Dave Myers | President
Q: Why did you start your business?
A: I started as a driver in 1995. I purchased the company from the founder when he retired in 2008.
Q: What are some key factors or decisions that contributed to the success of your business?
A: I always try to keep a balance between the needs of the company, the needs of the drivers, and the needs of the customers. If this balance gets too out of whack, all three parties suffer.
Q: What are some challenging aspects of your business?
A: Not every customer that calls is an ideal one. While we want our customer base to be as diverse as possible, there are some companies and industries that are served very well by a general courier service, and others that are not. Deliveries of hot food are extremely problematic for a general courier service, and we limit our acceptance of hot food delivery orders. Furniture is another, because the price that an end customer is willing to pay for furniture delivery is often less than the cost of performing the delivery.
There are also customers that expect a "perfect every time" delivery scenario that does not exist in the real world of weather, traffic, and daily sales volume that can fluctuate as much as 400%. When a reasonable delivery "window" is the expectation, satisfaction is close to 99%. When "exact" pickup or delivery times are the expectation, satisfaction is much lower. There has to be a balance between drivers going above and beyond for a customer, but not letting customers treat drivers as if they are their direct employees.
Like most businesses, there are significant ups and downs. I took over the business right before the worst economic period in our country's history since the depression. Our sales bottomed out at 30% below the worst case scenario in my business plan. For 13 months I took every phone call and dispatched every order 24/7 by myself. I technically only operated at a loss for 4 months. However, customers that formerly paid on time started stretching their invoice payments out to 90-120 days or longer, making cash unavailable for many months after I was technically operating profitably. I nearly lost both the business and my home in 2009.
Q: Do you feel you made any serious mistakes as you were starting or growing your business? Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
A: Knowing how to manage a business is not the same as knowing how to own one. I have 100% confidence in my ability to make correct dispatch and personnel decisions. I do not do nearly as well with vendors, banks, insurance companies, landlords and commercial leases, credit card processors, internet advertising etc., etc., etc. Every time the phone rings and on the other end is some random person wanting you to spend money with them (versus someone wanting to spend money with you) it is a potential opportunity to improve your business, but more often, a potential to make an incorrect purchasing decision.
I also inherited a company that had no tech whatsoever in 2008. There was not even an internet connection in the office. The founder had tried and true methods that worked very well for the first ten years he owned the company, but did not evolve as technology advanced during his last 8 years at the helm. Today, we have a diverse range of customers and drivers. We still have old school customers that feel security in a stack of paper, while newer startup companies see a single sheet of paper as a waste. Older drivers do not want to be required to use apps on their smart phones that they do not understand, while younger drivers really want all communication to be text or app based and do not want to talk on the phone to you or anyone else. There is a 50 year variance in the work force. Finding the balance in the middle is a continual challenge.
Q: What other advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
A: It's tough. However many hours you think you are going to have to work to successfully run a business, you better double that figure. The rewards for correct decisions come in time, but the penalties for bad decisions come almost immediately.
In business or personal life, follow the 51% rule. 51% of what I do is for MY benefit. Everyone has to take care of their own needs first. But 49% of your efforts should be for others. Family, friends, employees, strangers, it doesn't matter. If you are selfish and greedy, you will fail. If you give too much or allow yourself to be taken advantage of, you will fail. Somewhere in a very narrow middle ground, there is a fighting chance of success!
About Dependable Delivery
Dependable Delivery is a Nashville based courier service. We focus on same day deliveries ranging in size from an envelope up to two skids, originating or terminating in the Middle Tennessee/Southern KY area. We were founded in 1990. We operate 24/7/365.
"However many hours you think you are going to have to work to successfully run a business, you better double that figure. The rewards for correct decisions come in time, but the penalties for bad decisions come almost immediately."—Dave Myers