Specialist UK Guitar Transport Service - Hoping For Feedback

Hello there
I have only just joined the forum, i found it by accident whilst researching an 'idea' of mine.
I posted an introduction earlier (2 minutes ago), now im already asking for help, advice, feedback, whatever i can get really.
In a nutshell then, i am a guitarist and vocalist of 30 years, acoustic stuff primarily but i also play electric stuff, mainly blues lead, but thats just for my ears at home, the acoustic stuff i do with my daughter and we release our classic covers online, for fun, because we enjoy it !!!
Anyway, i'm a 42 year old joiner, i'm a guitar player, a guitar lover and a guitar enthusiast/collector (when finances and the wife allow).
So, for a while now i have been considering the potential of setting up a very specialist guitar transport service, i have had so many guitars delivered by various different parcel services over the years, and i have posted dozens of my own too, each time its a very nervous experience, from the second it leaves the door to the second its opened at the other end.
I've had disasters and nice surprises, but on the whole its a serious worry, posting a guitar.
I figured other guitar player and enthusiasts may feel the same, who do i use to send my pride and joy to its new owner, Parcelforce, DPD, UPS, Yodel ? (None of them)
Is it fully insured with no smallprint ? (Nope)
Is it going to be looked after like it was made of glass ? (Absolutely not !!!)
Personally, i am happy to pay more for a courier that i know is going to deliver safely, this is a guitar, not a pair of trainers or a plant pot.
I personally stood there on my doorstep and watched, this week, a courier (DPD) collecting a Les Paul and a pair of Shure SM58 mics i sold, he picked them up, then dropped them on the way down the garden path, he looked very embarrassed after i told him he needed to be more careful and followed him to the van to make sure he stacked it carefully.
The back of his van, incidentally, was a disgrace, parcels everywhere, just thrown in !!!
So, to cut a long story short, or at least shorter, i'm a joiner, but moneys always tight with two high school age kids (11 and 12), a 1 year old toddler and a new baby on the way. So, i got to thinking about whether it would be financially viable to completely re-design and re-build the inside of my van so that it is kitted out to carry guitars, and only guitars. Specially built racking designed to carry guitars securely, in a soft, padded environment, i would ensure the guitars were treated like they were made of Swarovski Crystal from the moment i collect to the second they are delivered.
Each guitar would be transported in its own hard case, or a hard case supplied by us for transport purposes until arrival.
The aim of the service is safety, not speed. To ensure its a viable business, i would need to have a certain amount of guitars to deliver in the same area or on the same route that day, at the begininning this could be a challenge, but it could be overcome.
I want to provide a service for guitarists that is second to none.
I have just taken delivery of my very first Gibson Les Paul (a used one), it's taken me 30 years to finally own one, but i had to drive across the UK to collect it myself, because there was no way i was going to let a courier get their hands on it.
So, it cost me £60 in fuel and an entire day of my life (a day off work). So in total, it cost me £210 to collect that guitar !!!
Oh well, i was trying to cut the story short, turns out i didnt manage to cut it very short, apologies.
My question is, how many of you would consider spending more money for the services of a highly specialist guitar transporter, would it be worth it to you, knowing that your guitar is going to arrive safely ?
Im ready for your feedback, good and bad, i know the pitfalls, i know its not going to be easy, but i would really love to help the guitar community relax when it comes to buying an expensive used guitar and having it delivered.
Thankyou for listening, reading, putting up with my long post !!!


  • LesterLester Posts: 1,658Member, Moderator
    My experience is that UPS especially but also DPD are extremely good. I have watched and been impressed as a new computer or guitar has been delivered. In over 20 purchases, some including airmail but most by courier across Europe, no guitar has suffered in transit.

    I think your idea is ideal but in the cut-throat business world of parcel deliveries you would have a problem drumming up enough trade at a competitive price. Maybe collectors who are spending many thousands on their new purchase would consider confidence in the delivery company worth whatever the price is.
  • orangedroporangedrop Posts: 4Member
    Cheers for your feedback Lester.
    I agree, DPD have been great, i have used them a few times to deliver guitars (in funny shaped boxes to keep the length down to less than a metre).
    UPS smashed an Epiphone EJ200 that was in a hard case and delivered to me last year so wont use them anymore.
    ParcelForce lost an Epiphone Les Paul for a week so don't get my business anymore either.
    Definitely a cut throat business, but i was aiming more at high end guitar buyer/sellers (£800 upwards maybe), providing a service that was completely unrivalled in the UK
    Im at the very start here, just an idea, but i like to run with ideas, just thought i would try for some feedback before i waste any time.
    Thankyou again Lester for your swift reply.
    I look forward to spending some time on the forum from now on.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,658Member, Moderator

    ... just an idea, but i like to run with ideas ...

    Ideas are the acorns from which a mighty oak will one day grow.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,145Member
    edited November 2017
    I have to be cruel to be kind. (Having embarked on a loss making guitar business because people were too kind to hurt my feelings)

    There is no profit in this. I'm OUT. You will have to diversify. Maybe a parallel advert to transport Faberge eggs, Vacheron watches too and you might just make a living. (What will be your insurance costs ?)

    But please stay IN on this forum as there are nothing but good, honest guys here.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,145Member
    edited November 2017
    Having been a motorcycle courier you will have to incorporate time running 'empty' to fetch the guitars and return from your drop.

    A successful courier runs on a circular (multiple drop) delivery rather than linear (one drop) speciality and few guitars are that expensive or numerous. So it may well depend on being located near some high end/boutique guitar sellers or undercutting an existing delivery arrangement.

    There are benefits in the form of 'sole trader' tax exemptions on vehicle costs but these rely a lot on how to use the vehicle, if you know what I mean.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,145Member
    edited November 2017
  • orangedroporangedrop Posts: 4Member
    Cheers for the comments, both positive and negative.
    Obviously, anyone considering a new business has to listen to comments, advice, observations etc
    What they also have to do is not get too bogged down with the negative comments, the plentiful reasons as to why the business WILL fail. Almost every global business has had the same comments at the start, in fact if i remember correctly, there was a certain company called Amazon that were told 'it will never work', and i do believe some weird company called Google also had its doubters at the start. Good job they didnt listen eh.
    You know what though, this isnt Amazon or Google and i appreciate your time, your comments are helpful regardless.
    There are hurdles, some bigger than others, but with some careful planning i reckon it can be done.
    I suppose the most important thing to note, is that life (for me at least) would be less fulfilling without ambition, determination, perseverance, risk and hope. The outcome is almost irrelevant, some of us just need to run with ideas if it feels right, win or lose, the outcome is the same. Feeling good about giving it a go, trying hard and taking a chance with life in the pursuit of something better.
    I will continue working as a self employed joiner, build the guitar delivery business alongside it, see what happens, if it works, it works. If it doesnt work then at least ive had fun trying, and learnt something along the way.
    Cheers though guys.
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 918Member
    I think you should contact the big dealers and movers of vintage instruments (including those in the USA). People buying and selling instruments valued in the tens of thousands will be ready to pay for a courier. Build your personal contacts and shake hands with lots of people. It is likely to be a who you know scenario.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 943Member
    Here’s a thought... what about contacting the endless list of boutique builders who charge a small fortune and see about getting exclusive business from them? Auction houses too. Visit NAMM and either have a stall or talk to the luthiers there.
    Like ESBlonde said, it’s all about who you know and means talking to a Lot of people.
    Still, if you have the vision and the energy to make it work, all the best to you. You never know until you try.
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