Buying a Commercial Vehicle: 6 Top Tips Before You Buy

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Top tips when buying a commercial vehicle - Infograph

Buying a commercial vehicle might seem daunting. After all, they’re integral part of your business, especially if you work in the transport and moving industry or as a tradesperson in the construction industry.

But with such a wide variety of commercial vehicles to choose from and such a diverse range of considerations to account for, finding the right one for you and your business can be difficult.

Before you make your decision, here are six key considerations to bear in mind, and a fun infograph to check out at the end of the post!

Buying A Commercial Vehicle: What You Need To Know

1. Determine Weight And Dimensions

Before buying a commercial vehicle for your business, it’s important to clearly set out what it’s going to do, what it will be carrying and how heavy the load is going to be.

A 2015 Volkswagen survey revealed that over half of the commercial vehicle drivers surveyed are working overloaded, while 73% of van drivers are unsure of the effects that overloading their vehicle has on its performance.

Aside from being dangerous and illegal (it can result in a fine of up to €2,500 and a prison sentence for both the person who commits the offence and the owner of the vehicle), overloading puts additional strain on the vehicle’s components, which may result in breakages and higher maintenance costs.

Therefore, it’s extremely important to determine the weight and dimensions of the load you’ll be carrying before you buy your commercial vehicle

2. Do Your Research – Reliability Is Key

Ensuring your business can deliver reliable, consistent service is a crucial factor in ensuring its success. What happens if you’re on your way to an appointment or a timed delivery and your van breaks down? Can you afford to disappoint your customers? If not, do your research and make sure you select a make and model that’s proven to be reliable.

Roadside checks carried out across Ireland by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in 2013 on over 3,500 vehicles indicates that 1 in 2 commercial vehicles on our roads have defaults. Worse still, 32% of these defects were deemed serious or dangerous enough to require immediate attention and prevent the vehicle from continuing its journey.

3. Factor In Running Costs

While its estimated that fuel can account for approximately 30% of the total operational costs of running a commercial vehicle, miles per gallon is not the only running cost to bear in mind. The number of miles between services, tyre and brake wear, longevity, maintenance costs and resale price also affect your van’s contribution to the business.

Be sure to read the road tests and talk to other owners before you buy a commercial vehicle. Keeping a regular record of your existing vehicles may also help. This will give you a baseline to work from and highlight your fleet’s true cost and flag any drivers that may need retraining.

4. Nail Down Your Financing

How are you going to pay for your shiny new commercial vehicle? It’s always a good idea to seek out independent advice before you decide on how you’re going to finance it.

2016 research carried out by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) discovered that while 54% of respondents chose their method of financing prior to purchasing a vehicle, a rather significant 46% chose the vehicle before considering how they would finance it.

When it comes to commercial vehicles, there are a number of different options available including cash purchase, hire purchase, business contract hire and finance or operating lease. Which one is right for you will depend on your business. Maintaining positive cash flow may rule out a cash purchase and make options like hire purchase more attractive. The important thing to remember is although minimising costs is an important factor, your business needs to remain flexible, so choose your method of finance wisely.

5. Brand Your Commercial Vehicle

The vehicle you choose says a lot about your business. Arrive to a job in a rusty old heap and your customers will likely draw unflattering conclusions about both you and your business. Driving a sleek, well-maintained vehicle sets a professional tone and inspires confidence in your business, from your customers and employees alike.

What’s more, branding your commercial vehicle provides a great opportunity to promote your business, especially for small firms with no real advertising budget. According to Cox Communications/Eagle research, car graphics and TV ads are the top two most memorable mediums, with 48% of those polled viewing vehicle graphics as the most unique advertising medium available.

6. Don’t Forget To Maintain It

If you don’t make a commitment to maintain your commercial vehicle it may become a liability rather than an asset. Whatever one you choose for you and your business, regular servicing and testing is the key to keeping down costs.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) randomly sampled 1,000 vehicles aged 5 years and older and discovered that only 70% of the legally required tests had been conducted. This means that these commercial vehicles are not being checked sufficiently to ensure they meet the proper standards of roadworthiness. This is dangerous not only for your drivers but other road users, so be sure to keep on top of your Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Tests (CVRT).

Are you considering buying a commercial vehicle? Then get in contact with Rathcoole Commercial today.