Different industries demand different skill sets, and working in the courier industry requires specific abilities. Excellent driving habits go without saying, and yet an owner driver must also learn how to keep accounts and deal with clients. However, there are many ‘soft skills’ that are useful in any line of work, such as time management and a perfect handshake. Trivial as some of these skills may appear, first impressions are exceedingly important for owner drivers. Impressing your client with a firm handshake or consistently spot-on time keeping can pay off in future recommendations and reviews.
Communication is Key
As any owner driver knows, courier work can seem like an endless chain of forms and documents. Although these papers are important, as they ensure that both you and the client are on the same page, they cannot replace the benefits of spoken communication. It is essential that you have a clear and easily understandable speaking voice to help you communicate with others over the phone and in person. A confident and professional tone will encourage a new client to trust you, and therefore increase return business. Both your written and spoken communications should be accurate and comprehensible, which is imperative for avoiding delays caused by misunderstandings.
Body Language Counts
You’d be surprised if you really considered how much notice we all take of body language. It can tell you if someone is upset or angry, whether they are likely to make a deal with us or not, or whether they are hiding something. It shouldn’t come as a shock to hear that your customers will be paying attention to your body language – even if they’re doing it subconsciously.
Your posture and gestures can put a customer at ease or make them wary of you, so it’s crucial to build up a good rapport with your clients through open and friendly body language. Shake hands with those you interact with, as people appreciate this small gesture of recognition and respect. Equally, when picking up or dropping off a package, try to engage with those around you, rather than beginning to think about your next job – this will put you at risk of appearing disconnected and uninterested.
Tick Tock Time Management
Time management may be the most important soft skill, especially for owner drivers. Effective time management – turning up for pickups and deliveries when expected, issuing bills and other documents quickly, loading your vehicle swiftly – makes everyone’s day much easier. What’s more, a driver who has a reputation for always being in the right place at the right time will not have to look far for work.
Develop Your Sixth Sense
This point is particularly applicable to the transport industry. It is about learning to ‘read the road ahead’ and getting to know your area like the back of your hand so that you can predict traffic jams, take little-known short cuts and never get stumped by diversions. Increasing your geographical awareness will help you navigate the roads with confidence and efficiency, ensuring that you can always be on time.
Now that you know how to impress your clients, all you need to do is practice and you’ll soon be charming customers like a pro!
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day owner driver courier jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,000 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.