Setting up a courier service seems easy -- buy a bike, motorcycle or van, do a bit of advertising and the money will start rolling in. But according to the Despatch Association, a courier trade association, only about 30 per cent of courier start-ups survive to celebrate their third business anniversary. Tight cash flow, narrow profit margins and numerous competitors combine to make it a tough business. But with careful planning, it can be done.
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Work as a courier, if you don't have experience. Think of the experience as on-the-job training. Take notes on what works well and what you will improve when you start your own courier service.
Decide on your mode of transportation. A bicycle is good for about a two-mile radius, but anything further is a strain on delivery time. A motorcycle can go farther but is more costly. For long-distance journeys and bigger packages, a van is a logical choice.
Select a high-traffic location, particularly if you are going to be a bicycle courier. Decide if you need to rent office space and hire someone to answer the phone, or if you can manage your courier service from your cell phone as you make deliveries.
Check your competitors' prices -- or have a friend do it for you -- to find out the going rates. Decide if you are going to charge the standard fees or undercut them.
Advertise your courier business through a website, brochures and business cards. Hand-delivering your brochures and leaving a business card is an opportunity to introduce yourself to prospective clients.
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