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Old 01-13-12, 11:27 AM
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I posted the following in another thread. They are just my thoughts about the subject. I do think it would be very difficult to make an adequate living doing this. Maybe if you were a very efficient route planner, had numerous customers in proximity, and your deliveries weren't long trips (say, less than 3 to 5 miles total each). I know when I have very heavy loads (anything near or above 300 pounds), I'm slowed down to ~8 mph even on a flat grade, so a 5 mile total delivery might take an hour or more, depending on loading.

You might also think about insurance if you're going to be pulling expensive, new items (ie, appliances, furniture, etc.).

Originally Posted by hopperja View Post
Fantastic! I told my wife when I retire, I may start my own utility cycling business. Unfortunately, that's a long way off in the future...

Let me just throw out some ideas I've been tossing around in my head, in case someone's looking to start a cargo/delivery business.

1- some people may need some assistance shopping. I'm thinking about elderly or handicapped people. One could add a shopping component to the delivery business and charge by the bin/time/pound/mile/etc.
2- often people have scrap metal to recycle. In my area, a scrap washer and dryer bring about $30 in scrap. At the current rates, iron/steel brings about $.10/lb and bare copper $3.30/lb. Other metals (brass, sheathed or dirty copper, etc.) bring somewhere in between.
3- most appliance stores offer delivery at a charge. Years ago I worked at Circuit City and they charged $30 for a delivery. An enterprising utility cyclist could under-cut that charge. I bet matress stores offer delivery for a charge as well...
4- in my area, glass and some plastics can't be picked up curbside. Yet, my family generates these to be recycled. One could charge a fee per bin/pound/amount of glass or other recycles to be picked up. This could save some families the hassle of having to make the monthly or bi-monthly trip to the recycle center.
5- I also change my own oil in my car (gasp! yes, I do still drive a car), which means every few months I have to take the used oil in for recycling. Yet another item that could be picked up for me.
6- I make frequent trips (~1x/month) to Goodwill/Value Village/Second Hand Store. One could offer pick up of these as well.
7- Many areas have recycling programs for electronics and batteries. Many people don't know what to do with the junk printer, broken TV, ancient PC, or plug-in floppy drive. Sure, if they work the Second Hand Store may take them, but if they don't they need to be disposed of responsibly. The utility cyclist entrepreneur could pick them up and make sure they get recycled appropriately.
8- You might be able to get $.03/pound recycling cardboard. Depending on your source and where you have to go to recycle it, cardboard could be worthwhile. I'm not sure the volume of 300 pounds of cardboard, so perhaps that wouldn't be feasible.
9- what do appliance stores/places that sell appliances (Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, etc) do with their old appliances? Often, they offer delivery and removal of the old item. What do they do with the old item? Perhaps they would give it to you and you could recycle it. Keep in mind that some appliances (refrigerators and freezers have little, if any scrap value), so they may actually cost you to get rid of them.
10- used/dead car batteries are worth $8 in my area. Sure, most people recycle their battery when they buy a new one, but many don't or didn't in years past. Now they don't know what to do with their old car battery. You could do the world a favor and recycle it properly for them, and make $8/battery in the process.

If I was the enterprising, entrepreneurial utility cyclist, I would charge items based on the Rubbermaid bin (my BAW 64A can handle 8 comfortably). They're ubiquitous, relatively cheap, and designed to fit on my trailer. I'd charge specific fees for pick up of most things (a fixed rate per bin, perhaps $5 to $8), possibly with discounts if I was going to make money on them. For example, if I was picking up a washer and dryer, I may charge less than an old-school big-screen TV for recycling, since I'd be making money on the washer/dryer. I may charge more to recycle a refrigerator because it would cost me to get rid of it (locally for me I think the fee is $5 per appliance, so I'd add a $5 surcharge to the refrigerator).

I'd probably also charge one-time pick-ups more than for regular pick-ups. And, time and/or mileage and/or weight might also be factors.

Last edited by hopperja; 01-13-12 at 11:36 AM.
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