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Accounting for Bus & Coach Operators

It doesn’t matter if you run a single bus or a fleet of 40 coaches, running a bus line is hard work. While you might operate anything from a 11-seat mini bus through to 70-seater coach you have to focus on providing passengers with safe and reliable transport. You might be servicing schools, charters tours, corporate customers, sporting clubs, senior citizens or the general public but there are passenger expectations, ticketing, traffic and government regulations to deal with.

You have to pay attention to the presentation and maintenance of the buses plus manage the depot and workshop, drivers and timetables. At some point you’ll need to upgrade the fleet plus as the bus line owner you have to deal with operational issues including marketing, accounts and contracts. Of course this is on top of all the usual small business compliance issues of GST, BAS, PAYG, bookkeeping and superannuation.


Historically, bus and coach operators have relied on reputation and referrals to grow. While these remain important, in the digital age your online presence should be a priority. Increasingly local searches like ‘Bus Charter Melbourne’ are driving traffic to your website and in effect, your website is your silent salesperson open 24/7. It is often the first touch point with a potential new customer and you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

One of our biggest points of difference compared to traditional accounting firms is our marketing expertise. We can assist you with your branding (business name, logo and slogan) and harness the power of social media to win more business. Over the past few years we have worked with dozens of clients to help them create affordable, quality lead generation websites. We can provide advice and assistance with your website content, video production and search engine optimisation. We'll make sure your website is responsive to smart phones (click here to check your current website) and we’ll help you develop lead magnets and calls to action. Not only that, we can help you launch a re-marketing program and assist you to implement your social media campaigns to drive more traffic, likes and reviews to your website.

I n an increasingly competitive and regulated market you need to work smarter, not harder. Some of the modern marketing tools and social media channels can accelerate your success and help you run some of your marketing on auto pilot. They can give you a serious competitive edge and if you aren’t using them to promote your business then you’re probably not going to reach your full profit potential.


When starting or buying into a busline or charter business there are numerous issues to consider. It can be a minefield but as business start-up specialists we can assist you with everything from your branding through to your business structure, site selection, commercial lease, marketing and website. We have developed a number of tools specifically for new business owners including a comprehensive checklist of start up expenses broken down into categories including leasehold improvements, IT costs, marketing and plant and equipment (including bus fleet). These figures then automatically feed through to a cash flow budget to help you identify any finance requirements and they also tuck neatly into a business plan template we have created.

For a start-up bus operators you need to carefully manage your costs including the purchase or financing of buses and maintenance equipment. It’s not easy and with heightened reporting requirements it’s no surprise to find many bus owners are 'spinning on their wheels'. Financial management often takes the back seat of the bus and experience tells us that meeting the record keeping requirements can be a hurdle for bus operators.

As accountants we can obviously assist you with all your GST, PAYG and superannuation compliance issues plus we will help you select the most appropriate accounting software for your business. In the process, we will take into account your business needs (bookkeeping, payroll, invoicing etc.) and level of accounting skill. Where required we will train you or your staff to use the software because we find many businesses owners make the mistake of buying sophisticated ‘double entry’ accounting programs that are beyond their needs and level of accounting skill. This leads to ‘computerised shoebox’ records and extra accounting costs when our client brief includes minimising the cost of compliance. We are an advocate for cloud accounting solutions and work with a number of programs including QuickBooks Online, Xero, MYOB and Cashflow Manager.

We’ll advise you on the most appropriate tax structure for your business and take into account tax considerations, asset protection, family structures and eligibility for future discount capital gains tax concessions. If you need help with your commercial property lease or finance for your buses (chattel mortgage, lease etc.) we can also assist you. Most entrepreneurs want to grow their profits and their wealth which explains why a number of our clients have a self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) as part of their business structure. If you want to know more about starting a SMSF talk to us today or download our e-booklet, Thinking of Starting a SMSF.

We strive to help you ‘know your numbers’ and that includes understanding the Four Ways to Grow Your Business. Once you understand the key profit drivers in your business we can talk you through profit improvement strategies and even quantify the profit improvement potential in your business. Of course, this is just the beginning because we can also do some financial modelling and help you prepare some ‘what if’ scenarios. This will give you projections based on best and worst case financial scenarios.

Preparing a cash flow budget and projecting your profit and loss statement is all part of our service offering and we use industry benchmarks to analyse and compare the relative performance of your bus line against your peers so you understand what is working in the business and what needs working on.

Our services to business owners including bus and coach operators are both broad and deep including:

  • Start-Up Business Advice for a Bus & Coach Operators
  • Advice and Establishment of Your Business Structure
  • Advice & Assistance with the Purchase or Sale of your Bus Business
  • Spreadsheets and Tools including a Start Up Expense Checklist and Pricing Calculator
  • Tax & Business Registrations including your ABN, TFN, GST, WorkCover etc.
  • Preparation of a Business Plan, Cash Flow Forecasts and Profit Projections
  • Accounting Software Selection and Training – Bookkeeping, Invoicing, Payroll etc.
  • Preparation of Finance Applications for Banking Institutions
  • Site Location and Advice Regarding your Commercial Lease
  • Preparation and Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll Services
  • Tax Planning Strategies
  • Industry Benchmarking and KPI Management
  • Marketing Advice including branding, brochures, website and social media strategies
  • Advice and Assistance with the Development, Content and Website SEO
  • Wealth Creation Strategies, SMSF’s and Financial Planning Services
  • Vehicle & Equipment Finance (including Buses and Other Vehicles)
  • Monitoring Labour Costs & Advice regarding Workplace Laws
  • Business & Risk Insurances
  • Business Succession Planning

In summary, we work hard to understand your business and over the past decade public and charter bus operators have become a niche area within our firm. If you’re looking to get your bus business off to a flying start or you want to boost your current results, we invite you to contact us today on (03) 9575 3800 and book a FREE, one hour introductory consultation. You can expect practical business, tax, marketing and financial advice that could have a profound effect on your future business profits.

Upside Accounting - Helping Your Business Achieve Amazing Results