Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Newsagent: Home delivery service

You may decide to offer a home delivery service of newspapers to some customers. If you plan to employ schoolchildren to deliver newspapers, you should be aware that the employment of young people is regulated by local authority bye-laws. These restrict the hours that children can work each day and also generally specify that employees must be over 13 years old. It is your responsibility to make sure that any child you employ is registered with your local authority and has a work permit (most councils require businesses to apply for a child employment permit before they can employ a school-aged child).

You will have to be in the premises very early in the morning to:

  • receive deliveries of the papers
  • make up the rounds for each of your deliverers

You will have to provide each of your deliverers with a bag or trolley. If you plan to offer delivery services further afield you may need vans and drivers.

You will keep a record of each customer's daily order and at the end of the week you will make up their account so that you can give them a bill. You will have to be careful to charge the customer the right price each day - newspaper price wars can occasionally lead to paper prices being reduced at very short notice.

As well as employing your deliverers you will need someone you can trust to collect the weekly payments from householders.

How much to charge

Ideally the amount you charge each week to your delivery customers should cover the cost of providing the service, otherwise the cost will eat into your margin on paper sales. (However, in reality you may be prepared to subsidise the cost to a certain extent to maintain customer loyalty.)

When costing the service, estimate as accurately as possible the following costs:

  • wages for delivery employees
  • insurance cover
  • bags and trolleys
  • motoring expenses (if appropriate)
  • stationery (round books, invoices and receipts)

Ideally you would also want the charges to make a contribution to your administrative and overhead costs. For example, someone will have to make up the paper rounds in the mornings and prepare the bills at the end of the week.

Once you have arrived at a total cost for providing the service, divide this by the number of customers you expect to deliver to. Divide this figure by 52 to get a weekly charge per customer. You would then add this charge to the weekly paper bill.

Some newsagents provide home delivery as a service and do not try to cover their costs. Ask around at different newsagents to see what would be an average charge in your area and then compare this with the figure you have worked out. If your figure is much higher you will have to decide:

  • whether your customers would be prepared to pay this
  • whether you will reduce the charge
  • whether you are prepared and can afford to provide the service for less than it costs you

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) website includes a great deal of helpful information on running a successful home delivery service.