In this interview, Sheila Dodd of Cardinal Buses, Inc., shares her thoughts on the changing dynamics of the charter bus industry and her predictions for the future of the business she manages.
Please tell us about your work history.
Sheila Dodd: I started at United Limo in the charter department in 1989. I went to Bethel College for music. I’ve never worked in any other industry than the charter bus industry.
What steps did you take to acquire the skills and background needed to manage this type of business?
Sheila Dodd: By default. No else wanted to do it, when it comes to the technical stuff, so I did it. When it comes to selling, I have guess I have good customer service, since they keep coming back.
Do you have a business plan? If so, has it remained constant, or evolved over the years?
Sheila Dodd: The business plan has changed in that we have taken advantage of technology and have moved to an internet motivated business model vs. phone and personal sales calls. We still do those things, just not nearly to the degree we used to.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to managing the business?
Sheila Dodd: Motivating all of us to continue to move beyond the norm and into excellence as a company.
Being a business manager often comes with many surprises. What has been the biggest surprise for you?
Sheila Dodd: The quality of drivers from what we had at United Limo to what we have here at Cardinal Buses. Cardinal Buses has drivers that are a class act.
What about disappointments? Have there been any?
Sheila Dodd: Seeing some of our longtime customers have to close up shop due to changes in the way people do business for various reasons. We treat our customers like part of our family and it’s hard to see a family member go through tough times.
Where do you see Cardinal Buses, Inc. in the next ten years?
Sheila Dodd: I see the charter bus business as a whole increasingly having a difficult time finding quality drivers in the next ten years. The quality of work ethic seems to be on the decline as generations progress. Our profession doesn’t draw young people, it’s up early and late to bed usually. It doesn’t provide drivers very much home time during busy season, but there are seasons where it’s the opposite and their wives are calling to find out when the next time we can get them out of the house!
Cardinal Buses, Inc. celebrates 90 years of providing charter buses to its customers from locations in Middlebury, IN and Holland, MI. For more information visit www.cardinalbuses.com
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