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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😀
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