Start a Furniture Removals & Delivery Business

A furniture removals & delivery or bulk courier business allows you to easily earn a managers salary without much skill. The only thing you need is a suitable vehicle and a driver’s licence. This is a popular business with people who have been retrenched or taken the package who then use their lump sum to purchase a vehicle.

It can however be started by anyone with capital to purchase a vehicle as the vehicles used by small businesses only require a car driver’s licence (Code B  / 8 licence) and a vehicle below 3.5 tons does not require a professional driving permit (PrDP) to transport goods. Starting out, the vehicles used in this business usually have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle mass (GVM) of under 3 tons of which the payload (usually around 1 to 1.3 tons) is included in.

Transport is a big industry for small business: humans (taxi), packages (courier), furniture (bulk) these are all different sectors. There will always be a need for things to be moved – the economy depends on it. Bulk removals has the biggest margin per kilometer but has the hardest physical work.

Which vehicle
I always promote a “find a way or make a way” or “don’t blame your tools” mentality when starting a business, but I would say you at least need a flatbed bakkie or better a “light commercial vehicle” like a Hyundai H100 or Kia K2500/K2700 (or even the Tata equivalent) which has drop sides and tailgate.  Yes, you can start with a car with towbar and trailer or even a fixed sidewall bakkie without canopy but that is going to limit the amounts and types of removals & deliveries you can offer at a time.

Flatbed bakkie
Flatbed bakkie
Hyundai H100
Hyundai H100

Using a flatbed or light commercial vehicle will allow you to handle a large percentage of furniture removals, remember I said furniture removals & delivery and bulk courier and not home removals. This vehicle is not suited to move whole contents of a home or even furniture in certain weather conditions; a closed truck is best suited for that purpose. But there is good money to be made nonetheless even without taking on those jobs.

Get a reliable helper (or two)
As stated above this is the hardest of all the main transport small businesses, you have to carry heavy stuff to your vehicle (tie it securely) and then deliver it – often up flights of stairs. You will need a healthy and strong helper with sober habits. Helpers are not expensive as it’s a menial job and carrying needs at least two people. If you only have one helper that means you will have help with the carrying. You have to decide whether the R150 or so you are going to save hiring another “boy” for the day is worth it – it might be if you are older or have medical issues (believe me you will feel it at night).

Marketing your business
Try to get your business card any and everywhere bulk items may need to be moved.

  • Main roads
    Go to the main road in your nearest town, sometimes it will be called “Main” or “Voortrekker” road and give out your business card to any business that sells bulk items: furniture shops, bed shops, secondhand shops, pawn shops, even wholesalers. If they say they already have someone they use or they have a company delivery truck. Tell them to keep your card nonetheless as their usual guy can be sick or busy or their truck can be broken (and these companies want to move the stuff off their floor ASAP especially if the sale depends on the item being delivered – some buyers want their stuff to be delivered the same day or they will go elsewhere).
  • Work the auction circuit
    Find out where auctions are being held and give out your business card, even better if you have the time, visit just before the auction ends and offer your service to whoever has bought bulky items too large for their car. Many people who attend auctions were not prepared beforehand to transport bulky items but then they got a price that was too good to pass up and bought the item. They will now need to transport it home.
  • Advertise on Gumtree
    Gumtree is a powerful platform for local business, it is highly ranked in search engines, even if there is a moving company in your area whose website is on the first page. If there are Gumtree ads available you can be sure it will show up on the first page of a Google search as well. And did you know that Gumtree was initially conceived to help people who had just moved to a new city? To many people Gumtree is their first stop when looking for something local. People even plan their entire weddings on Gumtree (even sourcing the pastor).
  • Try Wumdrop
    Wumdrop is a local company; it is basically the “Uber for deliveries”. They link people looking to delivery something to delivery guys via an app.  I’ve not used this service, but it is something to look into if you are new and starting out. However beware like Uber they set the price. I would say you can do this when you have a slow day as I don’t find their pricing to be attractive for drivers and they still take a cut on top of this. I personally wouldn’t use them as I would rather spend my slow days looking for new business but it’s something to consider nonetheless.

Bulk furniture delivery allows you to charge way more per kilometer than almost another other type of small transport business (in fact most don’t even charge per km they just make a price on the spot). This is because you are selling both transport and labour. Your main expense will be fuel (petrol or diesel), labour, vehicle maintenance as well as insurance. Make sure your vehicle is regularly serviced and insured as you are entirely dependent on it.

Image credits: Mover Maniac, OLX, Group 1 Hyundai