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Establishing Yourself in the Courier Business: Survival Techniques

If you're starting out in the courier business, learn how to survive by using these simple tips.

Tackle Dead Mileage

Drivers and companies alike in the courier industry dread one thing more than increased petrol prices: dead mileage. It's simply not cost effective when a litre of fuel now costs 40 pence more than it did four years ago.

Becoming part of a network of courier services allows drivers to work out their routes in advance and enables the possibility of backload returns. Sharing the information of routes and pickups is far more reliable than starting out solo and trying to source and maintain clients without a large customer base to fall back on.

Beat Rising Petrol Prices

The rise of prices is a persistent concern for all owner-driver couriers. Several tips can help prevent you forking out the most costly prices. Source the cheapest petrol stations on your route, keep an eye out when you're passing them and jot them down when you stop. Sounds like a bit of hard work, but doing this and using the lowest priced pumps on your trip can significantly cut your costs down over the year.

Sussex and the Orkney Islands (although there probably aren't too many delivery jobs there) rank among the highest charging areas, with prices between £1.50 and £1.70 a litre. Several websites calculate the price of petrol by typing in postcodes which help couriers figure out the most economic way to fill up. Be sure, however, not to go out of your way to do this or it will wipe out any cost cutting measures.

Be Patient

Before starting out, be aware of the major myths. Yes, you can earn up to £300 a day but this might not happen every day nor when you're initially starting out. As a courier driver you need to be patient, persistent, be able to fund yourself and prepare for the cost of wear and tear and insurance. The first year may see low profits or breakeven status but established courier drivers can make a comfortable living while at the same time travelling around the country and in Europe.

Time is Essential

Giving a realistic delivery time and adhering to it is essential to survive in the industry. If you think you're going to be held up, call up the client or your contractor as soon as you know - don't leave it until the last minute or repeat customers won't come back.

Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier services in the express freight exchange industry. Over 2,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.

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