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How to Advertise Your Delivery Business

Customer signing for delivery from courier with uniform and brandFledgling startups and established enterprises conduct many operations differently from each other, but both types of companies require one thing to survive: customers. Without a connection to your audience, your business will be unable to grow or even operate. Advertising opportunities can provide that much needed connection to your audience in the short and long term and should not be overlooked. Below are some ways the team at OnTime 360 have found are effective in advertising your courier business.

Develop a consistent brand

Your brand is what will help people remember you and associate you with package delivery. The colors and logo that you choose to represent your business should be legible and help to consistently reinforce your brand. Including your logo on vehicles, uniforms, your website, and advertising materials will help to further integrate your brand and company with quality courier service.

Improve your online presence

The internet offers a number of inexpensive, highly effective methods for advertising your business and building your brand. Online classifieds, such as Craigslist (in the United States) and Kijiji (in Canada), are free to post on and, like your local media, can expose your brand to more potential customers. A website will allow you to reinforce your brand through design and list your services, prices, contact information, and hours of operation. With social media, you can keep in direct contact with your customers. Your promotions will even be included in their update feed.

Including more advanced online features can often draw new customers that require such technology from their couriers. For example, the OnTime Customer Web Portal can be used to draw customers interested in a self-service portal and improved regulatory compliance.

Garner referrals

Word of mouth is one of the most trusted forms of advertising. If you complete your deliveries on time and provide high quality service, your clients will likely mention you to friends or associates who would benefit from your services. To encourage referrals, offer a referral bonus program for existing clients and be sure to ask long-term customers if they do know people who regularly use or require a courier service such as yours.

The Value of a Customer Web Portal

Self Service Customer Web PortalAccording to a 2012 study, a growing majority of customers prefer the option to serve themselves via a Customer Web Portal over calling into support lines; however, they are unlikely to use self-serve methods that are unreliable or unintuitive. With the OnTime Customer Web Portal, your customers will have access to the most efficient and effective online experience possible.

The OnTime Customer Web Portal can be linked to your website and designed to match, allowing your customers to find everything that they need, from order entry to tracking features, on your website. Through the OnTime Customer Web Portal, customers can track and place their own orders, update personal information, view order histories, and more. Because the Customer Web Portal is connected to your OnTime 360 account and data, your customers will enjoy an optimal online experience with accurate and up-to-date pricing and order options.

The OnTime Customer Web Portal has the advantage of being accessible to users operating in restricted environments that do not allow unsecured connections or installing untrusted applications. This helps your company service these important customers and take a big step toward improved regulatory compliance, such as HIPAA compliance.

Data, such as customer address and phone number, is included in your Customer Web Portal and can be updated by customers independently. This information will be available to you and your employees at any time, allowing you to track and view complete information on customers, including past notes, orders, and preferences.

As well as offering your customers the best possible self-serve experience, your OnTime Customer Web Portal also reduces incoming calls for support and order placement. This reduction in calls can lead to lower costs for you and more time for your employees. To encourage your customers to use your website and OnTime Customer Web Portal, add other incentives to visit, such as exclusive online ordering options.

Experience the OnTime Customer Web Portal for yourself by signing up for an OnTime 360 Enterprise account or trial account today.

Why Should You Use Courier Software?

increased quality - speed - efficiencyIf you are not currently using courier software, you are likely considering trying it and wondering what differences the technology could bring to your business. The team at OnTime 360 have worked with thousands of delivery businesses who have asked what courier software could bring to their organization. Here are some things we’ve seen courier companies benefit from time and time again, leading them to try courier software.

Improvements on overall efficiency

To be the best courier service, your dispatch, pickup, and delivery processes must be optimized to be as efficient as possible. The general positive effect that delivery management software solutions have on businesses’ efficiency makes seeking a solution a natural choice for those who wish to improve.

Delivery software allows your drivers to handle and use handheld mobile devices to collect and deliver information such as customer signatures when making a delivery. Because your drivers and customers no longer have to deal with reams of paperwork, delivery interactions are much faster. Additionally, all information input into your software solution will be automatically stored and available for later reference, bypassing a number of potential clerical issues.

Automate and improve certain aspects of customer service

Some courier software solutions come equipped with a web portal or application that can be used by your customers to access some of your services online, without ever having to talk to a customer service agent. The reduction of calls that you receive is one benefit to this option. Another is the freedom that your customers will be able to enjoy.

The self-serve option will allow your customers to place their own orders, track the progress of their orders, print and export data regarding their past and current orders, and access a variety of other information. Web portal options can be linked to your website, allowing you to put everything that your customers need in one place.

Communicate within your company more effectively

Some solutions will allow you to view your company data in real-time. This means that you can use the application to access up-to-the-minute information about orders, employees, customers, and pricing. With this option you and your employees will all be able view accurate and relevant information whenever necessary.

Notification and messaging options will allow you to keep in constant contact with your customers and employees. Notifications can be sent manually or customized to be sent automatically to drivers or customers when certain actions occur. Messaging can be used to keep drivers and dispatchers in direct contact with one another. Whenever an issue occurs, you can be sure that it will be addressed immediately and effectively based on your prerequisites within your system.

Greatly reduce clerical duties and human error

Like efficiency, a reduction in human error is inherent with an upgrade to a delivery management solution. You will be able to generate reports automatically by accessing data that is stored in different areas of your system. These reports can be sent via email to further reduce your use of paper and improve your impact on the environment. Automated actions, electronic storage and filing, and paperless options are some of the benefits you’ll see with the appropriate courier software.

Promoting Your Courier Business

business analysisOnce you make your services available to the public, promotions and advertising will help you to capture your market. The methods that you choose to use may change based on whether you are working B2B or B2C, but some methods will help to grow your business in any sector. The first of these is creating and maintaining a website that provides detailed information about your pricing and services. Some courier software solutions will allow you to connect your customers to online tracking and other delivery options via your website, improving your reputation for customer service.

A second method that will help you to capture your target market in any sector is advertising in print and online. The type of advertising that will be most effective for your business will depend on your area and business focus. Flyers may be effective in a high-traffic, urban area, while advertising in the Yellow Pages may be more effective if your area is suburban.

Finally, direct contact with local businesses and institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and retirement homes, can further assist with building your reputation and obtaining new customers. If your new contact has a busy lobby, ask them to hang a flyer or make your business card available in that area. Whether these meetings result in long term contracts, single jobs, or simply a new contact, your reputation within the community will be stimulated.

Growing Your Business

As you find your customers and cement your reputation, your company will likely need to expand. New employees may require salaries and health insurance. An office may be necessary for your dispatchers and a lot for new vehicles. Long term contracts and corporate accounts will help you to accommodate these increasing costs.

Communication with current and past customers will have a significant impact on your reputation for customer service. If you hope to obtain long term contracts in your area, an impressive reputation will be necessary. Providing delivery options such as tracking on your website can help with this improved communication and customer service. Courier software systems also offer the ability to send automatic or manual updates to customers via text, email, or fax regarding delivery status.

Your research into competitors likely revealed that punctuality is highly valued by your potential customers. Scheduling pickups and deliveries in the most efficient ways and executing these schedules in a timely matter is one of the most important aspects of a successful courier company. Multiple drivers will help you to fulfill growing demand, but managing these drivers and their schedules may be a challenge. Using a courier management software to schedule your pickups and deliveries will help you to address this challenge. When you experience unexpected delays, these solutions may also be used to send notifications to customers. Ensuring that you are always on time and in contact with your customers will have a significant impact on their loyalty to your business.

How to Start Your Own Courier Service

professional courier service despatcher and staffThe courier industry is booming and, with the popularity of online shopping, the demand for direct delivery is only expected to continue to grow. With just a cell phone, a vehicle, and a passion for communicating with customers, you can establish your own courier startup with minimal additional expenses.

First Steps

To begin your courier business, you will first need to obtain the equipment required to complete your deliveries. If you have a car and a cell phone, you may already have all the equipment that you need. The types of vehicles that you employ will determine what types of packages you are able to deliver. For example, bicycles may be good for delivering small gifts locally, but would be unrealistic transport for home appliances.

Another important thing to consider when starting your own courier business is your office. Home offices can be ideal for startup courier companies. Because you spend much of your time out of the office while picking up and dropping off deliveries, a quiet room with a phone and a computer should be plenty for you to get started with booking deliveries and communicating with customers.

Because the courier industry is so vast and serves so many different sectors, you should determine your focus before you begin looking for customers. Your final decision should be based on what will serve your area in the long term. If you are working in a city, you may wish to focus on working with businesses and obtaining corporate accounts. However, if your area is more suburban, perhaps a consumer focus, such as delivering groceries to seniors is a more viable option. The resources and equipment that you begin your business with will affect this decision, as well.

Starting Your Business

Before you begin meeting with customers and completing deliveries, your business will need a name, appropriate licensing, and insurance for your area and the services that you will provide. A vendor’s license, cargo insurance, and vehicle insurance will likely be necessary before you can begin conducting business.

You may wish to meet with specialists or business advisors in your area before making any major decisions within your organization. These advisors can help you to determine what types of licensing and insurance you will need, as well as assist with reviewing accounting records and filing taxes. As your company grows, you can look to these advisors for assistance with hiring employees, providing health insurance, moving to larger offices, and maintaining a larger fleet of vehicles.

The prices and services that your competitors offer will have a continuous impact on your ability to find and maintain a customer base in your area. Compile a list of direct competitors and conduct research into their rates, methods for customer service, and delivery options. To gather accurate and up-to-date information, call or email your competitors requesting information regarding the services offered. Be sure to pay attention to the level of customer service provided during your research process, as your business will need to meet or exceed that in order to compete with these established courier companies.

From insurance to gas and salaries to taxes, your courier business will require that you address certain costs. Your ability to afford these costs as your business runs will be determined by the number of customers that you have and the prices of your services. Before you launch your business, a projection of these costs will help you to determine what your business will need to stay afloat and what it will need to grow. As your business operates, your expense records will be integral to tracking your costs and continuing to determine the price and number of deliveries that your business needs.

Software to Manage Your Business

Managing the flow of information across your new business can be overwhelming. A capable and reliable courier software system can help organize this information. Choose a powerful and flexible courier software system that will grow with your business. OnTime 360 is a solid choice for new delivery businesses. OnTime gives you low startup costs, the ability to grow with your business, and provide powerful features and technology when you need them. With OnTime 360’s monthly subscription plans, you only pay for what you need.

In our next article, we’ll share ideas on how to promote your courier service and grow your business.

OnTime API and ASP.NET WebHooks Receivers

Microsoft has made it easier than ever to integrate a web site or application with the OnTime API Webhook feature. This makes efficient, real-time, two-way communication a reality for anyone using the OnTime API.

What are webhooks?

A webhook is like an API endpoint, but reversed, allowing web sites, apps, and software systems to receive output from OnTime. Instead of making a call to the OnTime API, users define a callback URL that OnTime will HTTP POST information to as events occur. That callback URL can then execute code based on those POSTs. Webhooks are compatible with virtually any programming language, website, or software system.

What can this do for your business?

Acting on changes quickly can be important to your business and open up new opportunities. Imagine a potential customer who offers you the contract if you have the technology to update their software system immediately when a change occurs in your OnTime account. A webhook makes that possible.

ASP.NET WebHooks Receivers

Microsoft has introduced a new library on GitHub that makes interacting with webhooks simple, on-premises or in the cloud. ASP.NET WebHooks Receivers are open source and work with ASP.NET Web API 2 and ASP.NET MVC 5.

These tools make some seriously powerful scenarios possible. Learn more about using these free tools from Microsoft.

How to Group Modifiers

Using price modifiers, OnTime courier software can complete complex, yet flexible, calculations. By grouping your price modifiers, you can create even more advanced pricing structures that calculate automatically and in the background. Each individual price modifier and its calculation can be used as a building block to create the advanced pricing that you and your customers require.

Grouped price modifiers are frequently used when a charge requires multiple calculations to determine. In these situations, it can be awkward to present the multiple calculations when charging the customer. If the modifiers are grouped, they will appear to the customer under the group’s name, with the final figure listed.

You may put as many modifiers in a single group as you like. When a group is calculated, OnTime evaluates each modifier in the group, one-by-one, and then uses these results to calculate a final result based on the desired behavior. The Behavior for the group may be set to Use the highest priced modifier, Use the lowest priced modifier, or Use the sum of all modifiers. Groups can be placed within other groups, allowing you to create the pricing structure that you need.

How to group price modifiers

  1. Create a new group by right-clicking inside the price modifiers list and selecting New Group.
  2. Click-and-drag each modifier that you wish to group together from the list on the right to the list on the left.
  3. Enter the desired Name for the group. Be sure to enter a descriptive name because the calculations completed within this group will be listed under the group’s name. Individual modifiers within the group will not appear.
  4. Select the desired Type for the group to tell OnTime where the modifier should be used when creating orders.
  5. Select the desired Behavior for the group. Because OnTime calculates each modifier in the group separately, the question remains what to do with those calculations in the end. The Behavior list allows you to select from three actions:
    1. Use the highest priced modifier: After calculating all applicable modifiers in the group, the amount of the highest modifier will be returned.
    2. Use the lowest priced modifier: After calculating all applicable modifiers in the group, the amount of the lowest modifier will be returned.
    3. Use the sum of all modifiers: After calculating all applicable modifiers in the group, the amounts of all modifiers are added up and returned.
  6. If appropriate, adjust the Percent eligible for commission. Setting this value to less than 100% will mean that the user will get a lesser amount than normal from this price modifier.

Group pricing within courier software

See page 97 of the OnTime User Guide for more details and instruction about grouping price modifiers.

Zone Based Lookup Tables

What is a Zone Based Lookup Table?

If you use Zone Based pricing in OnTime, you may use Zone Based Lookup Tables to offer complex rates based on the zones involved. Most price modifiers have a single, fixed value that calculations evaluate against. If the value of a price modifier should change depending on the zones being serviced, use Zone Based Lookup Tables to achieve your desired results.

For example, if you charge a flat amount for delivery in some zones, but a per-mile rate for other zones, the Zone Based Lookup Table is a simple solution.

Zone to zone pricing in dispatching software

When viewing a Zone Based Lookup Table, you will see the names of all of the zones that you service listed both along the top and down the side. If you type a number into a cell, that number will be used when the two corresponding zones match a shipment. If you have reciprocal pricing enabled, this value will copy itself into the other cell that joins those two zones on the grid.

You may quickly fill all of your cells by using the Additional Action option, Fill Empty Cells. If you wish to adjust all of the prices for all of your zones at once, the Additional Action Adjust All Values can be used. These tools help to make Zone Based Lookup Tables an excellent tool for quickly working with a large number of prices.

How to setup a Zone Based Lookup Table

  1. Click on the Zone Lookup Tables button in the ribbon under the Home tab.
  2. From the Zone Lookup Table management window, click the New button.
  3. In the resulting window, assign a Name to the table. You may now begin filling out rates by selecting the cell in the grid where two desired zones intersect and entering your rate. When an order is entered with those two zones, the intersecting rate will be returned from the lookup table.
  4. Click the Save & Close button.

How to link a Zone Based Lookup Table to a Price Modifier

  1. While editing the desired price modifier, change the Multiply by field to Zone Based Lookup Table.
  2. Choose the appropriate Zone Based Lookup Table from the drop-down menu that appears.
  3. If desired, adjust the Zone lookup default value. The value entered will be used when zone matches are not found or return blank.
  4. Save and close the price modifier.

Zone based pricing in delivery software

More information about Zone Based Lookup Tables can be found starting on page 95 in the OnTime User Guide.

How to Test a Price Modifier

You always want to make sure that your price modifiers are calculating as you expect before making them available to customers. Without proper testing, you could provide your customers with a broken pricing structure that could affect your business’s productivity and reputation.

To verify that your system is acting the way that you intend, always test your modifiers and check the arithmetic.

How to test a price modifier

  1. While viewing a price modifier in the price modifier editor, click Show Testing Area at the bottom of the window to reveal the testing area.
  2. Fill in the appropriate fields for your calculation. Available fields include Base price, Distance, Quantity, Weight, Dimensions, and Declared value.
  3. Click the Test Modifier button at the bottom of the window to run your test.
  4. View your results on the right. If a green checkmark appears next to the first line, the price modifier applied to the values that you entered in your test. Other details about the calculations performed will be color coded to show how the numbers are used.
  5. Experiment with different values. If appropriate, try entering values that should return no result to ensure that your price modifier is working correctly. In this case, a red X will appear next to the first line instead of a green checkmark.

Testing pricing in courier software

More information about testing modifiers can be found beginning on page 99 of the OnTime User Guide.

Where to Start Calculating

Cost calculation for courier software

The Start calculating after field becomes available when creating a price modifier with an overage action type. The value entered into this field specifies the starting point for calculations. Unlike the range, which determines when a price modifier should be used, the Start calculating after field determines when a price modifier should begin calculating.

This feature is especially useful if you wish to have an additional charges retroactively applied to orders when certain criteria are met. For example, if you wanted to create a price modifier that charged $5 for every 10 miles over 100, you would use a range. However, if you wanted that price modifier to charge $5 for every 10 miles above and below 100, but only if 100 miles is travelled, you would use the Start calculating after field. This way, if less than 100 miles were travelled, no additional charges would be added, but if more than 100 miles were travelled, OnTime would automatically go back and calculate a charge of $5 for every 10 miles up to and after the 100.