Being an independent courier
Getting started as an independent courier is easy, and has the advantage of potentially becoming profitable pretty quickly due to the lack of overheads. However, there are some undertakings which you should consider, like what type of vehicle to have and what type of insurance to take out. Whether you intend to work casually, part-time or full-time, this guide hopes to show you some tips to be a success.
You need to provide the right tools for the job:
- A reliable vehicle
- Ideally, your vehicle should be no more than ten years old, in good working condition and can be of any size really - though if you're serious, then investing in a large van will allow you to transport larger loads, and thus earn more; and
- Ensure that your vehicle is registered and roadworthy as required by the state in which you are operating
- Reputable mobile phone with hands-free capability, and make sure you comply with the state in which you are operating.
- Car phone charger and phone cradle
- Buckets or crates for storage and a trolley or cart for transport
- Safety Vest
- E-Tag - in some states you get a rebate on tolls paid.
- Dash Cam for the diehard pro for those tricky POD requirements.
Adequate insurance cover
The array of options can be confusing, and keep in mind that every insurance policy and provider has different offerings so read the details of your policy closely, there are three types of insurance you need to look into:
Vehicle Insurance. Every vehicle on the road in Australia must be insured - that's a legal requirement that most drivers are aware of. But are you aware of what all types of insurance mean? Here is a brief outline:
- Comprehensive cover: (Recommended): This covers the cost of repairs to or replacement of your own vehicle and property whether you are at fault or not. It can also cover the cost of emergency repairs, transportation costs and damage caused by other drivers. Be sure to specify your vehicle is for business use - and to specify that you need it for courier use. Third Party Fire & Theft cover: Third Party, Fire and Theft covers you for loss or damage to your vehicle if it is stolen or catches fire in addition to your liability for damage caused by your vehicle to other people’s property. Third Party Property cover: Covers damage that you have caused to another person’s vehicle or property. It does not cover the cost of damage to your own vehicle. It usually includes legal costs, limited damage by uninsured drivers and claims service. Compulsory Third Party insurance (CTP): Otherwise known as ‘green slip’ insurance, CTP is a compulsory requirement for every registered driver in Australia. It indemnifies drivers who are legally liable for personal injury to another party in the event of a vehicle accident. This can include other drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.
Business, Goods in Transit or Courier Insurance. It can be worth stumping up the extra cash for these types of insurance. This will protect your cargo against loss and damage. Your vehicle insurance company might cover this, but if not, then it's very easy to get this from specialist courier insurance dealers.
Public Liability Insurance. This one may not seem as necessary as the others, but is still worth considering. This will cover you for incidents involving customers, for example, if you drop a same-day-delivery or damage private property.
Taxes. While not strictly insurance, it's also worth mentioning at this point that as you are self-employed, you need to sort out their taxes with the ATO and arrange GST if you are entitled to pay it. (At this point it may be worth hiring an accountant who will know how to save you money by understanding what expenses you can claim.)
Police Check. While also not strictly insurance, a police check demonstrates you are honest and trustworthy. Senders will be more comfortable dealing with you if you have a police check.
A great profile to advertise yourself
So, now that your finances are all (hopefully) sorted out, how do you go about finding and maintaining jobs? Well, the first step is getting yourself an excellent profile to advertise your services. Firstly make your public avatar a recent photo of yourself. Secondly, write two or three sentences outlining your experience, skills and abilities to set you apart from the others, and tell the truth. Including a logo or slogan that you own will help too. Here are some recommendations to make your profile look great:
- Professional part time courier, offering flexible hours and fast delivery
- High level of customer service. Friendly and professional service with a smile
- Experienced delivery driver
- Friendly, fast, experienced and reliable
- Your goods will be delivered with the utmost care in a professional manner
- Your parcels are delivered safely and securely
- Love driving all day and every day
- Very passionate and trustworthy
A good business regimen
- Maintain a business account separate from your personal account
- Keep accurate records - keep invoices, document expenses and use logbooks
- Set aside some of your income for superannuation
- Make sure that you look into and comply with the laws of the state in which you are operating
Becoming an independent courier can seem a little daunting at first, but sticking to this basic framework should help the first few months run smoothly.