How to pick up (and keep) business as a self-employed courier driver
If you have or are about to take the step into becoming a self-employed courier, the good news is that the demand for your services continues to increase, even with lockdown easing. This is because employers keep on ramping up their supply networks and online shopping continues to flourish. In May alone, over a third of retail sales were made by online orders *, so you can be pretty confident that demand for courier services are not going to decline any time soon. Yet there is still a shortage of qualified and experience drivers to meet the thousands of delivery jobs that are required every single day.
So in the current environment there has never been a better time to hit the road and be your own boss.
Repeat business is key
However, don’t let being in demand prevent you from thinking ahead. It is important to think long term and focus on how to keep your customers happy to gain repeat business. It is highly likely that more drivers will start to recognise the current great opportunities as a courier, and as competition increases, you will want to be ahead of the game. A happy client will recommend you, whilst a bad reputation is hard to get rid of.
Keeping up appearances
It goes without saying that a positive, ‘can-do’ and helpful attitude is a good start but being pleasant can only get you so far. Make sure that your vehicle is maintained and kept in optimum condition not only because it represents your business, but a well maintained vehicle will be more reliable, just like you! From a practical point of view you need to maintain your vehicle to minimise any breakdowns- you need to be on the road not waiting for repairs. Late deliveries are frustrating for you and devastating to your reputation especially when so many jobs might come through word of mouth recommendation. By keeping your vehicle in good condition you will minimise any risk of your reputation being damaged.
Getting jobs and finding customers
You don’t just need to rely on word of mouth however to start growing your business. There are a number of different web platforms which help drivers to secure work. Sign up to Courier Expert and Courier Exchange to be instantly alerted to job requests. Their mobile app helps you to manage your business, anywhere anytime. You can network with loads of trusted firms, to access thousands of daily load opportunities. They offer digital tools to help you to build relationships and grow your customer base. Ensure you never make empty runs again- operate at full capacity via their return journeys solution so you can find suitable backloads.
Other ways to promote your services include Social Media, posts on community websites, and adverts in local papers, joining Businesslink and any local networking group- the more connections you can make the better. Referrals can come from anywhere: from other drivers to a satisfied customer, a personal friend, or even someone in an online community you’re a part of and people trust personal recommendations above any other form of publicity.
Local small businesses are a great place to start, especially ones that rely on a high volume of materials to be delivered regularly. If they already have a courier delivery partner, offer them a better deal.
Check on local market rates and charge a reasonable price for your delivery services. You could start lower than the going rate until you have built up a loyal customer base.
Make sure you are insured
It is important to make sure that you are covered by the correct insurance not just for your vehicle (hire & reward or light haulage), but also for the goods that you carry- Goods In Transit.You may also be asked to have Public Liability Insurance and if you employ anyone on a full or part time bases you will legally be required to have Employers Liability.
Be aware that normal car insurance with business cover will not cover your courier work. For a bespoke solution, and peace of mind, talk to our expert team as it’s not always a ‘one-size fits all’ scenario!
If you are only doing a few drop-offs, then Light Haulage insurance may suffice, however Hire & Reward insurance covers you for more and is suitable not only for one off jobs but where multiple drop offs are made. This type of cover is required if you decide to work through courier exchange or courier expert. They will also want to see Goods in Transit cover for a minimum of £5,000.
Check that your GIT cover doesn’t make strict stipulations about always keeping goods in the back. Whilst putting them in the front of the vehicle when you’re doing lots of small drops makes life quicker and easier, it has a higher theft risk and therefore might not be covered by some insurance. Our Goods In Transit cover does cover this however!
Be aware that your insurance can be affected by;-
– Your postcode- some inner city areas are higher risks than quiet rural villages
– Where you park your van- a locked garage will lower your premiums
– How many points you have on your on licence
– How much no-claims you have (commercial not personal – it doesn’t transfer)
We can also help you with;-
GAP Insurance, Break Down Cover, Excess Protection and Legal Expenses. Public Liability Insurance, Employers Liability and even Fleet cover if you’re running your business with 3 or more cars, vans or lorries.
* according to the UK retail Sales index