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Old 04-27-05, 02:08 AM   #1
zikke
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Bicycle messengers vs Motorcycle messengers

I live in a well organized and fairly compact city with 4 million people. Amazingly there are no bike messengers here! Ok, the cycling culture here is not as strong as in Europe, and the days are usually hot and sunny (love it!). So I thought, let's bring some good tradition to this country, and I decided to try to set up a messenger business. If it wouldn't be for one obstacle it would be very straight forward. That is, motorbike messengers are very popular here. So now I don't know how to convince companies to use my service. The pros for the motorbikes here is that they can go between cars, just like my bicycle, they can get around pretty quick since wide streets are linking different parts of town (actually quicker at times as it seems, since a bunch of streets are 4 lanes and have a speed limit of 60-70 km/h) AND they can reach the out-of-downtown parts much faster.

I would be happy for any reflections on the matter. Is motorbikes faster to deliver documents than bicycles? How can I convince companies that a sweaty guy on a bicycle can do the job better than motorbikes?
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Old 04-27-05, 03:28 AM   #2
AndyM
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I don't know much about the industry, but some bike messenger services seem to draw some business by featuring their environmental friendliness.

When I read the post title, I thought it was going to be about something like a charity basketball game.
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Old 04-27-05, 04:02 AM   #3
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Cheaper maybe? I see no advantage other than that.
Really though gas for a messanger motorbike is cheaper than the extra food for a pedal bike rider. My motorbike had about half the fuel bill of my bicycle, per mile, when I added it up last fall.
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Old 04-27-05, 05:01 AM   #4
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Some messenger firms in London run a reward system for clients.Usually along the lines of each time you pick up a job the firm gets a stamp from the messenger, x-amount of stamps means a bottle of posh wine or a meal for two-etc.Also when you've built up a base of regular cients look at where they are mostly sending stuff and market hard to get that buisiness.I can't stress how important that is.The good firms in London are the ones that have a list of clients on their books that all do business with each other.Good luck!!!
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Old 04-27-05, 05:12 AM   #5
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Find a copy of the Japanese movie Messengers. It makes a clear demonstration that not only are bikes faster, but that motorcycle messengers are jerks.
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Old 04-27-05, 05:16 AM   #6
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Offer free advertising to clients that do so-and-so much business with your service. Then, when you reach that point, have jerseys printed for your riders to wear with a clients ad on it. Start off with a low amount of business to get the ad thing rolling and up it later.

I'm not a business guy, so don't know if this will actually work or it's just a bunch of hogwash.
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Old 04-27-05, 05:21 AM   #7
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As for the sweaty delivery guy,in my experience no one cares how the parcel got to them as long as it was on time!! I wouldn't push the "We use bicycles" bit until you have a firm client base.The most important thing is to stop the ever decreasing company bank account when first starting up,market yourself like any other messenger firm then when your making money re-market as bicycle messenger firm pointing out how brilliantly fast you are and what fabulous clients use your firm.Or something like that!!!
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Old 04-27-05, 07:55 AM   #8
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hi zikke,

ok, it's hard to tell exactly, but from you post, i am guessing that you are in a city in the "developing world" which means it is likely that:
a) gas is VERY cheap
b) the "environmental friendly" aspect as some suggest is pretty much irrelevant

so basically unless you can find some "interesting" aspect to promote, it basically just comes down to economics:
* are the costs of buying, maintaining, insuring a motocycle and paying any motor vehicle traffic citations significanty MORE than the costs for a bicycle? (for example, in NYC i think the answer would be YES)
* are there any signficant "no motor vehicle" areas where a cyclist would have better access and thus be FASTER than a motorcylce?

i think if one of both of these points is possible you might be able to start with a combination of motorcycle and bike messengers (soas never to offer LESS service than the competion by serving the "out-of-town" areas) and then try and build on the advantages of bike messengers (e.g. theoretically you could employ a wider range of people as the "requirement" to have a bicycle is less than that of a motorcylce so maybe you can pay less?? although you still need people competent and dependable enough to handle the product)

--> but basically i agree with Peter: if you can offer the same dependable service faster or for less money than it is pretty much irrelevant if it is a "sweaty guy on a bike"
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Old 04-27-05, 11:53 AM   #9
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I worked as a motorcycle messenger when I was in college. It was normal to put a couple of hundred miles on my motorcycle each day.

Of living in Phoenix, Az, everything is very spreadout and it would be hard for a bicycle messenger to compete.

I did end up quitting the messenger job as the miles and maintaince cost were eating up alot of the pay I got.
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Old 04-27-05, 12:02 PM   #10
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I don't know either service stays in business when they're competing with email and fax machines.
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