Is white van man's van letting him and his business down?

Two thirds of consumers say the condition of a tradesman's vehicle would influence their decision to use them.

Vanarama is warning tradesmen - from electricians and plumbers to joiners and painter decorators - that the condition of their work vehicle is likely to have a significant influence on whether they get a job or not. As Andy Alderson, Managing Director, Vanarama explained the condition of a company van for a tradesman is vital to make a good first impression and instil confidence in customers. He believes it is equivalent to wearing a smart shirt and tie when going for an interview for an office job in making a good first impression.

"From both our own experience of using tradesmen, as well as hearing anecdotal feedback from our customers, we instinctively knew that a van in poor condition could create the wrong impression about a tradesman, potentially impacting the amount of work received, the price charged and ultimately their business reputation. Our recent research* of consumer perceptions not only confirmed this but crystallised just how important a tradesman's vehicle is in winning new customers.

"More than half (51%) of respondents to our survey said that they would worry about how good a tradesman was if they couldn't afford to drive a decent work vehicle. And over a third (39%) said they would be concerned about their reliability. With the economic outlook in the construction sector and related trades particularly good at the moment it would be easy for tradesmen to think they don't need to worry about the condition of the van they drive. But we believe our research highlights that to make the most of the current market opportunities, having the best tools for the job - including a smart and up to date van - will pay dividends.

"Of course, some businesses may be wary of replacing an older vehicle because of concerns about future income. But we believe this could be a false economy.

"At Vanarama, through the volume related discounts we can obtain, we make it very affordable for a tradesman to drive a new van. Leasing payments on a brand new van can very often be cheaper than buying an old van on hire purchase. Plus, the reduced running costs of a new van with a more economic engine and no previous wear and tear which means lower maintenance costs, means that it can make better financial sense thanrunning a cheaper used van, particularly considering the impact an older van can have on future income, as highlighted by our research."

The Vanarama research also underlined the importance of tradesmen being able to show evidence of certified technical skills. 93% of respondents said this was important to give them confidence in the work to be undertaken. And 70% said that how the tradesman was dressed when they visited their property was important. But the research also emphasised that the condition and age of a tradesman's vehicle can have a significant impact on their business too.

Overall 63% of respondents said the condition of a tradesman's business vehicle was important in giving them confidence in their work. Londoners appear to be the most concerned about the condition of a tradesman's van with 69% saying this was important to them. Consumers in Scotland seem to be the least concerned at 58%.


For nearly half (49%) the age of a tradesman's vehicle is also important. And for nearly two thirds (59%) being able to see a company logo on a vehicle gives confidence in the quality of work to be done, with 18-24 year olds most concerned about this at 74% compared to just 47% of those aged 65 and over.

"Our research reinforces what many of us already know - first impressions count", continued Andy Alderson. "But we think some tradesmen may not realise just how influential their works vehicle is in them being able to get work."

*Vanarama commissioned Populus to ask a series of questions about the condition of tradespeople's vehicles, August 2013. 2,000 people responded to the questions. To view the results of the research please click here

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