Two couriers making deliveries

The Pros and Cons of Being a Courier - An Insider's Guide

So you fancy becoming a courier? And why not. After all it is a job that could allow you to pick and choose your own working hours to a high degree, giving you a lot of independence, and you can make money, too, whilst driving around the town or country. However life is not always a bed of roses. There are advantages and disadvantages to the job as well, so if you are planning to go into this line of work you could be well advised to read through the rest of this article, before making up your own mind about whether the job is right for you or not.

What actually IS a courier?

If you've ever had a hot takeaway meal delivered to you, been handed a bunch of flowers by a delivery driver or bought goods online then you have already dealt with a courier. They are people who collect goods from a warehouse, or other distribution point, and then deliver them to customers at their own homes or places of work.

There are innumerable different types of courier, ranging from those delivering important documents internationally, to those bringing a hot pizza to your door. Many of them have jobs delivering items that have been ordered either online or by telephone. Typically these are fairly small parcels, prescriptions, groceries and takeaway meals for home deliveries, or stock, spare parts or replacement items to retail or other business premises.

To put it simply; their job is to they collect goods from a central warehouse or from other stockists, work out a suitable route and then transport them to their ultimate destination, or multiple destinations.

Food couriers are everywhere now; they typically pick up hot meals from producers such as restaurants, burger bars, food takeaways et cetera and then carry them in insulated containers, so that they can hand them over to their customers whilst they are still hot.

It sounds very simple but there are drawbacks, just as there are with any other line of work. Traffic or bad weather conditions can make journeys difficult, vehicles can break down or the drivers get lost, awkward customers can be unpleasant to deal with. However none of these are exactly insurmountable and they can all be overcome with the right training and preparation.

What are the advantages of being a courier?

The majority of couriers are very happy with their jobs because of the flexibility they enjoy; being out on the road visiting new places can be a far more enjoyable life than going to the same old office or factory every day! The money isn't bad either. Rates vary by company, but as a full-time worker you should expect to earn ??17 - ??25 per hour, which equates to approximately ??25,000 - ??38,000 annually.

Much of the freedom that couriers enjoy is thanks to the fact that they are in great demand; if they are not happy with the job they are doing or the company they are distributing goods for, there is always plenty more choice available to them.

In addition, many couriers see their first job as just a stepping stone to bigger things. A high proportion of couriers are self-employed, running their own small businesses, and some have gone on to build major ones with fleets of vehicles and large numbers of employees. Is this how you see yourself in the future?

Happy courier
Most couriers are happy with their jobs

What are the disadvantages of being a courier?

At the risk of spoiling this idyllic image, it has to be admitted that there are several downsides to the job as well. The hours of work can be long and irregular, and it might well involve being out on the road at unsociable times such as during the evenings, at weekends and throughout public holidays. There may be long distances to travel and some couriers are obliged to spend a great deal of time away from their families. They would most likely be working on their own, and there might be heavy articles to carry, meaning that the work could well be unsuitable for those with physical disabilities.

Then there are the customers. Whilst the majority of people are decent and friendly there are some who, perhaps because of their own personal problems, can be difficult to deal with. A courier who can remain cheerful and courteous to all customers regardless of this is definitely in the right job!

After all that, we have to consider the risks of being on the road; traffic accidents do happen, and poor road conditions, not to say bad weather such as heavy rain, mist and snow, can disrupt even the most carefully planned schedules. Couriers can also face off road health and safety risks such as injuries to legs and backs owing to either having to handle heavy or awkwardly shaped cargo, or poor lifting techniques.

How do I overcome these disadvantages?

  • Avoid breakdowns; the car or van you use for your deliveries is a vital tool so make certain that it is in good condition and properly maintained.
  • Get properly insured; whilst some insurance, such as hire and reward cover, is legally mandatory, it can be advisable to have what is called 'goods in transit' insurance to protect the goods that you are carrying (and yourself from possibly being sued if they get lost, damaged or stolen), breakdown cover and personal accident insurance as well.
  • Make sure your equipment is up to scratch; you would be well advised to carry emergency equipment such as a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a high visibility jacket and a hazard warning triangle, but you may well need to carry lifting and carrying equipment such as a sack truck as well, which can not only make your job easier but protect your spine too.
  • Drive carefully; perhaps it should not be necessary to mention this but accidents caused by taking too many risks on the road are the main reason why courier insurance can often be quite expensive!
  • Be friendly towards your customers; this is important because not only does it make life more pleasant for all concerned, but a customer who sees you as being someone who is trustworthy, courteous and helpful is much more likely to remain a customer.
  • Take your time deciding which companies to deliver for; some provide much better pay and conditions than others. You can often find out what they are like to work for by asking around for advice from people who already work for them, or by reading online reviews.
  • Work out just what you want from the job; because there are plenty of options. Are you looking for a full-time job with prospects of promotion? A fully self employed position in which you can pick and choose which delivery jobs you want to take on, and which ones to refuse? Do you prefer working for a big company or a small one? Do you want to work locally, or have the chance to travel throughout all of Britain? These are all questions that you need to decide on before looking for the right job.
  • Never stop learning; like any other job the more you know about it the better you are going to be at it, and the more you are likely to enjoy it and earn a higher income. Good driving techniques, map and navigational skills, and the ability to get along with work providers, customers and co-workers are excellent talents to work on.
  • Understand the risks; there are certain ones associated with being a courier, but most of these can be managed with the right approach. The risk of getting into an accident is always present, but by driving safely you can reduce the likelihood of this happening. You may be required to lift and carry heavy items, but you should always try to do this properly to prevent injury; there are right and wrong ways to left loads and you should always let your legs do the work rather than your back.
  • Consider your own wellbeing; a tired driver can be a dangerous one. You may be on the road for long periods of time, which can be tiring and stressful, so sufficent breaks for rest and refreshment are vital.

How to deal with difficult customers

You may deal with some difficult customers over the course of your career. However, there are strategies that you can use to stay professional and keep the situation from escalating. When dealing with these people, you should remain calm and polite, and avoid getting drawn into an argument. Try to understand the customers' point of view, but don't let yourself be walked over. If you feel that a situation is getting out of hand, you can end the call or end the transaction.

Should you be directly employed?

Working for a delivery company takes the burden of a lot of the administration away, such as dealing with most of the paperwork, finding new customers, ensuring that you are paid on time, and all the other numerous operations that are necessary whilst running a business. Some companies also offer benefits such as health insurance, sick and holiday pay and pensions.

Should you be self-employed?

If you're a courier who is self-employed, you have more freedom than someone who works for a delivery company. You can set your own hours, choose which jobs you take on, and work part time if you wish.

Many couriers have worked for a company at first to gain knowledge and experience, gone self employed, and then built themselves successful businesses, employing others whilst building up a valuable asset.

How to choose a delivery company to work for

Try to look not only at what the company can offer you, but what you can bring to the company as well. If it is a good fit for you, you would have a better chance of promotion or working elsewhere within the company whilst enjoying better pay and conditions.

You should also take into account how many deliveries they have and how often they are in your area. It's important to find a delivery company that is fairly close to where you live so that you can be as efficient as possible.

And finally ...

There may be more to learning about being a courier than you first expected, so before striking out on your own as a self employed delivery driver the best way to avoid the downsides of the job may be to get your foot in the door firstly by working for a company and gaining experience, before striking out on your own. You can then benefit from the pros, whilst learning the job, without suffering too much from the cons. 😀

You'll need insurance. Click here now for more information!
Let's get quotes now!

Delivery Driver Products

Agricultural supplies     Air conditioning Equipment     Furniture     Bakery products     Bar equipment     Beauty products     Bedding     Books     Building materials     Camping gear     Car parts     Catering equipment     Catering food     Chemists supplies     Cleaning products     Clothes     Commercial kitchen equipment     Computer equipment     Craft supplies     Curtains     Dairy products     DIY tools     Drinks dispensers     Electrical supplies     Electronics     Equestrian supplies     Fish     Fishing gear     Fitness equipment     Footwear     Furniture     Garden supplies     groceries     Home appliances     Industrial chemicals     Industrial machinery     Kitchenware     Laboratory equipment     Mattresses     Meat     Medical supplies     Medications     Mobile phones     Motorbikes     Musical instruments     Office furniture     Office supplies     Outdoor furniture     Ovens     Paint     Pet food     Pianos     Plumbing supplies     Printers and photocopiers     School supplies     Sports equipment     Stationery supplies     Tiles     TV equipment     Tyres     Vending machines     White goods     Wines and spirits is a trading style of David Gale who has a business relationship with Prudent Plus Limited of Booths Hall, Booths Park, Knutsford Cheshire WA16 8GS. This company is registered in England number 10104295, is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and is a Member of the British Insurance Brokers Association, John Stow House, 18 Bevis Marks, London EC3A 7JB. Membership number: 007759

Prudent Plus Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of QuoteSearcher Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, their Registration Number is 504796 and their permitted business is insurance mediation. These facts can be checked by visiting the FCA website.