John has known much tougher times. He started from his business working out of a bedroom at his parents’ house – armed with just a phone, fax machine, Amstrad computer, and van.
John, who is based in Dorset, explains: “I started up, cold-calling around industrial estates and business parks, trying to get contracts. I was only 20 and it was difficult for people to take me seriously, so it was pretty tough. Technology wasn’t as good either at the time, so while I was out looking for work I couldn’t be at home taking phone calls, which was very frustrating.”
Despite the initial struggles and disappointments, John persevered and soon gained his first big contract with an aircraft parts manufacturer. “I walked out of the place and I didn’t know whether to be happy or nervous or absolutely petrified,” he said, “Then I thought, crikey, I’m going to have to get another van.”
As his business grew John realised the benefits of being part of a network to share work and information on van and job capacity. A member of the National Couriers Association, 10 years ago he also decided to join Courier Exchange.
With CX, you press a few buttons and you get firms coming straight back to you, it saves a lot of time and hassle.
He has no doubt that being part of CX has aided him in not only cutting costs and increasing profit, but staying strong during the recession. CX is the world’s biggest trading exchange for the
John says: “I would say with CX we can get pretty much 99 percent of jobs covered from anywhere to anywhere in the country. It’s a huge improvement on how we used to have to do things. In the old days, if we had a job we couldn’t cover, it was a case of ringing around 9 or 10 other firms to see if they had capacity, and you wouldn’t know if someone was already out on the road. With CX you press a few buttons and you get firms coming straight back to you – it saves a lot of time and hassle.”
It’s made the process of sharing capacity easier and more streamlined, and we have an impressive network of contacts to call on.
Astral Couriers still delivers for John’s first big customer, the aircraft spares maker, although the company has seen numerous changes. With expensive and essential parts involved and speed and security a priority, this can mean picking up the package before hopping on a plane to deliver it hand to hand across Europe, or even North America.
While John says Astral does not take that many jobs off CX, it has been particularly helpful in fulfilling jobs they may not have been able to otherwise cover. “It’s a really valuable service for us. If we weren’t part of CX think we would still be operating but it would be a struggle to give our customers the level of service we can offer now nationwide.
“And if you cannot meet customer expectation then you soon lose business.”
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