If you’re thinking about entering the courier industry as a self-employed owner-driver, there are quite a few things you must take into account. While it’s wonderful to have the freedom of being your own boss, the industry can be very competitive – so a little background knowledge can go a long way. Before going headfirst after your first courier contract, ensure you’ve considered the following.
What Does the Term ‘Courier’ Mean?
This question may seem like a no-brainer for aspiring owner-drivers, but it’s important to understand just how many types of jobs fall under the umbrella of the term. A courier contract could have you doing same-day deliveries, multi-drop deliveries (in which you’ll make several deliveries), or even domestic overnight jobs. You might also be contracted to do international express deliveries, technical courier jobs (in which you’ll deliver products and install them on the spot), or lifestyle courier jobs (mainly employed by mail-order catalogues to deliver to residential addresses). With so many types of couriers working within the industry, it’s important you know where you’d like to position yourself.
One of the most important things to consider when you start out as an owner-driver is whether you have enough capital to rely on until you start making a profit. You may need enough money for several months until you become cash flow positive. Also, keep in mind that in some cases you will have to wait up to 60 days to be paid.
Then there’s the matter of charging and tariffs. You might charge per job or per mile, plus a fee for waiting time, tolls, traffic congestion, ferries, and parking. In terms of tariffs, they can vary widely around the country, so you may find it valuable to ask other local owner-drivers and companies for advice.
As a courier, your vehicle is your most important asset. If your existing vehicle is not suitable for your needs, you can hire commercial vehicles on a very competitive basis. Vehicle hire contracts will often include maintenance, as well as provide a replacement car if yours is out of commission.
If you’re starting out as an owner-driver, make sure that for each courier contract you take on you’re adequately insured. Speak to your preferred insurance provider about what kind of work you intend to do, as this will affect what type of policy is right for you. Policies may vary from courier to courier, some key points to consider include vehicle insurance cover, goods in transit cover, and public liability.
Once you’ve considered all these factors, you’re ready to take on your first courier contract! In terms of finding available jobs and loads, online courier exchanges are a great place to start. Once you’ve registered as a bona fide courier business, you’ll be able to access load boards, meet potential employers, and complete your first delivery.