As today is International Women’s Day, we took the opportunity to catch up with one of Courier Exchange’s top-performing female owner drivers in celebration of this movement for women’s rights.
We’re shining the spotlight on owner driver and director of Courier Hire & Reward Ltd, Sonia Johal.
International Women’s Day has been taking place on March 8th since 1911 and this year’s theme, #EachforEqual, promotes the individual actions we can take to challenge bias and prejudice but also celebrate the achievements of women. It is for this exact reason that Sonia was chosen for this interview. She represents and supports female empowerment in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Sonia wants to let other women know that they too have opportunities in logistics and shouldn’t feel intimidated or burdened by patriarchal ideologies.
Sonia’s story marks the return of our ‘Transport Heroes’ series in which we interview a variety of owner drivers, hauliers and freight forwarders on what makes them successful on the Exchange. Each member’s story is unique, and our aim is to shine the spotlight on their successes, challenges and any wisdom they’d like to share for inspiring and motivating existing members.
With over 130 positive delivery feedbacks, Sonia Johal’s business ‘Courier Hire & Reward’ has gone from strength to strength, by using CX’s vast network of vetted logistics professionals to her advantage.
Sonia, on the other hand, had no reservations about entering into a male-dominated profession. She loved the personal freedom the job afforded her and eventually decided to start her own business.
I find the industry warm and welcoming. People are kind and were eager to share best practices when I first started. Plus, as long-distance couriers, people are mostly on their own, except for loading and offloading.
Despite the appeal to be her own boss, Sonia recognises that the job isn’t for everyone. She continues, “I don’t think everyone can do it. It requires a lot of concentration over long periods with irregular work hours. Fitness levels, sleep patterns and vehicle maintenance are major factors of success in this business”.
Although not directly experiencing any issues relating to her gender while on the job, it’s not uncommon amongst other women working in logistics. Sonia offered her thoughts on the lack of female owner drivers, suggesting it may be due to the pressures of gender expectations, perceiving driving larger vehicles as daunting and the lack of encouragement and support stemming from this.
When asked about her daily activities, she responded, “My days vary. Energy levels are a factor, as I work 24/7. I’m lucky as I find it easy to sleep, so I can ensure I’m well-rested between deliveries. I have a routine that I follow. Once I finish a delivery, I fill up with diesel, AdBlue, Screen Wash and then get some rest until I’m ready to go. I always turn on my CX notifications, so I can get a head start on quoting for loads while enjoying a coffee”.
Since joining CX, Sonia has already completed over 170 loads, including several direct bookings. Sonia describes how the CX platform streamlines business for its members, with its integrated features and solutions contributing to efficiency and profitability.
‘Friendly, eager, professional and superb’ are just some of the words that members have used to describe Sonia. Her stellar feedback points to her willingness to go above and beyond. Sonia humbly attributes her positive feedback to following customer instructions very carefully and always doing her job ‘with a smile’.
The digital platform and mobile app are very user-friendly. I handle the majority of my work through CX, with very few exceptions. I even use the accounting software to process non-CX-related work. Even my accountant uses the platform for my VAT returns.
As a result of her strong reputation as an owner driver on the Exchange, Sonia has now established successful business relationships with big clients like UPS, FedEx and Hermes, across her 25 years of experience driving vans and larger vehicles like minibusses and trucks.
She’s taken the initiative to gain more qualifications and is currently working to achieve her Dangerous Goods Safety Advisers (DGSA), ADR and Level A / B Aviation. Not every owner driver has these certifications, which is another good example of Sonia’s tremendous dedication to growing her business and expanding her horizons. Another interesting fact about Sonia is that she’s also a chemistry graduate, which she considers as having helped her to pass her ADR exam.
Biased beliefs are not a true reflection of reality. Women are excellent professional drivers, but many are still misrepresented and made to feel like they don’t belong in this profession.
When asked to share some practical words of wisdom for women interested in the industry, she said, “Make sure you train in advance of investing any money into a van. Try driving long distances in the size of the vehicle you will be driving for at least a week, to get a feel of your ability and how to manage your delivery schedule.”
Sonia is a true testament to the opportunities available to women in logistics. They simply need to reach out and grab it with both hands.
From all of us here at the Exchange, we wish all the women operating on our Exchange a happy International Women’s Day!
If you manage a small fleet, then you’ve probably invested in a telematics solution. Telematics gives you several key benefits, but the main one would be giving customers full visibility of your fleet. This helps both parties to better manage risks and control unforeseen costs.
The ABAX Triplog system goes one step further. Unlike other telematics providers, its technology is already fully integrated with the Courier Exchange and Haulage Exchange platforms. By using these two powerful systems together, there’s no limit to the efficiency your fleet can achieve.
This seamless integration between ABAX and the Exchange has helped Victor Rowley, CEO of Start 2 Finish Couriers Ltd, witness productivity in his business like never before.
The challenge faced
Victor, who founded the same day logistics company, specialising in the transport of commercial waste and hazardous goods in 2003, says that Transport Exchange Group has helped to grow his business. “We have a very agile fleet, but it is small,” he says. “Transport Exchange Group’s virtual fleet is not only vast, but it’s extremely well-stocked too. That means that when I post a load on the Exchange, which I do around 25 times a month, the smart load matching tool always ensures that I can find an ADR-accredited driver, whose vehicle meets the required standards, to take on the job and carry it out in a timely and professional manner.”
However, like many small fleet operators, as his business grew, Mr Rowley says that “it became increasingly difficult to manage his time”.
He explains, “As I posted more loads through the Exchange, I found that I was spending most of it keeping my customers updated regarding the status of their loads.”
Mr Rowley contemplated hiring another member of staff to help him in the office, but after careful consideration, he concluded that the extra money that he would need to put towards “wages, national insurance and pensions payments” made it “a counter-productive step”.
The simple solution
Seeing that recruiting a member of staff was out of the question, Mr Rowley simply integrated his ABAX Triplog GPS-based vehicle tracking system with Courier Exchange. As a result, he solved his problem.
Mr Rowley says he’s been using “integrated telematics for around two years now”. In terms of operational efficiency, while he says that “it’s difficult to put a figure on it”, but the benefits it has brought “have been instant and far-reaching”.
He explains, “These days when I post a load using the Exchange, the ABAX system provides me with live tracking updates – every second of every minute. And what’s more, as the GPS-based system is running all of the time, it can’t be turned off by a driver, nor does it ever go down. As a result, I always receive a reliable, resilient and robust service, which appears on the Live Availability Map. But what’s really clever is that the CX system enables my customers to receive real-time alerts too – and as often as they require them. The best bit, however, is that I don’t have to lift a finger as the updates are sent to them automatically”
While Mr Rowley mostly uses the Exchange “to post loads”, he says that “the enhanced visibility” made possible by the integrated telematics really comes to the fore when he’s posting a load.
“The combination of the ABAX telematics system with the Exchange’s software lets me post the location, status and availability of my vans in real-time on the live map. This means that every one of the 6,000-plus member businesses on the Exchange can see my vehicles and that massively increases the chances of a booking.”
With integrated telematics taking care of the tedious tasks that were once a big part of his daily ‘to do’ list, Mr Rowley says he has more time “to focus on other parts of the business that need his attention”.
“This has enabled me to provide an even better quality of service to my customers than I was previously able to,” he adds.
What’s more? “The ABAX telematics system helps me to better maintain my fleet. How? Well, it gives me the visibility to control and to reduce fuel costs. It also allows me to track the speed of my vehicles. I’ve programmed the system to send me an alert if one of my vehicles exceeds 75 mph on the motorway. The drivers who work for me are very responsible, and it’s very rare that I get an alert of this nature, but in terms of promoting safety and sustainable driving on our roads, it is a very effective tool.”
Ultimately, Triplog allows Mr Rowley to automate mileage records, which helps me to better maintain vehicles.
“As a belt and braces measure, we also work off a chart and run regular weekly maintenance checks on each vehicle, he says, “But the technology certainly compliments the work we do and provides us with a useful system of checks and balances.”
If you do courier work, you need insurance. Fact. Now stay with me folks, because while the subject may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, CX is very proud to announce a new partnership that’s set to benefit our members. And yes, it’s about insurance.
Business Choice Direct and Courier Exchange
Of all the aspects of running a successful courier work business, ensuring you have the correct insurances in place is one of the most important. You can land in a world of trouble if you don’t make sure you’re covered with the appropriate insurance policies. Meet Business Choice Direct.
Everyone loves an easy life and, on a topic as serious as this, we think it’s a case of letting the experts (BCD) do their job so you can get on with yours – which is getting the courier work done.
Our new partnership with BCD means that all our members will now be able to get access to their exclusive products at a very special price. In other words, we’ve negotiated some pretty good mates’ rates for you. You’re welcome!
The company not only price matches on any (like-for-like) van policy, they can also help you make sure that the cover you already have is fit for purpose and is exactly what you require to run your business. (You’d be surprised how many people unwittingly pay for things they don’t need and aren’t covered for things they do.) This includes insurance policies for things like:
Take Advantage of the Perfect Partnership
How do you get on board? Well, firstly, you’ll need to be a member of the Exchange. Job done? Excellent.
Then you just have to get in touch with the good folks at BCD (via this link on our site).
The rest is up to them and they’ll do all the legwork to find you the best prices on the products you need. They guarantee to better any existing cover or offer an alternative quote, then price match and you’ll be instantly covered as soon as you sign up.
It couldn’t be easier and here at CX we couldn’t be prouder of our new partnership with BCD. Insurance really doesn’t have to be a dirty word…
Courier Exchange is the UK’s most trusted and fastest growing managed freight exchange platform. Become a member and we’ll help your business run more efficiently and effectively, with access to valuable partnership programmes like this, the ability to buy and sell capacity in real time and much more.
If you’re a VAT-registered business, the word ‘tax’ might have a bit of a negative connotation, but if you’re a member of Courier Exchange, the platform’s very handy (not to mention user-friendly) ‘Accounting’ feature goes a long way to helping you stay in control.
How? Well, in addition to being able to fully integrate with the most popular accounting programmes, like Sage, Quickbooks and Xero, HMRC has now approved our freight exchange software as MTD (Making Tax Digital) compliant. Your life just got a whole lot easier…
Making Tax Digital
While the aim of the Government’s MTD initiative is written all over the tin, for some of us it might seem easier said than done. But it’s actually designed to make keeping on top of all your VAT issues easy and to ensure you don’t fall foul of compliancy. The buzz words HMRC uses include ‘effective’ and ‘efficient’, and through the MTD initiative, they’re committed to making fundamental changes to the way tax administration works.
In a nutshell? As the name suggests, the Government now requires any operator/business whose turnover exceeds the VAT threshold to maintain records and submit returns digitally.
CX Has Your Back
That’s all very well of course, but it’s got to work at a grassroots level for it to work for us, right? As the UK’s fastest-growing freight exchange, CX is committed to working with our members to ensure you can grow your businesses as effectively and efficiently as possible (we can use those big words too, HMRC!), without any unwanted stress.
A huge number of our members have taken up use of the CX accounting software feature and, because it’s completely compliant (with MTD), we’re now fully approved by HMRC. And proud of it.
So now, not only can you use it to manage invoices and PODs with the touch of a button on your smartphone, it’s now going to make your VAT returns an absolute breeze. So, if you’re not a member of CX, there’s never been a better time, because who doesn’t want an easier life?
Membership to Courier Exchange not only gives you access to real-time available loads and a virtual fleet of drivers for sub-contracting work, but you also get full use of our innovative accounting software system and many other valuable features. Take your business to the next level with the UK’s fastest-growing freight exchange.
Congratulations lads and ladies, take a well-deserved pat on the back! It seems the good old UK delivery driver is embracing the commitment to being kinder to the environment, with more and more of us switching to electric and hybrid vehicles. Three cheers for us!
But without wanting to be a downer, the number of EVs on the road has also created a problem that nobody really expected…
Shhh… It’s Electric
Best not to say that too fast…but don’t you just love the sound (or lack of) an EV? But pleasant as it is to zip around in a nifty and very quiet van that’s friendly to the environment, they’ve actually been branded as ‘silent killers’, due to the danger they place on unwary pedestrians.
A report has shown that if something isn’t done to counteract this problem, it’s going to lead to deaths – and this especially affects older pedestrians, children and disabled people. (Research shows that blind people are more than 40% more likely to be struck by an EV than a regular one.)
“Geez, so we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” I hear you say. Well Mr or Mrs Delivery Driver, please don’t unplug your socket and throw your hands in the air just yet.
New Legislation on Safety
New legislation is about to be passed requiring all electric and hybrid vehicles to emit a noise when they’re travelling at low speeds – which means in built up areas. These Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) will need to be standard on all vehicles registered after September 2019.
Great. So that covers new vehicles, but what about those already on the road or manufactured before the legislation goes into place?
Quiet Vehicle Sounder
From the people who brought us the very annoying but very useful reversing alarm back in the 70s (yes, that long ago!), comes the aftermarket Quiet Vehicle Sounder. Brigade Electronics has developed the alarm, which has a range of sounds to alert nearby pedestrians, depending on the vehicle’s speed and position.
While the alarm has been designed to be fitted retrospectively, Brigade’s CEO has urged manufacturers not to wait until they’re forced by law to produce vehicles with such alarms. Let’s see if they’re listening, but it seems like pretty, err, sound advice if you ask me…
Whether you’re a delivery driver, fleet manager or freight forwarder, membership to Courier Exchange will help you take your business higher and further. Find available loads in real time, subcontract work and expand your business reach as part of the UK’s fastest growing freight exchange.
The words ‘nitrogen dioxide’ might not mean much to you, but if you hear the words ‘50mph limits on the M4’ you might be more inclined to prick up your ears. Ears pricked? Listen up…
Temporary Turns Permanent
If your delivery work takes you to Wales on the M4 around Newport and Port Talbot, let’s hope you were already aware of the temporary speed restrictions that were put in place in a bid to cut the pollution in these built up areas. Well, it turns out the experiment was so successful that the 50mph speed limits have become permanent. (There are several other roads affected, which we cover at the end of the post.)
Why the Need?
Not many of us who do delivery work are part-time scientists on the side, but without going into a full-on chemistry lecture, what it boils down to is that there’s an urgent need to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air. For our own sake as well as the environment. It’s been deduced by people far cleverer than me that the fastest and easiest way of doing this is by bringing down the speed limit in these sorts of traffic-congested areas.
If you want a pretty grim statistic from the government, here it is in all its depressing glory:
“Air pollution in the UK reduces the life expectancy of every person by an average of 7–8 months, with an associated cost of up to £20 billion each year.”
Slow Down and Do Your Bit
It goes without saying that we all need to do is to stay within the law when it comes to speed limits. This particularly applies to those of us out there doing delivery work who might be on tight schedules. There’s really no excuse for speeding, but it seems there are still some people ignoring the 50mph rule, and just so we’re clear, here are the places the limit will become permanent by the middle of July:
The Environment Minister plans to try to address the problem of motorists continuing to driver too fast in these areas by getting very specific and installing signs that say: “poor air quality kills, reduce your speed”. Right then.
You can’t get much clearer than that, can you?
Are you a member of Courier Exchange? If you work in the delivery industry you should be. Membership gives you access to real-time availability of loads, a vast virtual fleet of drivers and a host of professional tools to help take your business further.
KKM Couriers joined up to Courier Exchange as one of our original members way back when we started nearly twenty years ago, and the company has stuck with us. Their success is the greatest compliment we reckon we could ever have!
Our case study of this Portsmouth-based business proves that the football field isn’t the only place that speed and flexibility pay off…
Potential Paid Off
Co-owner of the business Kevin Matchan is clearly a guy with vision as well as a knack for courier work, because he took a chance back in 2000 to join a virtually (then!) unknown freight exchange platform on the advice of an industry colleague.
Because he was looking to grow the business, he saw the platform as an opportunity to get more courier work and to build on a permanent client base without outlaying for extra vehicles. And that’s where those football tactics come in handy…
Speed and Flexibility
The reason KKM is still a loyal member after all these years is down to one simple fact: it works for them. From the very start, Kevin says, it allowed them to take on more customers by outsourcing the courier work their regular drivers couldn’t do, which got them an entire new crowd of regular, satisfied customers.
Because all the data is available in real time, they’re even able to take on jobs at very short notice and know they’ll be able to get a trusted (and vetted) driver. By the same token, if any of their vehicles are sitting idle, they can hop on to the Exchange and pick up an available load. Brownie points all round.
Diversity in the Extreme
A side note to all that speed and flexibility is that because they effectively never have to say no to courier work, KKM has carried some pretty weird things – everything from a single can of soft drink to a dead animal heading to an autopsy. Now that’s what I call unusual, but it seems KKM just get to call it a good day at the office…
Become a member and you’ll be able to build your business with speed, agility and flexibility just like KKM Couriers. As part of the UK’s fastest growing freight exchange, you’ll not only be able to build networks with industry professionals, you can grow your business by taking on extra loads or subcontracting work to other drivers in order to expand your reach.
Whatever your personal thoughts on electric vehicles (EVs) in the courier industry, there’s no denying they’re here to stay. According to the FTA’s 2019 Logistics Report, 71% of operators have plans to start using EVs in their fleets in the coming year. Are you among them?
The Future is Electric
The report, which comes from a poll of more than 500 operators across the UK and beyond also found that:
With numbers like that it’s pretty obvious the majority of us folk in the courier industry are committed to reducing our emissions, and we’re putting our money where our mouths are. But here’s the thing: it’s not cheap to invest in an EV. No news there, but what is good news is that the FTA have gone in to bat for us with the government.
The FTA Plugs In
We all know that the FTA is not backwards in coming forwards when it comes to holding the powers that be accountable, and they’ve come out in support of the courier industry to gun for more governmental help to make the investment in EVs more affordable.
They’re calling for:
Good to Know, Good to Go!
It’s great to have the FTA’s support behind us, so even the little guys in the courier industry can start to think about using EVs sooner rather than later. Switching to an EV might seem like a daunting thing financially, especially if you’re an owner-driver with a ‘man and van’ operation, but the good news is it’s getting easier to make the change.
If you need to know more, why not get in touch with someone in the Exchange community who’s already done it and have a chat? Bless their little electric hearts…
When you join the Courier Exchange, not only do you have access to all the benefits and professional tools of the UK’s fastest growing freight exchange, you’ll also get connected to a huge network of industry peers to help you tackle some of the industry’s most challenging issues.
When you’re working courier jobs, time is money. Save some time by reducing how long your vehicle inspections take so you can get back to making money. Our infographic will give you more information.
If you’re in the business of courier work, it’s especially important that you know when you need to visit a mechanic – after all, your vehicle is your livelihood. Luckily, our new infographic is here to help. From troubling sounds to strange smells, here are some warning signs you may need to visit a garage.