Karen Whittingham, Marketing Director at Northgate, considers the commercial advantages of flexible, long-term vehicle rental over contract hire or purchasing outright.
Running a fleet – whether that is one vehicle or 10 – can be a constant balancing act between cost, convenience and reliability for any tradesman. Remember, the company van is not just a mode of transport from job to job, it is also crucial to the ‘ﬁrst time ﬁx’ philosophy, giving electricians the opportunity to carry additional tools and pick up supplies of all sizes when they are needed.
Despite the potential impact of downtime, too many in the trade are still willing to leave it to chance. Research from the RAC estimates that the average cost of vehicle downtime to SMEs is £500 per day in lost revenue, not to mention the impact on customer service levels and reputation, or the inconvenience of moving staff around or redirecting other vehicles to the job. It is a big risk to take – but what if there was a cost-effective solution that can deliver complete peace of mind, keep your vans on the road and deliver added beneﬁts too? With flexible, long-term vehicle rental, there is.
Vehicle rental comes with a long list of beneﬁts, and is increasingly seen as a popular long-term solution for small business owners and tradesmen who see the advantage of having a comprehensive support package.
Stay on the road
The most important thing for any service provider is to make sure their vans stay on the road. Whether a company has one van or a large fleet, if vehicles are not running 100% of the time with 0% disruption there will be a direct impact on the business.
With contract hire or purchased vans, of course, you run the risk of breakdown or failure at any point – and the risk only increases as the vehicle gets older. Anybody who has run an old vehicle for commercial or personal use will not need reminding of the problems associated with them.
Instead, flexible long-term rental gives ﬁrms access to the widest choice of the latest vans, with servicing, maintenance and breakdowns managed by the rental company. Downtime can also be minimised by proactive scheduling of maintenance events at a branch and workshop at a convenient time.
Vehicle hire offers a fully inclusive package complete with service, maintenance and repair, where customers are never off the road for more than two hours.
“Customers do not have to worry about additional costs like tyres, MOT repairs or replacement vehicles as this is all included for a ﬁxed weekly fee that makes budgeting easy and predictable.”
Impact on bottom line
Of course, staying on the road must not cost the earth: it should be convenient and cost-effective. One of the most important considerations is always going to be the cost of running a fleet – and more critically, the impact of vehicles on cashflow and the bottom line.
Unlike vehicle purchasing, which requires a large upfront cost, or contract hire, which can come with a long term ﬁnancial commitment and expensive termination or mileage penalties, vehicle rental offers a simple and predictable weekly rate which covers everything related to the vehicle.
Customers do not have to worry about additional costs like tyres, MOT repairs or replacement vehicles as this is all included for a ﬁxed weekly fee that makes budgeting easy and predictable. What’s more, customers never have to worry about surprise costs impacting their bottom line and do not have to pay for vehicles they don’t need, and replacement vehicles are always available for no additional cost should one be required.
Flex your fleet
This leads to another tangible beneﬁt of vehicle rental, which is not available with any other fleet management option. With unrivalled flexibility, customers are free to change the number and type of vehicles at any time, add equipment or livery to vehicles, and even gain access to specialist vehicles in line with changing business needs.
Electricians can ‘flex their fleet’ at any time, which means they don’t have to turn business down and can always meet customer expectations without compromise. Using this option, there is no need to purchase additional vans or be tied into lengthy contract hire periods,
Choose a supplier with good national coverage and this unrivalled convenience can even extend to vehicle pick-up and drop-offs at a network of branches, not to mention the ability to access any branch or workshop for service, maintenance and repair events nationwide.
Of course, vehicle rental also guarantees the availability of a wide selection of vehicles, which might otherwise be out of reach for smaller companies – and this can deliver added beneﬁts too. One of the key cost-saving aspects, for example, is fuel efficiency, which can make a major difference when applied across a small fleet of vehicles that each travel thousands of miles a year.
Technology is also increasingly an influence in the decisions around vehicle fleets. Telematics, which offers real-time insights into vehicle activity, is now central to the operations of many businesses who run a fleet of vehicles. It can help to reduce operational costs, improve efficiency and boost customer service – not to mention duty of care and driver safety, to name just a few.
The beneﬁts of driving new vehicles even extend to staff retention, giving employees a more pleasant working environment and even perks such as Bluetooth or a sat-nav; all valuable drivers in a competitive employment market.
To support a growing business and adapt to changing requirements, a flexible long term rental solution will ensure tradespeople can be assured that vehicle costs are covered under a ﬁxed weekly payment. Not only does this offer peace of mind to business owners, it also saves them money compared to other vehicle acquisition options.