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 there is still a shortage of qualified and experience drivers to meet the thousands of delivery jobs that are required every single day. Being a courier driver can offer flexibility in terms of working hours and potentially being self-employed.
Certainly, the cost-of-living crisis has impacted on sales, and that includes ecommerce. UK online spending fell by 10.5% compared with March 2022. Rising living costs, such as housing, transportation, and utilities, are putting a strain on people’s budgets. However, reports show that this actually increases reliance on online shopping: In such situations, consumers may turn to online shopping as a way to cut costs and find more affordable products. Indeed, research conducted in August 2022 by the ecommerce payment and marketing company Digital River found 33% of respondents had shopped online more frequently in the first half of 2022 , and 22% are expecting to shop online more frequently in future. Many people are turn to ‘buy now pay later services’ to manage the increasing costs of purchases, according to an Adobe report.
The convenience and accessibility of online shopping make it an attractive option for consumers looking to stretch their budgets and ecommerce is still maintaining a strong position in people’s shopping habits when compared to retail stores.
That’s good news for courier drivers delivering all those online purchases!
If you want to grow your courier business, here are top tips.
Understand Your Target Market
First understand your target market and what sort of service you want to offer. Before entering the industry, it’s important to research the competition and assess the demand and potential earning opportunities in your area. Consider factors such as geographic location, industry sectors, and customer demographics. By understanding your target market, you can tailor your services to meet their specific needs and develop effective marketing strategies.
Repeat Business Is Key To Growing Yours
Your long-term goal should be to keep your customers happy to gain repeat business and retain your customers. It is highly likely that more drivers will start to recognise the current great opportunities as a courier, and as competition increases, you need to be ahead of the game to grow your business and keep your clients. A happy client will recommend you, whilst a bad reputation is hard to get rid of. Focus on building long-term relationships with your clients. Provide exceptional customer service, maintain open lines of communication, and consistently meet or exceed their expectations. Satisfied clients are more likely to become repeat customers and refer your services to others, helping you grow your customer base.
How to keep and maintain business
So, 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. It’s unlikely that a customer will use you again if you have let them down more than twice, but a loyal customer will become an advocate.
Finding new work and customers to grow your business
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 at 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.
Marketing, Advertising and Collaboration
When you do your own advertising you can link in back to Courier exchange and Courier Expert.
Other ways to promote your services include Social Media, posts on community websites, and adverts in local papers, joining your local Federation of Small Business (FSB) 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. They can provide you with a steady stream of income. 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.
Develop a professional website that showcases your services and highlights your unique value proposition. Additionally, leverage traditional marketing methods such as print media, direct mail, and attending industry trade shows or events.
Consider partnering or collaborating with other courier companies or independent drivers to expand your delivery coverage area. This can help you reach new markets and serve clients in different regions. Networking and establishing relationships within the logistics industry can provide opportunities for collaboration and growth.
Enhance Your Service Offering
Assess the needs and preferences of your target market and identify ways to differentiate your courier services. This could include offering additional services such as same-day or next-day delivery, specialised handling for fragile items, tracking and tracing capabilities, or providing value-added services like packaging or warehousing. By providing unique and valuable services, you can attract new customers and retain existing ones.
The insurance you need to grow and protect your business
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 should also consider public liability insurance in case someone makes a claim.
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 the experts 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)
Remember that growing a courier business takes time, effort, and a focus on providing excellent service. By consistently delivering value to your customers and staying adaptable in a competitive market, you can increase your chances of success and expand your business.
We are here to support you in that journey. For great insurance advice or to start a quote, click a button below.