51 things awesome things learned from delivering the goods

My friend in Spain @grahunt recently posted about the 51 things he learned from selling Spanish Property this year. I thought that it was an interesting post and I could share with my readers the 51 things that I have learned from delivering the freight and other things this year.

  1. Some of our customers really care about getting their good delivered intact
  2. A minority of our clients are not bothered about delivery
  3. New customers find our excellent service saves them money in the long term
  4. We have had 100% delivery success rates this year
  5. We delivered wedding cakes 200 miles in the snow so a happy occasion was perfect
  6. Our drivers keep their clothes on
  7. Our drivers are more than warm and breathing
  8. We have delivered more furniture this year
  9. More couriers have arrived on Twitter – Yay!
  10. They still spam people as they can’t be bothered to learn how to use Twitter
  11. More couriers are blogging – Yay!
  12. They still write adverts rather than a proper blog post
  13. More US companies steal my content than UK based couriers (ask for a guest post chaps, I don’t bite unless you are a thief)
  14. More clients are searching and finding us on LinkedIn – thank you Andy Lopata
  15. We still get cupcake ladies ring up and get shocked at the price of delivery
  16. Fuel saving guides are popular, you can still grab a free copy
  17. Video drives me nuts…
  18. My parents still don’t understand what I do for the company
  19. And it’s not haulage
  20. Kev’s parents tell people he is unemployed rather than he has run a transport company for nearly 10 years
  21. It’s hard to guest blog about transport
  22. It’s great to talk to so many long term, happy customers on a daily basis
  23. I never get to deliver for Disney to Paris. Another driver always gets that job
  24. A great deal of satisfaction delivering medical equipment
  25. I spend a lot of time educating people about the diverse price range when it comes to delivery
  26. No breakages this year, no breakages ever now that I mention it
  27. Parcel delivery and how it works still confuse some people
  28. Customers have yet to realise that they shouldn’t send food or liquids through the mail service
  29. Parcel companies are less than honest when it comes to telling people about what’s covered by insurance and what is not
  30. We still deliver wine to restaurants, public houses and other locations
  31. We are winning more contracts, I think the 100% perfect and no failed deliveries help
  32. Networking is fun, yes we are back sponsoring Business Scene in Essex
  33. We don’t deliver stolen goods
  34. Despite people being gently educated that we are not hauliers but same day couriers, they still insist on telling me I don’t rank for the phrase haulage (and that I am missing out on 6 trillion searches…)
  35. Next day delivery isn’t always next day delivery
  36. Some companies will hire in staff to deal transport issues and extra customer service staff and pay for more staff training rather than spend a little extra on their delivery. It’s a false economy.
  37. Couriers on Twitter are happy to inform me that I am idle as I spend time chatting there. Ha! I wish…
  38. Our Complete Courier Guide is still popular
  39. I let one of team post on the blog…. yes I did…  Summer driving with your clothes on
  40. That post reassured a lot of new customers of our professionalism
  41. It also made a lot of male readers cringe
  42. One of our blog posts was featured as an article in the 4Networking community magazine. Thanks Guys
  43. Customers still request “cheap” delivery as they don’t understand the value of professional delivery. I am thinking of ringing those looking for cheap and haggling their prices for what they do, down.
  44. We have our own Google plus page
  45. We delivered in the snow last year, it was challenging.
  46. We guest posted about what white van men eat in their sandwiches
  47. The Moving Check List – keep yourself and your movers organised is very popular as it’s incredibly useful
  48. Referrals are welcome but our friends still struggle with what same day delivery actually is!
  49. Writing about transport can be tough at times but we still do it and we win customers by doing it
  50. Competitors really ought to have a better comment strategy than “nice post”.
  51. If it really is an urgent delivery pick up the phone. After all you wouldn’t tweet the fire brigade if your house was burning down.

Any that I have missed? Leave us a comment.

Sarah

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Vehicle tracking systems: The benefits for business

Businesses across the UK are in a constant battle to keep their bottom-line costs to a minimum and make savings where, and when, it is possible. For many fleet owners this can be assisted with the use of vehicle tracking technology.

As its name suggests this is a system used to track and monitor the progress of vehicles allowing company owners to stay on top of their daily operations with fast, accurate and real-time information.

The hardware, which is available from firms such as Leeds-based Remote Asset Management, is installed on the lorries, trucks, vans or personal motors which uses GPS to determine their exact positioning.

This has the initial benefits for businesses to inform customers how long deliveries should take, and allows them to give clients estimated arrival times. It also lets staff in the office inform drivers of any potential problems that could be experienced on their route, including traffic jams, diversions and more, while sorting out an alternative driving schedule.

On top of this, using GPS tracking can help reduce the amount of fuel being consumed by vehicles, which could be up to 20 per cent, because the technology allows firms to monitor the speed of their fleets.

In theory this means that through more controlled driving companies can reduce their maintenance costs because vehicles will last longer and it can make a difference to bottom line bills by reducing the amount of petrol or diesel needed on each journey.

Furthermore, if businesses reduce the speed at which their motors are running on the road this could potentially help cut their insurance premiums.

It has been revealed that because of the detailed data available from GPS tracking (which also allows companies to monitor more than one vehicle at once) it can help cut the cost of cover for fleets.

However, it is up to individual firms to contact their insurance providers to see what benefits vehicle tracking systems could have on the bottom-line price for their vehicles’ protection.

Also, GPS trackers can help save lives on the road – not only by reducing the average speed at which vehicles travel – but by keeping track of a vehicle in case a driver goes missing.

More often than not most times a motor has disappeared or lost contact with base it is because of a dead mobile or someone has forgotten to check in. However, if someone has crashed or been the victim of a robbery or carjacking the GPS system with its accurate information can help emergency officials start their search for drivers and the lost vehicles – rather than leaving them to wait and wonder.

Therefore, vehicle tracking systems have various benefits from cost saving measures, improved customer service and more accurate operating systems allowing for contingency plans that can be of great benefit to businesses across the country.

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Wrap up! It’s cold out there! #WinterIsComing

Lots of bad weather warnings on the radio and in the news at the moment. Last night was very stormy and there were three accidents on the M25 this morning caused by poor driving conditions.

If you are driving at all in the next few days go and add some extras to the boot of your car.

  • Blankets
  • Chocolate bars / Tracker bars
  • Water
  • A torch
  • Batteries for the torch
  • A mobile phone charger that fits in your cigarette lighter.
  • Socks and an extra jumper

It may sound silly, but it’s cold out there, and you could be stuck in jams or have an accident. Take the extras just in case. We hope you never need them. It’s fine weather for the penguins but not for us.

Stay safe and if you can avoid driving make sure you do.

Kevin

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Why price guidelines are wrong for your courier

Often we get enquiries about our courier services and the customer has a guide price in mind.

This is great except for when a customer doesn’t really know what service they require. For instance there are three main types of courier service –

  • Parcels, generally delivered by Royal Mail and parcel carriers.
  • Pallets, often delivered by a hub / national network.
  • Express (Same day courier) delivered by all sized companies.

And the price differentials between each type of service are huge. Royal Mail can deliver a package for £5 from one end of the country to another. You ask an express courier to do that and you won’t get a lot of change from £700. Now when you don’t know what type you require that can seem like a huge difference and fell like you are being ripped off.

That’s not the case.

A parcel courier collects and delivers multiple parcels. You have a rough idea (if you are lucky) of delivery time and the package is small and can be carried with many other packages and parcels. A same day courier picks up and collects one parcel and delivers it directly to it’s destination.  You know the time of collection you know the time or arrival and if it fits on the truck it can be delivered. The driver that collects the item is the driver that delivers it.

That means if you have a a CD or iPhone as a gift, you need a parcel carrier. If you have a Rolex, then you need a same day courier. Hang on a minute you’re thinking, a Rolex is a small item. And that’s where another factor comes into play – the value of the item.

Parcel couriers tend to only cover an item up to a certain value. Usually £500 and sometimes £2,500 if you are lucky. They also exclude items made of glass, liquids, foods, explosives and jewellery and items that are over 25kgs.  In other words if it’s robust, can be thrown around then they are happy to deliver the items. If it needs extra care… then they are not.

So when you are looking at guide prices for your courier service you need to factor in all the variables. The time it takes a driver to drive to the collection point, load and then drive to the end destination and unload, speed limits, the price of fuel, the drivers wages, the insurances etc are just a few of them.

When you ring up for a price and you tell us that your fragile item needs to travel 600 miles, remain upright and not be moved you are not going to get it delivered for a £5. If you are getting it for a fiver then there is something seriously wrong with your courier service and you may land up losing all your goods.

The more conditions you add to the delivery, the more it will cost is the general rule of thumb. It’s a bespoke delivery that is needed and something that requires delivery specialists. Like us.

Kevin

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Why next day delivery guarantees cost your business money

It was my youngest daughter’s birthday yesterday, she was 6 and she didn’t have the things she wanted for her birthday. I didn’t have a lot of time this year to find each present individually and I made the decision to shop online. On Wednesday I ordered all of her presents and I paid extra for guaranteed next day delivery.

But Thursday came and went, and they didn’t arrive. They didn’t arrive Friday either and I spent 30 minutes on Friday cancelling the orders for failing to be delivered on time. I got everything refunded back to me and then I went to Lakeside and bought her gifts.

When I had my money refunded from the gift companies, the delivery charges were refunded too as all the companies had promised me next day delivery and had failed to do that. As a business they still have to pay the courier company for the failed delivery and hope that the items are returned to their depot. If they are not for one reason or another, they lose the cost of the product as well as the cost of the failed delivery.

If the delivery cost £7 and the item £13, that’s £20 off the bottom line of your business. Now imagine this happening 100 times , that’s £2000 off of your profits, multiply that over a week and you are losing 10k of profits.

As a business you may have the time and a dedicated member of staff to sit there and collate all the data and file insurance claims and recoup some of that money but some will always slip through.

Isn’t prevention better than cure?

I should have gone to Lakeside in the first place. I shouldn’t have relied on an external courier and I thought that guaranteed next day delivery meant exactly that. At the time of ordering I was thinking like a customer rather than thinking like a delivery expert.

I know that things go wrong at the delivery hubs, I know that drivers don’t turn up and that agency drivers don’t do the work they should do. As a customer this isn’t my problem, my problem is taking the day off of work or working from home to wait for something and then it doesn’t get delivered. As a customer it’s frustrating and as a delivery business myself I get annoyed that the companies own thought is not getting my goods delivered but their profit sheets.

Friday I rang the delivery companies and asked why my goods hadn’t been delivered. One reason was they couldn’t find the house. We have our own postcode, we are the only property in that postcode. The chances are the driver didn’t even look to deliver our item, he or she wanted to get back to the depot and say it was undeliverable. One company said they didn’t have the item. It was lost, their tracking showed it was in the system but the reality was they couldn’t find the package. The third company said we were not in. So I asked for the failed delivery ticket, they didn’t have one. They promised re-delivery on Saturday but that didn’t happen either.

Only same day courier services are guaranteed, everything else next day / economy delivery is open to debate, even when promised to arrive at a certain time.

It’s in the small print. If you are reading this and thinking about your company deliveries let me ask you one thing – are you sending out and losing so much stock that you need a member of staff to fix the problem? Isn’t time you looked at prevention of the problem in the first place? Is it possible that your desire to save money and save a £1 per parcel is costing you business, time and energy that would be better spent rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic; that would give you are better return than chasing down errant parcel companies.

The moral of the delivery story?

Next day can mean any time in the future, check your parcel companies small print. It doesn’t mean next day if your parcel company is short staffed or can’t find you on their sat nav, or they can’t find your package.

If you are leaving Christmas shopping online to the last minute remember that parcel deliveries triple in December and you should really be ordering the goods now in order to get them on time.

Kevin

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As couriers we know when you are shipping shit.

It’s quite simple really, you ring up and you say “how much to move a box of whatevers to the other end of the country”. You know zip all about us, how reliable we are or anything else and the first words out of your mouth is “how much?”. When you ask that (I will be blunt) you are shipping shit.

A customer who calls us who values their goods / freight / product asks a different set of questions.

They ask:

  • Are you insured and for how much?
  • Is my item insured?
  • How will my item be delivered?
  • Who signs for my item and where will you leave it if someone isn’t in?
  • What size vehicle do I need?
and then when they have satisfactory answers to those questions they ask about the cost of delivery.
This makes A Big Difference when it comes to the actual delivery. Firstly the clients that ask the questions are the ones that book us, they understand the value of the product they are shipping. They understand the cost of production down time. They know the meaning of time critical delivery . They are also the people that care about how they are represented to the end user.
The people who ask how much? first are the people who waste the morning costing their bosses £30 in wages to try and save a fiver. They should have been doing something more productive but hey, a false economy is better than no economy in these tough times.

No matter what your product is, the delivery aspect leaves the first impression of it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ebook or 20 pallets of baked beans. If  your ebook doesn’t download correctly then your delivery agent is screwing with your reputation. The same applies when your 20 pallets arrive 4 hours late and in 111 different pieces. The end user, your customer is not happy. You can blame whom you like but the buck stops with you, you were shipping horse manure and you got caught shipping horse manure.

You may be “shipping it” all over the place but the truth is the difference is in the delivery.

Sarah
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The difference is in the delivery

Yeah I know that’s our company strapline but today it’s also the title of this blog post.

I was reading Chris Brogan’s blog post – Ship Vs Shit and musing how delivery terminology has now entered the mainstream online world thanks to Seth Godin. I had been meaning to write a post about why “shipping it” means something different to couriers, and now my opportunity has arrived in a different guise.

As couriers we know when you are shipping shit.

It’s quite simple really, you ring up and you say “how much to move a box of whatevers to the other end of the country”. You know zip all about us, how reliable we are or anything else and the first words out of your mouth is “how much?”. When you ask that (I will be blunt) you are shipping shit.

A customer who calls us who values their goods / freight / product asks a different set of questions.

They ask:

  • Are you insured and for how much?
  • Is my item insured?
  • How will my item be delivered?
  • Who signs for my item and where will you leave it if someone isn’t in?
  • What size vehicle do I need?
and then when they have satisfactory answers to those questions they ask about the cost of delivery.
This makes A Big Difference when it comes to the actual delivery. Firstly the clients that ask the questions are the ones that book us, they understand the value of the product they are shipping. They understand the cost of production down time. They know the meaning of time critical delivery . They are also the people that care about how they are represented to the end user.
The people who ask how much? first are the people who waste the morning costing their bosses £30 in wages to try and save a fiver. They should have been doing something more productive but hey, a false economy is better than no economy in these tough times.

No matter what your product is, the delivery aspect leaves the first impression of it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ebook or 20 pallets of baked beans. If  your ebook doesn’t download correctly then your delivery agent is screwing with your reputation. The same applies when your 20 pallets arrive 4 hours late and in 111 different pieces. The end user, your customer is not happy. You can blame whom you like but the buck stops with you, you were shipping horse manure and you got caught shipping horse manure.

You may be “shipping it” all over the place but the truth is the difference is in the delivery.

Sarah
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But isn’t haulage what you do Sarah?

Err, actually no it isn’t.

I was reading a blog post the other day about headlines and it happened to mention that if you were in haulage you should mention haulage as a keyword in your headline. The comments were closed, which was a shame (can’t leave a comment there) and as that is often a technique to get links back to the post I have decided you will just have to take my word for it when I say there was this post about…

I wrote a post about haulage and why people search that phrase a few months back. It was after a call from an SEO expert to tell me I was missing all these qualified leads… hundreds, thousands… trillions of leads all because I was not optimised for the word haulage. I’ll excuse you for yawning because it is going to get boring now. When you want something delivered you type a few things in your search box – flower delivery, pram delivery, courier delivery, shed delivery, ebay delivery and you get more relevant search results. No one is looking to a hire a haulier and the only people who type haulage in the search box are people looking to flog me a fuel card.

Even though we have been trading 10 years people still treat couriers as idiots and incapable of changing fuel cards if they are unhappy. No, they imagine we are so busy from all those lovely haulage related phone calls that we need a phone call to change our fuel card supplier. The reality is different, we are a very proactive business. We want something we just go right out and source it from our suppliers. And we don’t optimise for a word that doesn’t bring us business. It’s a waste of energy.

As a business we are all about efficiency. Faster, sleeker delivery. Relevant business services to our market place and our delivery services have different names to capture people seeking those kinds of logistical solutions.

So in a nutshell, haulage isn’t what I do.

Think back to companies like Cadbury. Does Cadbury indicate what they do? Nope. Virgin? Amstrad? Not every company name reflects their services and products.  I will be totally honest here, a lot of our suppliers are relationship based. We get to know them and they get to know us, which means they know what we do. Assumptions in all businesses are dangerous and assuming that I do haulage and should be mentioning it causes us both problems. I’ll assume that you are a fool and you’ll assume my 22 years in business were spent polishing vans.

We’re both wrong and that does neither of us any favours.

Sarah

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Delivering stolen goods: “And do you have any proof you own that Rolex?”

Last week was a bit tumultuous: riots and stolen, looted goods on the increase.

That makes life a little more interesting for us  providers of same day courier services.  We don’t deliver stolen goods and we have to do some due diligence before we take bookings to deliver high value goods. On Monday we get a phone call “hello, can you deliver a Rolex Oyster, approx value £15k?”

“Of course we can. Is it your watch?”

“no”

“well who does the watch belong to?”

“Why do you need to know?”

“We are not allowed to deliver stolen goods and therefore we need to know that you or the person we are delivering the watch to actually owns it”

“Great to see you are doing your due diligence and checking us out, this is xxx Police force and we have recovered a Rolex and as it’s a high value item so we can’t send it by a parcel courier. Yes, the item was stolen, it’s now being returned. You are the first courier company that has asked us any questions…”

Well we delivered the Rolex, the owner was thrilled to have it returned and we’re thrilled to be delivering good news. If we hadn’t of asked some questions we could have been in serious trouble.  Part of the reason we are so good at what we do is we take the time to make sure our staff and business are protected.

Have you had to take extra precautions due to the riots?

Sarah

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What is a dedicated courier?

There are quite a few types of courier service available, and if you don’t know the difference you can find you are wasting time and making calls to the wrong companies.

A dedicated courier is similar to a same day courier, but your goods are on a dedicated vehicle. There are no other loads or goods on the van, and the driver collects and delivers directly. The drivers are very smart and the vehicles are unmarked.

Who would use a dedicated courier?

  • Solicitors / Legal firms with time sensitive documents
  • Companies submitting tenders to Local Authorities
  • NHS Trusts needing components and equipment moved fast
  • Manufacturers and supply chain solutions looking to avoid down time of production equipment
  • Clients looking for confidential deliveries
If you have purchased a fragile item, then it may be possible depending on the size and the weight of the item that you also need a dedicated courier. Fresh produce also needs this type of delivery service.
If you are not sure about the type of courier that you need, please ring around and ask some questions. Quite often you will be told by the companies you call what type of service you need.

How expensive are dedicated couriers?

How much a dedicated courier costs depends on certain variables such as distance travelled, toll roads and vehicle size. This type of service is a premium service because the items are very time sensitive. If something cost a few hundred pounds and was easily replace then sending it by Royal Mail would be the best option. If the item was irreplaceable then you send it by dedicated courier.

How does this service operate?

The driver that collects the item is the driver that delivers. There is no co-loading, no stopping, no mucking around with maps and finding directions. Everything from route planning to item security is planned prior to collection. As a customer, you would call and book the service, send email confirmation and make payment for the delivery. All the rest is handled by your delivery company. These types of couriers are best for rush jobs, time sensitive, and fragile freight.

Petra

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