Business Opportunities for Freelance Same Day Courier Owner Drivers

Sorry about the misleading title – there are NO ‘courier business opportunities’ on this page, just a few words of warning for anyone thinking about becoming a ‘freelance same day courier’ or a ‘courier owner driver’.

As the recession, or ‘downturn’ to put an optimistic slant on it, starts to bite, particularly in the building trade, we’re starting to see more and more new entrants to the same day courier industry. It seems an inevitable feature of every economic slowdown that the industry is swamped with out of work tradesman and redundant factory-workers, keen to put their unused van (or their redundancy payment) to use starting a new business for themselves.

It’s an easy enough business to get into, just a van and a mobile phone required. Nowadays it’s apparently not even necessary to have a collection of maps, or even any map-reading skills; just spend £75 on a satnav and you’re ready for work. That’s the theory at least.

There will no doubt be no shortage of local and national same day courier companies Read More…

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Basics, Courier Business, Courier Scams

Posted by Alec at 4:02 pm, October 5, 2008

MTvan, Courier Finance Ltd & Tim Gilbert: Physician, heal thyself

It looks like Tim Gilbert has finally exposed himself as the arse that I’d always suspected he was. Tim of course is (or maybe was, who knows) head of the failed (or maybe failing, who knows) Courier Finance Ltd ’empire’, which included Speed Couriers, MTvan, CFL and some slightly dodgy-looking ‘learn how to be a courier’ websites designed to either part courier owner-drivers from their cash or to steer them towards the Mtvan website which would do the same.

Somewhat of a self-proclaimed courier industry guru, Tim is quite profuse with his advice to other, less experienced, businessmen on how they should run their same day courier businesses. Some would say that he was well qualified to give such advice, having started Speed Couriers from scratch (along with Martin Rutty) and then apparently playing his part in steering it through its troubles in 2001-02.

The collapse of OnDigital, one of Speed’s largest customers, and their foray into the home delivery market caused severe problems for the business back in 2002, so it might be expected that Tim would be more wary than most of allowing a single customer to become too important to the business, of allowing a business with no history of profitable trading to run up a significant (and Read More…

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Business

Posted by Alec at 11:13 am, September 16, 2008

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MTvan gone bust?

For some weeks I’ve been controlling my anger about the latest shady trick played by Courier Finance Ltd, the owners of MTvan.com. I’d planned to write something in the next few days about their way of doing business, which I’ve considered for some time to be slightly less than honest and open.

Not content with lying to their original members about their membership fees giving them life membership, they sneakily bought the courier forum www.link4couriers.com while hiding its ownership from its members, saturating the site with advertising for their associated (and I think highly questionable) business ventures and claiming for two years that it was “by far the largest independent forum for couriers and courier owner drivers”. Independent my arse, about as independent as their courier exchange site that was actually run by a company that was quietly in competition with many of its members.

Anyway, it seems that events have overtaken me and I won’t get the chance to launch the scathing attack on their business that I had intended to. It turns out that the experienced businessmen at Courier Finance Ltd decided that after Amtrak had gone into liquidation in 2007 it would be a good idea to extend credit terms to the newly-formed Netfold Ltd, which bought the business from the liquidators. It also appears that they didn’t notice when Netfold failed to file its first accounts on time in March 2008 and seemingly continued to provide credit to them until they went into administration at the Read More…

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Scams

Posted by Alec at 7:41 pm, September 10, 2008

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Courier ‘Network’ Return Journey alerts

Steve, thanks for quoting on a couple of our jobs recently. There was nothing at all wrong with your pricing, we just prefer where possible not to have transits running about doing small van work for us. Also in both cases a regular supplier called to offer to do the jobs for us – suppliers who have helped us out in the past always get priority with us, partly because I feel we owe it to them and partly because they’re a ‘known quantity’, we know what to expect from them. I believe many ‘Network’ members operate in a similar manner to us

That may make new members feel that the system doesn’t work, or that there aren’t any jobs, but that isn’t the case at all. Every ‘trusted supplier’ that we use today was once a new ‘Network’ member and had to go through the same thing as you’re going through now. I suspect that’s why ‘Network’ has such a long minimum subscription period – to allow you to work out how to use the site to your best advantage without you just giving up after a couple of months.

As for the posting of RJs FROM your area, I personally wouldn’t put an Essex to Scotland job on unless I was going to Scotland. If I’m looking through the Directory for your area I can see your ‘See My Journeys’ button lit up and it looks to me as if you’re loaded to go to Glasgow. So I’m not going to ring you with a Basildon to Plymouth. Posting the local RJ is (I think) fine, but I’d suggest that you set the start and end points to where you are and put something in the notes like ‘Available now and ready to go anywhere’ and make sure you list it as an open-ended RJ.
 

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Basics, Uncategorized

Posted by Alec at 3:02 pm, June 26, 2008

Blocking GTM Alerts

I know that it’s possible to block yourself from receiving alerts from members that you don’t want to work for. Is it also possible to block members that we would never give a job to from receiving alerts for our GTMs?

If not, why not?

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges

Posted by Alec at 3:59 pm, June 25, 2008

Not accepting courier ‘Network’ invoices

I don’t see how you can complain that they all look similar. If everyone was to stop using ‘Network’ invoices and starts using Quickbooks you’d have the same situation.

Agreed that it’s a total ballache having the same company issuing two different invoices, pure stupidity really. If they’re going to send their own invoice then why raise the ‘Network’ invoice to start with? It’s easy to avoid the double payment problem though – just match the invoice against jour job reference or purchase order when the invoice comes in. You can only pay for each jon once, so the second invoice goes in the shredder.

I’m not sure what the “not technically legal” refers to, apart from the absence of correct business names on some of them. That’s just as common with companies’ own invoices though.
 

Posted under Accounting Systems, Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Basics, Courier Financial Issues

Posted by Alec at 9:50 am, June 25, 2008

When you join the courier ‘Network’

When you join the courier ‘Network’ do the ‘Network’ give you any advice on invoicing procedures, dealing with other members, supplying PODs etc? Is there a simple ‘how to be a ‘Network’er’ page somewhere, or a standard ‘instruction’ email?

If not then maybe we could come up with something for new members to let them know how to get the best out of the ‘Network’ and how to operate to our unwritten ‘standards’. Perhaps that would stop some of the recurring problems?

Just a thought. Any comments?

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Basics

Posted by Alec at 5:20 pm, June 21, 2008

Invoicing & Paperwork

While we’re on this subject can I point out to all our suppliers that in future we will only accept invoices printed on mauve-tinted 100gsm laid paper and delivered by carrier pigeon.

With up to TWO supplier invoices to handle a day we really don’t see why we should accept invoices delivered in any other fashion.

Oh and you can stick your £40 late payment charges where the sun doesn’t reach because in our opinion a message on a chat page is service of our notice to you that this is how we require our invoices delivered. Despite this it goes without saying that delivery of invoices by similar means is unacceptable.

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Basics, Courier Financial Issues, Late Payment

Posted by Alec at 6:30 pm, June 17, 2008