The elderly often have no means of transport and will gladly part with cash for assistance. Similarly, the perpetually short of time, busy or disorganised find it easier to delegate food shopping to someone else. They will pay for the privilege.
If you have transport and live near a 24 hour store, you could provide a useful local collection service and create an in-demand business focusing on your town or local area.
No Staff, No Stock, No OverheadsSomeone for whom I am providing digital marketing solutions has been running a collection service for several years and asked me to build simple webpage. Having regular clientele who depend on him means he can charge a nominal fee for picking up items at short notice or on a regular basis. In my area Tesco offer a delivery service but you must book in advance. If you want something within the hour, using the collection business is the only viable option.
By charging a flat fee of £5 on the day or £4.50 in advance, the service will fulfill several orders, making a round trip to save time and fuel. Such a venture can turn into a daily occupation for anyone willing to get started, making it possible to earn many times the average hourly wage. Many customers tip too.
My client’s collection venture started as a student fetching goods for friends, and now, in addition to running a takeaway restaurant in the evenings, it is his daytime job.
The customers include but are not limited to the elderly, the disabled, single mothers, those without transport, those who cannot drive (alcohol consumption) and many more.
Do you know anyone with a broken arm or leg? Who does their shopping? Is your neighbour having trouble with their car? Could you fetch the things they need? Taxis are expensive, so plug that gap with your all-in-one convenience service. The list of possibilities is endless.
Business Plan, Pricing & PolicyDo you have transport? It’s really all you need and could be the start of a regular part time income. You may have to bankroll your first few orders to build trust with your customers but once things take off it is likely they will hand over the cash in advance each time an order is placed. When you get new customers, go visit them first to validate their requirements. The last thing you would want to do is waste time with pranks, change of heart or underage alcohol solicitation.
If you can get regular customers needing a full weekly grocery shop, you can charge an additional handling fee of say, 10%, to account for the longer time you spend on their shopping list. If collecting for other customers at the same time, you can still be efficient by using two shopping trolleys or baskets to keep everything organized and separate. Remember to obtain separate receipts.
Be aware of the law surrounding alcohol and minors. Do you really want a £5000 fine and a court appearance? Cite a zero tolerance policy on your business cards/website warning would-be underage drinkers that you will report them to the police. Do not allow your collection service to come into any disrepute whatsoever.
Brand & Expand
Why limit yourself to grocery shopping? McDonalds and KFC have no delivery service yet remain popular among fast food consumers. My web design client tells me picking up MCDonalds is a popular request but the food gets cold.
We brainstormed ways in which the food could be kept hot inside a heated insultated bag of some description. Imagine the money you could make from collecting and delivering McDonalds/KFC alone.
It could keep you busy most evenings and yield a part time income greater than that of a minimum wage job. During the warm months you might be able to walk or cycle shorter trips.
Business cards are dirt cheap online and producing a decent logo yourself is easy enough. Create a high res design and you’ll be able to use it for business cards, flyers, even t-shirts or vehicle graphics. As with all great local businesses – find an idea that no one else is doing and dominate that niche.
- Organise timeslots and be efficient with your time
- Get receipts for your fuel – you can claim this back as a business expense
- Register self employed and pay £2.50 a week N.I. to claim back some car, van or travel expenses
- Always get separate receipts for the goods you collect for customers
- Think about setting up an email system to receive orders – a paid SMS service can alert you when new orders are received in your inbox
- Walk if possible, e.g. a light load or short trip
Useful linksTax allowances and reliefs if you're self employed
Reclaim back your vehicle petrol costs