In this episode I speak with Gary Christensen, owner of Christensen Delivery Service. Gary delivers all sorts of things for various companies in the areas south of Portland, Oregon.
I talk with Gary about how he got started as a driver, how he made the transition to driving for himself (including what skills and resources he used from his time as a driver for his old company), how he picked up new clients, advertises, makes contracts, and how he maximizes his efforts.
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Getting Started as a Delivery Service
When Gary Christensen was applying for delivery service jobs in 2003, he came across a company that would hire him immediately if he provided his own van.
So he and his wife located a cheap, used van in his town, secured a loan for it, and he went to work. If you need a small loan for your business read this post.
The office supply company gave Gary anywhere from 50-100 packages each day to deliver. He would arrive daily before 7 am and finish by 4-5 pm. They paid him around $1.50 a package, enough to serve as his full-time job.
Eventually, though, the company started reducing the rate they were paying him. At first they reduced it to $1.15 per package and then it went down to $1.10 each. As this happened, Gary started to work on other plans.
Striking Out On His Own
Since he already had the van, he started pitching his new side business to companies that might need his delivery services, such as other office supply companies, furniture stores, and medical offices. Luck also had its hand in helping Gary land some new gigs, as he happened upon one business that had just lost their college student delivery team to summer break.
“Some of it is just luck. Some of it is just having your information out there so when someone needs you, they will be able to find you. When they call, if there is any way possible to beat the other guyâ€™s price, do it, even if you have to undercut their prices and make a little bit less. If you can get the foot in the door and you can satisfy the customer with what you can do for less, your business can go on for a long time because there it is again, satisfying the customer, meeting the customerâ€™s needs. That is primary.”
In the transition of growing his own customer base while still working for the office supply company, Gary spent a lot of time working on Saturdays and evenings. If any jobs overlapped, he would get his wife to take the seats out of her minivan and pick up and deliver some packages for him. At times it was a family affair.
The Side Hustle Becomes Full-Time
When his services were no longer required at his primary job, Gary was situated to handle the transition fairly easily, although he was pounding the pavement looking for more delivery routes in the process. His marketing plan: Gary would go to businesses in personâ€”both in his town and in other ones nearbyâ€”and talk to people. Each time, he left a rate sheet with them. He also worked the phones and sent mail outs. Little by little, companies wanted more information, and Gary got more jobs. If you’re considering quitting your day job, you can read about my transition to full-time blogging here.
“Suddenly I was out of work, but I had already started to build my own business on the side, part time, I then started giving my part time business my Full Time effort. It paid off! I now operate my own “Christensen’s Delivery Service” as my full time business. It began as a part time venture, but, once I was laid off, I doubled my efforts.”
Gary keeps approximately 5 delivery contracts with companies. He also has his card in locations such as antique shops, so if people need one-off deliveries, he can accommodate those.
Tips for Starting a Delivery Service
There is more involved than simply picking up packages and dropping them off. Gary had to do some research on the going rate for delivery services, as well as learn about creating invoices, billing his clients, and about his various insurance needs as a business owner. Click here to find more tips about managing a small business on your own.
Gary believes there are opportunities for delivery services in most cities. It might take some work and it might even require offering services to nearby cities, but he believes there are always businesses looking for solid, customer-oriented delivery services.
Read the transcript: click show
Resource: Part-time job search engine