If you own a successful business, your reliance on an efficient van fleet for deliveries is probably growing day by day. However, unless you are large enough to have a designated transport or fleet manager, you may find that managing your fleet can be a complex and financially problematic area.
One of the best ways to mitigate any issues is to select the right vehicles for your business needs. This may sound easy, but in practice we know that vehicles perform differently depending on their application and the demands placed upon them.
Identifying your own transportation requirements and matching those up to the range of vehicles on offer can be difficult. So here are 5 essential tips to picking the right vehicles for your van fleet:
> Be clear about your business needs and goals
It might sound like a no-brainer, but before anything else you need to identify your business needs and goals. What will these vehicles be used for on a daily basis? Where will they be travelling—locally or around the country? What kind of terrain will they be tackling? Who or what will they be carrying, and what kind of accessibility will they need?
Only when you have a clear picture of the demands you need met, can you create a shortlist of the vehicles and models that will work for you.
> Don’t forget the insurance
There are many costs to consider when picking vehicles for your fleet. It’s not just about the initial outlay. You also need to think about insurance.
Purchasing a high-value fleet of vehicles might initially seem like a great long-term investment but even if you can afford the up-front payment and ongoing running costs, the extra insurance could have a severely detrimental effect on your profits. Plus you’ll need to factor in the additional cost of securely storing your more highly targeted vehicles to prevent theft.
> Fuel efficiency
The type of fuel you need to run your fleet will obviously have a massive effect on the running costs of your business.
Even if you’ve saved money up front by buying cheaper vehicles, if your business involves lots of long distance driving, and this vehicle isn’t that fuel efficient, you’re going to be burning through your bottom line. Do your research to enable you to weigh up these choices and find what options are the most cost effective.
Traditionally, petrol vehicles are better for shorter journeys while those that run on diesel are more cost effective for longer journeys. However, be aware of any current and future environmental concerns that might impact your choice—such as last year’s Supreme Court ruling that the UK needs to better deal with its nitrogen dioxide air pollution, which is a by-product of diesel emissions.
For more tips on improving efficiencies, read our blog: 5 ways to improve your van fleet utilisation
> Maintenance costs
The maintenance costs of any vehicle can vary substantially, depending on the make, model, and use. Multiple that by the number of vehicles in your fleet and suddenly your business has a very unsettling financial question mark hanging over it.
The truth is that, along with insurance, one of the biggest long-term costs of managing a fleet (even a small one) is maintenance. This is why it can be useful to investigate vehicle rental with maintenance included or purchase packages that include ongoing repairs, servicing, and the cost of MOTs for the vehicles you choose. Rental might seem like a monthly fixed cost you could do without, but when it comes to keeping your vans on the road, and your business ticking over, it could be the safer financial option.
> Think about the future
Every successful business needs to consider the future. So when choosing vehicles for your van fleet, make sure you think about how the growth of your business could affect your transportation needs.
You might only need a fleet of small vans for the next year or so. But if you see scope in your future for expansion—in both scale and variation of product delivery—do you really want to have to find the budget for a whole new set of vehicles down the line? Or are you able to push for larger vans now to make sure you future-proof your business and save money in the long run?