What’s it like to be a van driver?
What is it like to be a van driver? Here I interview Carl Edmunds on his career as a courier driver.
LPOD: What do you do for a living?
CARL: I drive a van for a living.
LPOD: How long have you been a van driver?
CARL: I’ve been a van driver for about 8 years now.
LPOD: How did you get into it?
CARL: My ex brother-in-law did it. At the time I was having some difficulties in the job I was in, so I looked at a career change.
LPOD: How easy was it to get started?
CARL: It was quite easy. I started with a courier company who was taking on van drivers.
LPOD: What kind of work do you do?
CARL: I deliver parcels all over the UK for clients for the company I work with.
LPOD: What is the job like?
CARL: the job can be very good, but then again it can be quite bad. It averages out though. Some days are good and some days are bad.
LPOD: What kind of things do you deliver?
CARL: It can be many things, from computer systems to aeroplane parts. The jobs are very different.
LPOD: Are you employed or self-employed?
CARL: I am self-employed, many courier jobs only offer self-employed work.
LPOD: What are the advantages of being self-employed?
CARL: There are many advantages. With any kind of work, you have your ups and downs. Having to rely on cash-flow is a challenge and doing books every week is a skill and something that needs to be learnt.
LPOD: What are the disadvantages of being a van driver?
CARL: You rely on cash flow. Very often you have to work for a few weeks in advance before contractors pay for the job. In my job it is three weeks in lieu.
LPOD: What is it like day-to-day?
CARL: Every day is different. Sometimes I have a pre-booked job, and sometimes I don’t. Every day is different. I travel all over the country.
LPOD: What do you do if your van breaks down?
CARL: Panic. If I don’t have a vehicle working, I can’t earn money. It is very expensive to hire a van on a short-term basis. I keep some savings aside for this eventuality.
LPOD: Are you able to work weekends?
CARL: Yes. If there is work you can, if there isn’t any work, then you can’t. I tend to be on-call every other weekend. It’s pot luck whether there is any work.
LPOD: What’s it like being stuck in traffic?
CARL: LOL, traffic. It’s part and parcel of the job. If you have a deadline, it can be quite stressful knowing you could be late. London is the worst place to get stuck in.
LPOD: Do you need specialist insurance?
CARL: Yes. I have courier insurance. I need it to be a courier driver. It covers goods in transit up to one million pounds.
LPOD: Have you done any advanced/further training?
CARL: NO. It’s not something that has been asked of me. As I am self-employed, my driving shouldn’t mis-represent the company, as I don’t have their logo on my van.
LPOD: Should you have their signage?
CARL: Yes. But, for some reason I don’t.
LPOD: Do you work for multiple companies?
CARL: No. When you are on-call, it is very difficult to multi task jobs with other companies. If you don’t take jobs when they are on offer, then they will just stop giving you work eventually.
LPOD: What is it like waiting for the phone to ring?
CARL: It can be quite stressful. Your life can be put on hold sometimes. You may wait all day to get a job, and then all off a sudden at teatime, you need to head to Scotland.
LPOD: Do you ever travel abroad?
CARL: Yes. Not very often, but sometimes I do. My last trip was to Italy. The tolls were very expensive. As I work three weeks in lieu, I had to budget for the fuel and the cost of the tolls before I got paid for them. It can be quite costly.
LPOD: Do you get much work in the winter?
CARL: It depends. If it is contract work then sometimes, if it is a one-off job, then it is dependent on the work.
LPOD: Do you earn a good living?
CARL: LOL not really. My accountant sorts out my tax and expenses. But on paper it doesn’t pay well. I guess that is dependent on the company you work for.
LPOD: Do you plan on remaining a courier driver?
CARL: No. It can be good when its good, but when it is bad. It isn’t great. I am looking into other options.