Ask the Expert: 3 Easy Ways to Keep Courier Work Flowing in Winter
Generating income is hard. Here, Pete gives you the three specific things you can do to keep the money flowing form your courier work after the holidays.
January is the most brutal month of the year to find courier work.
It’s so hard. Especially when your income ebbs and flows.
The first thing to bear in mind is don’t panic. January is always the same.
There are moments when your delivery vehicle is choc-full of packages. The courier exchanges are bursting with jobs, and you have more customers than your van or truck can handle.
Other times, courier work is going to dry up, leaving you pulling your hair out over exactly what you can do to increase your income right now.
January and February are some of those times.
However, courier work can still be very profitable at most other times of the year.
So what can you do to make sure you have enough money coming in?
A successful courier driver not only knows all the tricks to make the best use of their vehicle but also how to manage their finances to help get through the slow times.
This is why I don’t have to panic at the start of the year. I have a plan.
You can do it, too.
In this post, I’ll give you the three specific things you can do to keep the money flowing after the holidays.
Let’s get to it!
This is part of a series of posts from Pete the Courier Driver with hints and tips for other couriers. If you want to make more money as a driver, check out this guide
#1 Plan ahead to get money in the bank
OK, this is no good if you’re reading this in January. But you can at least prepare for this year’s seasonal peak.
The best thing you can do is try and get a bit of money in the back of the book in the busy period over the festive holidays – before a lack of cash becomes a problem.
Because you already know that it’s coming.
October, November and December are the busiest months for courier work. That’s when you’re trying to stick some money to one side to carry you through over the hump.
How can you do this?
Calculate what you need for at least two months (I recommend three).
Think about things such as your rent or mortgage, bills, vehicle insurance, TV license, subscriptions, loan repayments, and more. Write it all down and calculate what it comes to.
But what if you haven’t already done that through the festive period? Or you’ve had an unexpected expense, and now you need courier work more than ever.
It happens to all of us.
#2 Keep your vehicle in good condition
In January, lots of things shut. Things like construction, manufacturing and automobiles stop production for around two weeks.
It takes a little bit of time to get going again, but let me assure you that everything will get back to normal.
On the other hand, if you work for a multi-stop delivery service provider (like Amazon, FedEx, UPS, or Hermes), your distribution centers will keep going. But, in my experience, it’s a far harder slog.
You can look for seasonal courier work – but there are no seasons in January. Come February, and then you’ve got Valentine’s Day and everything kicks into gear.
But on the whole, you’re looking at a quiet time of year. So what can you do to get through?
As a start, you must keep your vehicle running.
Think about it: It’s going to get dark. It’s going to get cold. It’s not going to get icy, and it’s going to get tricky.
As a result, some roads will shut, and accidents will happen.
Pro tip: Get yourself a decent route planning app that integrates with Waze or Google Maps so that you get the live traffic reports, like Circuit Route Planner.
Get yourself prepared. Organization is the key:
- Keep your vehicle topped up with oil. There’s no need for a pointless breakdown.
- Fill your water up to the level and make sure it’s got anti-freeze. (and trust me, you don’t want your water to freeze; it will cost you heaps)
- Keep your windscreen wiper fluid topped up because you need to see where you’re going. (It’s also a legal requirement for all vehicles in the UK)
But it’s all stress.
And extra stress is going to lead to problems, aggravation, and longer days.
It’s also going to lead you to make mistakes.
Start making mistakes, like missing your drops, and it’s going to make life more complicated. It’s going to slow you down. It’s going to cost you money.
Other things you could do:
- Prepare bottles of water or squash.
- Use a flask for hot drinks to avoid stopping for expensive coffee.
- Get a change of clothes. An extra jumper comes in dead handy.
But that isn’t going to help you keep the money coming in.
So what can you do to help with that?
#3 Seek regular income from other places
It may be the time for you to flick onto a regular income.
If you’re an independent courier like me and find the marketplaces and exchanges slow right now, this might be the time to consider Amazon, Parcelforce, FedEx, UPS or Hermes.
If you are thinking about doing multiple stops a day, get yourself a decent route planning app because you will run 50 to 200 drops a day, which can be hard work without one.
The advantages are that working for a DSP is regular work. It’s guaranteed and in the bank. Plus, you can just sign up, go in and do it. And at the least, it might get you through to February until things pick up to speed.
Another option is other gig ecomony driving jobs. TaskRabbit, GigSmart and Uber are all available depending on where you live. The advantage is that you can pick them up and put them down as you need them.
Don’t want to take that route?
What are you going to do when backloading isn’t an option, either?
You could try and get yourself a day job to do around your courier work.
For instance, I might get a courier job in the morning, and then nothing in the afternoon. For several days.
This is why I now spend so much time and effort creating content for my YouTube channel.
I create paid video content (like the one above) for Circuit Route Planner. I got this gig by initially making videos to help delivery drivers on my own channel that caught their attention.
Also, don’t exhaust any of your more usual avenues:
- Use Facebook Marketplace to advertise your services
- Talk to your family and see if they need anything delivered
- Use Gumtree or Craigslist to promote as a ‘man and a van’ or for small removals
- Go ‘old-school’ and pop a card in a newsagent’s window
Above all, try to be open-minded about the type of courier work you can do. You might find a niche that others have missed only by opening all of your options.
I have personally tested these things to help me bring in money during the slow winter period. Some work better than others. All have been successful at helping to keep my income afloat.
Ways to keep courier work going: Driving it home
Even if you’ve no savings from the peak delivery period and are struggling to find courier work in January, there are several things that you can do right now to help boost your income.
This is not to say you’ll find it easy — it probably won’t be. However, you’ll learn to refine your approach and do what works for you over time.
I’m proof that irregular income doesn’t need to stress you out. What it takes is a little pre-planning to keep you going through the low times.
There will be moments when the approach gets gruelling, but when your income stays steady, you’ll know it was worth the effort.
Most of all, stay warm, stay dry, and don’t panic. Winter will pass – and whatever you do – take care and take money.
What’s your process for keeping the courier work flowing? Do you have any tips and tricks that I didn’t mention in this post?
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