Soon Everything Will Be Delivered

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deliverytrikeAs I was about to leave, I turned around and asked the lady if there was anything that made my listing stick out above the rest. It was the words free delivery in the title that caught my attention, she said. If you put that in every one of your listings, you won’t have to worry about staying busy, she said. I never imagined the impact on my business that advice would have.

Below are 5 reasons I’ve come up with for why your business, both online or off, need to seriously consider adding a delivery component.

1. Delivery sets you apart from the competition

I live in a very active Craigslist market where there is an enormous amount of competition. I also am selling in a category (appliances) where the buyers largely are unable to discern one appliance from the next. This makes it very difficult to stand out amongst the crowd. So,I put free delivery in the title of every one of my appliance ads. Offering free delivery instantly sets me apart from most the competition. Why? Delivering large, heavy appliances is viewed as a nuisance.

2. Delivery helps you to control your schedule

I read a recent critique of my Craigslist business that basically said that I’m always at the mercy of when people want to buy my items. That’s not true, especially when delivering the items. People are used to having to schedule deliveries days or weeks out. So when someone calls wanting my item, I have complete control to schedule the delivery right then, later that day, or later that week. Most people are understanding. Now that doesn’t mean you won’t lose a sale now and then if you can’t deliver immediately, because some people can be impatient. You basically need to decide what you want your schedule to look like before you answer the phone. You also need to decide how badly you need the money. If you have bills to pay and the buyer is unable to accommodate your schedule, you risk losing the sale. That becomes easier to handle the more financially stable you become.

3. Delivery can increase your profits

When I first started I didn’t know how to fix appliances nor did I understand the profitability of doing so. So naturally I wasn’t interested in acquiring broken appliances. Whenever I would deliver an appliance and receive the old one to haul away, I would take it straight to the scrap yard. I had no idea that I was losing anywhere from $100 to $200 each time. When I finally realized how many opportunities I had literally scraped, I almost wept.

After I realized the value of receiving a broken appliance, I immediately started brainstorming ways to acquire as many as possible. Naturally the first thing I began doing was sitting on the free section waiting for free appliances to be given away. I’m very good at that, but it’s very time consuming and if you don’t respond to the listing within 10 seconds or so, someone else will have already snagged it. Since I’m not a fan of staring intensely at my computer screen all day, I had to find another way.

Delivery was that other way. When I deliver an appliance, I do so for free in exchange for the person’s previous washer or dryer. I also stipulate certain brands that qualify. This was revolutionary for my business. Every time I sell a machine, I get one back, and specifically the type I want. I bring it home, repair it, list it, sell it and the cycle continues. Never ending inventory!

4. Delivery can start (or become) your business

I get emails everyday from readers asking me where to start. Find something to deliver! People value delivery. If you have a truck, trailer, van or creative determination, you can instantly be in business. Pick up a cheap picnic table and then repost it with free delivery. Poof, your business! Most people don’t have the means or the desire to pick up a picnic table, large furniture, appliances, yard equipment or any other large items. A $50 couch or table can quickly become $150 delivered to someone’s home, due largely to the added delivery. Large items are often sold at very low prices or given away because people don’t have the means to move them.

5. It’s the future of business

There is almost no type of product that is escaping the delivery creep. Even groceries and common household products are beginning to be delivered, often times via same day service. The trend is only going to continue in this direction. Unfortunately peoples lives are getting busier and businesses are wisely adapting to the new way of life.

If you have products where the profit margins are pretty small, don’t give up on the idea of delivery. Figure out a way to pull it off. Maybe offer certain days and times for delivery to certain parts of your city, or even state. I’ve often thought about selling products in other markets where the supply is almost non-existent, and setting up delivery for a Saturday. Delivering one item to a far off area might not be worth it, but 6-8 on one trip could be pretty lucrative.

What are some ways delivery has affected your business? What are some things you now have delivered now that you used to pick up earlier in life? Where do you think things are headed?

I want to say welcome to all of you who are new to the site! I was featured in Lifehacker and the Consumerist yesterday which has greatly increased our little tribe. I love hearing your feedback and stories, so don’t hesitate to drop me a line at ryan@recraigslist.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. I love this post, and I love the notion of delivery. I would like to generalize “delivery” to transportation. My sons have both attended a day summer camp that picks up campers directly from their homes in the morning and then returns the campers directly to their homes in the afternoon. Few other camps offer this service. For this very important service, the camp charges about $100 more per week than comparable camps in this area. My youngest is now a counselor at the camp, and he tells me the camp is always full, and even has a waiting list of parents willing to pay a premium for the transportation (delivery) of campers to camp. Great post.

  2. Great post. I am going to make July “Do it Ryans way” month and take my first dip into using CR to find items to then sell as a side business. That way, I can see what I can make. There are clearly some others doing things Ryans Way who also offer free delivery.

    I have been trying to work out a flow in preparation and I am finding it tough to be johnny on the spot with CR. I quickly found that just monitoring an RSS feed does not do it. There is some kind of delay that makes being the first to call/email impossible. So what is the solution? Do you just keep CR on the lists you want open in tabs? Is there special software I can use to alert me of new entries as they come in?

    • Hey Robert, I look forward to hearing about the results!

      The RSS feeds are delayed, most of the time. So they are basically worthless for anything in the free section, electronics, appliances, computers, or any other really high demand category. Every now and then they will update pretty close to when they are posted online but you just can’t rely on it.

      When you are starting out you just need to sit with the tabs open in your browser.The general pages refresh about every 10 minutes, the the sub categories about every 15 mins. I use Google chrome with little bookmarks up in my bookmark bar for the different sections I watch regularly. This way you can switch back and forth very quickly at the press of a button. Multiple tabs can help. Also Download the chrome extension “send from gmail” which allows you one click ability when responding to ads with just an email address. Seconds count because people will respond to the first email that comes in, or the first phone call.

      With appliances, each time I sell one I get another back, greatly reducing the amount of time I need to be looking for inventory. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. Ryan, love the web site and your posts. Going to try the delivery thing. I have a truck and dolly not as young as I was but we’ll try on lifting etc.

    I found out about you from Bill Myers forum. Great guy and an admirer of your work.

    Anyway, thanks for your info and help. Joe

    • Thanks Joe! It’s all about leverage when moving the appliances, it can be easier than it looks. (until you encounter really steep stairs!) 🙂

  4. Hi,Ryan I’m a big fan, thanks for all the help and tips.
    Quick question, is there a distance limit to do delivery or you just go anywhere?
    Thanks and congratulations on you’re success.

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