The Transportation Marketing and Sales Association released findings from a recent member survey that indicate the overall industry is continuing to increase investments toward overall growth despite the stagnant economy. But is that an apples-and-oranges and comparison for the student transportation segment?
It would appear so.
Survey responses showed that TMSA member companies generate approximately $300 billion in revenue and more than $190 million in sales, marketing and communications budgets. The survey also found that TMSA members are seeing a nearly 54 percent increase over 2010 with regard to their marketing budget plans for 2011.
Student transporters know all too well that that's what good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander, especially as states and local school districts continue to make budget cuts. Commercial transportation and freight segments are far different than school buses in terms of cargo, and members of the TMSA tend to be large revenue companies as opposed to school districts or private bus contractors operating on thin margings. But there can be an overlap in terms of operational efficiencies.
“Given the previous effects of the economic recession, TMSA released the survey results to show that budgets are increasing and the industry is starting to see growth," said Ken Kish, chair of TMSA’s Communication Committee. "TMSA is aware that our members’ commercial budgets are likely to grow faster than those of the education sector, however, these findings show significant promise for the future health of the transportation industry overall.”
Sometimes it's good to for student transporters to keep an eye on trends from larger companies to gain potential insights. Still, Tim Ammon, a consultant with Management Parntership Services, Inc., in Rockville, Md., says this targeted industry should take the study findings with a grain of salt.
"The student transportation sector, which is a very specialized portion of the overall transportation industry, is likely experiencing a slower rate of increase in its sales and marketing budgets," added Ammon. "The more narrow profit margins coupled with the on-going budget uncertainty is likely constraining spending in organizations that are tightly aligned with public sector funding."
TMSA members are the executive leaders of marketing, sales or communications for mainly 3PLs, highway carriers and marketing firms, according to the survey. Their companies also serve a wide variety of customers, both large and small, annually. A TMSA spokesperson said the organization was unable to confirm how many, if any, members operate school bus service. According to TMSA, 7.3 percent of its members operate "motor carrier" companies and 4.9 percent hail from public transit agencies. Another 17 percent are classified as "highway carrier."