Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, courier and van delivery services have had an increase in demand for residential deliveries. From online shopping to grocery deliveries to everything in between, people are opting to have more and more goods delivered straight to their doorstep.
For someone looking to become a self-employed courier, this is both a good and bad thing. The courier market is already saturated with huge delivery companies like FedEx, UPS and DHL. However, beginning a courier service during a time when demand is increased may make it easier to get a business up and running.
Read more: Business Guide: Acquiring Vans For Delivery
The aim of this article is to walk you through the basics of becoming a self-employed courier, including the delivery options available to you, how to actually start your business and what costs you should consider beforehand.
Courier Service Options
As a self-employed courier, you have a number of delivery options to choose from. It’s crucial that you know exactly what type of courier services you plan to offer, as the type and size of the goods being delivered will impact your entire business model.
Some of the courier delivery options to consider are:
- Standard courier services (often for parcels under 45kg)
- Same-day deliveries
- Rush deliveries
- Warehouse shipments
- Luggage delivery
Once you know what type of delivery services you’ll be offering, you can pick the number and type of vehicles you need to purchase.
How to Start a Delivery Business
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There’s no single, step-by-step guide on how to start a self-employed delivery business. However, there are some key things to keep in mind when first getting your business off the ground:
- Create a name for your business and make sure it isn’t already taken.
- Establish your business’s legal identity (for legal and tax purposes).
- Determine the type of courier services your business will offer.
- Determine how many jobs you can take per day.
- Purchase the necessary delivery vehicle(s) and equipment.
- Buy the necessary insurance for your vehicle(s). If you operate more than one vehicle, you may qualify for a fleet insurance policy.
- Create an invoicing and payment structure.
- Create a marketing plan, including a way to collect customer testimonials and reviews.
- Secure your first customer!
This is just a brief overview of the intense planning and preparation that goes into starting a courier delivery service.
When it comes to finding your first few customers, it’s often best to start local. Remember: larger courier service providers don’t know your area as well as you do! Beginning with a more niche service offering can benefit you in the long-run because the competition won’t be as fierce and your customer base will trust you more.
Costs of Starting a Courier Delivery Service
Before becoming a self-employed courier, there are some costs you should consider first. The most important of which are the cost of purchasing vehicles for your business, the cost of the delivery equipment and the monthly insurance premiums.
Courier Vehicle Costs
When it comes to selecting the vehicles for your courier delivery service, there’s no right or wrong option. The best vehicles for your business will depend wholly upon the number and type of goods you plan to deliver, as well as how far and how quickly you’re able to deliver them.
Some courier vehicles you may want to consider include:
- Cargo vans
- Pickup trucks
- Electric vehicles
Get a free checklist to help purchase delivery vehicles
Courier Equipment Costs
Whether you’re starting a van delivery service, a bicycle courier service or something in between, you’ll need to invest in some delivery equipment. This could be a simple dolly for moving heavy packages, cargo straps to hold packages in place while driving, moving blankets to cover precious pieces of furniture and so on.
If your self-employed courier business operates more than one vehicle, you’ll also want to invest in a fleet tracking system, like Fleet Geo. Fleet Geo notifies you of suspected theft attempts, tracks the mileage on each of your vehicles, lets you examine routes retrospectively and more. Installing fleet trackers in your delivery vehicles is a smart business investment and can save you time and money in the future.
Courier Insurance Costs
The size and type of courier business you start will determine the kind of vehicle insurance you’ll need. If your business operates more than one courier vehicle, you may be eligible for fleet insurance. It’s recommended that you speak to an insurance broker in your area to find out what type of insurance your courier business is eligible for.
Tips for Becoming a Self-Employed Courier
Here are a few more things to keep in mind when founding a courier business:
- Catering to a more niche market will limit customers, but it will also limit your competition. Starting a local courier service may benefit you, at least in the beginning.
- You need to have a basic knowledge of fleet management if you plan on scaling up your business in the future.
- You may be able to convert a vehicle you already own into a company car or delivery vehicle. This could save you costs when first starting your business.
- Consider purchasing vehicles used to save money on initial business costs.
- Save all of your receipts. As a self-employed courier, you’ll need that information for tax and legal reasons.
Managing Your Delivery Vehicles
Now that you know the basics of starting a delivery business, how to select the best vehicles for the job and the costs associated with this type of business venture, you’re ready to actually begin the process!
If you plan on operating more than one vehicle within your courier delivery business, it’s highly recommended that you invest in a fleet and van tracking system like Fleet Geo. Fleet Geo makes managing a fleet easier than if you use paper logs. Not to mention that Fleet Geo can save you money in the long-run by alerting you to suspected theft attempts, helping you optimise routes to save money on fuel and more.