I know it’s a strange question but recently the wife and I spent some time delivering BT telephone directories here in the UK. The first time we delivered them was last summer when one of our teenage sons was looking for a way to earn some money and found an advert to delivery phone books. I agreed that we would do it together and split the money, he only asked me as he needed my car. We was given 2 rounds, each of about 1000 telephone directories to deliver locally. We wasn’t very organised and unsurprisingly our son lost interest after about half of the first round was completed, leaving the wife and I to complete the rest and since then we have completed a few rounds.
There was no intention to blog about it, for a start I am not a regular blogger as you can see its been about 18 months since my last post, but just a couple of days I read http://fromalditoharrods.com/delivering-bt-phonebooks-via-thomson-local/ where the author had a bad experience and felt strong enough to post about it so, although their post is a couple of years old, I would post about our experience delivering the phone books.
The first two rounds we completed took a number of days and what we was due to get paid didn’t appear to make it a worth while job to do but a few days after I notified the company that we had completed the rounds we received a phone call asking if we could do another, not thinking about it I agreed and was given another local round. After this call I looked at the paper work we got when we collected the telephone books and in the terms and conditions it states the pay is ‘developed in line with the National Minimum Wage Guide’ and when I worked it out there is no way we completed the first two rounds quick enough to earn the minimum wage so I wanted to work out why.
Firstly we had no way to carry the phone books so we each carried a pack of books each, delivered them and then returned to the car to get another pack. This is a big mistake, obviously returning to the car after you have delivered a pack (15 to 20 books) is not efficient, nor is trying to post a phone book through a letter box while carrying up to 20 books is not easy and slows you down.
Secondly we did not plan our route properly, so we was wasting time looking for the next street to deliver to.
Thirdly, while I was delivering one side of the road, my wife was going up the other side so when we got to the end of the street we had to walk back down the street doing nothing, wasting time.
When we collected the phone books for the next round we got hold of a shopping trolley, this mean we could load it with a number of packs to reduce the number of times we have to return for more books. We then had a look at the map and route list you are given and worked out the route we would take.
The two of us, now our son had decided not to do it any more, went out and completed the round but still wasted time, popping home for a cup of coffee or a sandwich, or a comfort break etc. but we still managed to improve on the time it took to complete.
About two weeks after completing the rounds we received the payments straight into our bank account and as far as we was concerned that was it as all of the rounds in the area had been completed. Not a bad experience overall and a bit of extra cash in the bank.
A couple of months later we then received a SMS message out of the blue from the distribution company asking if we would be interested in more rounds, not the phone book this time but a local council publication. We completed two rounds in good time compared to before and again earned a few quid.
It seems we had now got our system as good as we can, and in November we took on a few rounds for another telephone directory covering another local area. After doing a couple of rounds we then got a text offering a 25% bonus on any new rounds if they are completed within the normal 7 days. You guessed it we took on another couple of rounds. A few days later another text came offering 50% bonus and payment would be made before Christmas. Unfortunately there rounds available where too far away to make it worth while doing even at the higher rate.
In January we was offered yet another area, this time the company has a self service web site so you can browse through the delivery routes available, see how many directories are to be delivered, how much they pay and the best bit they provide a map and list of streets. This makes things so much better when it comes to planning your route.
So back to the question’Can you make money delivering phone books?’, the answer is yes, below is a what I have learned from the earlier rounds:
Make life easier
Don’t try to carry lots of phone books in your arms, it makes things harder when trying to post through a letter box. Using a shoulder bag, a bit like a paper boy would make things easier but these books get heavy and after a while you’re shoulder will know about it. We use a shopping trolley, what my son calls a ‘granny trolley’, it is easy to move and puts little stress on the limbs.
Pick your round wisely
If the company you are dealing with has a self service web site, utilize it. I open up google maps in a new tab and using street view look at what types of properties are on the round. How far is the round from home, travelling to a round isn’t a problem if it pays enough. I will only take a round on more than a few miles away if I know I can complete it in one hit.
If there are blocks of flats, do they have letter boxes downstairs or do you have to climb lots of stairs, if so if using a trolley will you be happy leaving it at the bottom of the stairwell. Generally flats are quick an easy, no driveways to walk up etc so you can get them done quicker.
How much do you get paid?
Normally the pay you get is about 6.5-7 pence per phone book but it could be higher depending on the round. Based on the normal pay, you need to deliver about 100 books an hour to earn minimum wage. This is where the property type on the round mentioned above makes a different. Flats and terraced houses are by far the quickest to deliver to, normally there is little walking between front doors. In the area I have been delivering to I have done streets of 80 terraced houses (40 each side of the road) in half an hour. Older estates, tend to take longer, they generally have a front garden slowing down the time it takes from door to door. New estates are in the middle of the two, the doors are generally not as close as on a terraced street, but the front gardens/driveways are normally a lot smaller than the older estates.
Remember it is unlikely that you will get a round of just flats or terraced houses, so make sure you consider the properties you are delivering to and the amount of time it will take.
Is the pay for a round as good as it looks?
If you look on the self service web site if it is available you can check how much you will get, take the total pay and divide my number of books and you will get the price per book. As I said earlier this is normally about 6.5 to 7 pence a book but could be higher. I am looking at the site as I type and see a round of 430 books earning £85, about 20 pence a book, yet just below it is a round of 1240 books for £77, about 6.5 pence per book. Looking at the maps it appears the first round is more rural, this could mean larger distances between streets, or maybe farms etc with longer driveways meaning it takes longer to get from door to door.
I personally take the total pay and divide it by the minimum wage (£6.5o hour at time or writing) and assume that it expected to take you the resulting number of hours to complete, ie £85/£6.50 could take about 13 hours, yet the larger round @ £77 should take upto 12 hours. Hopefully you will complete it in less time than that.
Do they pay?
Based on my experience yes but it’s not immediate as the distribution company has to verify that you have delivered books and not just thrown them away. For every round I have completed the money has appeared in my bank in about 2 weeks.
I don’t think I would do this as a full time job, but I think it’s an ideal bit of casual work if you are between jobs or looking to earn an extra bit of cash for a planned event such as a holiday etc.
Don’t forget this is casual self employed work so you are liable to sort out any tax that is due on your earnings.
If this is something that appeals to you then you can register at https://www.bookyourroute.com.