Small business advice: Should your company deliver to customers’ doorsteps?


Googleand Amazon are expanding their same-day delivery programs. Do you need to start bringing your products to your customers to compete? (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Scarcity rules the world of business, and no scarcity is more pressing to customers than time. Customers are starting to demand the convenience of delivery to squeeze a little more into their day — and businesses are taking notice.

Amazon will soon roll out its own private fleet of trucks to make more same-day deliveries. Google is hot on its heels, planning to expand its own same-day delivery service. Uber is starting to push into the arena, too.

Delivery is hot right now, but how do you know whether it’s right for your business? And if it is the right move, where do you start? Here are some tips for small business owners.

Determining whether delivery is right for you

As you’re considering implementing delivery into your business model, consider the following questions to help you make an informed decision.

Are my competitors delivering? If they are, how are they doing it? Is there a demand? What are they charging? Try a service for yourself by ordering from a competitor and being a critic. Take notes on what went well, what didn’t and how you could improve it.

If they aren’t offering delivery, find out why. Are insurance costs too high? Have they tried and failed? Pretend to be a customer, and call to ask for delivery. Then, ask whether they’re considering doing it in the future. The answers could be enlightening.

How will I differentiate my services? If everyone else in your space is delivering, what will be your differentiator? Maybe your drivers will dress in tuxedos or use advanced technology, or maybe you will provide a small gift to each of your customers.

Choose something they won’t soon forget.

Preparing to take your products to doorsteps

Starting a new delivery service may seem daunting, if you decide to go that route. However, there are some steps you can take to make the progression easier:

Start small. You can always expand your delivery zone later, but starting small will help ensure the quality of your service. As you become more established, you’re more likely to be able to expand without sacrificing quality.

Appoint a head of delivery. Whether it’s the business owner or another employee, someone needs to own the delivery experience for the customer, from start to finish. All compliments, complaints and questions must go to a single point of contact so you can accurately track the experiment.

Set clear expectations with staff. The delivery staff that brings your product to the customer is the only in-person interaction the customer will have with your company. Train one delivery driver at a time, then release that driver to train another. Carefully building your delivery team ensures quality and consistency.

Use the first five seconds to your advantage. The first five seconds of the customer’s interaction with your service is critical. Train your staff to smile, provide a proper greeting, and say “thank you” to every customer.

Survey and solicit feedback. If the same customer orders from you over and over again, reach out and see if you can ask him or her a few questions about your new delivery program. Often, customers have a unique perspective and will be glad to share it.

Remember, it’s all about saving your customers time. If you decide to offer delivery, it’s not just about bringing a milk container to the customer — it’s a 15-minute errand that was keeping that person from doing something else.

When you deliver to your customers’ front doors, you can help them reclaim their time for more meaningful activities — and that can help your company stand out.

Phil Dumontet is the founder and chief executive of DASHED, a restaurant delivery company in the Northeast.

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