Business Insurance

5 Ways to Earn More Money as a Courier or Delivery Driver/Rider

Courier and delivery work has flourished in 2020, providing an excellent option for many in the UK looking for flexible, well-paying work. We've put together a few tips on how you can earn as much as possible with your time.

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5 Ways to Make More Money as a Courier/Delivery Person

2020 has been a difficult year for a lot of industries, however the market for online home deliveries has flourished. Research by Kantar this year estimated that close to 1 out of 5 households in the UK had ordered online delivery for their groceries—growth almost certainly driven by the pandemic and people’s desire/need to keep their distance.

Research by Statista tells a similar story—the market for home delivery is up 23.0% in revenue and 21.1% in total users year on year, and they believe the market as a whole will continue to grow by 6.5% each year between now and 2024, suggesting demand for delivery services will only continue to increase.

You may be considering delivery work as a main/alternative source of income, or perhaps you’re already working as one and looking for ways to increase your take home. Here are 5 of the best ways to earn more as a courier or delivery driver/rider in the UK.

1. Compare different companies and apps

Many couriers are signed up to more than one app—you're unlikely to make as much as others if you're only signed up to one app, so try out a few!

Experienced drivers and riders will all have a company or app they prefer to work with—whether due to the number of shifts/hours available, the pay per hour/drop or the convenience of the location. However, until you’ve tried each one yourself, you won’t know for sure which one works best, so check each one out and weigh up the benefits and disadvantages yourself.

Getting signed up isn’t overly difficult, and things have been made much more simple since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the big providers have similar insurance requirements (such as Deliveroo, JustEat and UberEats), so it shouldn’t be too difficult to sign-up with a few different deliver companies once you're insured.

Also, have a chat with a few of your fellow drivers and riders while you’re waiting to pick-up a delivery. Their insight and experience may prove invaluable in helping you work out the best ways to earn more.

2. Work with multiple businesses

There’s nothing stopping you from working with multiple delivery businesses at the same time, so being on the books with more than one can be a smart way to maximise the time you spend out on the road.

Keep in mind that working for 2 at exactly the same time is against the T&C’s of most companies, but there’s nothing to stop you from completing a delivery and logging onto another app that has more work available in your location.

It’s worth considering this alongside other factors such as rate of pay—it may still be worth being signed up with a provider that pays slightly less, if they’re able to help fill the gaps in your work throughout the day.

3. Use peak hours and heat maps to your advantage.

The driver market is extremely competitive, especially in big cities, and so there may be times you’re waiting around waiting for a delivery to become available. This, obviously, isn’t the most efficient way to spend your time.

Uber’s advice to drivers in Australia probably won’t surprise you but is extremely valuable—drivers are busiest on Friday and Saturday nights (and into the early hours of the morning as people attempt to find their ways home..) and “busier than usual” as people try to get to and from work Monday-Friday (7AM-8AM, 5PM-6PM).

Peak times for food delivery are lunch time and dinner time. Driving work is busiest at the weekends and during morning/evening commutes.

Deliveroo’s top tips to riders and drivers are similarly predictable. “Super peak” for deliveries covers Friday, Saturday and Sunday 7-9PM. Couriers are also especially busy during national holidays and events, so if you don’t mind working on a bank holiday keep an eye on the calendar for dates like Easter and New Year’s. Apart from that, lunch (11AM-2PM) and dinner (7PM-9PM) are busier than the rest of the day, so keep an eye out for these times across the food delivery apps.

While being smart about your hours is important, it’s as important to be in an area where people are actually ordering. Your ideal location has a high number of orders and a low number of available drivers. Many apps have a “heat map” to guide couriers to the best spots—moving to a new location can prove highly effective, even given the time spent getting over there.

4. Drive efficiently and use an economical vehicle

While it’s probably fair to say there’s no vehicle more economical than a bicycle for couriers, if you are going to use a motor vehicle then it’s advisable to pick one that will help save you money on petrol and maintenance costs.

Picking a vehicle popular with your fellow delivery drivers and riders is often a safe bet, as they’ll likely have the same cost considerations you do (and you’ll know their vehicle is accepted by whichever provider they work for!). For more information, take a look at our guide to the best vehicles for couriers. The vehicle you choose will also impact how much you pay for delivery driver insurance.

Keep an eye out for smart routes—your app will usually give you the best available, but learning the local area might give you some ways to save on time, especially during traffic or if a route has a number of red lights or busy junctions that can take a while to get through.

5. Service with a smile

Smiling at customers can feel like a chore, especially after a long day, but the rewards are almost always worth it.

Tips are one of the most effective ways to make more money as a delivery driver. Most apps will let you keep 100% of any tip you receive, and you can be tipped with either cash in person or over the app.

While customers are undoubtedly less likely to tip for a delivery than a sit-down meal in a restaurant, there are a few simple things you can do to increase the likelihood of receiving a little bit extra for your work.

  • Smile at the customer and address them by their name, ask them how their day is going
  • Deliver their goods/food quickly (but don’t break speed limits to do so—the fine won’t be worth it!)
  • Apologise if the delivery was delayed and explain why, even if you’re not at fault
  • Say goodbye and wish them a nice day as you leave

Most delivery/courier companies don’t pay more if you’re well rated by your customers, but you can be eligible for awards and incentives if you’re a high performer, so do keep these in mind as another way to earn a little extra.

Luke Masters

Prior to NimbleFins, Luke studied economics at Brunel University and worked at FreshMinds, Investigo and BMW. His work in data analytics, pricing, strategy and business development helped him write business insurance content to support SMEs at NimbleFins. He now works at DataPOWA, a sports & entertainment data analytics company. Read more on LinkedIn.