Adding new services to your courier business may seem like an impossible chore, but if you put in the time and research, you can easily add services that are valuable to your customer base and your business.
Courier Magazine recently chatted with two delivery company owners to find out how each manager added new services to their business, and how the owners effectively promoted the services, too.
Patrick Engeleiter’s company serves three major hospitals in the Milwaukee area. The president and owner of E-Freight Courier, LLC, in Brookfield, Wis., said his company has always had ample warehouse space, but never used all of its space. About six months ago, the company expanded vertically to allow its customers to store stock at the company’s warehouse as part of a new, value added service. “Storage is big because hospitals and medical clinics need to keep documents for five to six years,” Engeleiter says. “This is a huge potential for medical records, also for attorneys and banking -- people want to get documents out of the office to save space. There are so many paper products that need to be stored.”
The company’s new warehousing option also has helped the company’s customers save money. Engeleiter says that the going rate for warehouse space is about $4 a square foot, but the company is able to get the price into the $3 range.
E-Freight Courier promoted the new service through direct mailers and email blasts. The company used iContact to send emails to its customer base and other customers the company had shipped to before. “Six-percent of 2,000 responded back with interest,” Engeleiter says. “We started with direct mail and sent out a piece that had a picture and a brief description of the service. We followed up with email.”
He says that at first, the company got a great response from direct mailers, but in past two years, almost all leads have come from the Internet. Since then, Internet marketing has become incredibly valuable to the company. Engeleiter says the company even spends money to recruit the help of a local firm that does search engine marketing.
Promoting to the company’s customer base really helped the company’s new service become a success, he says. “Find out what their needs are,” Engeleiter says. “We were able to become a one stop shop for them. In the past they would use large services. But now we can pick it up, and warehouse it, and inventory it for them.”
Shawn Benjamin, president of Smart Delivery Service, Inc., in Grapevine, Texas, also says that his company’s customer base was instrumental in helping his business successfully add a new service. “Our customer was telling us that their business needs were changing and they were losing interest in having their company drivers provide the delivery, stacking and sorting services,” he says. “This was due to employment headaches, labor costs, taxes, insurance, vehicle costs and liability for operating their own vehicles.”
When Smart Delivery Service’s customer began outsourcing its deliveries, sorting and store delivery operations, the customer was able to reduce management problems and liability it assumed.
Benjamin says his business’ service is ideal for any company that has several locations throughout the area. “For a small company with one or two locations, it may not be as cost effective for them. The customer that we are providing this service to is in the Telecom industry and they have retail locations where customers can walk into to pick up equipment, which is why they need to have their inventory constantly replenished.”
Smart Delivery Service’s expanded service shows its customers that the delivery business is able to help fill the gaps that emerge in some businesses’ operations. “I know that some courier companies like to stick to only doing the deliveries and they may not initially see a benefit for themselves in offering this type of service,” Benjamin says.
The service was not difficult to add. The only time consuming part of adding the service was meeting with the company’s client to observe the client’s process. Smart Delivery wanted to offer their client a more efficient process while meeting their requirements, too.
Smart Delivery Service has opted to promote the new service online because it’s the most cost effective option. “We have noticed that we are able to stretch our dollar further using online marketing through our website rather than through direct mail,” Benjamin says.
Smart Delivery hopes the new service and the experience of adding it will allow the company to see the benefits and values of adding other similar services that may benefit the company’s customers. “Being in the courier service industry for over 25 years, we know that the industry has changed over time,” Benjamin says. “One way to continue to be a player in the industry is to get creative and find alternate revenue streams that benefit the customer's requirements, as well as bolster your portfolio of clients. Sometimes those new services might force you to change the way you used to do deliveries. Or it may force you to change the technology you use, to better serve your clients. Whatever the future may bring, I think it's important that our company be ready to go when a great opportunity presents itself. The first steps you take in a new direction may be difficult but that lessons you learn in the process are invaluable.”