Fleet News

Special feature: To rent or to buy – that is the question

Nowadays, more and more rental companies are offering vans with rates and special packages that are making the operator stop and think twice before ordering a new vehicle, wondering instead whether the onus of owning a van should be transferred to someone else.

But having decided to explore the rental avenue, which company should you choose? Here, Andrew Way, chief executive of TLS Vehicle Rental, presents a 10-point plan which should help make that decision easier.

Flexibility – More and more businesses in the UK are looking for flexible terms when it comes to acquiring expensive assets like commercial vehicles. Many rental companies have begun offering products that can be a true practical alternative to contract hire. See if flexible rental would be better for your business before you make a long-term commitment.

Take the weight off your shoulders – Make sure the company that’s dealing with your commercial vehicle needs can do the hard work for you, whether that is maintenance, road tax or emergency breakdown.

Shop around – While most rental products are broadly similar, each supplier will have their own specific product offerings. Make sure you spend time finding a tailored deal that suits your requirements.

Quality of service – Look to your supplier’s pedigree and history to ensure you are getting a high quality of service from a company that you can trust. Make sure you are offered a full support package including customer service, breakdown assistance and vehicle replacement.

Quality of vehicles – Find out what your supplier’s replacement cycles are. Some vehicles are rotated every six months while some can be every five years. A rental fleet focusing on a two to three-year replacement cycle will give you the best balance between modern vehicles and the inconvenience of regularly changing vehicles.

Availability – Find a company that has a nationwide network of branches which can offer local services that your business will need, whether that is vehicle delivery and collection or access to large fleets.

Avoid extra costs – Some companies insist on a long or fixed term contract and have significant penalties for early termination of your agreement.

Usership – Fleet managers know the costs and risks of ownership. Where it makes financial sense, find a supplier who takes all the risk in terms of maintenance and future residual values, so you can focus on ‘usership’ not ‘ownership’.

Be prepared – No matter what size your fleet is, it’s important to be prepared for all eventualities. Ensure that the company you deal with can offer you a full breakdown and recovery package that can get you and your business back on the road and, if necessary, have replacement vehicles on standby.

Do your homework – Make sure you are fully prepared and have explored all avenues before committing to any agreements. Getting out of a bad contract in the future may be both tricky and costly.

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