Many tradespeople have their own vans to store their tools in and make their businesses much more mobile. If you are new to the trade or van ownership or are just looking for a few extra tips to help your business take the next step, this article highlights a handful of tips for tradesmen with vans. Whether you need advice with organising your tools, keeping your van safe, or with presentation, this guide should hopefully be able to offer a few nudges in the right direction.
Make sure your van is in working order
When it comes to running a business, a key priority is avoiding unnecessary costs. Vans will all need repairs and servicing at some point, sometimes it’s unavoidable or something happens that is out of your control, but by looking after your vehicle, you can certainly stack the odds in your favour. Treat your van like an important part of the business, look after it like you would your tools and your customers. Check the tyres regularly, book it in for a regular service, keep an eye on your oil and water levels. Do whatever you can to keep your van in good working order. Just think how much your business would be impacted if something were to happen to it? Then think how annoyed you would be if it could have been avoided.
Keep your van looking good
As a tradesman, your van isn’t just a means of transport. Your van represents you and your business to existing customers and potential future customers. So, if you turn up in a rickety old van, that’s dirty and tatty, it says a lot about your business. Therefore, keeping your van looking good is a valuable use of your time and money.
The virtue of a good-looking van is something that van conversion specialists Wildworx Customs acknowledges. We asked the team how important they felt a van’s appearance was for tradespeople:
“Massively important! For a tradesman, the van is their office, canteen and workshop. It’s important that the van is something they feel proud to drive and also sends the right message to their customers. Freshly polished bodywork or even a set of alloys can make a huge difference to the look of the van.”
Wildworx Customs also shared their tips for making a van look clean and presentable: “We know there’s a big difference between cleaning the van yourself and paying for a valet. However, there are a couple of things you can do to get that professional feel. Always open the doors and wipe over the wheel arches, these often get missed and it does make a difference. Make sure you regularly clean out the rubbish, there is nothing worse than a van with piles of drive-thru wrappers on the dash! Another thing we suggest is to invest in some tar and glue remover to get rid of tar off the road and dead bugs. It will keep your paintwork looking fresh.”
Be as organised as possible
Organisation is key in so many areas of life and this certainly applies to van-owning tradespeople. If, every time you go to your van for tools you have to rummage around and clamber over equipment to find what you need, your valuable time is going to be impacted. But, by getting organised and installing some shelving or van racking, you can have all your work tools and equipment stored away safely in a place you can quickly find them.
When it comes to shelving and storage solutions, you have a couple of options. You can decide to build it yourself and save a bit of money or go to a van racking specialist for more attractive and less time-intensive solutions.
Jim, from the van resource and blog VanDimensions, shares the following with us as his top tip for van owning tradespeople: “Consider carefully what kind of van racking to use – more specifically what materials. Many tradesmen build their own racking out of ply, which is cheap upfront (although less now in today’s market). However, plywood is heavy, and it will eat into your mileage. More expensive materials like steel or aluminium racking frames are not only safer in case of crashes, but also more lightweight, which will save you money in the long run.”
Jim also shared with us his advice for organising your van: “When it comes to organising the contents of a van, make sure to think vertically; use all the vertical space you have since it will save you precious floor space. There are dozens of great van racking products available to-go, but you can also build out your own van as well. One of the best ideas I’ve come across is building a double-sided, rotating cabinet on slides in your sliding door, which allows you to orient your storage unit according to today’s job.”
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Invest in exterior security
Looking after your van is more than just keeping it running. With all the equipment and tools that you will likely be transporting around to your various jobs, investing in some decent security is an important move. Thieves are opportunists and if they look through your van windows and see there are some valuable items inside, they will look to pounce. You can prevent such an eventuality by investing in tinted windows. If they can’t see inside your van, they won’t be sure of its contents, raising the risk for them of deciding to breaking in.
You can also consider upgrading your van’s locks, particularly for the rear double doors. There are products like Stoplock, which is an affordable device that links the two rear doors together, making it difficult for criminals to prise the doors apart and gain entry to your van.
Or how about a dashcam? By setting up one of these little cameras, you can provide a strong deterrent against theft and a valuable tool in helping catch criminals. Not only will thieves think twice upon seeing a camera set up in your van but it can record what’s going on outside your vehicle.
Simply Business is an advocate of dash cams when it comes to van security, sharing: “Many dashcams have a special mode that senses movement around your vehicle even when it’s parked, and records them approaching. This can be extremely useful in the unfortunate event that your van is broken into and can often be invaluable in catching the perpetrators.”
Secure your tools inside your van
Of course, you will also want to keep things secure inside your van, such as your work tools and equipment. If someone is able to gain access to your van, it will be smart to have some security in place to make it difficult to steal your tools. Padlocks and safes are a great shout, as are security boxes like those from Van Vault. The Van Vault range of products is made specifically for workmen who want to keep their tools safe. These steel containers are protected against drilling, cutting, and lockpicking, and are even police approved! Grabbing an item like this to keep your van’s contents safe could be a big difference-maker and would certainly provide peace of mind.
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Get yourself insured
Another key part of life as a van-owning tradesperson is insurance. Of course, your van, as with any other vehicle will need to be insured legally but what about if one of your colleagues, an apprentice, or an employee needs to drive your van one day? Well, this is where temporary insurance for vans comes in. If you need someone to be covered for just an hour or two, a day or even a week, you can get them covered cheaply and in a flexible way to suit your needs. Having this kind of flexibility means you don’t have to worry about last-minute changes at work because you can quickly get someone insured to drive your van and keep your business unaffected.
You will also want to get other important items associated with your van and work insured, such as your tools. You can get tool insurance from numerous places, meaning that you are covered in case the worst should happen.
Tips and advice for van-owning tradespeople
- Make sure your van is in working order
- Keep your van looking good
- Be as organised as possible
- Invest in exterior security
- Secure your tools inside your van
- Get yourself insured
We hope the above tips and advice have proven useful. If you are new to van ownership or working with your very own van, consider the above, look after your van, invest in security solutions, and get yourself organised. Being a van-owing tradesman is more than just turning up to the job.
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