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Going the Extra Mile for Clients

L.A. Delivery Service Emphasizes Personal Attention to Succeed in Crowded Market

March 13, 1998|KAREN E. KLEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Art Pulido had worked for a delivery service for nearly seven years when the new owner told him his pay would be cut by 35%. When he protested, he was told he was lucky to have a job. Pulido wasn't so convinced of that, so he approached some of his customers and they encouraged him to start his own business. Pulido's company has survived nearly 10 years due to personal relationships and high-quality service. Pulido was interviewed by freelance writer Karen E. Klein.

I was doing deliveries for a couple of law firms in the mid-Wilshire district. When I told them about the pay cut, they told me if I started my own company they'd be my first clients. That made my mental computer go on. I started with what I knew about business and investigated what I would have to do to outsell all the other delivery services out there.

I found that the key was providing personal service. I have many, many competitors, including huge companies like UPS and FedEx that have been around a long time. And there are probably 30 to 50 smaller companies.

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My philosophy is that our employees will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Whether we have to get papers signed or file documents with the court or just do general legwork, we keep on going even when things get tough.

With court filings, for instance, if the client hasn't given us enough money, my drivers all have advances and they will pay the fees on the spot so that the papers get filed anyway. That kind of service is what my clients like. We are there to make their jobs run smoothly.

When my clients want answers they can speak to me personally, and I will give them answers. That's not always true with a bigger company. I am truthful with them and they know they can rely on me.

When we pick up a new client, I go out myself to do a couple of runs and make sure the operation is going right. It's good when the clients see you and know you are on the job. Every so often, I'll pay the clients a visit or call them to ask how things are going.

I financed the business with money that I was saving to buy a house. I felt that I had to make my dream happen before I would ever get a bank to loan money to my business. Three other drivers from the company I had worked for felt the same way I did, so they quit and said they wanted to work for me. I told them I didn't have any money to pay them but they all said they knew they would get paid when the company started to grow.

From our two original clients, we now have close to 30. We have attracted them by word-of-mouth, giving great service and being honest. I have drivers, walkers and bikers who do the deliveries and they all carry pagers. I have a sharp dispatcher who knows how to hand out the jobs.

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I still work out of my home office. I had a separate office at one time, but I found that I was putting a lot of money out for overhead, and all I really needed was a telephone, a desk and a bunch of employees.

Down the road, I plan to apply for a small-business loan so I can get a marketing rep, buy more vehicles and do a few promotions that will help grow this company to the next level. I feel that I'm getting to the point where I can move to that new level.

I've learned that opportunity is there if you want to take advantage of it and if you have the motivation to challenge yourself. The sky's the limit and it's all up to you.

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At a Glance

* Company: Pulido Delivery Service

* Owner: Art Pulido

* Nature of business: Delivery service

* Location: Los Angeles

* Founded: 1989

* Employees: 14

* Annual revenue: $200,000

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