There are lots of people who don’t have a car or have to travel by cab. Cabs are so expensive and difficult to flag down while holding a bunch of groceries. Because of this, delivery people can make good money in their own town. Basically what you need to get started is a phone and a vehicle.
Check with your local tax office to see what forms you’ll need to file. Special permits may be necessary in your own community or state. File all the proper paperwork to save time and headaches later.
The vehicle you use to run a delivery service is important. It must be able to hold plenty but not eat up your profits because of poor gas mileage. It also must be able to shelter groceries and other goods from bad weather, so if you have a truck, you’ll need a camper top on it. It needs to be in perfect running condition, with good tires and upgraded insurance.
You’ll need a cell phone to make your job easier. If you have someone who can be at the “base” or “home” they can take new orders for you and page you on a pager but it will be a lot of extra hassle to stop at phone booths to check orders. The cell phone is a definite plus. You’ll also need a detailed map of the entire community.
Have fliers printed, to advertise your business, then place them on bulletin boards at grocery stores, elderly community centers and homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices, drug stores and other free bulletin boards. Place an ad in the paper that will run for some time since it will take a little while to build up a clientele base. Advertise online at community bulletin boards, too. Consider having magnetic door signs, for your car, to advertise your business as you’re out delivering. Make sure the signs are readable from a distance.
Make sure you have enough cash to cover basically any set of orders. You won’t find customers who will give you the money in advance, so you’ll have to trust them to pay you when you arrive with their orders. Make sure you state your terms, on the phone, the first time they call you. If you won’t take checks state that in advance to prevent a misunderstanding later.
In a small community you won’t need as much gas as in a large town. Find out approximately how many miles per gallon you get from your vehicle before deciding on final pricing. The best way is to charge a minimum fee for the service, which should at least cover your gas cost, then figure a percentage of the amount of the order the customer places. For example, you may charge $5 just to go to the store and bring the order to the customer, plus an additional 5% of their total order. One idea is to call a cab stand and ask how much the fare is from a particular address to the store and back. This will give you an idea of what customers are already paying. Charge a little less than that and you’re on your way!
Try to schedule as many errands together as possible. If you know three different customers who want groceries each week try to organize them into one trip. The gas cost will be nearly the same for one customer as for three, so you’ll make more profit. As you get to know your clients ask for phone numbers. That way, when you see you’ll be making a trip to a particular store, you can call and ask if they need anything. If you have several people, who each want only a couple of things, you can really make a lot of extra profit.
Do small favors for repeat customers. If you call a frequent customer to see if he or she needs something from a store you’re going to anyway, perhaps you can offer them a discount on the percentage charge. Or, clip coupons and point out to the customer that you used a coupon to help save them money. Customers remember you when you treat them well.
Set yourself a limitation for how far out of town you’re willing to drive. Instead of turning down orders from a customer that lives too far away, explain to them that you’re willing to do it but must charge more. Figure the amount you’ll need to cover your expenses and make a few bucks for yourself. If the amount seems too high for the customer they don’t have to use your services.
You don’t necessarily have to provide only grocery deliveries. You can offer to pick up and drop off laundry, prescriptions, mail and packages, take-out orders, pets to the groomer, automobiles to repairmen, or any number of services. Combined, these can provide you a nice income.