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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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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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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Courier Business Switches to Hybrid Electric Cars

 

How to Start a Green Courier Business

How to Start a Green Courier Business

When gas hit $3 a gallon, Green Express, an Atlanta courier service business, switched to Toyota Prius hybrid electric cars.
Atlanta is one of the top 5 cities for traffic congestion, poor air quality and frequent smog alerts. In addition, everyone at Green Express has kids and did not want to contribute to the air pollution that has made Atlanta one of the worst cities for kid’s asthma.
Gas is one of the largest expenses of a courier business. After switching to electric hybrids, Green Express found their new fleet used 46% less fuel than their old cars, and averaged 47 miles per gallon.
An additional bonus is that electric hybrid cars are zero-emission vehicles when stuck in traffic or moving below 30 mph. At highway speeds they put out just one-third the greenhouse gases from conventional gas-powered cars.
As a direct result of becoming a “green courier service business,” Green Express has landed dozens of new customers who love the idea of helping to keep reduce pollution in Atlanta by supporting a cleaner delivery service.
Green Express also uses GPS navigation in every vehicle to boost efficiency even more by finding alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion.
An unexpected bonus of using the most efficient routes and zero-emission cars – customers now regularly use Green Express run personal errands as well, saving them time, money and reducing pollution even more.
If you plan to start a courier service, think green, as the fuel savings in your first year could go a long way towards paying for a new Prius or other hybrid electric car. To learn more about Green Express, visit their web site, http://greendelivers.com If you’re planning to start your own courier service, read my book, How to Start a Courier Business, for more money-saving ideas.

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Start a Courier Service For a Full-Time Income With Part-Time Hours

Start Your Own Part-Time Courier Business

Start Your Own Part-Time Courier Business

A part-time courier service is an ideal business for generating a full-time income for 12-20 hours a week of work. In a recent national survey of couriers, we found almost half worked less than 30 hours a week, by choice, while enjoying an average hourly rate of $34.

In addition, quite a few were early retirees who had no desire for a full-time job. Working part time allows couriers to spend more time with their family, enjoy hobbies or do volunteer work in the community.

As the owner of a courier service, you’re in charge of how many hours you work, and set your own rates. Working only 3 hours a day, or 15 hours a week, that’s $550 to use for a child’s college fund, pay off bills or to help pay for that dream vacation or a car.

With just a few local repeat customers, you can structure your deliveries to meet their needs and yours too. You could specialize in delivering legal documents for local attorneys, flowers for local florists, groceries for home-bound seniors or specimen pickup and delivery for a medical lab. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re motivated, dependable and good with people, you’ll do well as a courier. Do you have a reliable vehicle, a computer and a cell phone? If so, you’ve got the three essentials to get started.

If you want to start a service business that can provide a full-time income with part-time hours and enjoy more free time every day, a local courier service could be the ideal solution for you. To learn more, read How to Start a Courier Business.

 

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How Much Should You Charge For Courier Services?

Courier Service Business Questions

Courier Questions

If you’re starting a courier service business, figuring out what to charge for each delivery job can be a challenge. You don’t want to overbid and lose potential new customers. Underbid and you could get stuck with customers who expect cheap prices for every delivery.

The goal is to price your delivery jobs so you get paid what you need to stay in business. Of course, you want to make a fair profit and add new customers. Here’s a checklist to help.

1. What do your competitors charge? Call the courier and delivery services in your area to check their rates. If there are several, use an average to determine a competitive rate. For example, if there are 3 competing courier services in your area charging $16, $20 and $22 for the same delivery, the average is $19.33. This gives you a target rate to aim for. Beware of the temptation to charge less than everyone else to get an edge, as it can backfire. Potential customers may wonder why you are so cheap, and be reluctant to hire you. Worse, you may have underestimated your overhead and find you are unable to make a decent profit at a low rate.

Remember if your competitors are charging $XX for a delivery, customers are willingly paying that price. When you charge about the same price, you’ll be able to make a profit and grow your business.

2. Charging by the hour. In order to quote a price to a customer, you’ll need to know your hourly rate. Here’s how to determine an hourly rate. Let’s say the competition charges $15 for a cross-town pickup and delivery that takes 20 minutes. That’s $45 an hour. Get at least 3 rate quotes to verify that your hourly number is correct. Now you can quote prices to customers, using an hourly rate. If you plan to charge $45 an hour, for example, that’s 75 cents per minute. If a delivery takes 30 minutes, your quote would be $22.50. A 15 minute delivery would be $11.25, and so on.

Although most couriers charge by the job, it’s not uncommon to charge by the mile, especially for longer deliveries. For example, $1.50 per mile if you are using a car, $2.00 per mile if you need a pickup or van because of the size of the items.

3. Heavy or bulky Packages. Speaking of size, most courier services charge extra for heavy or bulky loads. An easy way to compute this charge is to have an overweight fee. Foe example, your standard delivery charge would apply to items under 50 pounds, and items over that weight would pay 10 cents per pound for items over 50 pounds.

4. Rush orders & after-hours orders. While most deliveries will be scheduled during the business day/week, you will get occasional jobs that require extra attention or speed, such as rush orders that must be delivered right away, or after hours. It’s normal to charge extra for these deliveries. For example, an after-hours delivery, such as after 5 p.m. or before 8 a.m. could carry a $15 surcharge.For a late-night delivery, between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m, an extra charge of $20 might be appropriate. Likewise on weekends and holidays, with a $15 surcharge.

5. Waiting charge. What if you arrive to pickup a package for delivery and have to wait because the customer does not have the package ready? This definitely slows down and could put you off schedule. If you have to wait under 5 minutes, no surcharge. Over 5 minutes, consider charging your hourly rate, 75 cents per minute, for each additional minute.

These general guidelines will help you get started with your courier service business, and insure you make a profit from day one. As your business grows, you’ll be able to adapt your rates to better fit your customer’s volume and scheduling, as well as your own schedule. For more information, read How to Start a Courier Business.

 

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