Articles » Drivers - A day in the life » My day as a Van driver
I started my day at 8.30 in Sandyford Industrial Estate. I had a Sofa in my van from the night before which I was to drop into Auction Exchange. www.auctionxchange.ie . Auction exchange is a great place that has become South Dublin’s’ best auction house. I have used it to drop Sofas, Wardrobes and all types of Office furniture for sale. I even bought my Transit van there. It was their old van and mine was on its last legs. They replaced theirs with a box body van with a tail lift. They collect filling cabinets so needed the tail lift for the heavier items. As a man and van service we are asked to take stuff away to be recycled all the time. It costs me money to recycle and if I can get some money for the furniture left over from a house move or office move, this is where I bring them. There are staff there who help but usually as a van driver I would have a second pair of hands to help me with the lifting if needed. A lot of Office moves and house moves require two people as sofas are getting bigger and heavier with recliners.
I am finished in auction exchange by 9.00 and head for my first regular appointment. At 10.00 I arrive at IKEA, http://www.ikea.com/ie/en/store/Dublin. I work for a removals company that have a contract with IKEA and deliver in the greater Dublin area. That includes parts of Meath and Kildare. If I’m lucky I get something I can drop off on my way home to Wicklow. As you know IKEA does everything from Office equipment to Sofas, Beds and wardrobes. These are flat packed so a Transit van like mine can hold quite a lot of stock. The larger Luton box body vans can hold significantly more but access to front doors of houses makes these hit and miss. After taking my order of wardrobes, beds, sofas and office furniture, I head off to do my rounds of Dublin. This is where vanquotes comes into its own.
I had booked in 3 jobs from vanquotes for today. 3 jobs is quite a lot for me to book in but being a man with a van you get to realise to take work when it comes in. I work Saturdays and Sundays and evenings if required. I know that the following week I may be doing nothing. The first of the 3 jobs fits in nicely with my drop offs for IKEA. I have to pick up a washing machine and a single bed in Clondalkin and drop it off in Lucan. This is only a 15 minute drive door to door and took less than an hour in total. It fitted in well as I was dropping off some office furniture in Tallaght so Clondalkin was just a short trip away. I did not need any help with the small move and it fleshed out my day. I had done most of my IKEA drop offs by 1 pm but still had a few left that were outside Dublin, Drogheda and Nass to be exact. On my way to Drogheda I picked up a sofa in Swords and dropped it off in Balbriggan. This is a perfect example of Vanquotes giving me jobs that fit my schedule and don’t put me out of my way. Basically en route to Drogheda for no extra fuel cost and barely any time I got an extra job in. The sofa was not a recliner so the customer was able to help me lift it into and out of the van. Customers these days are always looking to save some money and helping lifting and loading a van is just one way to keep the costs down. I can get an extra person to help but if it involves keeping extra help in the van for a full day for a small job it gets expensive. Being a van and a van operator I sometimes feel I need a degree in logistics. I have to plan the route I take with a few variables.
- * The quickest way saves fuel and therefore keeps the price for moving home or office down.
- * I have to coordinate my route with when customers are at home or available to help. Some operators always have a second person in the van but we still need to get into the house so the customer is always involved.
- * The van has to be filled in a certain way. That washing machine and bed drop off to Lucan was in and out so that was easy but there are times I might put the contents of a small office into the van in the morning and not unload till later that day. I have to make sure that when I am unloading the van I have easy access and nothing gets damaged moving other bits around.
- * Always allow for problems. Having a side door on my transit van allows me to move stuff from the front of the van to the back and therefore if someone is not home for a drop off I can put it to the back of the list and move it to the back of the van. Other vans like the Luton Box body van are ideal for full house moves but when it comes to small drops like sofas and beds I think the transit style van is perfect for the man and van service.
My trip back towards Nass brings me along the M50 and also via my last vanquotes pick up/drop off. I have a small apartment move to do from Blanchardstown to Terenure. I get there for 3.30. Small apartment moves are my favourite moves. A typical transit van can hold the following, a double bed, a 3 seater sofa, a few bookshelves, a table and 6 chairs (legs to come off the table), a coffee table, a TV and TV stand, a Chest of drawers, a hall table and about 20 boxes or bags. This load is typical for a small apartment move. Ideally the customer has everything ready and is willing to help. Sometimes they have roped in a few friends to help. That is what they have done on this occasion. Before giving a price for this move I had made sure there were no surprises when I arrived. I knew there was a lift, I knew my van would not fit into the underground carpark but I could get close to the front door and I knew there would be extra help there. Knowing all this I had given 2 hours for the move. That may not seem a lot for an Apartment move but if all is ready and there are a few hands to help that is all it should take. We loaded the van starting with the larger items like the sofa and the bed. The bed was promised to be dismantled already and it was separate apart from the headboard. I have some Allen keys in the van and this only took a second. A Van driver should always be prepared for situations like this and carry a range of tools for taking apart wardrobes, beds, tables etc; to turning off water so you can move washing machines. After the larger items were loaded then I loaded the smaller items fill up spaces. There were a number of pictures and mirrors which I wrapped in blankets and strapped upright in the van behind the double mattress. A full van means items are more secure and don’t move about as much. This means that there is less chance of damage. The van was loaded in 50 minutes. It took 25 minutes to drive between the collection and drop off destination and 40 minutes to unload. Bang on time. Unloading a van nearly always takes less time than unloading. When loading a van you have to take care to make everything secure. Unloading is easier. Usually the customer wants the furniture placed in the correct rooms. That sofa gets dropped to the sitting room along with the TV and stand and the bedroom stuff went upstairs. Boxes are named so it made it easy for us to know where they are going. I got a nice tip for this job and as normal I passed on a few cards. The customer has an office in Donnybrook and is moving to Merrion Square before the summer so I am hoping she will give me a call. She also has a sister who is renting in Castleknock and hoping to buy soon so I may get a few calls back from this move, which is why it always pays to be polite and professional.
I am now in rush hour traffic and still have the Nass drop off left from IKEA. I knew this customer was not going to be home till after 6pm so I am not in any rush. The traffic has improved since the new flyover on the N7 but there is still a backlog just before the turnoff for Greenouge Business Park. I get to Nass about 6.30 and unload the chest of drawers, bed and wardrobe and start to make my way home.
Today was a long day but tomorrow I am much quieter. I have a few drop offs in Dublin from IKEA and only one job from Vanquotes. It’s a small one dropping some filling cabinets from an office move from Bray to Wicklow town so I’ve planned this on my way home to make it easier for me. I will clean out my van tomorrow afternoon about 3 when I get home and get ready for Saturday. Saturday is the day most people want to move home and office. They don’t have to take time off and can get help. Saturday is the busiest day for a removal company. The day that I wrote about is typical and I love this type of work. In my van I am my own boss and every day is different.