When you’re a courier, unexpected events can become an everyday affair.

That’s why learning how to deal with the unexpected as a courier is crucial for every business in this industry.

Whether you’re contending with a broken down vehicle, a stolen parcel, a sudden delay, or even a natural disaster, the manner in which you handle these unforeseen events can make or break your business.

So, let’s delve into the murky world of the unexpected and equip you with practical tips to stay on top of new challenges when everything seems to go awry.


The unexpected: unveiled and unpacked

The courier industry can be fraught with uncertainties, and your business may face several unexpected situations.

  1. Traffic Accidents: Accidents involving the courier vehicle could result in delivery delays and damage to parcels.
  2. Vehicle Breakdowns: An unexpected mechanical issue could immobilise a delivery vehicle, leading to missed delivery schedules.
  3. Theft: Packages could be stolen during transit or from the delivery vehicle.
  4. Lost Parcels: A parcel could be misplaced or delivered to the wrong address.
  5. Severe Weather Conditions: Extreme weather, such as storms, heavy rain, or bushfires, could impede delivery routes.
  6. Road Closures: Unexpected road closures or detours due to construction or accidents could cause delays.
  7. Incorrect Delivery Information: Incorrect or incomplete delivery information could lead to failed delivery attempts.
  8. Injured Personnel: A courier might suffer an injury during work, impacting their ability to make deliveries.
  9. Failure of Technology: Breakdown of vital technology, such as GPS or delivery management software, could cause disruptions.
  10. Unexpected High Demand: Sudden spikes in demand for deliveries, such as during holidays or a pandemic, could strain resources and impact delivery times.

When unexpected events strike, they leave a domino effect in their wake – so it’s a good idea to look at the big picture.

The impact is not just the immediate inconvenience or loss; it can cause long-lasting damage to your business.

Financial losses are the most direct and obvious consequence. Lost or damaged goods can result in compensations or replacements, and delays can lead to a breach of contract penalties.

Beyond financial repercussions, the damage to your reputation can be even more detrimental. Customers rely on couriers for timely and safe deliveries. When you can’t meet these expectations, it shakes their trust, and rebuilding that faith can be a painstaking process.


Risk management: your shield against unexpected turns

A risk management plan can do wonders when dealing with unexpected things that crop up while you’re on the job, and can also help you feel a little bit more in control.

So take a deep breath and look at incorporating the following.

1. Develop a Contingency Plan

In courier services, a well-prepared contingency plan is a blueprint for survival.

These plans involve preparing for a range of scenarios, such as a delivery vehicle breakdown, unexpected traffic, or sudden change in demand.

This could mean having backup vehicles on standby, alternative routes mapped out, or additional staff during peak periods.

Such planning helps to minimise disruption to services and maintain customer satisfaction.

2. Comprehensive Training

The quality of training your staff receives can make a huge difference when unexpected situations arise.

Drivers should be trained in defensive driving techniques to prevent accidents, and they should understand security protocols to prevent theft.

Customer service training can also help manage upset clients during delays.

Additionally, first aid training is an excellent asset in the event of a medical emergency on the job.

3. Invest in Technology

Today’s technology offers a multitude of tools to manage the unexpected.

GPS tracking allows for real-time tracking of vehicles, helping to reroute drivers when necessary.

Delivery management software can automate processes, schedule deliveries efficiently and provide valuable data for ongoing improvement.

In essence, the right technology can act as an early warning system, helping you anticipate and address problems before they escalate – and you can also enjoy the positive changes you’ll likely see by incorporating new technologies, too.

4. Insure Your Business

Courier insurance provides a safety net when things go wrong.
Comprehensive coverage should include vehicle insurance to cover damages from accidents or breakdowns, liability insurance in case your business is held responsible for damages, and workers’ compensation insurance to protect your employees in case of work-related injuries.

Having the right insurance coverage can save your business from potentially crippling financial losses.

5. Regular Vehicle Maintenance

An unexpected vehicle breakdown can throw a wrench into your delivery schedule.

Regularly scheduled maintenance checks can help identify potential issues before they become serious problems. This includes regular oil changes, tyre checks, brake inspections and more.

Preventative maintenance helps ensure the reliability and safety of your vehicles, reducing the risk of unexpected breakdowns.

6. Effective Communication

Open and effective communication with your team and customers can make a significant difference when dealing with unexpected situations.

Informing customers promptly about delays or problems builds trust and understanding.

Clear communication with your people ensures they know how to handle different scenarios and reduces confusion in stressful situations.

7. Secure Packaging

Damage to parcels can lead to financial losses and disgruntled customers.

Using robust and secure packaging can help protect the contents during transit, reducing the risk of damage.

This could mean investing in high-quality packaging materials or training staff on proper packaging techniques.

8. Health and Safety Measures

Prioritising health and safety can prevent accidents and injuries, leading to fewer disruptions.

This could involve regular safety training, promoting a culture of safety within the workplace, and ensuring all safety equipment is up-to-date and properly maintained.

9. Keep Up-to-date Records

Detailed record-keeping is essential in identifying and addressing issues.

This could involve tracking deliveries, keeping maintenance records for vehicles, and logging any incidents or problems.

Good record-keeping helps identify patterns, track progress, and provide a paper trail if disputes arise.

10. Seek Legal Advice

Having a legal advisor on your side can be invaluable, especially when dealing with serious incidents or legal claims.

They can guide you on the best course of action, help you understand your obligations and rights, and provide support if legal action is taken against your business.

Legal advice can help you navigate complex situations and reduce potential legal risks.


Insurance: your safety net

Alongside risk management strategies, insurance plays a crucial role in protecting your business. Liability insurance, vehicle insurance, and workers’ compensation are some forms of insurance that you need to consider.

Liability insurance protects you if your business is held legally responsible for damage to a third party. Vehicle insurance covers your delivery vehicles in the event of accidents, theft, or other damages. Workers’ compensation insurance, on the other hand, protects you and your employees in case of work-related injuries or illnesses.


Safeguard your business

In the courier industry, unexpected circumstances are always around the corner.

A sudden breakdown, a stolen package, a surprise road closure – they’re all part and parcel of the job.

But with the right strategies in place, you can turn these unexpected events from potential catastrophes into manageable incidents.

By adequately insuring your business, investing in technology and training, and implementing thorough contingency plans, you can navigate the unpredictable and keep your courier business on the road to success.

If you need a little bit of help with couriers insurance, give us a call – we can stop a small problem from becoming a big problem, and help ensure a good outcome.

August 10, 2023

By Graham Knight

Founder and Managing Director of GSK Insurance (established in 1981). Graham draws upon more than 50 years’ experience in the insurance industry, working in both insurance and broking across various private, public and government sectors in Australia.

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