Security matters: keeping your van and contents safe

If you’re an owner driver, your most important asset (apart from your good self of course) is your vehicle, so protecting your work van and whatever you carry inside it is a very important consideration. An experienced owner driver might think they’ve got that area covered, but there’s always something new to be learnt.

Here are a few oldies, some goodies, and a couple you might not have thought of… 

Extras count

Nobody wants to fork out big bucks for added ‘extras’ if they don’t pay their way, but when you’re talking security, a few aftermarket modifications can go a long way. Consider any or all of the following:

Upgrade existing

If you’re constrained by budget, you can also upgrade or simply work with what you’ve got. For example, you can purchase decent steering locks without breaking the bank, and another level of security can be achieved with a handbrake lock. The general rule of thumb is to create as much of a deterrent as possible to potential thieves, so even fitting cheap fuel cap locks and locking wheel nuts can help.

Think laterally…

Another trick of the trade to apply plastic tint to all the windows of the vehicle, so if somebody does attempt to smash them the window will stay in tact rather than shatter and allow easy access. Even putting on a sticker stating that there are no valuables left in the van can be enough to deter an opportunistic thief.    

… And act sensibly

The thing about being an owner driver is that the buck (and blame) stops with you. How you conduct yourself on the job has a knock-on effect to every part of your business – and that includes vehicle security. Take a moment to reflect on your daily habits and make sure that you’re doing all you can.

If you’re an owner driver and you haven’t yet got your membership to the Courier Exchange, it’s time to get on board! You’ll have fingertip access to real time available loads in your area and you’ll also become part of one of the UK’s most trusted transport industry platforms.  

Those of us who earn a living from self employed courier jobs need, by definition of the term, to be all things to all people – at least within the context of our own business. One of the most vital components of succeeding in the crowded delivery space is consistency. Consistency of service, of course. But consistency of work, most definitely.

If your business model involves self employed courier jobs, you’ll need to chase the work leads yourself. So, what’s one of the most accessible, regular and growing sources of work these days? Fingers at the ready with your answer…yes, it’s online shopping.

Getting a Foot In

The number of people shopping online is increasing exponentially. It’s certainly changed the face of retail and whether that’s in a good way or not is an entirely different argument. But all those shoes, handbags, books, toys, furniture and electrical goods need to get from the retailer to the consumer, so the news is good for anyone in the delivery industry. It’s opened up a wealth of opportunities for those of us who take on self employed courier jobs. but in However to keep those jobs rolling in, you have to be able to offer the retailer what their customers want.

Tracking Options

In research carried out by Royal Mail, along with free delivery, one of the definitive answers to the question “what do online shoppers want” is information. They are far more likely to shop with confidence with an assurance of when their goods are going to turn up on their doorstep and, even beyond that, 74% of them want updates on the progress and to be able to see for themselves exactly where their delivery is at any given time.

It’s a compelling statistic, so if you want to take on self employed courier jobs with a retailer, unless you can offer their customers an easy way of tracking their parcel, you’ll be behind the eight-ball from the get-go. In fact, so far behind you may as well go hide in the pocket.

With the many and varied Smartphone apps available today it’s a relatively simple matter to integrate a tracking system into your daily operations. A small investment in tech and learning will make a huge difference to the level of service you can offer a retailer. So make sure you shout about it when you’re bidding for a job.

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Express Deliveries

Delivery options are also important and online shoppers now expect to be able to choose a same day or next day delivery if they wish. The Royal Mail’s study shows that up to a third of online shoppers choose an express option and are willing to pay for it.

As a self employed courier, jobs can be costed to integrate this service and, if you’re able to offer express delivery times (and can show you’re reliable) you’re far more likely to win a regular contract with a retailer to deliver their online goods. In return for your hard work and diligence you’ll be able to charge a premium rate for the service.

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P.S I Don’t Love You

A happy little side note to the burgeoning online shopping industry is that there’s a whole other side to it: returns. Many retailers are having to offer a free returns service if the customer isn’t happy with the goods – so who do you think is going to be picking it back up and returning it to the warehouse? You are. And you’re going to be paid to do it.

If you’re looking to expand your reach and get more work, becoming a part of the Courier Exchange is one of the easiest ways to make new networks and nurture existing ones. You’ll also be able to get the benefits of knowledge from your peers working in the industry. If you’re not a member, it’s time to ask yourself why!

Find out everything you need to know about the new CX Small Fleet App.

Building Business with CX Small Fleet

With this app from the Courier Exchange platform, you can take your office with you wherever you go. For a small operator, each owner driver job is an opportunity to grow your business, so why get stuck behind a desk? Stay out on the roads and keep your business booming.

Visit the product page here or read on to discover how you can grow your business with CX Small Fleet.

What Can Our App Do for You?

As an owner driver, job compartmentalisation is difficult to achieve. It might sound like a good idea to do an hour in the office at the start of each day and then head out on the roads to take care of deliveries, however, it just isn’t that simple.

You have to be all things all the time. Driver, administrator, manager, customer service and more all in one. That is where the CX Small Fleet App comes in. Downloading the app onto your phone means that you can take your office with you anywhere helping you deal with management, customer service and securing new jobs on the go.

As the head of a small fleet it allows you to:

Wherever your drivers are in the country you can keep an eye on them and use the app to make the most of return load and hotshot opportunities on the CX platform.

The app will also save you time spent on admin through:

The result? A more productive and efficient workforce. Your owner driver job satisfaction will be through the roof as you see your business capitalising on every opportunity and increasing profits.

Not already using the CX platform to build your business? See what you are missing out on today.

As an owner driver, jobs are easy to pick up wherever you happen to be in the country with the Courier Exchange app. If you happen to take on a load in London when you’re not a native to the Capital, the idea of finding your way around its notoriously fiendish road network can be intimidating to say the least. But don’t let it dissuade you from accepting the work – here are five of our top tips for safely navigating London like a native on your next delivery job.

You may be surprised to learn that many drivers who have always lived and worked in the Capital are lost as soon as they leave their own borough. For them, and you, it pays to follow these simple steps before you negotiate the delivery schedule for your London load.

1. Do Your Research

London is a vibrant capital city where no two days are the same. One very handy piece of advice for couriers is to check online for any possible disruptions before you start planning your journey. It’s entirely possible that your route could be affected by one of the following:

It would be foolish, for example, to agree to a quick delivery in West London on the weekend of the Notting Hill Carnival. Of course there will always be the chance of last-minute traffic problems or road closures, but it is worth checking online beforehand to save time (and patience) later.

2. Give a Generous Time Estimate

Don’t be tempted to accept multiple cross-London deliveries in a single day as an owner driver. Jobs may come in thick and fast, but customer satisfaction and a delivery schedule you can stick to are more important than completing multiple jobs in a short space of time.

You can be sure that the traffic in the Capital will move at an agonisingly slow pace, no matter the hour of your delivery. It’s easy to get frustrated when you’re sat at a standstill in a queue, but don’t add to the pressure by giving yourself a schedule you can’t hope to meet.

3. Map Out Your Route Ahead of Time

It may sound obvious, but a wing and a prayer just don’t cut it when it comes to navigating London. We would always recommend checking your route options on both a conventional map and a Sat Nav before you set out on your journey. That way you can gain an understanding of the lay of the land and identify two or three routes that would get you to your destination, before picking the most sensible one.

4. Stick to Your Plans

Once you have chosen your route, take the advice of the London Hackney Club (otherwise known as black cabbies, to you and me): even if you have years of navigation under your belt and know the streets of London like the back of your hand, a lot of the time traffic jams simply can’t be avoided. Try not to stray from your chosen route – attempting to “get around the traffic” will only lead to frustration and potentially add precious minutes to your delivery time.

5. Two Pairs of Eyes are Better Than One

It can really help to have a second pair of eyes in the cab with you when you’re driving in an inner city with multiple lanes and exits. We’ve all been in that situation when your Sat Nav gives you an unclear instruction and you’re craning around to find the correct turning. A mate on the seat beside you can keep a look out for road signs and man the phone while you’re driving, allowing you to focus all of your efforts on the road. Of course, a second pair of hands also comes in useful when it’s time to unload at your destination.

Follow these simple steps, keep a cool head and you’ll be planning your London routes like a true Londoner in no time!

Are you looking for courier work in the Capital? Find owner driver jobs on our live freight exchange, which connects drivers with companies and freight forwarders looking to subcontract their loads. Go online today to discover what business opportunities you could gain with Courier Exchange.

You’re a fairly experienced driver for a delivery company. You know the score. You’re used to spending your working days in relative solitude. Is it time to take the leap to become a self-employed courier driver?

Working for an organisation is a great way to develop skills in a secure environment. It’s also a great way to do some industry espionage. Savvy employees will be alert and keep an eye on how all aspects of a delivery business is run so that one day they can be their own boss. There are a number of reasons to make this move: we highlight a few of the best below.

Be Your Own Boss

You pick the jobs you want. These days the value of flexible working hours is priceless, and as a self-employed courier driver you are no longer at the mercy of the fleet manager or dispatcher. 

Offset Costs

Your base ‘depot’ will be your home and so a proportion of your home expenses will be tax deductible (gas, electricity, water etc) since this will be where you manage your office. Plus there will be no more petrol bills for commuting to work – your deliveries will start and end from the parking space outside your house.

Develop Your Skills

One of the most exciting aspects of being a self-employed courier driver is the chance it gives you to develop your skill set, take on new challenges and grow massively in experience. To succeed you will always be finding new ways to improve your efficiency and meet your customers’ demands.

Earn More

It will take some time to establish yourself and to increase your ROI, but be patient – it’s worth it. You can expect to earn up to 45% more than an employed driver. Learning to make use of networks like Courier Exchange will help you maximise your profits. Taking on return loads as often as possible will double the return on your costs.

Are You Brave Enough?

Going the independent route is something you should do if you want to get your teeth into a satisfying challenge. It’s not something you should do if you’re looking for an easy life or because you hate your boss.

You’ll need grit, determination and masses of energy but you’ll be investing in your independence and your career development.

If you are a self-employed courier driver or you are thinking of becoming one, feel free to get in touch with us for more information on how you can grow your business as a member of our exchange network.

Delivery of semlor by Patrik Nygren is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Hello, my darlings!

As I sit down to write this post, I have mixed feelings. I’m surprised, a little embarrassed, but also a little amused. Why? You’re about to find out!

The thing is, in the time since I last posted on here, I’ve had a message from a reader who – among a lot of praise, which I’m really appreciative of and humbled by – pointed out a rather surprising fact. Apparently, in all the time I’ve been writing this blog, we’ve never once discussed the different types of courier driver jobs available for someone just starting out or wanting a career change!

Can you believe it? Four years of writing a blog where we discuss all things courier-related literally every week, and we still didn’t have such a basic and simple post as that! I’m guessing it’s because almost everyone who reads Gertie’s Cafe is already a courier driver, and doesn’t need this explained to them. But for the benefit of those just starting out, or who have stumbled across this blog because they’re curious about the world of delivery driving, let’s talk a little while about the different types of work available.

Different Types of Courier Driver Jobs

I assume many of those reading this article already know that, when starting out in the world of delivery, you can join a large company or become self-employed. But I would bet many of you didn’t know you could also specialise in certain types of jobs. You can, for example, become a technical courier driver, delivering technical products and helping install them once you get there; specialise in lifestyle and mail-order products; or be the ‘go-to’ person for international deliveries.

The length of the jobs available also tends to vary, with some lasting a full day, others demanding that you perform several deliveries on the same day – and some even going on overnight or for a longer period of time! It’s up to the individual driver to choose which of these they prefer and try to make sure their new job matches their preference – after posting this, I don’t want to hear any whining about how you don’t like the type of jobs you do! Are we clear, young ladies and gents?

Just teasing, my darlings – you know I adore you! Be here next month for the requisite dose of Christmas-y posts.

Until then, as ever, ta-ra!

Gertie
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