Posted by Howard Trott on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 Under: Guest Motorcycle Articles
Being a Freelance Courier can be rewarding and by reading the guide to the basics below should give you an idea if the Courier Services Industry is for you. Please take a few moments to read through this article to give you a guide into this fast paced world of becoming a Courier.
The basic items required to work as a Courier.
The most important starting aspect of being a courier is having the right vehicle to do the job. If you want to be taken seriously then it is advisable to look into getting a small van to start with and then move on to bigger vehicle when you feel comfortable. The reason it is recommended to use a small van is that the initial costs are low as well as the other overheads associated with it but more on that later. As with all vehicles age and mileage have to be considered when choosing a vehicle. You can potentially clock up a lot of mileage in a very short time so you should ideally go for a vehicle that has low mileage and a young age depending on the funds at your disposal. You maybe asked to transport anything from Passports to a pallet full of goods so the more space in the rear would be a wise move when having to be versatile. The final part about getting a van is making it a diesel. They are very fuel efficient and even with the price difference in fuel you will save money in the long run. Also it is well known that a diesel engine will last longer than petrol and will serve you well if you look after it.
After you have got an idea about what van you are going to purchase/rent, this will be covered in another section; you WILL be required to get the necessary insurance policies to do the work you intend on doing. Don't be fooled into thinking that you can try and just use normal van insurance as you will not be covered. When getting your van insurance you will need to advise them that you intend on using the vehicle for courier work and that you require to be insured for "Hire and Reward" purposes. It is almost mandatory that you obtain Goods in Transit insurance or GIT for short. The insurance protects the items that you carry and it would be a reckless decision if you tried to avoid this as it will only come back on you and it will be a very expensive mistake. The insurance policies are up to an amount that you state. This can range from £10,000 to £2,000,000 or more so it is worth considering just how much cover you require. Remember that the more you require the more it will cost you. It is also wise to obtain Public liability insurance for you and your business. There is some debate as to whether or not this is mandatory for a courier but if it protects you from the prospect of being sued for compensation costing thousands then it is worth it in the long run. A final note on all of the above insurance policies is read the small print to make sure you are fully covered for what you are doing.
Some customers demand that you are contactable when they call. The easiest and most efficient way is to have a mobile number. However a mobile number still has a stigma of small business and can be shunned by some companies. However you can get around this by having your landline diverted to your mobile. This has two distinct advantages;
1. A land line number gives a more professional feel to your business
2. You won't miss a customer call even when you're out
The choice of mobile is vast but a good recommendation would be to look into a Smart Phone or PDA type phone. These offer a more flexible approach to managing your work and your time by having useful applications like diaries, address books and even satellite navigation. Either way you can have them on contract or pay as you go. If you are starting out a fresh it would be best to go for pay as you go as the volume of calls you make would be low and you are not committed to a lengthy contact. On the other hand however if you already have a contract with a mobile phone provider then you at least have the option to upgrade when the time comes.
If you are reading this then you will no doubt have a computer. You don't need to be a whiz or have super human ability to use it but basic skills in Word and Excel will be enough to get you by. There are numerous books that can teach you the basics but a good starting point is the dummies range of books. Both books are simple enough for anyone to follow but also contain all the elements to help you build a professional business with minimal input. You will need Word for writing letters and Excel to keep track of your finances. It is more and more common for computers to come pre installed with the elements you require so investment in this area can be very small.
Without fuel you are not going to get anywhere it is as simple as that. With fuel prices constantly moving up and down you can quickly find that you are effectively driving for peanuts if you are not careful. You can be smart with fuel by considering using a fuel card to pay for your fuel as card providers generally lock down their fuel prices for the coming week at normally 2/3p less than you see at the pump. You are then invoiced for the fuel you have used at the end of the month. Another benefit using a fuel card is you can accurately record the mileage and fuel used thus helping to collate the information for the taxman. Be aware that fuel will be one of your biggest out goings so try to be economical with your driving. There is no point in driving like a bat out of hell in second gear everywhere as you might as well pour all your profit down the drain.
So now you are mentally set to be a Freelance Courier but there is one thing to consider before taking the big leap to work for yourself and that is customers. Without customers all you will be left with is a nice van and a lot of bills and no income. You need to market yourself and make your presence known to others as if no one knows your there then how can they call you? Try the following techniques to start with
1. Get listed in the Yellow pages or Thompson Local.
2. Get some business cards drawn up and keep a few of them handy in your wallet.
3. Have some flyers created. You don't need to go over the top with fancy graphics or glossy finishes but passing them to local businesses will get you noticed.
4. Contact other couriers in the area to offer your services if they get in undated. This might seem crazy but drivers do have their income topped up by sub contracting for others. It can also work for you if you get a run of work. It is all about networking.
5. The above point brings the subject nicely on to work exchanges. These are websites that allow you to network yourself into the courier community and exchange work. They also give you the ability to offer UK coverage. There are numerous sites out there and they all vary considerably.
Subscription charges to theses sites vary from a couple of pounds per month to a few hundred pounds a year. They also vary in how long you are subscribed to. One of the higher end of the market charges for their services 12 months in advance whilst others charge a one off membership/admin fee to join followed by monthly installments. Again the choice is yours when it comes to choosing who to go with.