Supporting Owner Drivers

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Supporting Owner Drivers

Purpleline Couriers

Terry Price, the Managing Director of Purpleline Couriers, reveals how he has improved his revenue, his quality of life and his happiness.

“I’ve been in logistics for almost 20 years now. It’s all I’ve ever known and all I’ve ever wanted to do. Like many people, I started at the bottom. When I was 22 I joined TNT as a traffic clerk. The money wasn’t great, but what I gained in experience certainly made up for it. From there, I got my Category B Licence and started driving refrigerated 7.5 tonne lorries over a range of distances from multi-drops to long distance deliveries.

After working my way up to supervisor and manager, I left TNT, ran a bus depot for a while which really tested my planning skills, before taking a job with Kuehne + Nagel (K+N). I’d always wanted to work for a global transport company and at the time I thought K+N would be a good fit for me. In the beginning they were. They knew I loved time behind the wheel so they fixed it so I could combine driving with line managing duties.

However, after a few years, I got itchy feet. It got to a point where I’d felt that I learned as much I possibly could from the large logistics businesses that I’d been with for the last two decades. I really wanted to start my own business. But I realised very quickly that I didn’t have a dedicated customer base to make it work.

And then I met Phil and everything changed. Phil was a work colleague at K+N. He told me how he ran a small freight operation as a side-line. He had three vans and employed three drivers. One van he said serviced a contract with a large contractor, but it was how he put the other two to work that most interested me.

They were always at full capacity but weren’t tied to a dedicated haulier or courier company. “How do you always ensure that all your vans are fully loaded,” I asked him one day. He pulled out his phone and showed me his screen. It was showing the Courier Exchange app. He told me that CX almost guaranteed that his vans were at full capacity – even when they were returning home to base.

The more I used CX, the more I discovered that it wasn’t just a platform for backloads. With a consistent source of hotshot loads, I realised after my first month that I could rely on the platform for my entire living.

I thought it was too good to be true and so I did my own research. It seemed to corroborate what he’d said. I still had my doubts of course, but after talking to my wife I decided to take the plunge and leave K+N. So in November last year I bought a Ford Transit LWB van and started my own business, which I named Purpleline Couriers.

As an owner driver specialising in same day deliveries in the B2B sector, I’d won a bulk delivery contract with a multinational eCommerce company which I’d prioritised as my main source of work. The plan was to only use CX only in a limited capacity for backloads when returning home to Halifax.

However, as so often happens in life, things don’t run the way you quite expect. The contract with the eRetailer sadly didn’t deliver the regular work that I was hoping it would. But, on the other hand, the more I used Courier Exchange, the more I discovered that it wasn’t just a platform for backloads. I found it to be a consistent source of hotshot loads – so much so that after my first month, I realised that I could rely on the platform for my entire living.

So how does an average day shape up? Well, I’ll use the platform’s smart matching technology to find a load the night before the delivery’s due. I’ll then spend the evening with my family before setting off at around four o’clock in the morning. The pallets are usually with the customer before the rush hour has started and at 9 am I’ll then look for another load to take me home, or as close to Halifax as I can get.

It doesn’t always work out of course, but when it does it’s very satisfying. Last week, for example, I picked up in Preston, dropped off in Cambridge four hours later and then won a backload to Brighouse, which is just five miles from my house. I was back at home by lunchtime to walk the dog.

While the Exchange has helped me work on my terms, I can also say that it’s a great consolidation tool. At first, however, I had my doubts and so being a bit of whizz at Excel I decided to put it to the test. Therefore, I built a spreadsheet which logged my daily mileage, my diesel costs, my closing mileage, and my profitable mileage. From there I was able to accurately monitor my efficiency, and the results so far – albeit over a short period of time – have been quite astonishing.

For example, before I signed up to the Exchange, due to not being able to find backloads, I calculated that my inefficiency levels were close to 60 percent. After just a week on the Exchange, however, I managed to reduce them to 36 percent, and then a week later I cut them to 32 percent. And for the last few weeks, I’m running empty only 26 percent of the time.

As I expand the business, it ought to be possible to further cut dead mileage, especially if my wife comes on board to work on transport planning. When this happens, it will, I believe, generate many more loads. Finally, with profits up by 30% we’re a planning to buy another van, as well as make more use of the Exchange’s virtual fleet when we’re tied up on jobs ourselves.”

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