Good entrepreneurs are able to identify and exploit the opportunities that exist and find ways to make profit from them.
By this definition David Shmukler is a very good entrepreneur. Three months ago, this serial entrepreneur identified a need for a faster courier services in Sandton’s often traffic congested CBD. Shmukler launched Dash Couriers, an eco-friendly courier service which uses bicycles to beat the traffic in the rapidly expanding business district.
Shmukler is no stranger to unique businesses, and Dash Couriers is just one idea in his endless string of distinctive businesses.
“I am also the person credited for starting to advertise on the inside of pizza boxes, a concept that also went abroad to countries like Australia,” says Shmukler.
Shmukler says he hopes to achieve two objectives for Dash Couriers: to save time spent or wasted in traffic and to empower his staff so they become employers.
One of the first hurdles Dash Couriers has had to overcome to achieve this is convincing potential clients that there is a need for their service, and not being in a rush to start showing profit.
“My wish is to develop the current employees to run their own courier services”
“One of the challenges we’re facing currently is making people realise how much time it costs their lives to be running around and stuck in traffic,” he said. “You also don’t make money for the first 18 months of operation.”
The business model
Dash Couriers has four full-time cyclists plus two part-timers all recruited from the Soweto and Diepsloot cycling academies. They cyclists make collections and deliveries within a seven kilometer radius.
“A client gives us a ring or sends us email with details of what needs to be fetched. One of our guys will be dispatched to them with a credit card machine for FET payments and a receipt book for cash clients. After delivery the client gets an SMS. All this is done within three hours to ensure convenience,” he said.
Dash Couriers charges an all-inclusive R175 a drop, whether the package is letter or a box weighing 15kg or anything in between.
Shmukler adds that they have started registering accounts for regular clients, and are in the process of making their services available online via their website.
First impressions count
Dash Couriers services clients in upmarket and corporate suburb of Sandton, also known as the most expensive square mile in the continent.
This has made it imperative for Shmukler to train his staff not only in customer care and presentation, but also to become ambassadors for the business.
“They must dress well, be representative of the company ethos and know how to conduct themselves,” he said.
Support and growth
Shmukler said the Sandton business community and the city municipality have been very supportive of his company.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with many stakeholders and all have shown support,” he said, adding that his business is aligned with the City of Johannesburg’s plans to develop cycling lanes in Sandton.
“I also have a lot of opportunities for prospective employees. But my wish is to develop the current employees to run their own courier services and expand to other places like the Joburg CBD,” he said.
Asked if the South African Post Office protracted industrial action had any impact on his business since he’s operating on the same market, Shmukler said it hasn’t had a positive nor a negative impact yet.
“You don’t get into a business to tie up a mess like the one at the Post Office. But I think we can help clear the backlog,” he said.