Care Cab L.L.C. operates in the fast-growing market for non-emergency transportation. Paul J. Ravenell bought the company two years ago from its previous owners, who had run it for four years.
Based in Awendaw, S.C., the company this year is on track to see a more-than-275 percent increase in revenues from its first year of operation under the new ownership.
Projected growth in demand makes non-emergency transport one of the transportation industry’s brightest opportunities for entrepreneurs.
The Network Journal recently caught up with Maryland resident Jerry Ravenell, who works in the business with his brother, Paul.
TNJ: Are Care Cab’s revenues increasing, flat, or decreasing?
J.R.: They’re rapidly increasing. From our first to second year, they increased 190 percent. When Paul purchased the business it had three vans, now we have seven.
TNJ: Why this specific line of transportation?
J.R.: We looked at the data, which suggested more and more people will require this service. We were lucky to get a contract with a broker of the state of South Carolina.
TNJ: What is the outlook for this transportation sector?
J.R.: Tremendous! An increasing number of individuals need this service. Most of the people we carry are on Medicaid, which is growing in leaps and bounds. The country is in a terrible economic situation, so a lot of people are going through Medicaid to provide these types of services.
TNJ: What does a nonemergency transportation company need to operate?
J.R.: Vehicles, drivers, communication technology, special license, state license, decals, insurance. It must be approved and inspected by the state and inspected by the contractor to meet all specifications under nonemergency transport with a Class C license. We do not carry stretchers, only wheelchairs.
TNJ: What are the three biggest challenges this kind of business face?
J.R.: The primary challenge is keeping the buses on the road. We’re running from 3:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., six days a week. We must maintain the vehicles and keep licenses current. The second challenge is finding appropriate drivers. We’re dealing with people with very serious needs, so drivers need to know how to talk to folks, must know when they can pick up and drop off, how long to stay per the contract. The third challenge is the increasing number of trips and finding new users.
TNJ: What steps are you taking to address those challenges?
J.R.: We do weekly inspections and an oil change every month — we have a contract with Jiffy Lube. We have requirements for drivers. They must be high energy, with the temperament to deal with the type of passengers we transport. We try to hire people we know and make sure that they are trained properly. We’ve developed an aggressive program for new riders that will entail short trips, targeting churches, nursing homes and senior centers. It’s a really comprehensive strategy.
TNJ: What advice would you give to someone interested in going into this line of business?
J.R.: (Laughing) Don’t come to our market. Seriously, it’s a good business to go into. We can’t satisfy the market. There are too many people who need this service, and the new health-care bill will increase this need tremendously. HMOs and hospitals are contracting with nonemergency transport. Right now, I think anyone can grab a van and hold themselves out as nonemergency transport. Start small. Scheduling is important. Pay attention to distances between pickup. Meeting people’s need to be picked up on time is critical. People may need dialysis, and if they are late, they could end up waiting for hours and could die.