(LifeWire) - Overview of the Courier Service Business
While transporting goods from point A to point B is the basic operation of a courier service, its viability as a successful work from home business opportunity depends on a lot more. E-mail and other digital means of transmitting documents will keep the industry in no-growth mode for several years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. In other words, a courier's ability to deal with fluctuating gas prices, work in a delivery-rich urban area with lots of commerce, handle a variety of delivery jobs and flexibility to work at all hours will help determine success.
Delivering hazardous and medical materials can increase profits, but that requires special licensing in most places. Simple package conveyance is recommended by experts at the start. Half of couriers earn in the $17,430 to $27,080 range. Many take baby steps in the business by acting as a subcontractor for an established carrier, but courier startups should branch out on their own if they want to make a better living.
Pros of a Courier Service Home Business
- If you already have a vehicle, startup costs are minimal, but you'll want to make sure you have good auto and liability insurance.
- Those who love driving will get their fill woking as a courier.
- The ability to pick up and deliver at any time gives you an advantage over franchises that have set schedules.
- The right formula of pricing based on traffic, distance, vehicle wear and the courier service competition will give you a leg up.
- Unpredictable gas prices may cut into profits.
- Stop-and-go city driving can age a vehicle fast, increasing overhead.
- Traffic cuts into revenue.
- A well-defined delivery area, particularly if you live in a large metropolitan area.
- Insurance for your vehicle and a valid driver's license. A commercial license may be required; check with your local department of motor vehicles.
- A business license. Check with your local chamber of commerce.
- Vehicle signage, business cards, flyers and ads in print and online outlets to promote your business. A website is a good idea, too.
- A competitive rate. Call the competition to see what they're charging. Most charge a per-mile rate, plus a fee for gasoline and vehicle wear; others charge a flat fee. A rush job typically entails a higher fee. One Minneapolis-based small courier formulated his vehicle's miles per gallon and what his competitors were charging: He came up with a simple fee of $1 per mile.
- A courier service software package to help run the business side of your operation. Many are available for free online.
- A GPS device for your vehicle so you can locate your clients and chart the most efficient routes.
- A dedicated mobile phone number for all business operations, including calls en route, as well as a reliable handset and earpiece.
Courier Service -- Real Life Example:
Former IBM salesman Rob Johnstone cofounded Priority Express Courier in 1994 to service New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Priority is now listed on Inc. Magazine's list of fast-growing companies and in its Inc. 500, according to an entry at the Messenger Courier Association of the Americas website.