Start A Bicycle Courier Service
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Bicycle courier services already exist in several large cities. There's usually room for a newcomer business if the service is somehow better. In most of the USA, there's no competition. If you want to start a bicycle courier service, the door is wide open. Well, sort of. You have to educate the public.
Bicycle couriers, also known as bicycle messengers, are paid to carry small packages from one place to another. This is most effective in large cities, where bicycles can get around faster than cars, especially when you factor in time to park and walk from the car to buildings. This can also work in a small town, where everything is close together, and therefore a bicyclist can deliver packages quickly.
The problem with starting such a business, is that most of the business people in town already have some sort of system for getting packages across town. They may not be efficient techniques, but these folks are often so busy, or set in their ways, that you have to go to great lengths to let them know that your way, bicycle transportation, might be better for them.
A courier service usually involves at least two people. One to do the riding, and the other to act as dispatcher - taking phone calls, and arranging the delivery schedule. Though recently saw a bicyclist riding along while talking into a cellular phone, and that gave me the idea that this could be a one-person business. Of course, that may not be the way it will stay. When you become successful, you may want to grow into a firm that hires dozens of bicyclists, and has a room full of dispatchers.
But it won't be that way at first. To start, expect many days in a row in which you get only a couple of calls a day. In these slow times, you can have business cards and flyers printed up which you can hand deliver as if they were paid delivery parcels. Paper your town with flyers on every bulletin board, street light post and utility pole where it is legal to post flyers. The flyers should have several copies of your phone number at the bottom, and be pre-sliced so people can pull off your number and give you a call.
You can also get ink - get the local press to talk about you. Bicycle message delivery is still rather unique, especially if you are the only one in town offering the service. Let the local newspaper radio and TV stations know, and you'll be helping them out. They benefit from a nice little human-interest filler, and you'll get better publicity than you could ever get from paid advertising. You may even get interviewed, and can generally finagle your way into an announcement of how your service works, and how you can be contacted.
Another advertising trick which can help is to put prominent signs on your delivery bike. You may say something on the sign like "Mike's Bike Delivery - stop me if you need something delivered."
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