By Jennigay Coetzer – first published in Business Day newspaper, 28 January, 2011

One of the advantages smaller operators have in the courier services market is that they can make bulk deliveries for clients to multiple customers over a specified area, for example for a marketing campaign.

“We can work out a route, plan a round trip and charge a price for the job instead of charging for each item being delivered, which would be expensive,” says Anton Visser, a partner in Johannesburg-based Gopher It Runner Services. It is difficult for the larger courier companies to do this because the items that need delivering have to be taken to adepot and from there dished out to multiple drivers.

He says the larger operators also tend to have more rigid collection and delivery time frames for their basic charge services, and any deliveries outside those time frames can cost two to three times as much. Smaller operators are also in a position to handle more specialised deliveries, to suit very specific requirements that require a lot of flexibility.

“For example, we recently had a client that needed a large glass covered model of a commercial development transported from Johannesburg to Nelspruit the same day,” says Visser. He says the client had established that cost of delivery and insurance would have been too high with the bigger courier companies.

“We took all the seats out of our SUV to accommodate the model, and had to protect it from the sun to prevent the paint from fading.” Visser says last year his company experienced an almost 80% increase in business in the two months before the World Cup.

This was mainly from marketing material, banners for sponsors at the stadiums and FIFA- branded promotional items ranging from pens to vuvuzelas to laptop computer bags. He says the company also delivered marketing and promotional items to some of the fan zones that were set up by local councils, with big screens and refreshments for fans that could not get to the stadiums to watch the matches.

“Some of our clients were advertising at the fan zones and needed marketing material to be delivered there.” A number of companies also dressed up their offices with a World Cup theme and set up screens and entertained their clients while they watched the matches, and they needed marketing material to be delivered for this.

He says the smaller courier companies attracted more of this type of business due to their flexibility. “We drove from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein four times at short notice to deliver banners, posters, stickers and T shirts to a customer that was kitting out the fan zone for the local council.”

Jennigay Coetzer is a freelance business and technology journalist with 25 years experience, and she writes regularly for Business Day. She also runs media training and writing skills workshops, and is the author of A Perfect Press Release – or Not?, a guide to writing and distributing effective press releases, an electronic version of which can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za.

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