How do you start a newspaper route business?

Description of Job

  • Deliver the newspaper to residential and business locations, usually in the predawn hours.
  • Perform other services, including stuffing Sunday newspapers with advertising inserts, magazines, and other special sections.
  • You may need to rent, lease, or purchase an appropriate vehicle.

The Need

The days of a kid on a bicycle prowling the streets with a canvas sack of newspapers are mostly gone. In most communities today, newspapers are delivered by adult subcontractors who use a car or truck to cover large geographic areas and hundreds of subscribers.

In most areas, this is a five- or seven-day-a-week commitment that can be accomplished in the predawn hours. For that reason, it is often a second job.

Newspaper companies generally employ their own drivers or a trucking company to deliver large bundles of papers to newsstands and stores. Delivery to homes is usually subcontracted to individual carriers.

Challenges in the newspaper route business

First, you need to get past the idea of taking on a job that may begin at 5 A.M. every day—despite wind, rain, or snow.

You’ll need a vehicle that is large and sturdy enough to carry a heavy load of newspapers. The vehicle will sustain a great deal of wear and tear because of the start-and-stop nature of the route. In snowy climes, you may be out on the roads before the plows have arrived.

There’s also the chance of some wear and tear on yourself: sore back and shoulders from loading the papers and getting in and out of the car at each stop on the route.
Drivers may be responsible for makeup deliveries for subscribers who do not receive their paper as promised, or who find their paper in the swimming pool instead of on the front porch.

As a subcontractor, you may be required to find, hire, and provide a substitute carrier to fulfill your deliveries if you are unable to do so because of illness or vacation.

Know the Territory

In most communities, the newspaper handles the sale of subscriptions and the collection of payments. Deliverers receive a listing of their route; the list of subscribers may change slightly from day to day because of new customers, cancellations, and vacation suspensions.

Some newspaper companies have sophisticated software programs that can provide carriers with a logically organized route (or local experts who perform the same function). If not, you’ll need to know the area well enough to set up a logical plan by yourself.

Bundles of newspapers may be available for pickup at the printing plant, or they may be delivered to several regional locations to be picked up by carriers.

Depending on your state’s regulations, you may need a commercial license and plate for your vehicle. And your insurance company may require coverage for use of the car or truck for commercial purposes. Consult a capable insurance agent for advice.

How to get started the newspaper route business

Contact the circulation department of area newspapers and ask about delivery jobs. Most newspapers also advertise for carriers in their own classified sections.

Up-front Expenses

In most situations, you will be responsible for providing your own vehicle. May be required to supply your employer evidence of proper licensure and insurance.

You will have to pay for gasoline and maintenance of your vehicle; Should be able to recoup some or all of these expenses from the mileage reimbursement paid by the newspaper company.

How Much to Charge newspaper route business

The newspaper company will generally offer a fixed fee for each delivery. Many companies also pay a mileage reimbursement for use of your car.

In some communities, carriers are directly employed by the newspaper company. Earning a salary plus benefits and mileage reimbursement for the use of their own vehicle.

Because most companies do the billing and collection by mail or by automatically charging credit card accounts. Newspaper carriers can no longer count on weekly or monthly gratuities from customers. However, in some communities it remains common practice for regular carriers to receive a tip at Christmastime; some carriers encourage the practice by inserting a holiday card with their name and address in deliveries near the holiday.

Legal and Insurance Issues for newspaper route business

Special notes: An insurance agent can offer counsel about commercial vehicle insurance and liability coverage.

You can also see our other small business ideas tips for here.

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