WE all know that service is an important factor for anything that we may be looking to buy as consumers.
If we think of the major retailers – Amazon, John Lewis, to name a few – we know that service is absolutely key: you order online and can have the items delivered the next day if you wish, or within a specified time frame.
So why not vans?
When it comes to buying or leasing light commercial vehicles, it is essential that you can tick all the customer service boxes before you choose a van supplier.
But what should you be looking for in your next van supplier?
- Is it easy to deal with one point of contact and can you get through to them without any hassle?
- Are telephones and emails answered promptly?
- Is the company website easy to navigate with a focus on customer service?
- Are all initial queries dealt with efficiently?
- Do all of the team members that you come into contact with represent the company in a professional way?
- Do you get the feeling you are dealing with an ethical company rather than “just” a good salesperson?
Stock commercial vehicles
When it comes to ordering cars, there are a number of companies who can provide stock cars for both the consumer and the SME. When it comes to commercial vehicles however, it is often a different kettle of fish.
This is predominantly because commercial vehicles – especially sought after makes and models – are often not as readily available as you may believe. It is simply not the case that LCVs are just “sitting around” ready for buyers to pluck them from stock.
Although there is no typical “stock van” – and all LCV requirements are different – customers can sometimes find themselves waiting 5 months (or sometimes longer!) for a factory order van, depending on the manufacturer and model.
A good service provider will be able to provide you with a list of suitable alternatives if the vehicle that you enquire about is not available immediately and it should be clear from their knowledge on the subject that they know their stuff. Do they give you good advice? Do they ask you what you will be using the van for?
A well-connected and established van provider will often be able to source and locate vans that others cannot, thanks to long-established supplier and manufacturer relationships and the knowledge that they have.
Funding your van
Then there is the question of how you fund your van. There are many forms of vehicle acquisition available to the SME including hire purchase, lease purchase, contract hire, finance lease and of course, outright purchase.
Finding a supplier who understands what you need, explains the funding options open to you, and can help you to find a suitable funding package is not always an easy task.
“My advice to any trade or small business looking to find a van supplier is to look for a firm that can provide really good acquisition guidance and find funding that dovetails with what you’re looking for,” explains Ian Evans-Piper from Leasewell, a specialist small fleet leasing provider of vans, based in Bridgend, South Wales.
“It’s important also that a supplier can provide the vans quickly and who responds.
“We had one plumber who had contacted several main dealers for a van but was frustrated with their lack of interest in him. Not one called back! That’s not what you want at all. We were able to get him his new van within 5 days.
“Clearly the deals have to be super-competitive, too, but make sure you look for a provider that wants to establish a relationship with you and looks after your interests. You don’t want a provider who is there one minute and gone the next.”
We are all busy people; and busy SMEs who are seeking a van need to find that one stop-shop-supplier who can save them time, point them in the right direction, supply the van promptly and be there to provide help, assistance, expertise and ongoing customer service that extends way beyond the delivery of the vehicle.
So do a bit of homework when you’re looking for your next van. Make sure you choose a ‘John Lewis’ type provider, and get the support and advice your business deserves.
Finding the right light commercial vehicle supplier
- Ask the company who supplies and delivers your vehicle to make sure you know who you will be dealing with.
- Make sure that your new vehicle will come with the standard manufacturer warranty.
- When enquiring about funding, make sure that your contact understands your company position so that they can provide you with the right advice – are you a sole trader, a limited company, looking to order more vans in the future, and so on.
- Always query if there will be an administration charge and what it will be at the outset and ask for quotations and order forms “in writing” (or at least via email).
- Make sure that you know about the order process and that you are happy with how it will work if you decide to progress.
- Always find out the company’s cancellation and early termination policy.
- Always make sure that you get a proper estimate of delivery timeframe, regardless of whether the vehicle is in stock or if it is a factory order.
- Established what is and what isn’t included i.e. road tax for the term, maintenance, ply-lining etc.
- Do you need customisation for your van? Can the supplier do this for you and what will it cost?
- What about maintenance? Is this worth including in your monthly payments? Does your supplier have a maintenance programme available to you? Does it include replacement vans or the ability to find you short term van hire should you need it?
- Get the service you expect – and need – so you can carry out your business.