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Courier Services What to Expect and Demand

January 1, 1999

6 Min Read
Courier Services What to Expect and Demand

Courier Services

What to Expect and Demand

By Cary McGovern

Choosing the right courier as a resource partner for your records storage andmanagement business is an essential element of your business success. This articlediscusses the important considerations concerning pick-up and delivery services forrecords management. Each alternative is reviewed and discussed.

Resource Partnering

Resource partnering in today's service-based economy is essential. Knowing what youdon't do well and finding those that do is a key ingredient. Businesses of all typesoutsource non-core activities to those who do that activity best. It is very common for anoffice building to outsource its maintenance and ground care. It is common for a law firmto outsource its copy center. Equally common is a commercial records center thatoutsources its courier service. Although this is generally true, there are several waysthat it may be structured, ranging in scope from outsourcing overflow work only, tooutsourcing the entire range of pick-up and delivery service.

Selecting your resource partners is a decision that should be made carefully. After theinitial sale of your service to a records-management customer, the person he sees mostoften is the courier. The relationship between you, your courier and your customer canhelp you cross-sell services and strengthen your customer communications.

Range of Services

The range of pick-up and delivery services includes the following:

Initial pick-up of records: This service usually requires the skills that aremore akin to the moving business. It's common to pick-up hundreds and even thousands ofboxes from your customer. This event is always scheduled and carefully planned toaccommodate freight elevators and parking.

Regular on-call delivery: The most common and regular service that you provideis delivery of files and boxes on demand. Usual service in most markets is: call before10:30 a.m., receive before 5:00 p.m.; call after 10:30 a.m., receive the next morningbefore noon.

Emergency or "STAT" delivery: This is sometimes a problematic servicethat requires you to have on-call couriers who can respond quickly, usually within one ortwo hours of the customer request.

After-hours, weekend and holiday delivery: Medical-records customers andsometimes others may require this type of service. Know your customer's requirementsbefore you quote prices.

Regular pick-up service of new records to storage: This event is always ascheduled event. Your weekly or monthly pick-up can be scheduled for a courier on a daythat usually has the least delivery requests. All customer pick-ups are scheduled in anorder, along with a route sequence for the courier to follow.

Delivery of new "empty" cartons, labels and other supplies: Unless thecustomer has an immediate need, these are batched in bundles of perhaps 25 boxes anddelivered within the regular pick-up schedule.

Courier Types

Remember that file delivery, box delivery, large pick-up requests and emergency orweekend deliveries may require different courier types. Knowing who to call for a specificservice will strengthen the relationship with all of your couriers.

So, what types are there? Most couriers today are sub-contractors to courier-servicecompanies. Most regular courier services in metropolitan areas are operations that havecentral dispatch and scheduling services. They are the focal point for the customer toplace the order. Normally, the actual driver and van or truck belongs to a sub-contractor.These subs are typically independent or retired individuals who may work part time or fulltime. The normal cut between the dispatch company and the courier is 40 percent to thedispatcher and 60 percent to the courier. The following is a list of the different couriertypes:

  • Quick-dispatch downtown couriers: These are people with small pick-up trucks (usually with a camper top as an enclosure) or sometimes bicycles. They like to carry envelopes, pouches or in some instances, limited boxes, although boxes often slow these folks down. They are generally quick, in-and-out couriers. Box deliveries usually require freight-elevator access in many downtown locations.

  • Downtown-delivery hub couriers: Some metropolitan areas have couriers that utilize a downtown delivery and pick-up hub. It is a place to drop and transfer among several couriers that have a regular delivery route.

  • Box-delivery couriers: These couriers usually have a van or a small step-up delivery vehicle. They are used to the demands of box delivery and pick-up. They know their way around the freight elevator and understand the logistics of the community.

  • Large pick-up services: Usually like the local moving companies. In many communities there are independent and others operate like off-duty firefighters.

You can act as a central dispatcher for your quick pick-up and deliveries. You keep 40percent of the revenue for yourself and give 60 percent to them. Your only overhead isorder taking. In some instances, you may have a relationship with a courier that will addvalue to the courier. He may use your facility as his own dispatch service. Look into thepossibilities of shared revenue.

Remember that the more couriers you have access to, the better. Forge relationshipswith the independents and use dispatchers for emergencies that you can't fulfill yourself.You may make less money on that delivery, but you will have much less hassle.

Courier Rates

This is absolutely market driven. As you can probably imagine, the rates for Manhattancouriers are quite different from those in Peoria, Ill. You need to know what the ratesare for your area before you begin pricing your service. This process is actually quitesimple. Follow these steps:

  1. Identify all potential local couriers, independent movers and freight-delivery sources.

  2. Shop them and ask what their specialty is. They will tell you what they do better than anyone else.

  3. Find out what they won't do.

  4. Price each service.

  5. Average the pricing by courier. Remember that volume will always change the price.

  6. Select your resource partners, and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. (If a local sub-contractor wants to have a regular route, he may make concessions and trade-off with you.)

  7. Set your pricing.

Remember that you control the business and, therefore, have the leverage to negotiatethe agreement with the courier service.

Further Information

Norm Brodsky is a frequent speaker at Inside Self-Storage Expos and a monthly columnistfor Inc. Magazine. Brodsky owns and operates a commercial records center in Brooklyn, N.Y.His column in the September 1998 issue of Inc. was both timely and important forall who desire to be in the records-management and storage business. The column, entitled"Size Matters," discusses the advantage of running a small operation in therecords-management and storage business.

If you would like a copy of this article, you can access it on the Internet anddownload it from Inc. On-line at www.inc.com/incmagazine/archives/09980311.html, oryou may call (877) FileMan for a forwarded copy reprinted with permission by Mr. Brodsky.

Regularcolumnist Cary F. McGovern is a certified records manager and owner of File Managers Inc.,a records-management consulting firm that also provides outsourcing services, file-roommanagement and litigation support services for the legal industry. For more informationabout records management, contact Mr. McGovern at File Managers Inc., P.O. Box 1178, AbitaSprings, LA 70420; phone (504) 871-0092; fax (504) 893-1751; e-mail: [email protected] or Web: www.fileman.com.

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