The Business Blog
|Posted on January 24, 2018 at 7:00 PM|
The sameday courier industry today: a perspective view
First a little history...the area of the industry we are in is rooted in war...during the first and second world wars Despatch Riders formed a vital link between the tail and the teeth, the commanders and the fighting soldiers
DR's or Don R's as they were also known, would transport vital supplies, maps, orders, ammunition, medical aid from A to B with speed and relative stealth, a fast moving bike is a hard target.
After the war DR's were still routinely used by the military and the post office, many people will remember GPO telegram boys on their BSA Bantams
By the early 1970's congestion in major cities was becoming a problem for trade and communications within businesses. As cities faced gridlock there appeared on the scene a knight in shining armour, the modern day Despatch Rider, the bikes now had electric starters and large fibreglass boxes to carry products. We hardly ever got shot at on a working day though the perils of negotiating city traffic did take it's toll on our numbers.
Soon there were dozens of small courier companies springing up, all ready to fill the niche created by our growing love of the car and the congestion that it caused
Expansion continued apace until the early 2000's when electronic transfer of documents, film and photos overtook the humble bike courier
Many companies folded at this point, seeing no future, however a few more innovative souls saw this as an opportunity to explore other areas. It became apparent that we needed to focus on real things, tangible objects that are in place A but need to be in place B very quickly.
And so that is where you find us today, just as committed and just as able but today the bike that zips past you will probably be carrying medical supplies or machine parts, air spares and the like.
Whilst it's a far cry from the Western Front or North Africa, we still save lives and we still keep peoples promises today.
Top 5 rapid response Courier companies we know of
Addison Lee are probably the biggest player these days, based in London
Southern Despatch in Bournemouth is my number 2, heck I own it so I would say that
CitySprint, a national chain with good connections
Swift Couriers in Reading, a long established and trustworthy company
E-Couriers London, vast experience from the team there make them a contender
From a bike couriers viewpoint
Top 5 best bikes to use as a courier
BMW 1200 (as used by the police)
BMW 1100 (as used by the police)
Honda Pan European,.good solid machine
Yamaha XJ1300, capable machine
Honda Deauville, dull but effective
Best clothing available
There are two schools of thought here
If expense is no object look at
or go cheap looking at
I prefer secondhand because there are some great bargains to be had and we all like a bargain
Top tips for clothing
Get a decent outer shell of waterproof nylon, it is sacrificial in that it won't last for ever but it is cheap...make sure your shell is big enough when you are fully togged up. When you are not wearing your shell, (that's on either of our summer days in the UK) textile armoured clothing is tops, it's light, breathable and will save your skin in a tumble
Wearing textile only in the rain is OK BUT the textile will absorb huge amounts of moisture so getting dry for the next day is pain, with a shell you just shake it dry..end of story
Gloves, textile with some armour are great and your hands won't get stained by the dye used in leather gloves when it rains...as for waterproof gloves, well I have yet to find a pair!
Boots; ankle and lower leg protection is key, goretex waterproofing is nice and comfort is vital
Helmets...I prefer a helmet that has Bluetooth communication built in and is not too expensive so I can afford to change it every few years
Viper, cheap, OK quality, very good Bluetooth
Caberg, good quality but getting pricey
Schuberth....see your mortgage advisor
From a clients perspective
The courier industry is all about trust and reputation all the glossy photos of generic telephonists on a website don't matter a jot.
Do's and don'ts for clients
Do shop around but when you get quotes and make sure you are asking for the exact same thing every time, it's no good comparing apples with golf balls
Do ask for a copy of the companies insurance or for the names and numbers of existing clients who will vouch for them
Do be VERY wary of companies who only have a mobile phone number or no address on their website, they are one man bands who have no strength in depth to deal with problems
Don't buy on price alone, if you want it done cheaply stick a stamp on it and post it.
Don't expect miracles, the laws of the land apply to us too.
Don't try to blame the courier for late delivery. Our proof of delivery sheets show the time the job was booked for and when the people at the other end see that you booked it late then they know the truth of the situation regardless of what you may have told them
Don't expect couriers to risk their lives over your “urgent” delivery, we have families to get home to as well. Yes we will do our best but we won't willingly lose our licence or worse
Price time and quality...choose 2 from 3
Good + Fast = Not cheap
Choose good and fast and we will postpone every other job possible, focus all of our resources on you and stay up 25-hours a day just to get your job done. But, don't expect it to be cheap.
Good + Cheap = Slow
Choose good and cheap and we will do a good job for a discounted price, but be patient until we can fit it in with other clients.
Fast + Cheap = Inferior
Choose fast and cheap and expect an inferior job not delivered on time or in accordance with your wishes. You truly get what you pay for, and in our opinion this is the least favourable choice of the three.
Plainly you can't have all 3 unless you strike very lucky and we have a courier passing you door at just the right time who is going to the same destination as your consignment. It does happen but not very often
Actions to ensure good service
Due diligence applies here...
do you know the people you are using?
are they recommended by others?
When you contact them are they professional and knowledgeable?
When it comes to payment do they accept cards etc. or are they “cash only”
Ask if you can drop off or collect from their premises, that will tell you a lot about them....”SuperCourierInternational PLC” working out of a spare bedroom on a sink estate is not who I'd trust my reputation with.
Ask to be kept informed, we routinely send proof of collection and or delivery by email, some clients like their hands held even more and we can provide as much info as you require throughout the process.
How tell the good guys from the bad
Lots of what I've said above applies here too.
The BIG problem these days is with re-sellers.
Re-sellers trawl the internet for clients jobs, promising the earth along the way. Once they have hooked you and your money they then trawl the internet for couriers who bid in a reverse auction for your job, the job going to the lowest bidder.
Now all this time you believe that the people you spoke to are despatching a vehicle in accordance with your wishes and your requirements...far from it, they are finding the biggest margin they can for themselves
So always deal with someone you know
Someone who has real knowledge of the business
Why not just do it myself?
There's a couple of reasons to a delivery yourself
You get to meet the customer,
you get to skive off work for the day,
err that's it
The reasons not to go yourself are more compelling
Your insurance will usually not cover you, most insurance is “social domestic and pleasure”
Ditto your breakdown insurance won't usually cover you
During your absence from work, your work is not getting done
You may have to work overtime to catch up on the missed work
You can only claim a small tax allowance for the fuel used
When you have a problem during the trip you have no support system in place
Traffic Wardens and Police cut couriers some slack, not so for the public
Most drivers/riders are OK on their own patch but get very stressed in unfamiliar cities
That stress leads to accidents, which your insurance won't cover, see first bullet point
It's your money, use it wisely but always look at the big picture.
Consider all of the implications of cost, workload, transport, security, insurance, customer service and safety before you pay a penny
Finally, if you are in any doubt, get a pro on the job.
Give us a call on 01202 392 155 or click the link for our home page http://www.southerndespatch.co.uk/