CDVs, MPVs, short wheelbases, long wheel bases, dropsides, Lutons and bespoke conversions. The list is endless, especially when you bring specification, payload, make and model into the mix, making decisions around vehicle and supplier selection difficult for business owners. Choosing the wrong vehicles or vehicle acquisition method can result in huge cost and efficiency implications for you and your business. This article will offer advice to ensure you choose the right vehicle and the right supplier to help you avoid making decisions that could end up hurting your business financially.
Price and vehicle acquisition
Price is often at the top of the list when considering vehicle acquisition. It can help narrow your choices immediately, but there’s more than just the price tag to consider. Whilst lower purchase price or monthly lease payments can be important considerations, their importance shouldn’t override other aspects of vehicle selection. Making the wrong decisions could mean your business ends up paying a hefty price further down the line.
When choosing a vehicle, businesses should think about the long-term as well as the short term. Being tied into the wrong vehicle could prove financially inefficient long-term. Read our vehicle acquisition blog post to find out how such decisions can impact on a business’s financial health.
So, what do you need to consider? The key is to work in collaboration with the managers, drivers and other personnel to identify the vehicle needs and base decisions on the functional requirements as well as financial. Take a stepped approach to identify the most suitable vehicle and fleet size that are fit for purpose.
As the driver will be spending the majority of the time in the vehicle, they should play an integral role in the vehicle selection process. It’s essential to ensure they find the vehicle comfortable and suitable for use – the likelihood is that if a driver dislikes their vehicle, they are less likely to treat it with respect. Many manufacturers are turning their attention to the in-cab aesthetics and ergonomics in a bid to improve driver experience. Speak to your drivers and see what they need in their day-to-day jobs – what would make their life easier? At this point it can be a good idea to have your drivers test drive different vehicles to ensure the right one is selected.
Another consideration is whether or not your drivers have enough experience to drive the preferred vehicle. If you’re making significant changes to your fleet, are you sure your drivers will be comfortable behind the wheel of these new vehicles? Ensuring your drivers are fully prepared in any situation will reduce road collision risk. For more advice on this topic, read our blog on corporate manslaughter.
Assessing what payload and access to load space you require from a van should be one of the first considerations you make – mistakes on vehicle size can be costly. Choose a van that’s too small and you risk not being able to complete jobs and lose business. Choose a van too large and you’ll end up paying to transport air.
Unsuitable payload will affect fuel efficiency, not to mention risk serious consequences such as criminal convictions for drivers and companies when a vehicle is overloaded. Information on loading your van correctly can be found through the DVSA on the gov.uk website.
If you’ve spoken to your drivers and other key personnel then you should have a good idea of what your drivers want from the vans, but your drivers’ opinions may overlook other considerations such as fuel type, annual mileage and journey type.
Engine size is often confused with power and performance and whilst some consider there to be a relationship between the two, it is more beneficial to consider the number of passengers, load, destination and length of the journey in order to give you a better understanding of the engine size required. The greater the load, the greater the power required.
Then comes the consideration of which fuel to choose. Will your vehicles be primarily used for long journeys up and down the motorway, or does your business require vehicles that are suitable for urban locations with a lot of stopping and starting? Do you require the torque that diesels engines offer? Or perhaps the lower list price of the petrol engine appeals to you? Whatever attributes you are looking for, Parker’s have published a really useful article on the pros and cons of diesel and petrol vans.
You also need to think about how many miles your vehicles are likely to clock up in a year, as this can influence any finance agreement you commit to, should you go for the contract hire or leasing option. If mileage is not properly taken into consideration, you could be left with hefty penalties at the end of your agreement. Mileage also has an influence on fuel choice and it is common practice for business owners to select diesel engines when they know high mileage is on the cards.
Whilst there are various efficiency measures that you and your drivers can take to reduce fuel spend, fuel efficiency can also be achieved through choosing the right make and model. The gov.uk website provides a handy little tool for checking fuel consumption and emissions figures for vans. Our previous blog also offers advice on how you can keep your fuel costs low.
All businesses are changeable and the most successful are able to adapt to external changes and maximise opportunities. Is your business looking to grow or downsize? Is the number of vehicles required likely to change? If the future does look uncertain, it is important to take this into consideration when selecting the right commercial vehicle supplier. In unpredictable times, it can be sensible to re-evaluate your vehicle acquisition strategy and possibly consider an alternative way to source your vehicles. Purchasing, contract hire or lease aren’t right for every business.
Ensuring that all of the above points have been addressed before you commit to any vehicle acquisition decisions will prevent any costly mistakes later down the line, and, the larger the fleet – the greater the risk. Running the wrong vehicles not only puts your business at risk, but also could be a major barrier to you running your business more efficiently.