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Self-employed? Buying your first van? Here are 6 essential tips

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The right van is just as important as anything else. 

When it comes to running your own business, whether that be IT repairs or an independent building contractor, the tools of your trade are essential.

Having the right tools means the difference between doing the job well and being able to do the job at all. 

Why would you spend so much time ensuring you have the right tools to get the job done only to neglect the vehicle in which you’re going to be using to get from one job to another? 

The reality is, you want to invest some time and thought into what van is going to be the right fit for your business. 

We’ve decided to put this guide together as a starting point in helping you to make the right choice about your perfect van. 

Tip 1: Choose a van that suits your purpose

It might sound obvious but let us tell you a story. 

Dave (let’s call him Dave for the sake of this story) owned a small business selling small works of art to local rich folk.

Dave wanted a big, flashy van and opted for a classic Transit. Only trouble is, he never carted around more than one or two paintings or little sculptures. 

Dave quickly realised a smaller van would be better suited to his purposes. 

We get it, the story is silly but it illustrates our point. 

When you’re in the market for a new van, have a good idea about what you will be mainly using it for and how you will be using it. 

Tip 2: Do your research

We’re guessing you’re here because you’re already doing just that. We won’t preach to the converted however, here’s some handy tips around research: 

  • Look around and try to find the lowest and highest versions of what you’re looking for. 
  • Determine the differences between the lowest and highest priced vans. 
  • Figure out the pros and cons of new vs pre owned. 
  • Don’t just google it, think outside the box. 
  • Research the seller, not just the van. 

Tip 3: Get finance

Van finance sometimes gets a bad rep but, it really can be a powerful tool in your arsenal when building a self-employed empire. 

Credit allows you to build up a reputation for paying back on time. This can be an absolute godsend when it comes to acquiring property and dealing with the banks. 

Finance is also a really good way to acquire assets (like a new van) whilst ensuring cash flow is manageable. 

Tip 4: test drive multiple vans

The reality of owning a van is that you will be driving it. You will probably spend quite a significant chunk of your working life in the van. It’s so important to get into a few and test drive them. 

Test driving will give you a feel for how the van handles and, more importantly, if it’s a comfortable and pleasant place to spend your time. 

Tip 5: don’t fear a haggle. 

Brits don’t often haggle well. We’re fine haggling on a street market over the price of a second-hand LP but, we’re not keen when it comes to haggling for brand new or big-ticket items. 

We’d highly recommend haggling prices with van dealers, you never know until you ask. We’ve heard some really positive van haggling stories in our time. 

Tip 6: give the van a good old looking over. 

We agree with our friends over at confused.com that it’s really important to give any prospective work van a good visual inspection. 

Things to be checking: 

  • Any bodywork issues: bumps, scratches etc? 
  • Are the tyres the right ones for the van? 
  • Make sure tyre depth is within UK legal minimum (1.6mm)
  • Do the seatbelts lock properly? 
  • Check for warning lights
  • Check AC and heating work properly 

Drive off into the sunset. 

Once you’ve picked your van, there are a few legal bits to attend to including insurance and commercial tax etc. 

We hope this guide has whet your appetite for getting out there and selecting your perfect van. 

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