SO……. WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A
“Have the courage to follow your heart and
intuition. They somehow know what you truly
want to become.”
~ Steve Jobs
Why undertake a driving job in the first place? This is a question that you need to seriously ask yourself. It is not all coasting along country lanes, carefree and with all the time in the world. There is still a job to be done and generally to a timescale, especially if you want to get paid at the end of the week. While there are a lot of upsides to the role of being a freelance courier, there are also some downsides and pitfalls, which I will endeavor to cover in later chapters. In this chapter, I’m really asking you to consider your own personality and mentality and whether you’re cut-out for the job.
There is a common misconception that as a freelance courier, you can work when you want and for whom you want, and yes, you would be correct in thinking that there is a degree of flexibility. However, flexibility works both ways and courier companies value those couriers who are most flexible.
Those that are willing to take a job at any time of day (or night), collecting and delivering any product to anywhere in the country are generally the ones who will be first to get a call offering them work. If they are good at doing multi-drop (covered later) as well, then all the better. Jobs are then allocated in a hierarchical fashion leaving next to nothing for those couriers who are very picky about when they work and the types of job that they are prepared to undertake.
As with most things, it’s really a question of balance and give-and-take. Also, if you work hard to get a good reputation in the early days, that reputation tends to stick with you so that you get offered the better jobs on an ongoing basis and if you do need to take time out for that nativity play, it doesn’t affect the reputation you have already established.
My point here is that if you want steady work between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday, then being a freelance courier probably isn’t for you. Especially if you want to be profitable.
It will come as no surprise that you cannot become a courier, without having to drive a vehicle. In all seriousness, do not even entertain the idea of pursuing a career as a courier unless you enjoy driving. Congestion and traffic delays, temporary roadworks, other drivers cutting you up, middle-lane hoggers, inconsiderate parking by others, speed restrictions etc. These are all daily occurrences. You need to be able to shrug them off and keep focused on your own driving.
A book that I would heartily recommend reading is The Chimp Paradox, by Professor Steve Peters. In it the author explains that our brains are divided. Two of the parts are the chimp brain and the human brain. When things don’t go your way, it is often all-too-easy to let our chimp brain take over and react negatively, or angrily.
We need to keep our chimp boxed and let our human do the driving. In the book there is even an example of how people can tend to act when they get cut-up in traffic and it goes on to explain a better way to handle such situations. If you have a tendency to be hot-headed, read Prof. Peters’ book.
People, or Not!
Back in my retail management days, a large part of my job was dealing with people. It could be customers, staff, my boss, suppliers and so-on. After a while, I found myself craving a little time to myself, which is one of the reasons that becoming a freelance courier appealed to me so much. I envisioned myself on the open road with only myself to worry about. Bliss!
This, in fact, is not entirely how it is in reality. While there are prolonged periods where you are driving alone, there is also a requirement to deal with people throughout the day. Such people will include the job allocators for the courier company that you are working for, the customers that you are collecting from, the customers that you are delivering to, other drivers, who you are loading up alongside and dare I say it, enforcement officers, like the Police. (There, I’ve said it)! Hopefully you won’t have to deal with these people too often, if at all!
Good communication and people skills are essential to being successful.However, as I have also mentioned above, there will be prolonged periods when you will be driving alone. If you get bored easily, or struggle to maintain focus, you may need to review whether this is the job for you because reaching for that phone
whilst driving to ‘quickly check Facebook’ is just not an option!