You need a van, even if your business is an online one. A van gives you marketing space that people will see as you drive around.
Why Does an Online Business Need a Van?
Even online, people prefer to deal with local businesses where they can; a van with graphics establishes you as local and as being more trustworthy than a random business on the Internet.
Besides which everyone needs a van sometimes, even if it is only to pick up compost from the garden centre. It is also a tax-deductible expense, so it makes sense financially as well.
Why Does a Real World Business Need a Van?
Your van is your main marketing medium. It will have your contact details on it, your website address and will tell people what you do. When you park outside a client’s home your van is an ad that all the neighbours will see. Some will ask your client about the job you did and will ask you to do work for them if they hear that you did a good job.
Having graphics and contact details on your van also establishes you as a genuine business with a reputation to uphold, rather than a fly-by-night operation that will disappear at the first hint of something going wrong.
What Kind of Van?
Size is the most important consideration. An online business only needs a small van, which will be a mobile advertising platform and little more. A real world business needs a van that is big enough to do the job.
Your van needs to be large enough to carry all your tools and supplies, but larger vans cost more in tax and insurance, so don’t go bigger than you actually need. Remember though that your van is your mobile office and warehouse; it needs to be large enough to access all your supplies easily.
Cost is the next most important factor and you can buy much more van for your money if you look for a used van rather than a new one. Remember though that your van IS your business; it needs to give a good impression and to look good, with no rust or dents. The best compromise is to buy a van that is 3-5 years old.
Appearance is everything: If you want to appear patriotic then buy a van from a local manufacturer rather than an import. It also needs to match your website colours, which means either having it re-sprayed or paying for a full vehicle-wrap graphics package.
Using Your Van
People judge by appearances. They will judge your business by the appearance of your van, so it needs to be washed frequently, as soon as it becomes dirty, rather than just once a week.
Keep it clean inside, too: If you are carrying messy supplies like soil, compost, grass cuttings and cement then invest in a small trailer to keep the inside of your van clean.
The cab also needs to be kept tidy at all times to show people that you are a tidy worker. Avoid leaving coffee cups and newspapers up on the dashboard because it gives a slovenly impression to anyone walking past. Your van needs to be in 100% showroom condition at all times if it is going to bring you new jobs.