MPC Courier’s Martin Coulson on how Courier Exchange is helping his same day delivery firm to flourish…
Some couriers are happy to put their destiny in someone else’s hands. Not me. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, and only ever wanted to be my own boss. But at the same time, I’m a great believer in the power of enterprising people working together, and also in the saying, ‘businesses build businesses.’
But before I go any further, let me introduce myself. My name’s Martin and I own MPC Couriers. I haven’t always been in logistics, but I’ve always had a natural flair for business. My background is in Used Cars and financial services, but two years ago, I made the jump to logistics. With eCommerce taking off, and high street shops closing down, more and more goods are being delivered by road. Business is booming. And so, looking back, it was a gamble that has definitely paid off for me and my family.
However I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Courier Exchange (CX), and, in particular, its members, who mentored me and made it possible for me to develop a successful business from scratch.
Of course it’s a two-way street. I had to win their trust, by proving myself to them first. The Exchange, through its real-time feedback channels, put me on a firm footing to establish strong relationships with several small, medium and large-sized businesses.
In the early days, their help and advice was invaluable. Don’t get me wrong, the Exchange’s training sessions were very useful. But, that said, the folk at CX recognise too that the training doesn’t have all the answers and it actively encourages information sharing.
I took full advantage of this. When I first took to the roads, for example, sometimes I needed that real-world courier-to-courier advice that only an experienced member can provide. Of course nobody does anything for free. It’s in a Contractor’s interest to help sub-contractors, as they are representing them. So, the more I proved my worth, the more help I was given. That said, in the early days, there were many Good Samaritans who took me aside, and advised me on pricing and how to get the best out of the app.
As I’ve become more experienced that circle of trust has grown to such an extent that same day operators will repay my loyalty and hard work by offering me work in quiet times. Take this week for instance. In the Midlands, where I’m based, many of the factories owned by European companies are shutdown in August. This means that much of the regular work dries up for drivers. But not for me. This month, I turned over the same amount of jobs as any other, thanks to the companies I work with. It’s the same in January – another quiet month when a lot of members are scrabbling around for jobs. This year, however a local operator gave me Â£1,650 worth of work, which kept me ticking over.
But, rubbing shoulders with this high achieving community has had an effect on me. It’s made me more ambitious and has led to me re-setting my goals. I’ve been in logistics for two years, But, a year ago, once I had cut my teeth as a courier, I decided that it wasn’t enough for me to make a living as a subcontractor. I wanted more. Therefore, in addition to the 30 jobs or so that I take off the Exchange each month, I set up my own same day courier website, to take advantage of the fact that my CX membership allows me to post 20 loads a month.
I based the dashboard on the Exchange’s, which is really simple to use, and whenever a customer places an order I post the job on the Exchange. As there are 5,600 members who own 43,000 vehicles, and given that they are all compliant trade only businesses, I can find a willing and capable carrier – anywhere in the UK – in the space of a few minutes. Without CX, there’s no way my website business would exist.
Creating the website was the first step in my five-year plan. I’ve only just built it, but already I can see that’s my hard work has paid off. Take this week for example. I’ve sold four jobs using the Exchange and it’s not even Friday. In the next 12 months, I plan to develop the online business further by employing an ad campaign company to increase traffic to the website. My aim is to grow it by 30 per cent.
The Exchange will continue to be central to my plans in the next two years and I’ll be upgrading my CX membership so that I can post more loads on my website, and bring in another driver. This will allow me to become more office-based. I’ll focus on winning new business, checking that the regulars are happy with the service that we are providing, and providing my driver the best jobs by using my contacts on the CX interface.
With CX providing us with regular bookings from trusted members, and the constant use of its virtual fleet, I believe that we, at MPC Couriers, can achieve my ultimate ambition of graduating from a subcontractor to a contractor. That’s something I could never have dreamed of two years ago. But CX has shown me exactly what can be achieved when industry works together. It has demonstrated to me too that ‘Businesses really do build businesses’. I’m living proof of that…
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