Made in the armed forces, born to be a courier. Mike Puplett, an owner driver from East Yorkshire, reveals how a career in the military helped open doors in logistics.
“Hi. I’m Mike. Some of you may know me by my trading name, ‘The Courier Guy (UK)’. If we haven’t already met, let me introduce myself. I’m an owner driver based in East Yorkshire. I run a same and next day delivery courier operation, which covers the whole of the UK.
While I’m fairly new to same-day logistics, a 20-year career in the Royal Navy and a further two decades spent in maritime search and rescue has prepared me well for my new career. In fact, you could say it’s the perfect training ground in many ways. Why? Well, in the Navy and the Coastguard, whether you’re working on your own or as part of a team – you have to be able to coordinate a coherent and effective plan of action under great pressure. Sometimes lives depend on it.
Logistics, which is closely linked to the just-in time manufacturing sector – has many parallels. Okay – I’d be exaggerating if I were to say that the pressures are as acute. But to be successful in same-day freight, I’ve had to draw on all of my 40 years’ experience of advanced planning and strategy.”
“When I first began operating as a courier driver a couple of years ago, the big challenge was getting in front of a big client. Why would they choose you when they can give the job to someone who has been operating all of their working life?
To gain experience, I began working for a logistics company. Whilst I was happy to do the work, I had little control over my work/life balance. Some weeks the work would come in thick and fast, but there were also times when I could go a day or two without a job. As I was being paid on a job-by-job basis, no work meant no money. I thought there must be a smarter way.
That’s when I found Courier Exchange. I’d never heard of it, and back then, I must confess that I didn’t even know what a freight exchange platform was, but I decided to look into it. I did my own in-depth research, talked to other couriers, and then called the customer services team. They provided a demo. While it seemed too good to be true, I realised that I had nothing to lose and I signed up. Two months on I haven’t been disappointed. I only wish that I’d found CX sooner.”
“So how has it benefited me? Well, when I was in the Royal Navy, I missed a lot of family life because I was at sea for many months at a time. From a family perspective, the Exchange has given me the freedom and flexibility to work for who I want, when I want and where I want.
Secondly, as I previously mentioned, the biggest barrier for any courier thinking of going it alone is ensuring that the work’s there. But CX solves that problem in one fell swoop. Imagine if I gave you a contact book containing the numbers of 6,000+ professional drivers and courier companies? That would cost 1000s of pounds, right? You’d think so. But CX gives you this virtual contact book for a fraction of that.
Thirdly, by giving the members access to driver feedback, CX puts merit above name. This has been important for someone like me, who has vast knowledge in planning, but little direct logistics experience to call upon.”
“CX technology has given me an edge”
“But what really stands out is the technology of the mobile app. For me, the Live Alerts feature is the backbone of the app. It knows my position, my status and also takes into account that I’m driving a small van. But what’s really clever is that while I’m delivering a load, it’s working in the background looking for my next one. By sifting through all the loads available to me in a set-radius, it sends notifications to my mobile phone as soon as they come in. That means that I don’t have to ring my contacts on the off-chance that there might or might not be a load. Instead. CX gives me certainty that there will be.
CX also ensures that I rarely travel home empty by providing me with regular return journeys. Okay – I’m not going to lie to you. Sometimes the backloads I get don’t always take me all the way home – particularly on longer trips. But, if for example I’m in London and looking to come home to Hull, it’s nearly always possible to pick up a return load to Leicester, Derby, or Nottingham and then another one to East Yorkshire. Before signing up with CX, I never got a single backload opportunity in the two years I worked there, which meant travelling back empty, wasting fuel, and letting a potential job slip away. In a small way, I also see getting a ‘backload’ as environmentally friendly. Why? Because prior to using CX, both I, and another vehicle would travel the same journey. The other vehicle would get the job, and I would drive home empty and unaware. I subscribe to the saying ‘Every little helps.’”
Talking of sustainability, I really like the fact that the Exchange has created a digital invoicing system. While many logistics companies still require paper copies of both PoD and invoices, I think in a few years’ time everything will be digital. Perhaps the biggest selling point for me, however, is the time I save. For anyone who has never used the CX accounts feature, it’s not that I can send an invoice and my PoD by email that’s really smart. Rather, it’s the fact that it’s an intelligent invoicing system and creates the invoice on my behalf, populating it with information as I drive. No typing, no editing. I just send it with the signed PoD to the load poster when I’m done. What could be simpler than that? I’d urge anyone who is thinking of a career as a courier driver, to seriously consider joining CX, you won’t look back.
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