There are a handful of steps to follow to start your own expedited delivery service. Generally, all you need to start your own delivery service is a reliable vehicle and a way for your customers to get in touch with you. The following article will help you correctly get your new business up and running.
Form your company. For tax and liability purposes, form a corporation, official sole proprietorship, or LLC (See Resources). This will allow you to separate your personal earnings from your business revenue. It will also allow you borrow money and make purchases in the name of your company.
Draft a business plan. Even though you may start your delivery service with only one vehicle, you must have a business plan in order to properly outlay upstart costs and plan for the future. Your vehicles will need maintenance, your customer base will likely grow, you may need to move into a larger location and you may, at some point, need bank financing. A strong business plan will allow you be proactive in obtaining the necessary tools to open and grow your business.
Raise capital. Depending on the items you deliver, you must have working capital to purchase and maintain your vehicles. You will also need to make change for customers who pay you in cash. It is also recommended to lease a credit card machine. Contact the Small Business Administration (SBA). There are many loans and grants available for upstart small business (See Resources). You may also get a loan or credit line from a bank. It is wise to have access to $20,000 to $50,000 at all times. This will prevent you from having to use personal cash to fund your business after you've opened.
Find a vehicle. You don't need to start by purchasing or leasing a fleet of top-of-the-line cars or trucks. If you don't already have a suitable delivery vehicle, look in the classified advertising section of your local newspaper for people selling delivery-type cars and trucks at fair prices. Find a vehicle that gets good gas mileage and is spacious. Small vans and hatchback cars are good vehicles to start with. Make sure engines are in good condition and tires, suspensions, exhausts and alignments are in working order.
Register your vehicle. Contact your Secretary of State's office to obtain the proper registration for your delivery vehicle or vehicles. Fees for registering a commercial or delivery vehicle are different, usually slightly higher, than those charged to register a passenger car or truck.
Get insured. Contact your insurance agent. Inquire about the proper coverage for a delivery vehicle. If your agent does not deal with such products, ask him or her to refer you to another professional that specializes in selling insurance to businesses.
Obtain permits. In many cities and states, you must obtain a permit to use a vehicle to transport goods and charge a fee. Some areas require only a business license; others may require you to have a specialized permit. Contact your mayor's and tax office for a list of requirements you must meet to obtain the proper certification. Such permits fall into the $50 to $200 range.
Choose a home base. Your customers must be able to call you to schedule deliveries and pick-ups. At first, you may wish to designate a room in your house as your office and base. Properly outfit your office with a fax machine, computer, two-line telephone with voice mail and credit card machine. This type of setup will allow a receptionist to take calls and schedule service to your clients while your driver is on the road. If you are planning on working entirely on your own, make sure you have a working cell phone and a way to accept payments while on the move.
Get the word out. As a delivery service, your customer base may come from a wide variety of market sectors. You may wish to transport official documents for attorneys or banks, or specialize in delivering groceries to senior citizens. Whatever business model you choose, you must promote yourself correctly. Delivery services find a considerable amount of success by purchasing ads in phone books. Distributing fliers among desired prospects is also a good way to reach your market. For example, if you plan to deliver auto parts to the mechanics in town, you may do a direct mail blitz to auto centers or simply make cold calls to try to get their business.
Start small. Even if you have the capital to buy or lease a fleet of delivery trucks and build your own repair facility, start with one or two vehicles. This will give you an opportunity to gauge your expenses, niche and growth. It will also allow you to focus on expediting your deliveries.
Be competitive. Don't try to undercut your competition. Concentrate on charging rates similar to what successful companies in your area are able to charge. You want customers to do business with you based on fast and reliable service, not low prices.
Store your vehicles in a safe place. If you don't have a garage, rent one or ask someone you know to use their space until you can afford space of your own.
Network regularly. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and hand out your business card to everyone you meet.
Build a website. This will broaden your marketing scope and allow customers to schedule pick-ups and deliveries online, strengthening your expedition process.
Never operate without a permit. This can result in civil and criminal fines.