In almost every business you can think of, whether it is retailing, manufacturing or a service business, there is a need for quick, direct delivery of envelopes and small packages. In many cases this need cannot be left to the post office, either because it takes too long or the item must be delivered by hand. In large cities particularly, delivery-messenger services do a very brisk business.
To start this specialized service you need no investment except your own car. Or you could even use a motorcycle or bicycle. This is a business that can be started out of your own home with just a telephone (or you can hire an answering service). Since you are likely to be handling irreplaceable messages and packages, your service should be bonded. This can be done for little money and will more than pay for itself in the added reliability you offer your customers.
Begin by running ads in your local newspaper. The key features of this service are speed and reliability. Stress that immediate de¬livery is available, as well as regular pickup and delivery service. If you live in an outlying suburb (where more and more businesses are beginning to locate), you have a ready market for those in-dustries that must communicate regularly with a nearby city. Once your business is established, you can hire a staff of messengers who, if they do not have their own vehicles, can use public transportation.
In addition to advertising in the local paper, it would be well worth your while to have business cards and a few hundred bro¬chures which you can send to a list of companies that you draw right from the Yellow Pages of your community’s telephone book. Your most likely prospects will probably be advertising agencies, financial services and others who have a constant need for quick delivery and pickup of small items. Advertising agencies in par¬ticular depend on messenger services to get their materials to pub¬lications before deadlines. After you have mailed a number of brochures, follow up with telephone calls to these companies. Ask for personal interviews so that you can sell your service in person.
The fees you charge will be based on several kinds of service. You can have a one-time charge for special deliveries. To arrive at that figure you must calculate your expenses for either gasoline or public transportation, a salary to your messengers, if you have a staff, and your expenses for insurance and bonding. Take these raw costs and double them.
When a company has an important message or package to be delivered, they expect to pay substantially more than postal rates for this service. If you have organized your schedule well, you should be able to make regular runs and still give each customer the individualized service he expects. Therefore, if it costs $5 for a round-trip train ticket, and it will take approximately three hours for the message or package to be delivered, you can charge as much as $40 to $60 for a specially delivered item. If you combine the pickups and deliveries well, so that you can deliver several items at the same time, you can charge less and make your rates even more competitive.
The goal of your business is to make it as efficient as possible. Therefore, if you can offer your customers a regular schedule at one rate and a special-delivery service at a higher rate, you are putting together an attractive, flexible package.
You can get a staff by advertising for part-time help in the local newspaper. Scheduling can be arranged to suit your employees’ needs, since you can arrange to have different staff members make trips at certain times of the day.
Try to arrange to have at least one messenger available at all times, including yourself if necessary. The more reliable and avail¬able your service, the more successful it will become.
The growth potential of your business is sizable. You can increase and decrease the size of your staff easily, especially since no train¬ing is required for this job. When considering part-time workers for staff assignments, make sure that they are conscientious and de¬pendable. One serious mishap can put a permanent dent in your business, especially if your customer is a regular.
When setting your rates, try first to get customers to sign up for a regular contract. That is, a certain number of deliveries each week or each month at the same time. You will be billing customers on a monthly basis, except for those accounts which you only serve once in a while (or for the first time), in which case you should ask for payment of the bill upon proof of delivery.
You should have a supply of receipts which can be printed with your name. Receipts are also available in blank form at a lower price. You must be sure that every package that goes out is signed for at both ends. Your receipts will be the only proof that you have performed your service.
To figure rates for frequently traveled routes, run the message or package yourself, at least the first time. There is no better way to convince yourself of how long it takes to perform a service.
And bear in mind that the messengers you hire to work for you will be representing you in every way. If their attitudes suit your customers, it will reflect on you and your business. If there is a question of reliability, it is better to reject a prospective employee than take the risk that he will harm your business. This kind of business will be very appealing to people looking for part-time work, and you should have no trouble filling a staff as quickly as you need it.