Are you a UK delivery driver/courier looking to take your career to the next level? Professionalism is the key for any successful career, and the same holds true for delivery drivers.

Becoming a more professional delivery driver is about more than just the appearance of your vehicle and the way you dress; it's also about the way you interact with customers and handle their orders. Skills like these are absolutely essential if you are to rise to the top of your profession. How do you aquire them? Read on!

Stay Organised

Have you got the right tools for the job? You should have a good clipboard, laptop or even just a notepad to help you organise your deliveries, a good routine for recording feedback from your customers, and a pen and paper to write down any additional information you need to remember. Keeping your phone charged is also important to stay on top of customer requests and communicate effectively with your team.

Scrabbling to find a particular parcel for a customer does NOT create a good impression. There should be a designated space for each item in your vehicle. Then you can stay on top of your deliveries, reduce clutter, and make it easier to find what you need, when you need it.

Keep a Professional Appearance

First impressions count: so make sure you dress the part. It doesn't take a lot to make sure your clothes are clean and in good condition, and that you wear suitable clothing; a smart uniform in matching colours is ideal. for your industry. Don't forget to keep your hair and nails short and clean too, and make sure your shoes are polished and in good condition. These little things can mean a lot!

Personal freshness (in other words, smelling good!) is important too. It may not be easy if you are sat in a warm cab for most of the day, but do try to make sure that your vehicle smells clean and fresh, and make sure all your equipment is clean and in good condition. That will help you keep your clothing clean and professional too. so: try to keep your vehicle tidy, well ventillated and generally clean and odour free.

Build Positive Customer Relationships

You'll probly have customers that you meet regularly, and a smile with a few friendly words can go a long way towards building good prefessional relationships. Politeness and respect for your customer is a good start; this can make them feel more comfortable, which makes for more pleasant dealings for both of you.

Also; compaints can crop up from time to time. Make sure you take any issues seriosly, report them promptly and follow up on them as efficiently as possible; this can give you a reputation for being someone who can be relied on.

You can also create the right impressions by making sure you are properly prepared for each delivery. As an efficient professional you will arrive on time at your customer's address, fully equipped with everything you need to make an efficient delivery, such as the correct paperwork, and any necessary handling equipment.

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Understand the Law

Knowing the law, as it applies to you as a courier, is an important part of being a professional delivery driver, especially when it comes to insurance requirements and vehicle safety. Make sure you have all the required safety equipment and valid MOTs, and make sure you keep your vehicle clean and tidy; this can help you avoid contamination risks, and stay within health and safety regulations.

It's also important to be aware of the rules of the road and follow them religiously. For example, it's illegal to use a handheld device behind the wheel or eat a sandwich whilst you are driving. Always follow the speed limits, and make sure you're not taking any unnecessary risks that could lead to an accident.

Keep Your Vehicle Safe

An awareness of, and respect for, vehicle safety is a sign of a true professional. Make sure you are following all the necessary safety guidelines. You should never drive if you are tired or ill, and should make sure you get enough breaks to stay fresh and alert. Not least of all, make sure your vehicle has enough fuel; running out of it can create a possible accident situation, and it is no way to impress anyone!

Accidents and breakdowns do happen though, so you should also make sure you have a good emergency kit in your vehicle, such as a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a jack, and a tyre wrench.

As a professional delivery driver, it's also important to make sure your vehicle is insured - you will almost certainly need to have Hire and Reward Insurance, and your policy will probably allow you to carry specific goods only, so be careful you are not carrying the wrong type, otherwise you could be guilty of driving without insurance, which could have severe consequences. Make sure you have all the correct documentation, such as valid MOTs and insurance certificates, ready for inspection if necessary.

Map your route efficiently

A driver who is alert, and who is confident of the route to be taken, without having to constantly check maps or satnavs, is far less likely to be distracted whilst on the road. This means it is vital to plan your route out properly, before you leave the depot, and try to familiarise it as much as you can. You should also plan to avoid driving through the most difficult areas, such as busy town centres, at rush hour; and if you can do so, you may wish to avoid such areas altogether. Driving though a potential bottleneck may be the fastest route normally, but if you are there as the kids leave school or the factory whistle blows it could be a different story, particularly if you are driving a large vehicle.

Improve Your job Skills

There is always something new to learn so after you've got your vehicle and your own safety covered, it's time to turn your attention towards improving your job skills. Here are a few ways to help you make the most of your UK delivery job and become a more professional driver:

  • Get to know your customers - By doing this, you'll be able to better understand how they want their deliveries handled. This can not only make your job more pleasant but it can make your customers more co-operative too.
  • Get to know the products you are delivering; few things will make a customer respect you less if you cannot answer any queries about them.
  • Get to know your routes; satnaves are wonderful but a little time looking at maps and familiarising yourself with the areas you will be driving over could prove invaluable if anything was to go wrong.
  • Take advantage of technology - it has a lot of benefits for delivery drivers, such as allowing you to track your vehicle's location and connect with customers using an app. By using technology to its full potential, you'll be able to maximise your productivity and use your time more effectively.

Be Professional When Dealing with Difficult Customers

There are always a few people around who can be awkward to deal with. Some of them may have genuine grievances, some may be having a bad day and there are always those (thankfully the minority) who just aren't very nice people. Either way, you should remain calm, professional, and in control of the situation.

Listen to grievances in a sympathetic way, and do what you can be reasonably expected to do to fix any problems or issues that have arisen. If your customer is being rude or aggressive, try to stay calm and if necessary take notes about what is being said.

If you are physically threatened, try to keep the situation as calm as possible, leave if you can, and report the incident to the police or other authorities promptly. Getting involved in confrontations could not only end in violence but would also probably leave you in a bad mood, and that bit more likely to have an accident on the road later.

Meet Your Deadlines

You may well need to meet certain deadlines. If you are late, it's important to let your manager know what has happened, and how you propose to rectify the situation.

If you was going to be late for a legitimate reason, such as bad weather or an accident, it would be prudent, as well as good manners, to let your customer know as soon as possible. To avoid this, make sure you are open to adjusting your schedule if necessary and, again, always let your employer know if something unexpected comes up that is preventing you from picking up or dropping off an order.

Bad weather is a common cause of disrupted schedules. Always keep an eye on any upcoming weather reports or potential traffic issues that could lead to you being late or missing a delivery. You satnav should, of course, be capable of providing these - if not, buy a better one, your job may depend on it.

Stay Motivated

The best drivers are motivated drivers, but whether you're just getting started or you've been delivering for a while, there will be times when it seems like the job is getting to be too much to handle. There are a few ways you can stay inspired on the job, though, no matter how challenging the situation may be.

  • Socialise with other drivers - Being around other delivery drivers is a great way to stay motivated. Not only will you have someone to talk to about your job, but you'll also be around other people who understand the challenges of the job and who could offer advice if necessary.
  • Take breaks when you need to - It's important to keep to a schedule when you're on the job, but it's even more important to arrive at your destination in one piece. You are feeling tired, depressed or irritable a sshort stop for a cup of tea or to stretch your legs can work wonders for your morale, and help you to stay alert.
  • Keep well hydrated - water is the best drink of all - and make sure you carry snack food at all time, even a few cereal bars can help when your energy runs low.

To summarise:

In many ways, the route to professionalism as a courier is no different to the way in which members of other professions can rise to the top. Try to be alert, conscientious, friendly, understanding of other people's flaws, proud of your personal appearance, and treat every day as one in which you will learn at least something new and you won't go far wrong.

If you can do all of this, you'll be well on your way to becoming a more professional delivery driver.

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