Is your Van giving the Wrong Impression?

Image of white vanCommercial vehicles are not often associated with luxury as more often than not tradesmen buy commercial vehicles based on their value for money and ability to aid them during their day to day tasks. However, even though most people don’t automatically think of vans as luxury vehicles that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep yours well maintained. In fact, a recent report has shown that having a badly maintained van could give the wrong impression to your customers and could even prevent you from finding business.

According to a survey conducted by Lex Autolease, nine out of ten people believe that tradesmen should take greater car of their commercial vehicles while two thirds of people wouldn’t rehire a tradesman if their van is in poor condition. Discussing the survey, Tony Murtagh, head of SME Direct at Lex Autolease, said: “Repeat custom is absolutely vital to the success of any business, but it appears that many SMEs could be falling at the first hurdle and putting off consumers before they even start a job.

“Trade vans act as ‘calling cards’ and play an important role in forming people’s first impressions of a business. Our research shows that the British public are quite discerning. They will draw conclusions on the quality of a business’ goods and services by the condition of its vans, paying particular attention to cleanliness and state of repair, which can have a significant bearing on buying decisions.”

Lex Autolease’s survey also revealed that forty per cent of people make their first impression concerning a tradesman based on the condition of their van, while thirty-eight per cent of consumers feel that new or high-quality vans indicate that a tradesman is trustworthy and has experience. Where you live in the UK also has an impact on consumer’s feelings towards tradesmen’s vehicles, as in East Anglia seventy-one per cent of consumers would turn a tradesman away if they turned up in a badly kept vehicle while in Wales only fifty one per cent of consumers would do so.

As commercial vehicles can make such an impression on consumers it’s not surprising to hear that Hertsmere Borough Council has implemented new rules stating that market traders can no longer keep their vans parked behind their stalls. The council claim that they make the market look unsightly, however market traders have voiced their disproval over this decision. Terry Batchelor of Hertsmere Council’s engineering services, said: “As part of the council’s work to regenerate Borehamwood town centre and improve the look of the high street we are working with our market contractor to make the market as attractive as possible.

“We have received many comments and complaints that the vehicles make the market and town look untidy and put people off, so, to help entice as many customers as possible, we have started to enforce the no-vehicle rule. We appreciate some traders are not happy with this arrangement but we’re hopeful our continued efforts to improve the look of the market and town will attract more people to the area and benefit everyone in the long term.”

However, stallholder Harvey Blake said: “A few weeks ago, the market was nearly full up but once they said the vans have to go people have just stopped coming. It’s not worth it any more. The rent is high already and you can’t make much profit on small items, so to add another £5 for parking is pushing it. Imagine leaving your stall if you work on your own, just to go to park your car elsewhere- you just can’t do it.”

Meanwhile, Mark Shotton, who occasionally runs his father Ronnie’s clothes stall, said: “You’ve now got to park miles away, leaving no one here to look after the stall. It’s not like we’re here every day and people expect to see vans by stalls at a market. It’s been like this for years and I just don’t understand this sudden change.”

Even though tradesmen and stall holders may not think their vehicles affect their businesses, these recent reports have shown that the opposite is true. Therefore, it is wise to keep your van clean, your livery well-maintained and your interior presentable at all times in order to ensure that you receive both new and return business.

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