How To Set Up Your Own Courier Business Website For Under $100

$100 websiteWould you spend $100 to make an extra $8,000 next year? Of course you would! I recently surveyed three dozen customers who had purchased my courier guide and set up their own courier business. One of the questions was “How much extra income did you make after you set up your web site?” The average increase in income was over $8,000!

The absolutely best way to promote your courier business in today’s world of technology is with a website. I’m serious about this and will talk you through the simplest way to get yourself online in this article. The reason why I feel you need to be on the internet is because most of your potential customers are already using it. They use it to locate businesses and services on a daily basis. The internet has virtually replaced phone books and has a far greater reach than all other forms of media combined.

Plus, a website does three key things for your courier service. It allows you to market your services to a wider audience of potential customers. It gives you a way to further educate your client base about the kind of services you off and it gives them an easy way to contact you.

What’s even more interesting is that you can get all of this – including a complete website – for less than $100. Sure, you may think there’s some kind of trick to it because websites cost thousands of dollars to develop and maintain. Well, that may have been true at one time, but those days are gone. The internet is wide open and accessible to anyone who cares to participate and it won’t cost you much to get your courier business online, either.

But how exactly do you do it?

Well, in order to build your website for under $100 you will have to approach it like a DIY project. However, even if you have limited tech knowledge, I will guide you through the process and give you hints on how to learn more along the way.

The Pages Your Website Needs

Before I get into the finer details of website building, let’s take a look at the things you will need your website to have. The pages that you will want to have in your website are very specific. If you look online at other business websites you will see a bit of a pattern between big and small business websites. Each has some of the same kind of content pages because they are important. Here are the pages you should include in yours:

The Greeting Page – Okay, this is not really what the first page of your website is called, but it serves the same purpose as a greeting. On it you should have a few things about you, your courier business and not too much detail. It is supposed to give others a first impression about your service and make them curious enough to dig deeper for more information.

 

 

The About Us Page – Here is the page where you can provide a lot of the details missing from the first page. You can provide information on you, your courier business, rates, programs, discounts, special offers and anything else that fills in the blanks about what you and your business are about.

 

 

The FAQ Page – Frequently asked questions about your business can be answered here. They can be related to your service or whatever else you get asked by customers on a regular basis. The idea here is to provide information that can educate your customers and potential new ones about your courier service.

 

The Testimonials Page – This is where your happy customers can share details on their experience with you, your staff, your business and anything else that can show you are pretty good at the courier business. This page also gives others a feel for what they can expect when they call on you.

 

The Contact Us Page – The final page in our example is the one that tells everyone where you are located and how they can reach you. Also, on the pages of your website try to include photos to break up the text. Photos of you with family, you on the job with customers and anything featuring the ‘real’ you will do and give your company a nice, friendly image.

 

Hosting Options

With a general idea of the pages you need for your website, you now need to look at somewhere to have your website hosted. A web host provides space to park a website so it can be found on the internet. There are two kinds of web hosts. One is paid hosting and the other is free hosting.

When you are on a tight budget is can make good sense to opt for free hosting but I am going to steer you away from there. I much prefer paid hosting and here’s why: You can use your own registered domain name for your website which makes it easier for search engines to find you. Paid hosting is not expensive and contains many extras that can help you with your website and the promotion of it. Finally, with paid hosting there are no free ads placed on your website. Free hosts do this to pay for their services.

Website Builders

There are several programs online that allow you to build your website. I am going to suggest you use WordPress when you start to put your website together. In addition to being the most popular web building program, there are thousands of themes and plugins available to you to allow you to personalize your website to look exactly as you would like it to. If you have limited knowledge of WordPress, there are video tutorials and an extremely active community online ready to help you with any problem you may encounter.

My Recommendations

For web hosting I give Bluehost the nod. I’ve used their service for over nine years without problem. They offer perks including a free domain name, one-click install action of WordPress, free e-mail accounts, amazing customer service you can reach 24/7 and are just awesome. If you click this link you will also receive a discount from their regular pricing.

That is an affiliate link which means I will earn a small referral fee if you sign up with them. I promote Bluehost simply because I feel they are the best at what they do and I want you to have the best team working with you on your website.

Once you start using WordPress and Bluehost, you will be able to access many video tutorials on both programs. I suggest you take some time to go through some to pick up on many great tips that will assist with the construction of your website.

The Steps To Building Your Website

The first thing you need to do in order to build your courier business website is visit Bluehost. Once you get there, click on the “Get Started Now” button to get the process underway. Once you click that button, you will be sent to another page. On it you will be offered the option of picking a new domain name or using an existing one.

If you do not have a domain name for your courier business, let me give you some advice on creating one. Try to keep it simple such as containing two or three words. Try to keep it short but don’t use abbreviations, numbers or slang words. Try to make it relate to the nature of your business. Try to make it easy to say, spell and remember. Try to ask others for ideas if you get stumped.

Once you have your web domain name you will have to pick your hosting plan. I suggest you use the basic one for two very good reasons. First, it is not expensive. Second, it includes many of the extras you will be able to use to enhance your website at no extra cost.

Now you are ready to start building the pages of your website. I remind you to install WordPress with the one-click installation option and you are ready to go. Provided you have checked out some of the tutorials I’ve already mentioned about both Bluehost and WordPress, you should be able to put together your website with relative ease.

When you complete your website, publish it and it will be live so others will be able to find it and learn about your courier business. What you may want to do to jazz up your website a little is to get a logo made for your business. I know, logos are expensive. Well, actually, that depends on where you get it made. If you have a freelancers at Fiverr.com make one for you, it can cost you as little as $5.

You can use the logo, which will be your property entirely, on all marketing tools to promote your business. While you’re at it, but sure to include your website address on all those same marketing tools including your vehicle decals, business cards and information posters.

One More Thing

The website you now have will require looking after. It’s called maintenance. You will have to try to monitor it to make sure information does not end up online long after it is outdated. For example, if your courier business rates change, make sure they are also corrected on your website. At some time you may want to add a blog to your website. I think it is a great idea but it will require a little more of your time to keep updated and fresh with new material.

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Go The Extra Mile With Your Courier Business

go the extra mile with your courier businessSo how exactly can you keep customers coming back to use your courier business? There are a lot of nifty business methods you can use to ensure that some of your customers become repeat clients and those are related primarily to your style of service. For example, different kinds of incentives offering your customers something extra for their support usually works. They can include:

1 – Discounts

I don’t know about you, but whenever I get a discount on something I buy, I remember where it came from. Sometimes it just happens to be a featured item that day or week. Sometimes it’s a regular volume discount because I’ve been such a loyal customer. Other times it is a one-time special that I just happened upon by being there at the right time. It doesn’t matter what kind of discount you offer as part of your courier business just as long as you do something to show your customers that you appreciate their business.

2 – Incentives

Another way to build up your client base is to provide some kind of incentive. It can be something as simple as a small discount on the next service with each new customer they refer to your business. In the case of a courier business, you could partner up with another business in your community offering a service that complements yours. By ‘trading’ customers you both benefit and some kind of discount may be introduced to encourage the trading.

3 – Customer Service

The most effective way to build your business is through dealing directly with your customers and providing them with what they want. Listen to what they tell you about your business. They will give you feedback that can help you turn your courier service into an extremely successful business. But in order to do that, you need to give your customers a reason to share. You can do this with customer service. Customer service can come in many different forms – remembering a name or small detail about a customer, doing something special for a customer or giving a customer something – but all come down to the same thing. When you treat a customer as if they are the most important part of your business, it comes back to you in many positive ways.

4 – Remembering Their Value

Although this is related to customer service, it isn’t something you give them, it is something they give you. When you are able to keep in mind that each of your customers is responsible for your current lifestyle and income, you will find yourself treating them differently. Because each customer has a value to you and your business, you will find ways to do things that please them and make them glad to spend time with you and spend their money on the services you provide.

5 – The One-On-One Advantage

The most important part of customer service where your home-based courier service will outperform the larger corporately operated courier businesses is directly related to your individual care of your customers. When you are creating connections and friendships through your personalized, face-to-face dealings you are building trust and loyalty. Large faceless corporations lose out in this category because we all still want to talk to a person about our business, our problems and our lives. Voice mail is far less personal than the one-man courier business owner. This is your advantage and you must play it correctly.

6 – Happy, Shiny People

Another key part of customer service and going the extra mile comes directly from how you interact with your customers. By being pleasant, happy and upbeat will always win you points as opposed to being mean, angry and nasty. The same goes for how you treat customers who may not be on their best behavior. The last thing you want is to get into an argument with a client. Even if the customer is wrong, accept that they are right and diffuse the situation with a discount or some other incentive to smooth things over. The way you handle these kinds of situations will say a lot about your business skills and will become the topic of conversation. You will benefit most of the discussion revolves around your professionalism than anything else that may be perceived as negative.

The Winning Ways Of Small Business

Sometimes there are situations where you just can’t win, regardless of what you do. Where you will win is by being personable and building those one-on-one relationships with your customers. When they trust you and feel special when they are with you or using your courier service, you will earn extra business as a result. It is the best way for small business owners to win over customers by being honest, fair and by treating everyone as you would want to be treated if you were a customer of your business.

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Deliver Customers To Your Courier Business With Google

start a courier businessDo you have a website for your courier business? How about any kind of online presence? Well, if you think you don’t need any of these things I want you to think again.

The reason why you need to have your business represented on the internet is because that is where a lot of your potential customers can be found. Sure, it’s easy to assume that getting your business on the internet is going to cost a lot, but in actual fact, it doesn’t.

Here are a few ways you can get your business on the internet at no cost or for a little cost:

1 – Google Places

Google Places is one of several online directories you should consider having your courier service listed. You simply visit http://places.google.com and click “start now’ under the “Get your business found on Google” prompt. Follow the steps and include as much information as you can. The more you provide, the easier your business will be to locate by users of Google Places.

2 – Other Online Directories

There are other online directories to list your business at as well. They include Bing Places (http://bingplaces.com), MapQuest (http://listings.mapquest.com) and City Search (http://citysearch.com). Each of these services will allow you to post a listing of your business along with basic information for no cost.

3 – Blog

If you are not quite ready to put your courier business online with a website you can still give it some extra exposure on the internet for free. All you have to do is visit www.blogger.com and start a blog. A blog will allow you to share details about your business ranging from new rates and special activities to features on your business or your customers. A blog allows you to interact with your existing customers which will attract new customers.

4 – Website

Probably one of the biggest ways in which to increase the size of your internet footprint is to launch a website for your courier business. There are free web hosts, free website building programs and free apps that can be added to your website.

You will have to spend a few dollars a year on registering a domain name, which is the address people use to find your business online. With a website Google can give you the exposure that would cost you a huge amount of money for in any other advertising or marketing medium.

The Bigger Picture

The only reason why you would have to turn to Google to help your courier business to grow is because of how the internet works. Visitors to your website will learn about you and your business. When they can find you online, there is a better chance of customers coming from the internet.

With more and more consumers turning to the internet for shopping, banking and entertainment, it only makes sense to be visible in the same place so they can find your courier business.

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How to Add Tracking and Proof-Of-Delivery Using Just Your Smartphone

courier businessTracking and Proof-Of-Delivery is important to your courier service.

Good technology and clean professional documentation is a direct reflection on your company. It’s important to be professional and show potential clients that you are not only reliable and timely, but also have state-of-the-art technology. (Don’t worry because it’s inexpensive and easy to use.)

Something as simple as having professional documentation, and being able to track the delivery, is a competitive edge.

Being able to present your client with a Proof-Of-Delivery (POD) document containing paperwork, signatures, photographs, and time / stamp / location-stamps, makes it easy for both you and your client to see and save information on the delivery.

Having the ability to include photographs in the POD reduces delivery disputes.

We have also found having the ability to include photographs allows couriers to include third-party documentation. For example, you get to a destination and someone has a document for you to include, all you need to do is take a photo of it, and it will be included in the POD.

As you would expect, having the documentation in the POD eliminates lost or ruined paperwork. It also saves trees because there is less printing of paperwork.

Usually, there’s no need to purchase hardware. Most people already carry an Apple iphone, ipad, or Android phone or device. The apps work on IOS (Apple) and Android devices.

Tracking and POD technology was designed to be intuitive and simple to use. The app is understandable and has had a high acceptance among couriers and delivery people. Often users of Tracking and POD technology have little technical experience but pick it right up.

Being able to immediately know when a pickup and delivery is made adds tremendous efficiency to your organization. No more waiting for a call or text that a delivery was completed. The dispatcher will immediately know the courier has completed the delivery and is available for more work. This adds productivity to both dispatching and delivery person. Even a one-person courier service can benefit from this technology.

We have seen estimates that a courier using an electronic POD app has the ability to handle anywhere from 10 – 15% more deliveries per day.

Of course, all businesses are different, but you get the point that Tracking and POD is an obvious, inexpensive and easy way to increase the productivity of your organization.

Get started today by visiting DeliveryMark.com to discover more about this easy-to-use productivity and profit booster.

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The Easy Way To Pick A Name For Your Courier Business

The Easy Way To Pick A Name For Your Courier BusinessMaybe you got away with listing your company name on all your legal paperwork with a corporate identity you intend to use as an umbrella name. But now you are faced with having to create an actual name for your courier business. It will be the name that will be on your business cards, on the sides of your vehicles, on the window of your office, in your advertising and everywhere else you put it to promote your business. But what are you going to call it? Let me help you with the 5 W’s of naming your courier business:

1 – Who

Who are you? You will want to use your personal name somehow in the name of your courier business. Even if you don’t want to do this, let me tell you why you should. If you use your personal name (first name only) it will not only give your business name a personality, it will sound friendly. Plus, if your name is in the business name, customers can call and ask specifically for you instead of a faceless, nameless customer service rep.

2 – What

I know, this may seem too simple, but you need to describe what your business is in the name you use for your courier business. In other words, you have to make it obvious to everyone what it is you do for business. This may not be true for giant corporations with names that say nothing about what they do (MacDonald’s, Wal-Mart and Greyhound are examples) but in the world of small business and entrepreneurship, you will need to be clear in your business name as to what you do.

3 – Where

Another good idea that will set your business apart from the larger ‘chain operators’ is to include the name of the community you service within your business name. If your service area covers a region, then use the geographic name instead. While it may seem redundant to use your city name in the business based in your city, your customers will see it differently. In most cases, the fact that your business name says you are servicing the area known as (fill in the blank) will gain you business as most everyone prefers to deal with a locally-owned and operated small business.

4 – When

This is an important tip if your courier service operates 24-hours a day or has a schedule that is different from the regular five or six day per week stint of most businesses. So, for example, Rob’s 24-Hour Courier Service of Seattle says a whole lot more about the business than Rob’s Service does. Plus, if the business name says enough it reduces a lot of questions that potential customers may have. Do you operate after 6:00 PM? Do you deliver anywhere in Seattle? Those questions should be answered with the business name of Rob’s 24-Hour Courier Service of Seattle.

5 – Why

Now I get to explain why you need to keep your courier business name simple and focused on explaining what your business is about. You want to be remembered for more than you rates, prompt service and friendly attitude. While all of these things will help your business to succeed, none of it will matter if your customers can’t remember the name of your business. You also want new customers to be able to locate your business when they search for it in online phone directories or other location devices. If your name is easier to forget than it is to remember, you may as well be unlisted.

I hope these tips have been helpful and that you see the value in putting a lot of effort in selecting the right name for your courier business. It will be what people will associate with you and what you do for a living so you will want a business name that says the right things without saying too much.

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6 Free Ways To Build Your Courier Business

free ways to build your courier businessEverybody relies on information moving from one place to another. Although the internet has taken some of this traffic, there is still a demand for reliable courier service deliveries. What seems to be the reason is the ongoing issues related to online security. An ‘old school’ courier tends to be the safest way to send documents, packages and even groceries from one part of the community to another. But how do you build your courier business without spending a lot of money? Let me tell you how:

1 – Share The Wealth

There is nothing better for a business than to gain customers through a referral system. It will take some time to set up, but the dividends it will deliver will be well worth the effort. There will be customers in your client list that require additional services you are unable to provide. If you use them to send business you can’t offer, arrange for a similar trade. What happens is you develop a network with customers being shared which results in business increases for all parties concerned.

2 – Add Extra Services

There are going to be customers of yours looking for services that you don’t currently offer but could easily add as part of an expansion to your courier business. For example, maybe you could also courier people from Point A to Point B for appointments. This would provide you will a whole new demographic of potential customers to draw from that may not otherwise require your courier service. It also gives your business a larger footprint in the community you serve.

3 – Add Extra Mustard

When you go that extra mile with your customers, it will be beneficial to you. Basically I’m talking about customer service but whatever you choose to do for your customers that you consider an ‘extra’ will do. You are only limited by your imagination. You could provide a special  discount on birthdays, charge just a flat rate for regulars or whatever you can to please your clients. They will talk about it and you will see business increase as a result.

4 – Google It

One excellent form of free marketing many new business owners/operators miss is Google Places. It is basically an online inventory of businesses operating in your area that computer users access when they are looking for someone to help with whatever issue they have. Once your listing is verified by Google you will have a permanent location on the map of your community and a business listing that will make potential customers find your courier service. It costs you nothing.

5 – Blog It

Speaking of the internet, I am a fan of blogs and blogging. It enables me to reach and connect with people who like my products as well as those just discovering my products. There are free blog hosting programs (just search for them) and you can have a blog online to promote your business in minutes. It costs nothing and is only as good as the material you feed it. The idea is to feed it regularly and it will return customers to your courier business.

6 – Brand It

One visual way to identify your courier business is to have a good logo. I know, it sounds costly but it isn’t. If you go online and look for “free logo makers” or “free logo programs” you should find something that will help you to design your own logo – even if you have little in the way of creativity. The reason why I suggest you get a logo is that it will become the way you will be identified in your community. A business with a strong and memorable logo will stand out from competitors. This brings you brand recognition that turns into new business.

These are just six ideas that will help you build your courier business. I share these with you as each one will cost you no money whatsoever but will result in extra revenue through an increase in your customer and client base. Try one or two of them today to see what I mean. The whole goal of this list is to inspire you to do something different to build your business and something that does not have a financial risk attached to it.

To discover more ways to build a profitable, successful courier business, get a copy of my start-up guide, How To Start a Courier Business.

courier business guide

Courier Service Business Guide

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The “Gig Economy” – A New Way To Make Money As A Local Courier

Courier Service Business

Not long ago, musicians were the only people who worked a “gig.” Today, there are millions of Americans working gigs instead of having a full-time job.

It started with online marketplaces like Elance and Odesk, where workers could choose short-term work projects that matched their skills. Then along came Etsy, where millions of “makers” create hand-crafted clothing, jewelry and art. Airbnb and other online lodging marketplaces are giving hotels and motels some serious competition by helping individuals around the world provide a place for guests to stay for a night or several months.

Now, Amazon has announced a new, gig-style, delivery service that has just launched in Seattle, and will expand soon to other large cities, like New York and Chicago, and eventually to the entire country. It’s likely the program will be offered in all other countries where Amazon sells goods as well.

Amazon is offering to pay it’s driver $18 to $24 an hour to deliver packages to their “Prime” customers. The program is called Amazon Flex, and requires a few essentials of it’s drivers:

  1. Own a vehicle
  2. Be over 21
  3. Have a valid driver’s license
  4. Pass a background check
  5. Own an Android smartphone

Amazon will give approved drivers a “delivery app” for their smart phone. Drivers can choose to work in 2-hour blocks of time, from as short as 2 hours to as long as 12 hours. This is great for part-timers. Let’s say you need to pick up your kids at 3 p.m. No problem, as Amazon Flex allows you to choose your own 2-hour blocks of time to fit your schedule.

Need to earn a lot of money fast? Again, no problem. Just sign up for a long shift or more days per week until you meet your financial goal.

Here’s how it works: When you start your shift, you pick up the packages to be delivered at a central location in your area. Then you deliver those packages in nearby areas. The longer your shift, the larger the area you cover.

Up until now, starting your own courier service business could be risky at first, when you’re building the business, and income can go up and down. But by using Amazon Flex for a portion of your working hours, you can have a more predictable income right off the bat.

It’s important to remember that your income as an independent local courier will be considerable higher – about $36 an hour is typical – for delivery jobs you schedule and complete on your own. So think of Amazon Flex as a “backstop” income source that can give you some income security as your build your own courier service business.

I’ll post another article soon to keep you posted about the Flex program. You can also do an internet search for “amazon flex” to learn the latest available information, especially about which cities are in the program.

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38 Unusual Ways To Earn Extra Income – But Only If You’re Over 50!

extra income over 55You’ve probably found this web site because you are looking for ideas about earning extra income or starting a home-based business.

Starting a courier business may be just the right opportunity for you. After all, it’s easy to start up, without investing much money, and earn a solid income.

But …if it’s not exactly right for you, there is another site you may find useful, www.extraincomeover55.com, that has dozens of conventional and unusual ways to earn an independent income. Don’t be put off by the title, that just reflects the reality of being over 55, when you realize it’s getting harder to do strenuous physical work. That’s why the focus of the site is on jobs and home-based businesses that are easier on the body.

All of the information at the website is free – and you’re sure to find job and business ideas that will have you thinking “Maybe I could do that!” Click here: www.extraincomeover55.com to discover more.

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3 Reasons Your New Courier Service Needs a Web Site

 

build your own courier service web site

Build Your Own Courier Service Web Site

In today’s connected world, a web site is an essential marketing tool for any business and even more so for a local courier service. Whether you offer grocery deliveries, prescription deliveries, or medical specimen deliveries, a simple web site can help you find new customers and keep in touch with existing customers.

The three primary goals for your new web site are:

  • Market your product or service to new and existing customers.
  •  Educate consumers about your product or service.
  •  Help new and existing customers find you.

If you’re new to creating a web site, it is important to make a list of what you hope to accomplish before building your site. For example, do you want to make it easy for new customers to learn about the courier services you offer? Or do you want to post a price list and service agreement that a customer can print? Most basic web sites include a FAQ page that contains all the frequently asked questions and answers about your services, a contact page with both phone and email contact information, a page listing services, and a page or more of testimonials from happy customers. It can be helpful to study other courier web sites to see what others are offering. Find them with a web search of the phrase “courier service.”

If you’re like most new business startups, your marketing budget ranges from zero to tiny. Why not harness the power of the internet to build your business, without spending a lot of money, with one of the companies that offers not only affordable hosting services, but also free help to create your web site.

Of course you can find companies that offer free web site hosting, but here’s why you should use paid hosting.

  •  You can use your own domain name, such as “houstoncourierservice.com,” for example. This means you own the name, which helps you rank higher in the search engines.
  •  Most free hosting services only give you a “sub-domain”, like “mycourierservice.blogger.com.” This makes it more difficult for the search engines, like Google and Bing, to find your site. This means fewer potential customers can find you as well.
  •  Paid web site hosting is very affordable, and you will get more space and speed, in addition to better tools and resources to create and maintain your site.
  •  More design options. Using paid hosting will allow you to choose exactly the right design for your business instead of being restricted to the limited choices from free hosting services.
  •  No ads. Free hosting companies run ads on your web site. That’s how they make money even though your web site hosting is “free.” But ads are distracting and may cause visitors to focus on the ads, not your message.

I’m a big fan of WordPress to build a web site. Although it started as blogging software, WordPress has now evolved into a sophisticated, yet user-friendly site builder that can be easily tailored to meet the needs of almost anyone. With free designs, called themes, and free help from a huge forum of other users and pros, it may be the best way to build your web site. In addition, there are hundreds of free “widgets” and “plug-ins” that can be added to a WordPress site to provide features like videos or customer surveys.

As your business grows, you can easily upgrade it to meet your needs, as it offers plenty of flexibility for even the most demanding users. Even if you’re not a tech-savvy person, maintaining and adding to your site is easy for most users to do themselves. I use Bluehost to host this web site, because it’s so easy to use, with a free domain name, 1-click automatic WordPress installation, free email accounts and great customer service by phone or chat 24/7. I highly recommend using Bluehost for your first web site. Click this link to get a special discount off the regular price.

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How to Start a Courier Service in 9 Easy Steps

Speedy Delivery the Key to a Successful Courier Business

Speedy Delivery the Key to a Successful Courier Business

Starting your own local courier service can be easy and quick, or it can be a slow, difficult and frustrating process. Here are nine basic steps to make your courier business startup easy, painless and speedy.

Step 1. Find your niche. Establish your unique “niche” to insure success. If you live in a metropolitan area with lots of existing courier service businesses, this is an essential step. Even in a small town, it will give you a “quick start” to targeting your new customers.

Talk to your prospects, whether they are lawyers needing same-day document delivery, or caterers needing prepared meals delivered every day at a certain time, to find out what they want, and then offer it to them at a reasonable price. That’s the secret of success for any business – giving customers what they need or want. One of the best niches is filling the UPS/FEDEX gap by providing local businesses with same-day local delivery.

Step 2. Don’t spend money. Resist the urge to spend money when you are starting up. If you have a reliable vehicle to make pickups and deliveries, don’t spend thousands on a new delivery vehicle. Keep your office at home if possible to avoid spending unnecessary money on rent, utilities and the overhead of a separate office. Think and act like a miser until you’re making a decent income from your new courier service.

Step 3. Legal structure. When you start a courier business, it is important to decide on the legal structure for the new business. Will you operate it as a sole proprietorship, as an L.L.C. or as a corporation. You’ll need to get this out of the way first, before you apply for a business license from your town or state and get a federal tax identification number. You’ll find lots of good free information about what structure might be best for you at Nolo.com.

Step 4. Finding Customers. After you’ve set up your business and found a niche or two that makes sense for you, start looking for customers. You only need a few good ones, so start prospecting by calling or visiting local businesses in person to learn how you can help them solve their courier needs and find out what kind of services they might need. No “hard sell” is required, just a helpful attitude will do just fine.

 Step 5. Referrals. Once you have your “core” customers and have treated them well for a while, ask them for referrals. Tell them you’re still growing your business and could use a few more good customers like them. Offer a free delivery or a discount on a month’s service in return for a referral that becomes a regular, repeat customer.

 Step 6. Set your rates. Many new couriers make the mistake of not charging enough to cover all their costs, as they haven’t been in business long enough to be aware of all the little costs, like a business permit renewal fee, that can add up to big bucks over a year’s time. Other examples include bookkeeping fees, social security taxes and vehicle maintenance, and many more. A good rule of thumb to remember is to add about 30-35% to the wages you’ll be paying yourself to arrive at a reasonable rate that allows you a profit and still makes your customers happy. After a few months, take another look and see if your rates still give you the net hourly rate you want. The current national average rate is $36 an hour.

 Step 7. Provide exceptional service. If you give customers great service, you’ll do well and soon have all the customers you can handle. For example, if you promise two hour service, aim for 90 minutes. Your customers will love it and recommend you to others.

 Step 8. Keep track of your customers and their deliveries with one of the free scheduling software programs, like checkappointments.com or clickbook.net. Another option is one of the calendar programs offered by Google or Microsoft.For a small monthly fee, you can also use them to get paid online with Paypal. Of course, it can be used on your smartphone while out making deliveries.

 Step 9. Track your expenses. Like the software programs for scheduling, there are programs to help you do your own bookkeeping. My favorite, which makes keeping track of your small business finances easy, even if you can’t add or subtract, is outright.com, which is around $10 a month and even reminds you when taxes are due or when you overlook a deduction.

About deductions … the biggest one most couriers will enjoy is the business mileage deduction, currently 55 cents a mile. Many couriers have used this deduction to pay for upgrading their vehicle to a fuel-efficient newer model, like the Toyota Prius, and found the fuel savings were greater than their vehicle payments! A fringe benefit is that when you do upgrade to a fuel sipper, you’ve now become a “green” courier service business, which customers love! For an example of how powerful this can be, visit greendelivers.com

Follow these nine simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to a successful courier service business. To learn more, read How to Start a Courier Business.

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