VirginiaLynne writes about businesses and careers for a variety of publications and websites.
What Are Courier Services?
Courier services are private same-day delivery services that offer personalized routes and can handle specialized or unique deliveries.
When to Use a Courier
A lawyer needs to have a document delivered to a client. A small cookie bouquet company needs someone to deliver its products to local customers. A meeting goes long past lunch, and the group needs someone to deliver food to them from their favorite deli.
The time to use a courier is when you need someone to deliver something quickly to or from your location. While couriers can deliver anywhere in the world, many couriers focus on local deliveries. Of course, in local delivery, it is easy to think, "I could pick that up myself," or "I'd save money by having my own employees deliver."
So, when is it better to use a courier?
When having someone else deliver allows you to focus on more important tasks in your life or business.
Couriers for Personal Use
Of course, many of us, since COVID-19, are familiar with having independent couriers deliver us food from restaurants or items from grocery stores. You may have used Shipt or another service to get you fresh produce from your local grocery, medicines from the pharmacy, or paper from the office supply store. Having a service do your shopping can save you hours out of your week. Similarly, having a delivery person from DoorDash or another restaurant courier service can get your food quickly and let you keep on working or enjoying your family.
Couriers can also help you in other ways, such as getting important documents delivered for a home purchase or settlement of a business transaction. My first experience in using a courier was for personal use when I was adopting from China. During the paperwork process, I found out that I needed to go in person to the Chinese embassy in a city 3 hours away to deliver the papers to be signed. That seemed daunting enough, but when I learned that they would not give me the papers back until I appeared in person the next day, I knew I had to find another solution.
That's when a friend told me about a courier company that would take care of all the paperwork for me at a price that was less than the two trips I would have to take and far less than a trip where I stayed in a hotel. Better yet, the courier worked with the embassy daily, was fluent in Mandarin, and guaranteed that my paperwork would be returned to me safely. The process went so smoothly that I used that courier for all of my other trips to China and have recommended them to many other friends who needed visas.
How Couriers Help Businesses
Small businesses can expand their customer base by using a courier service to provide deliveries directly to a home or work location. Making your goods easy for people to order on their phones can give you an edge over your competitors. Many of the local restaurants or gift stores in my town have expanded their reach by having an easy-to-navigate website that lets people order their products to be delivered right away by a courier.
Do you or your employees spend a lot of time making deliveries or picking up things for your business? With traffic and having to wait in line, your employees may take longer doing these tasks than you realize. Hiring a courier may be a way to save money and time. While each company offers different services, most couriers:
- Have regularly scheduled routes that work for many businesses.
- Can individualize a route or service to suit your needs.
- Offer online scheduling for infrequent delivery needs.
Here are some examples of deliveries that a courier can make:
- Same-day delivery.
- Making bank deposits.
- Delivering or picking up office supplies.
- Distributing parts or manufactured goods.
- Delivering payroll.
- Delivering legal documents.
- Picking up lab and specimen deposits.
- Distributing medical or pharmaceutical supplies.
- Bringing supplies from a distributor.
- Delivering packages to be mailed out.
- Delivering packages to the airport for the next flight out.
- Delivering on holidays, weekends, or after hours.
- Delivering perishable goods.
Below are six ways that hiring a courier service can help your business.
1. Courier Services Save You Money
If your business uses employees to make deliveries, you might save money by hiring a courier service instead. How can you tell? In order to evaluate the cost, you need to consider how your current delivery system uses money in:
- Employee cost, including salary and time.
- Fuel for deliveries.
- Wear and tear on vehicles.
- Efficiency in getting product or service to your customer.
2. Available 24/7
Many businesses need to have deliveries made outside of normal business hours, but that often requires that employees work overtime. With courier services, your business can offer deliveries at any hour of the day or night. This can enable many businesses to do their work more effectively, especially if they are in a 24-hour industry, like a factory or medical business.
3. Couriers Do Rush Emergency Deliveries
If you have pharmaceutical or medical supplies which need rush delivery, a courier can get your items there immediately. These services are designed to handle emergency needs and are generally very customer-oriented. They know that the service they offer has to work for you, or they can't keep your business. Even if you don't regularly need rush services, most businesses need items expedited occasionally, and having that service available allows you to assure your customers that no matter what, you will be able to take care of them on time.
4. Avoid Lost Employee Work Time
Your employees are trained to do the work of your business, not sit in traffic or wait in line. Especially if you are in a major metropolitan area like L.A., Washington D.C., Houston, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, or another area with lots of traffic, a courier service makes sense. It relieves you of having to lose employee time to traffic and accidents or having to arrange employee schedules for delivering around regular traffic patterns. Moreover, you avoid the possibility of employees taking extra time while out of the office to do personal errands or take a run to lunch or Starbucks.
5. Save Fuel and Vehicle Cost
Whether you have employees deliver with their cars and reimburse them or use a company vehicle, your costs for deliveries include both fuel and vehicle wear and tear. Although it may seem more cost-effective to make your own deliveries, the employee time required, along with the vehicle cost and high gas prices, quickly adds up. Frequently, businesses find they save a significant amount of money by hiring a courier service to do regular route deliveries for them.
6. Satisfy Your Customers Better
Couriers specialize in deliveries, and their business depends on doing it right. That means your papers or product will get where it needs to go on time and unbroken. Moreover, if there is a problem with the delivery, the service will be responsible, not you, for setting it right. Having a service doing your deliveries makes your business appear more professional. Making sure your customers know you have reliable deliveries and that you put their satisfaction as a priority is very valuable to retaining current customers and getting word-of-mouth recommendations.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and so in deciding whether to hire a service for your deliveries, you will need to consider these cons:
- Scheduling: You will need to make sure that you have an employee designated to schedule the courier delivery, and your employees will need to take time to do that.
- Ease of Use: It might seem easier to run over to Mrs. Smith's desk and ask her to take those papers to the customer than it is to schedule the delivery service.
- Better for a Business with Many Deliveries: If you only have a few deliveries a week, a courier service may not be as useful. It might be easier to have someone run the delivery over before or after lunch.
Deciding Whether Couriers are Cost-Effective
In writing for many small businesses, I've discovered that owners often try to do too much on their own. They want to be involved in every detail in selecting merchandise, identifying and recruiting customers, managing the finances, hiring employees, and ordering supplies. Frequently, they spread themselves too thin and don't allow themselves enough time to focus on what only they can do best. Hiring services like couriers to deliver goods to and from a business can often free up the owners from one very time-consuming task. Couriers are cost-effective when they allow the rest of the business to be run more creatively, effectively, and efficiently.
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on April 10, 2012:
Yes, I have to agree that the courier services are coming more and more often to our house. I'd rather buy something on the internet than spend the time, money and gas to go look for it. I should add that to my list above--purchasing things!
alloporus on April 10, 2012:
Interesting to see how the rise of courier services will affect the normal postal service. Always amazes me how we get free delivery on eBay items when the courier still has to pay for his gas.