Stewart Blunden

“Getting the balance right”

Owner-driver, Stewart Blunden, on the power of working together in the courier sector…

 “I consider myself very lucky in that I’ve always known what I wanted to do. I love driving, love vans and love logistics. I’ve been in the courier game for almost twenty years now, have delivered to every London postcode, and have absolutely no regrets.

I think perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my job, is that on a personal level, customers value the work that I do, and rely on me for their deliveries. But it’s good to feel part of something bigger too.  I may be one man in a van, but, when I jump into my vehicle each morning, I’m proud to be one of the hundreds of thousands of drivers who keep the UK’s freight transport supply chain on an even keel.

However, it’s a tough gig. Van drivers are some of the hardest working people in Britain. For the last 18 years, for instance, I don’t think that I’ve had a Saturday off, and some parcel delivery companies will even fine you for being ill.

With a partner and two young kids, I decided to make a change. I was fed up with the long hours and frustrated that I was often doing the lion’s share of the work for little reward. I wanted more control, more flexibility in my working life. I found that when I started my own business, SB Same Day Couriers, a move which I owe largely to Courier Exchange (CX).

Why? Because CX has immediately given me a much better work/life balance. The App gives me the flexibility to choose my hours, and most importantly, its smart loading matching technology, ensures that I win enough loads each month to always earn a decent wage

Today’s Friday – the busiest day of the week on CX. Suddenly my phone rings. It’s a large logistics contractor from Peterborough. They’re inviting me to quote on a multi-drop load – picking up in Rochester – which is only a 20-minute drive from my house in Greenhithe – and delivering to various addresses in Croydon. I know most of the Croydon postcodes because I used to do regular collection and delivery drops for a large parcel carrier for many years.

I quote for the job and my bid is accepted. After saying goodbye to my kids, I grab my flask of tea, my phone and jump into my Citroen Relay. Before leaving, I click the ‘on my way to pick up’ button. This allows the contractor and its Croydon-based customers to check my real-time position on the Courier Exchange’s Live Availability Map, which means I don’t have to field any needless calls when I’m driving.

I then head out of the drive and switch my radio to LBC. A couple of hours later, I’ve finished my deliveries. I take a sip of tea from my flask, update my status yet again on the app and wait. I’ve programmed the CX app to let me know about any load that falls within a 30-mile radius of my home, and this always seem to generate quick results.

It’s 11.30 am and as LBC discusses Brexit, another one of my regular clients, Red Spot Transport, calls. They ask me to quote on a multi-drop delivery in London. Thanks to my 18 years couriering across London, I know every inch of the capital, and jobs like this are meat and drink to me. I put in a quote and get it. It takes me several hours to complete all of the delivery drops, but luckily for me I manage to finish before the rush hour really begins to kick in.

Every day I set myself a target to earn at least £200. Today, the two jobs have made me much more than that and so I decide to head back home

However, I set my status on the CX app to ‘going home’ in the hope that I can land a backload. My phone finally rings. However, it’s not a business call that I was expecting. Instead, it’s my partner. She seems a bit flustered. She says she’s struggling to make the school run. I tell her not to worry and assure her that I can easily cover it. A quarter of an hour later, I’ve picked up my eldest daughter and am asking her about her day.

Okay – so I missed out on the backload today, but CX has given me something much more precious – the freedom and flexibility to work on my terms and no one else’s, which means I can always put my family first. That, for me, is the greatest selling point of Courier Exchange membership…”