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Vans for Your Business: Buy or Rent?

Despite all of the jokes about white van men, van transportation is essential for many businesses to run successfully and efficiently, and the cost of a van should be factored in to business finances. But is it better to buy or rent a van? There are certainly pros and cons of each approach, depending on your business needs, and it is important to consider all factors before making a decision of this nature.

Buying a van can be a big expense, and for smaller businesses this can be off-putting. However, although there is a large upfront cost for purchasing a van, it can work out as better value than a lease agreement or occasional rental. You can often snag a deal when buying upfront, both through the ability to barter with the dealer who will be looking for a sale, and by avoiding the interest and increased costs of a loan-style lease contract. If you already own a van, it’s also possible to do a trade-in and shave some money off the cost of a new one. If you’re using a van to complete your jobs on a regular basis, the cost-per-use of buying will probably work out cheaper.

Full ownership has its benefits – unlike lease and rental agreements, you have full control over how you use the vehicle. There are no mileage restrictions, which can often incur extortionate costs at the end of a lease period – and if your job takes longer than you think, you won’t need to rush back or pay to extend your rental period. Owning a van is also a perfect advertising opportunity – branding your van with your logo and contact details means that you’ll be getting the message out there about your business with almost no extra work. But with the benefits of full ownership also come the downsides – the costs of servicing, repairs and insurance, as well as the cost of replacing the vehicle if it breaks down. These are all factors which need to be considered before purchasing a van.

If you do decide that buying a van is the right decision for you and your business, do your research first! Dodgy dealers or faulty vehicles can leave you out of pocket, so shop around. Opt for a reputable dealership or go straight to the manufacturer, and go with someone more knowledgeable if you’re not sure of what you want. Only sign and make a final purchase if you’re completely happy with the test drive and the paperwork – take your time over this decision and it’ll pay off in the long run. Most importantly, set a budget and don’t be persuaded by a salesman to up your price. That said, don’t be tempted to cut costs too much at this stage; bagging a bargain may be tempted but a faulty or unreliable van means you’re more likely to have to shell out for repairs and miss out on jobs whilst your vehicle is out of action.

However, if you only use a van occasionally, it may work out cheaper and more efficient to rent from a hire van company. The costs are often very reasonable for a day or two’s hire, and you will avoid the expense of repairs, servicing and insurance (which is usually included in the hire cost). This is more cost-effective if courier or haulage services are not part of your everyday business, or if there are set days a month when you require the use of a van. Hiring also means you don’t have to consider parking space for the van when it is not in use.

Although you may miss out on the branding opportunities that come from ownership, you will always arrive in a brand new, clean van without any extra effort on your part – impressing your clients and saving you time in one fell swoop. Renting is also more convenient than ever, with many leading van suppliers such as offering the option to rent online, and pick-up from hundreds of city centre locations. Furthermore, a van hire company will offer you a range of options, allowing you to select the vehicle most appropriate for the job each time – giving you flexibility on the kinds of work you can take on, and giving you the advantage of a full fleet of vans without the hassle and cost. If you do find yourself taking out a hire van more and more, however, it may be time to take the plunge and invest in your own vehicle purely on a cost-per-use basis.

Only you can decide what is best for your business, so do your research and consider all your options before making a final decision on whether to buy or rent a van for your business.

avatar Name: Stephen Ward
About: Stephen has worked freelance as an advisor and consultant to a number of businesses for the past 10 years. In addition to his full time work he finds time to write articles offering insight and advice for startups and small business owners.
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