Ask the Expert: How to Make Money as a Courier in the UK
Pete teaches you which courier methods to choose, why it matters, and what money you should expect.
It can be hard to make money as a courier. With the speed that you’re expected to make drops on multi-stop jobs – and difficulty in making enough deliveries to earn a decent wage – knowing the best way to make cash can be a challenge.
Now and then, you might wonder if there is an easier way.
In this post, Pete will teach you all about how to make money as a courier, which courier methods you can choose, why it matters to drivers, and what money you should realistically expect from each.
This is the fifth in a series of videos from Pete the Courier Driver with hints and tips for drivers. If you’re new to delivery driving, make sure to also check out The 27 Most Valuable Things To Take with You as a Courier Driver
Let’s get started 🚀
Note: If you’re a courier and want to make money driving and finish work earlier, try Circuit Route Planner for free.
How to make money as a courier
In today’s video, I’m going to tackle a question I get asked probably more than any other: How much money can I make as a courier driver?
It makes good sense because we’ve all got families to feed, you’ve got motors to drive, you’ve got insurance, you’ve got tax, and all of these things count. So it’s kind of a complicated question. It depends on many different factors. Like where you live, what type of vehicle you want to drive, how you want to go about it. What I want to focus on today are the four ways that you can go about doing it.
Sign up with a firm
Say, for example, when you start, the first thing you can do, you can sign up with a firm.
You can actually go to work PAYE for a firm. They’ll give you a van, they’ll give you your jobs, they’ll give you holiday pay, sickness, and all that kind of stuff.
The advantage of this is you know how much money you’re going to get. You know how much money is going in that bank every month so you can plan your life. You can go, “Well, the mortgage is this much, the holiday is this much, I’m going to get paid this much, that’s leftover.” [It} takes away all the grief.
The thing about this is you ain’t going to get rich.
If you work for someone else, They’ve always got to pay their wages as well as yours. So they are going to make their money; they’ve got overheads as well. So you are probably looking at making around 15 grand a year. You ain’t going to be setting the world alight.
More money can be made [if you do] your overtime, longer jobs. Do you want to work Saturday? Do you want to do this? But the long and short of it is it isn’t going to be your way to stardom. But not everybody wants to get rich. Some people just want to go to work – nice life, easy life, fine.
Sub-contract as a courier with a firm
The second way you can make money as a courier is to kind of go sub-contract. So you get yourself a van or even a car. You get yourself one of the long wheel-base, your medium wheel-base and basically get yourself signed up with, like, a Hermes, or an Amazon, and all this kind of stuff.
On this, you’re going to be on the multi-drop. Now the multi-drop, there are advantages and disadvantages with the multi-drop.
Multi-drop is going to be hard work at first.
This is when you need to get yourself a decent multi-drop app. Because otherwise, you are going to be driving yourself around in circles. You’re going to be burning fuel that you don’t need, you’re doing time that you don’t need, and you’re going to be like, “Ah, this is driving me mad”, and then you fall at the first hurdle.
But if you stick with it for a little while, eventually, there are big advantages when they get to know you. You’ll get a little clique. Once you’ve been there a little time, they’ll start giving you the nicer routes. They’ll give you the same route.
Once you know the route, you’re not doing that thing where you’re going, “Well, where’s Rose Cottage? Because I’ve got no idea!” You go, “Oh, rose cottage. Yeah. That’s the one that’s down that little pathway behind the church.” Pull up, bosh, there you go. Life gets easier.
For this kind of thing, they usually pay around a pound a drop. And don’t get me wrong, there is going to be work. You’re going to be doing 100, 150. Some drivers do up to 250 drops a day. But like I say, they kind of get used to it. There is money to be made.
It’s also an excellent way to launch your way into it because you get used to it. And once you’ve done the multi-drop, it’s kind of like the SAS of courier driving. If you do it the hard way, anything you move on to after that will get easier.
The linchpin is the bit when you start, and that’s why you want to get a decent multi-drop app. I recommend Circuit; I think it’s the best. But that’s why you want to get yourself a decent multi-drop app, so you can actually work out a route.
And also, sometimes they’re going to give you the route, and they’re going to give you a printout of a route, not always the best one. And you can find yourself three months later going, “Hang on a second. If I’d have done this, this and this, I’d have been home an hour earlier.” So that’s another way of going about it.
Sub-contract yourself as a courier
The third way of going about it is you just subcontract for yourself. We work on a thing called the Courier Exchange (CX), that’s not a multi-drop thing, but it’s the same kind of principle: Your van, you can work as little or as much as you want.
Some just get a little van, and they just do one or two jobs a day. Some people get themselves a long wheel-base, an extra-long wheel-base, or a Luton, up at 5 o’clock, working on it until 10 o’clock at night, going for it.
You can expect to earn between (if you’re just doing one little job a day) £40 a day on these kinds of things. If you actually move up to a Luton, or even truck, you can make as much as £250 for a van.
In a lorry, about four or 500 quid a day. But lorries are another thing altogether because you’ve got a load of stuff to sign up to just to get into a lorry.
So you’re on kind of round about the same dough as you are for the Amazon, which you would be for the Courier Exchange. The advantage of the CX bit would be, rather than doing 250 drops a day, you only have to do three: Pick up, drop off, pick up, drop off, pick up, drop off. The disadvantage is it’s not guaranteed so much.
Like I say, once you get in with the multi-drop mob, they’re going to give you regular runs, and you know where you go, and you know what you’re getting, and you know what you’re doing, you know? So it’s kind of like swings and roundabouts on both of them. And then there’s the final one, which is end-user customers.
Find end-user customers
End-user customers are the way forward. That’s where you get your own customer, but they’re like hen’s teeth. The way you go about getting these is you do the Google Ads, posters or flyers, go to a local trading state, put the cards through the doors, telephone, talk to your brother, and talk to your uncle do Gumtree. Anything you can do so that someone turns around and goes, “Ah, you do driving? I need someone that delivers me every day.”
Because if you get your end-user customer, you can charge them double. So rather than working, for example, in the Luton van, where you might be charging £1 a mile for an end-user customer, you’re going to be looking to charge one pound fifty to two pounds per mile. And then, hopefully, you’ll use something like the Exchange to get yourself back.
But like I say:
"End-user customers, we all love them. But, they’re very, very difficult to come by."
Finally, as a note of caution, unless you’re doing number one, when they’ve covered everything for you, make sure you stick a little bit to one side. You want to stick, I would say, between 20% and 30% of your money to one side. Because that’s going to cover your tax and your National Insurance.
Otherwise, you get the people that think, “Oh, I’m doing really well. I’m doing really well!… Oh, the gearbox has gone. Oh, a new gearbox is two grand; I ain’t got two grand.” And suddenly, you’re out of the game. So be sensible about it. Stick a little bit of dough in the back of the book just to cover yourself.
How to make money as a courier: Conclusion
So that’s it. There are four ways of how to make money as a courier in the UK: You sign up with a firm, you sign up with a multi-drop mob (in your own van as a subcontract), you sign up with a broken system, or you try and get your own customers.
There are pros and cons to all of it. At the end of the day, you do, you.
Note: If you’re a courier and want to make more money driving and finish work earlier, try Circuit Route Planner for free.
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