Seeking your thoughts & advice on a new venture

My husband & I have been living in France for 7yrs now & after work starting to decline in 2016 and an income of just 660€ between us last year leaving us living in poverty for the past several months we have the opportunity in April due to a small pension pot to setup a new venture which could give us the lifeline we need. We are thinking of setting up a minibus service, pick up & drop off at Limoges airport and minibus/driver for hire for parties of upto 16 people. Obviously we are aware that we would need public liability insurance but are unsure of any other insurances we would require & how feasible it would be to offer this service. I would appreciate peoples thoughts & comments and any advice regarding setting up a freelance service. Thank you

I can not answer your questions.
Some one will…I am sure but good luck with your venture.

Off the top of my head I’d guess you’ll need a local license of some sort to operate such a service. Airport transportation is heavily regulated.

You will definitely need to do your homework on this. Most trades/services are heavily regulated in France and I imagine there will be courses and diplomas and mountains of paperwork to get through to make this possible. You will also need to decide the tax regime you will follow and think about a business plan etc etc etc etc.

I’m sure someone will have some good advice for you. Best of luck.

Do you think there is sufficient demand for pick up / drop off at Limoges Airport for large groups?

Don’t most people hire cars as they are needed to get around whilst staying in the area?

From Bergerac / Bordeaux Airports I would be interested in a sensible price regular (monthly) taxi for 2 to our house so we could then use the car that is located at the house - I havent been able to come up with a good way of doing this yet.

I have done some background work & there is a demande from holiday makers hiring gites wheres there is a large grouo but they only want to hire 1 car to get around. We thought of advertising with the holiday sites offering this service so not an airpory shuttle service but a freelance. For example a taxi from limoges to mansle is 200€ so if we charged that and can carry a larger grouo it makes it more reasonable.

Also going out in a group for a celebration someone has to be designated drivers. Ive looked at what friends, neighbours & associates are payjng & the taxi cost from 16260 Cellefrouin to Angouleme in a taxi carrying 4 is 100€ ea way, we could charge upto 400€ for a party of upto 16 & it would still make it more cost worthy for the customer to hire us Just an idea really need to do more groundwork & seup costs etc.

is a good place to start to see what the formalities would be.

To carry over 8 people the rules are different and to be honest I doubt you would want to go there unless you already have a permis D.

Hi Sue… I’ve been giving this quite some thought… I understand you need to find some way out of your present situation… so my thoughts are intended to be helpful… even though they may seem to be knocking the idea.

I do not know anything about what sort of business set-up you would need…but, as others have said… this is a highly regulated area…

You talk of up to 16 people… mmm… What ages are you… I only ask as over 60’s will need to pass a medical every year to drive D/D1…
I am presuming you already have gained this category of Driving Licence… if not, you will need lessons and pass the Test.

In my view…2 drivers would be needed to ensure continuity in event of illness and 2 vehicles in case of breakdown.

The cost of running and maintaining these vehicles, needs to be taken into account. I know the variously sized minibuses that collect the kids from school … I believe they are subject to “normes” which change almost every year (or so it seems). eg: all have seat belts etc…

You mention what you could charge… but have not mentioned how much you expect to pay out in Tax/Social/Running costs… etc before any money lands in your pocket.

Regular maintenance/service to ensure the legal and safe running of each vehicle… must be carried out… and this will not come cheap. (I’m talking about daily/weekly/monthly etc)

In our area, the smaller companies are finding it harder and harder …and are being pushed-out/swallowed-up by the larger companies.

Finally… have you thought how you will cope when the snow descends and the roads are blocked. Folk will still expect you to arrive and do the necessary… you will need snow-chains/socks or whatever and nerves of steel :relaxed:

I really do wish you the very best of luck…

Unless you have a recognised trade it’s very hard to earn enough here to survive, we do all kinds of work as just managing gites/houses (for other people) doesn’t generate sufficent income. I would therefore suggest that the OP looks at a range of options rather than just hope that a taxi/airport run business will work.

Thank you this is very helpful. My husband would be the main driver and we would only have 1 minibus. Its just an idea at the moment until we gather all information so I really do appreciate your response. Yes we have considered social charges/tax so know what we are looking to charge is not what goes in our pockets. We are both fully registered as auto entrepreneurs in France myself as gardening & gite management and my husband the same plus small building works i.e. roof repairs, building maintenance & repairs etc. so we know about been registered & the importance of been registered. We have found out we would need to have a 6 weekly inspection. We are still researching the market but have also found a niche for collecting anglers from the airport and taking them to their designated fishing lake (have had a good lead from an established fishing lake for this service). Obviously we are not cash rich & are looking for a way out of current financial situation so any advice like this is extremely welcome as we had thought as freelance the stipulations of an actual minibus company would not apply, need to look into this further. Thank you

Sue, I think what you should do is go to a local business advice centre - maybe your chamber of commerce, maybe your communauté des communes runs a centre de formalités d’entreprise or maybe there is a service at the maire - and speak to an advisor. France has a step by step blueprint for setting up a new business, starting with market research and looking at every aspect through choosing your business structure, business plan, third party relationships (bank, insurers, suppliers, accountants), marketing etc and in some cases a hand holding service for the first year or two. If you do it this way, worst case scenario the research will show straight away it’s a non starter so you won’t waste your money, best case scenario it will show where you need to tweak your original plan and you will end up with a viable business. I know you can prove anything with statistics but in this case the statistics do overwhelmingly show that startups using a business advice service have a better success rate than those that try to go it alone.

FWIW I don’t think micro entrepreneur is going to be the best structure for this business, and also, if you are registered separately then you can’t legally run a business in partnership.

Please get professional advice.

Not quite sure what you mean by this but a minibus operator is a minibus operator, and a micro entreprise is a business like any other business. As in all things it’s a level playing field with the same rules for everyone. Otherwise there would be screams of “unfair competition” like there were from artisans in the early years of auto entrepreneur. RDV at CoC asap.

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Hi Sue…

No idea what the 6-weekly inspection is about… but (from experience) I do know that if an accident happens the transport company (ie you) needs to be able to show that the vehicle was in tip-top condition when it set out (not 6 weeks before).

I had thought of seeing a business advisor, they only charge around 30euros per hour which I think would be money well spent. It would be just my husband as I don’t drive and he would have to setup new as his current siret does not cover anything else other than he is registered for under that siret. It could be that just the start up costs alone make this a non viable project for us. thank you for all your advice :slight_smile:

And if you are each registered as an auto-entrepreneur for gîtes/gardening/building maintenance etc. that isn’t transport by any stretch of the imagination, be careful what you are allowed to do.
Go and see the business pépinière people.

I live not far from the area you would be working in and I’m afraid I just cannot see a real demand for that service. The chance of 16 people wanting to go out for the night in Angoulême is so remote if it did happen it would be seen as a once in a blue moon happening not something to base a business around. The cost of running the minibus and the hoops that you will have to jump through to be able to carry more than eight paying passengers will make even providing the service a liability. The people who make money from taxi businesses are those who have few overheads and are constantly, taking one or two passengers short distances.

It might be a profitable sideline with a nine seater minibus (ie 8 passengers) as you don’t need a special licence to drive it, they count just as normal cars and chances are the group will fit into it.
I noticed Sue that you don’t drive, how do you manage to get to work etc?

Thank you for your honesty & yes the need for a minibus service for parties etc is not feasible. We are going to look into airport pickup & drop off in more detail to see if it would be viable to setup a season only service and look more to the anglers. My husband has got his catD for upto a 17seater so now really need to do our homework over next month & see a business advisor etc. Maybe win the lottery & buy our own fishing lake…i wish :slight_smile:. All info has been so helpful wish i had found this site before. We were goat & pig breeders for over 5 years but unfortunately when things went wrong financially last year & not been entitled to french benefits then the animals had to go, sad but we were successful for them years and enjoyed every minute of it so not a total loss. Time to pick ourselves up & look forward. Still would not change living in france :slight_smile:


My husband :slight_smile: Funny you have mentioned 9 seater as that’s what we have settled on. Sorry for late reply

We would not be using our current registration my husband would be setting up a new rdgisyration with all the relevant insurances etc but thank you for your concern