It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve been in business for years or a new start-up. You might be dreaming of a shiny new van for your shiny new business or it may just be time to replace the battered old van you bought a decade ago from that bloke down the pub.
Either way, or even if you’re somewhere in between the two, if you’ve never leased a van before it’s always useful to have an idea of how the whole thing works. Not so much in terms of the lease itself but how your lease company can help you get the right product at the right price for your business.
We can’t speak for every lease provider but as far as we are concerned it’s all about making sure our customers aren’t just driving the cheapest van, but also the right van for their business. We all know price is important but there’s not much point bagging the bargain of the century if it’s for a product that doesn’t meet your needs. When it comes to matching a customer to a van our priority is finding out exactly what you need so we can help you get what you want.
With that in mind we’ve compiled this handy guide to the kind of questions we ask our lease customers. Understanding exactly what you want from your van is the first step to ensuring you don’t waste time and money on your lease vehicle.
What are you using the vehicle for?
It may sound obvious but different businesses have different requirements. A Florist, a Plumber, and a Courier service can all make use of a van but there’s not much chance the same van will suit all three. Knowing the nature of your business helps us narrow down the options quickly, and while there will always be exceptions it’s a good place to start the conversation.
What size of van do you need?
The days of the one-size-fits-all van are long gone. Most manufacturers produce a single range of commercial vehicles that can be specified in a variety of sizes. You can choose different options for wheelbase, height, and internal configurations so knowing what size you require is more important than ever. A larger van may sound great but if you only ever half-fill it you’re wasting money, likewise a smaller van may prove cheaper but if you have to do twice as many trips you’re wasting your time.
What are you carrying? Do you need racking, roof racks etc?
Some things won’t fit in a van very easily regardless of how big it might be. Some things are so small that if you just threw them in the back you’d lose them in minutes. You can adapt your van with internal racking, roof racks, and other storage options. This gives you the option to maybe opt for a smaller van and put larger items on the roof, or a larger van that helps keep you more organised and efficient.
What payload do you require? How much weight will you be carrying?
For many businesses this won’t actually be a consideration but it’s worth taking a moment to double check. Similar to the size of the van the weight it can safely - and legally - carry is an important factor. If your business sells boxes of fresh air then it’s unlikely you’ll ever exceed the weight limit; if you’re in the gold business it won’t take much to strain your suspension.
Do you need to carry crew? Double cab /combi/crew cab etc?
A van used to have three seats in the front and a huge empty space behind and that was about it. That approach doesn’t really work any more as there are so many different uses. If you need lots of load space but only ever drive alone then there’s nothing wrong with the traditional set-up. If you have to transport staff between sites you might want to sacrifice some load space for lots of seats. If you still need the load space but occasionally have to squeeze a few more people in an extra row of seats in a Combi may be all you need.
What spec do you require?
In terms of specification choosing a van is no different to choosing a car. Van drivers are increasingly wanting comfort features so finding sat nav, air conditioning, cruise control, voice recognition,and the like in a van is not unusual.
Consider if any regulations come into play?
For the vast majority this will never be an issue but it’s worth bearing in mind. The way you use your van can affect the legal requirements placed upon its use. You may need to take into consideration things like driving licence requirements, tachograph use, maximum weight limits, and the like. If you aren’t sure we are here to help guide you through the regulations.
Type of access to the van
There’s nothing worse than trying to find something in the back of your van that you can’t reach without unloading half the contents on to the pavement. If you only drive a small van it may not be much of a problem but for larger vans a side access door may be an absolute necessity. It will all depend on the size and intended use of the vehicle but getting it right first time could be the difference between loving or hating your van.
Any specialist requirements such as conversions?
Most manufacturers offer the possibility of converting a basic chassis into a different type of vehicle entirely. Tow truck, refrigerated transport, ambulance, lift platform, the list is almost endless. If your business needs a specialist vehicle then choosing the base model it’s built on is only half the task. Conversions can be done either by the manufacturer or by third party approved specialists. These conversions are often built to order which can mean waiting times for your new van could be slightly longer than usual.
Are you worried about damage?
As it is a lease vehicle technically your van belongs to the lease provider. When lease costs are calculated the condition of the vehicle at the end of the term is one of the things that has an impact on the cost of the lease to your business. We aren’t going to tell you how to use your van, and we know general wear and tear is entirely normal, but it’s worth remembering that chucking stuff in the back and denting the panels when things roll around could cost you money in terms of the finance terms on offer, and even limit your choice of van.
What about Mileage and maintenance?
Like the overall condition we just mentioned, mileage will have a big impact on your leasing costs too. The lower the annual mileage the less you are likely to pay for the lease. When you arrange a lease all we can realistically expect is an educated guess on your annual mileage. The one piece of advice that applies to any lease vehicle is that it’s always better to overestimate. Excess mileage can be charged at the end of a lease and could be a considerable amount if you drastically underestimated when you signed the paperwork. As for maintenance our advice is always to opt for a maintained lease agreement. While you are using the vehicle you are responsible for maintaining it properly. Like excess mileage, a missed service could end up costing you more at the end of the lease. A maintained agreement includes servicing and maintenance costs in the monthly lease price so you don’t need to worry about any of that.
This is by no means an comprehensive list of things to think about when leasing a van. We know every business has different requirements. Our aim is just to give you the basics that you need to consider so you won’t wonder why we’re asking all these questions when you call us to discuss leasing your brand new van.
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