries in Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas.
So what is the secret to their success?
“Safety is the number-one need of our customers. It’s nice now that we have a new safety director overseeing all aspects of the company. We’ve been standardizing all of our operations,” he said, adding that customer service and competitive pricing are also key
McCarthy said that customers appreciate their standard operating procedure to equip all school buses with GPS whether or not the school districts require it. Nothing makes schools happier than safe, on-time bus arrivals, as the following customers attest in letters to the contractor:
“It is nice to know not one board member has been called with a concern. That doesn’t happen very often! I would also like to let you know that our principals feel the same way. I have heard from many of them, ‘The best year ever!’” — Denny Bloom, Business Manager, Stillwater Schools, Stillwater, Minn.
“There are no traffic issues, buses arrive on time, and we have all buses leaving our lot within 15 minutes after our final bell rings. We all ask, ‘Is this really the start of the school year?’ Because the bus operations seem as if they have been fine-tuned over a period of months. — Jon Gutierrez, Executive Director, St. Croix Preparatory Academy, Stillwater, Minn.