Do I need a Van? Vans are not ideal for every business but for some they are indispensable tools of the trade. Choosing a vehicle may seem like a straightforward decision but the wrong choice could be costly. Do you need a commercial vehicle, or would a car suffice? Our van guide is here to help. Decisions, decisions Many businesses – gardeners, plumbers and electricians, for example – need to carry around a lot of stuff. Depending on the business, that stuff might be power tools, potted plants, glass panes or paintings. Of course, other businesses – think web designers – are not so burdened. If for 99% of the time you need a vehicle to ferry people rather than goods, a van is not for you. Try and calculate just how much use you’ll get out of the van. If the answer is ‘once a week or more’, you should think seriously about getting one. If you expect to use it less regularly, however, then your local short-term hire company will be more cost-effective. In some cases it’s a good idea to start off hiring and then go in for a purchase as business picks up. You might start off with only one or two deliveries/jobs every now and then, but if you’re good then you’ll get more and a van will become necessary. One thing to remember is that commercial vehicles are very popular with thieves. If you do opt to buy one, do not store any expensive tools or equipment in the vehicle overnight. If your Van is parked on the street you might also think about putting a sign in the window promising that thieves will be disappointed if they break in. That should dissuade all but the most determined criminal. Okay, let’s say you’ve gone down the van route. Read on for tips on whether you should buy or lease and for some novel ideas for your vehicle. Buying The list below features on the road (OTR) prices of some popular vehicles currently on the market. Of course, vans come in different shapes and sizes, and you must have a fairly accurate idea of the dimensions you require before walking on to the forecourt. Remember that there are also many specifications and upgrade available that will push up the price of your vehicle. If you plan to spend a lot of time in your van then shelling out for these might be advisable, but always keep your profit margins in mind. Mercedes Sprinter 308 CDI £17,619
 
Vauxhall Vivaro SWB 2.5CDTI £16,328

Ford Transit SWB 2.0D £15,451

Renault Master MWB 33dCI 100 £21,233

Volkswagen Caddy 69PS 2.0 £13,516 All prices are taken from manufacturers, are correct at the time of writing and include VAT. Prices will vary from supplier to supplier, so make sure you shop around. Some showrooms provide better deals if you purchase more than one vehicle. But don’t let this sway you: if you don’t need a fleet of vehicles, don’t buy one! Make sure you find out what offers are available before deciding upon a particular vehicle or model. They could make you considerable savings. When selling a fleet option, dealers will likely offer maintenance and servicing deals with the vehicles. If you’re tempted to say ‘yes’ to one of these, check the small print and make sure you’re saving money.

If in doubt call the AA and the RAC (or any other membership based roadside assistance company) and see if their rates are lower.