How to Improve Your Courier Business (and lower costs)
Pretreat. Protect. Prolong
The rise of eCommerce has rapidly increased the demand for courier services the world over. Amazon is leading a swarm of millions of online businesses that are quickly and efficiently gutting the brick and mortar industry.
This movement towards the digital space has an obvious implication – all these products being purchased online need to be delivered! The massive growth in eCommerce has led to a highly competitive environment where the modern courier company must not just deliver pristine packages, but praiseworthy and reliable service too.
To run a successful courier business, delivering parcels intact and on time are minimum requirements. Courier vehicles need to be packed efficiently to maximise space usage and delivery potential. Given the competitive nature of courier services, it’s worth considering offering a niche delivery service like transporting legal documents. You can also improve deliverability and lower replacement costs by puncture proofing your courier vehicle’s tyres.
Table of Contents
Pack your delivery vehicle efficiently
Customers want to have confidence in the handling of their parcels, so that’s exactly what a courier service must deliver – excellent handling. There are plenty delivery mishap videos on the internet already, you don’t need to add to them!
As a parcel courier, you’ll be packing and transporting a vast assortment of goods. A reliable packing system will help keep the products safe and organised.
Remember to secure heavy items, to never exceed your vehicles maximum payload, and to group parcels according to weight, shape, and size. Fragile items should never be placed at the bottom of a pile, nor on the top of tall piles.
Almost every driver has a story about the time they failed to adequately secure a heavy load and shenanigans ensued, so strive to never have a similar story of your own to tell.
For multi-drop parcel courier packing, stability is the highest priority. It’s impossible to secure so many parcels individually, so packing them all with a low centre of gravity is the next best option.
As the day progresses and the payload lightens, remember to (as frequently as needed) redistribute the parcels across the floor space of the van. Keeping parcel piles as low as possible helps prevent damaging collapses.
Here’s a summarised list of packing tips:
- Stack boxes vertically, but always use all the available floor space.
- Pack items tightly.
- Lighter, fragile items on top.
- Group boxes by size, weight, and shape.
- Pack heavy boxes along the walls of the vehicle.
- Pack light parcels in the middle.
- Fill empty spaces with light, durable items.
- Secure heavy payloads (double check).
- Pack from the vehicle’s bulkhead.
Filling up from the bulkhead of your van will give you some leeway for sharp braking and emergency stops. Your packages can’t slam into the front of your car if they’re already there!
If products are damaged whilst in your care, be honest and don’t just deliver them to unsuspecting buyers. While you might get away with it a few times, eventually your reputation and business will take a knock. It always comes around.
Puncture proof your tyres
Courier companies all face similar challenges – fuel prices, bad road infrastructure, and crowded streets. South African streets are almost out to get your tyres with potholes and crowded roads that feature commonly dropped nails. These challenges combined with the competitive nature of the industry make any cost cutting and profit raising successes highly valuable.
Tyre punctures and flats can cause major headaches for both parcel courier drivers and waiting customers. It just takes one misplaced nail to significantly delay that day’s deliveries and add tyre replacement costs.
You can lower company costs and avoid prematurely replacing your tyres and delaying deliveries by simply puncture-proofing your tyres. Tyre sealant technology has a come a long way. Old sealants lower the lifespan of the tyre by hardening and disturbing the tyres balance, while new nano polymer sealant evenly coats the inside of the tire to immediately seal any moderate punctures.
Puncture proofing your courier vehicle’s tyres will help ensure that your parcels are always delivered on time and that you always get to enjoy the full legal thread life of your tyres. It’s also cheaper than insuring your tyres.
Find a niche
We’ve already noted that the courier service industry is incredibly competitive. In markets like this, it’s often a smart choice to niche down as much as possible.
How can you make your service unique? What features can you add to spice the industry up?
Most courier services are generalist, or specialise in fragile goods, or speedy delivery. Do your market research and find a unique and hopefully neglected category of products or service features. Maybe the parcels have a particularly challenging shape. Or perhaps they need to be delivered incredibly quickly. Maybe lawyers need drivers who can handle sensitive documents that have to be delivered within certain contracted times. Find out who needs your service!
Call ahead (and provide GPS)
Giving the customer a call before you head out to them is the simplest and most certain way to make sure the delivery will go smoothly. The last thing you want to do is waste a trip, but hopefully you’d be on a convenient route with the next place immediately down the road anyway.
Providing real-time GPS coordinates is a highly appreciated service. For a customer, it’s pretty awesome to be able to track your parcel with pinpoint accuracy – especially if it’s something they’re particularly excited about.
Listen to your drivers
Your driver’s can be a major asset. Being on the ground helps them identify the customers who tend to harm delivery schedules, as well as where traffic bottlenecks will be. Getting the input of your drivers on your routes can be a significant help. You need a route that accounts for real life, and that’s what your drivers can give you.
Having drivers that stick to one area or route can also be a great advantage that lets them start and end the day with confidence and haste.
Listening to employees is generally a great idea. Finding out what their frustrations are could lead to creating a more efficient and user-friendly process that ultimately makes the business more money. Or you could just prevent high employee turnover, which is expensive and almost always a sign of a sinking ship.
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