Since the pandemic, more and more people enjoy shopping at home and having products delivered. While giant retailers like Amazon have their own delivery vehicles, other retail businesses depend on local trucking companies to deliver everything from furniture to gardening supplies. Here’s how to take advantage of this opportunity and start a delivery business.
Select a Delivery Niche and Branding
Will you be delivering food or furniture? Maybe you want to develop a delivery niche providing service from multiple local businesses that don’t offer delivery. That could mean a variety of packages and sizes.
Decide the scope of your delivery business. Which will then determine other things like the equipment you’ll need and the branding. For example, if you specialize in providing delivery from local restaurants that don’t offer delivery services, you may want to include something about food in your business name and branding.
You may think there’s a lot of competition for food delivery services, and there is in big cities. However, smaller towns may not have many options available with sites like DoorDash or Instacart or those services may have a lack of drivers in the area. That provides an opportunity.
Maybe you want to start a delivery business that’s more generalized, offering to pick up everything from office supplies to delivering large home-improvement necessities such as lumber or paneling. Check out local community forums to see what services are in demand and what people are needing delivered. This will help you get an idea of opportunities in your local market. You might be surprised at the things people want delivered.
What Equipment Will You Need for a Delivery Service Business?
Whatever delivery specialty you choose helps determine the equipment you’ll need. Most delivery services will need cargo vans for delivery, and you’ll also want to invest in some dollies for drivers. Ratchet straps can help secure your cargo.
You also need some technological equipment for your drivers. A GPS system, cell phones, tablets, and credit card processors will be important to drivers and to you as the business owner. Then you can process payments and stay in communication with your delivery drivers in case a customer makes an inquiry about an appointment — you know exactly where drivers are in their delivery schedule.
Hire and Train Drivers
Once you have the equipment, you need the actual delivery drivers, so you’ll be interviewing and hiring delivery drivers unless you’re starting small enough that you’re the only driver. In more rural areas, with less demand, this might be a great way to start, but eventually, you will want to hire more drivers if you hope to expand your business.
You’ll need to post the job listing in local newspapers, Craigslist, or community forums on social media. Carefully review work histories and hire people that impress you with their reliability and friendliness — good customer service can make or break a business, especially when it’s just starting out.
Determine Your Delivery Drivers’ Payment Method
One of the most common questions when interviewing new staff is their method of payment. Will you pay a flat rate per day, per hour, or per delivery? One of many factors will influence your decision, such as the demand for deliveries and the size of the area you’re covering. One example from a business owner illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of various payment methods.
The business owner started out offering a flat rate to drivers daily, but he found out that the method has some downsides. Drivers weren’t as motivated to deliver quickly because they were paid the same rate no matter how many deliveries they made. Some drivers felt other employees had an easier route or delivery schedule, yet were making the same amount of money.
When he switched to a pay rate based on the number of deliveries, employees’ performance improved, making more deliveries in the same day. Drivers felt the pay was fairer, as well.
You’ll also want to decide whether to provide company gas cards or mileage reimbursement for drivers. Paying for gas upfront may cause a financial burden on employees waiting for reimbursement checks, so that’s a consideration. Either way, you’ll want to make sure delivery drivers aren’t wasting fuel and increasing costs.
Optimize Your Delivery Business Routes and Schedule
So how do you make sure you plan efficient delivery routes and save on fuel costs with gas prices so high? ServiceWorks is the perfect software for a startup delivery company, capable of handling scheduling, route planning, billing — the entire operation — as your company grows.
Just the route planning feature alone can save you so much on fuel costs, the software will pay for itself and then some. But you’ll also get those other features that can be crucial to starting up a small business with limited employees or the capital to hire someone to do bookkeeping or scheduling.
Best of all? You can try it out for free. You won’t even need a credit card to get started. Give ServiceWorks a try — what have you got to lose?