A Business Owners Guide to Buying Commercial Vehicles
As businesses grow, the needs of that business will change and grow as well. As a business owner, you may find that it’s time to invest in one or more company vehicles. Whether you own a landscaping business, a plumbing company, or even a restaurant, there will come a time when you need a fleet vehicle. There are hundreds of commercial vehicle options for your business, but you must get the right tool for the job.
Looking at all your options can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not much of a car person in the first place. But fear not! Below you will find a guide to your commercial vehicle options to help you pick the right car for your company.
Choosing a Vehicle Type Based on Your Company Needs
Choosing the right vehicle for your company could very well be the key to your success. Whether that means having the right vehicle for efficient gutter installation or a car that fits your financial requirements, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
Every company requires different things from their fleet vehicles. The first step in making an informed decision is taking stock of your company’s needs.
Does your company need the utility of a large truck or a van? Or will the vehicle be used primarily for on-the-job commuting or deliveries which require little cargo space?
The tasks that are going to be completed in your vehicle determines the commercial vehicle options for your company. If you run an auto glass repair service, you will require a truck with a glass holding station in the bed. If you run a medical supply business, you might need a small van with cargo space but also is good on the highway.
Trucks are typically the best option for contracting companies. Whether the cargo is needed for tree removal companies or a window-washing business, going with a truck is the best option if you need space and utility.
Cars offer more suitable commercial vehicle options to business that don’t require as much cargo space or utility. For businesses such as small medical practices or an independent lawyer, a smaller car can be the best option. If the vehicle is used primarily to transport one or two people and a few documents, there is no need to purchase a gas-guzzling SUV or truck.
Vans and SUVs
A mid-sized van or SUV can provide fantastic commercial vehicle options for those businesses which don’t necessarily need the cargo of a truck but might take on business contracts that require some limited storage. For example, if you run a small restaurant that doesn’t typically deliver food but is willing to take on catering orders, you may need a small van to transport large orders.
Form vs. Function
As a CEO or owner of a business, you know how important reputation can be to your business’s success. Your company car should reflect that reputation. As a savvy business owner, you realize that a company vehicle is a form of advertisement, so your company’s fleet vehicles must reflect your company’s ideas and reputation.
For example, trusted local plumbers don’t want to be driving around in an unmarked, beat-up van. Rather, your van should reflect the positive reputation your company already has. Investing in large decals with your company name and a clean looking van will reflect positively on your company’s reputation, and offer passive advertisement around town. Investing in decals or even a full vehicle vinyl wrap with your company logo and colors may offer your company more advertisement than you could even imagine.
More than just advertisement, your vehicle is a means to operate your business. For your business to run properly, your vehicle must have both form and function working simultaneously. Thus, you must get all your style and function needs met. If you are delivering food, you will want a van or car with some refrigeration capacity. If you are carrying valuable cargo, you may want to invest in auto window tinting so no one can see into your vehicle when it is parked.
Branding Your Company Vehicle
As is talked about above, your company car is a representation of your company, and therefore an advertisement for it as well. So, you will need to brand your vehicle appropriately.
Branding your company fleet doesn’t necessarily mean getting all new custom paint jobs for your vehicles. Some options are less expensive and less damaging to your car’s resale value.
Getting a full body vinyl wrap will protect the original paint job, and maintain the vehicle’s resale value while acting as a rolling billboard for your company.
If the full vinyl wrap is a little too much for your style, you can get custom vinyl decals that match your company logo for a fraction of the price.
It might seem like a nice idea to have your vehicles unmarked. Someone on the road will inevitably find an issue with you or one of your employees’ driving. However, the number of times someone will see your company name and think to send you business will far outweigh the number of times that a frustrated driver will think negatively of your brand.
All About Reliability
No one walks onto the car lot hoping to buy an unreliable vehicle. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens. So when you are looking at commercial vehicle options for your business, it’s important to take reliability and repair costs into consideration.
Company vehicles will tack on a lot of miles in a short amount of time, and with all those miles come complications. This is why you want to look at vehicle brands like Toyota, Subaru, Honda, Ford, Dodge, etc. They all have proved that they produce a reliable product.
When you look into some of the car manufacturers listed above, you might notice that brands like Toyota are often more expensive than their competitors for similar vehicles. That is because you are paying for their reputation as a reliable manufacturer.
Putting in the research to purchase a reliable vehicle will save you big time money in the long run. And looking at vehicles with lost maintenance costs (mainly American and Asian manufacturers) will also save you some serious cash when it comes to routine maintenance and vehicle upkeep.
Consider at Resale Value
As mentioned above, buying a car sometimes means buying the reputation of its manufacturer. On top of that, you are also paying for the resale value. Manufacturers like Toyota have such a proven reputation of producing a high-quality, reliable vehicle that the resale value of a used Toyota is vastly higher than it would be for other manufacturers.
Considering the resale value of any car you’re looking at is a smart move as a business owner. As mentioned above, you don’t want to be driving a beat-up car when you represent your company. Thus, you will likely sell your company vehicle before it is completely broken down when resale value comes into play. The better a car holds its value, the more you’re going to get back for it, and the more you’re going to have to invest in a new company vehicle, it’s a win-win.
Buy or Lease?
When considering commercial vehicle options, you will have to decide whether you will buy or lease your company vehicle or vehicles.
Leasing is a great option for companies that need a fleet vehicle but doesn’t quite have the cash upfront to purchase one outright. Leasing is also great for business owners who already have fleet vehicles but need supplemental vehicles during the busy season. Let’s say you own a small window washing company. For eight months out of the year, you only need one truck, but from May through August, you need to run another truck to finish all your contracted jobs. In this case, leasing or renting is a great way to go.
On the other hand, if your business is well established and consistently busy, you will want to purchase your company vehicles. Owning your company cars outright will make many things easier for you as a business owner. For example, if you own your company vehicles, you won’t have to worry about damaging the interior or scratching the paint. However, if you are leasing or renting company vehicles, you will have to be particularly cautious around the vehicle.
For contracting business that requires lots of storage for tools and equipment, it is smart to buy your company vehicles. Contracting and labor companies often beat up their cars and trucks much faster than other businesses, which is why commercial vehicle options can be limited.
New or Used?
Used cars make up 3 of 4 automotive sales in the United States.
If you have decided that it is in your companies’ best interest to buy rather than lease or rent, the next decision you will have to make is to purchase new or used. Looking at the used market can greatly expand your commercial vehicle options. It will be a lot easier on your wallet.
Many people look down on used options. However, that shouldn’t be the case. Used car sales make up about 75% of all car sales in the United States. There are tons of fantastic used options that could be right for your needs.
Buying a used car doesn’t necessarily mean you have to purchase your vehicle from the owner rather than the dealer. There are certified pre-owned options at almost every dealership. Purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle from a dealership often means that you still get a limited warranty and many other service perks that will provide you peace of mind as a business owner.
As a business owner, buying new vehicles for your fleet means that you know what you’re getting. Buying new eliminates the fear of not knowing what you’re going to get, which is often the main concern with the used market. And if you do buy a new car that ends up having problems down the line, the dealer will work with you to figure out a solution. The same cannot be said for the person you buy an old vehicle from.
Logistical and Safety Needs to Consider
When you have company vehicles, you have employees driving them. Employees driving company vehicles means that you will be taking on a certain amount of liability. As a business owner, you want to make sure that your bases are covered in an accident or a personal injury. It is important that as you build your fleet of vehicles, you keep in mind some employment law elements that come into effect when an employee is operating a vehicle.
All businesses with employees operating company vehicles should purchase a comprehensive commercial auto insurance plan. Having a comprehensive plan will leave you as a business owner covered in the unfortunate event of an accident. Commercial auto insurance is required on all vehicles that are registered under the company name.
On top of having to worry about your employees being injured on the job, you also have to worry about yourself. If your company is large enough to have worker’s compensation insurance, it might be a good idea to cover yourself and any other owners under that plan.
Obtaining comprehensive insurance coverage for you and your company is a great way to ensure you are protected. However, sometimes you can’t prepare for everything. In situations where you find yourself left out in the open, you will want to have the number of a reputable personal injury attorney.
No matter what your company’s needs are, there are tons of commercial vehicle options for you! Take what you have learned today and use it to your advantage. So, go ahead and make the right vehicle decision for YOUR company!