But is this also the case for tradespeople on the road, who might not have a recognisable brand name or product? Their van is often the initial point of contact with new and potential customers, yet its appearance is something often overlooked or even neglected.At Lex Autolease, we were curious to find out what impact this might be having on businesses. We spoke to 2,000 consumers from across Britain about their impression of tradespeople and the vehicles they drive, revealing some insightful results. It turns out that, rightly or wrongly, customers often feel that the way a commercial vehicle looks reflects the standard of products or services on offer. In fact, almost 90 per cent of customers surveyed think most tradespeople need to care more about the appearance of their vans. A new or high-quality van, kept in good condition, can significantly increase a tradesperson’s chance of securing new or repeat business. Over a third (38 per cent) of consumers felt that new or high quality vans suggested an experienced tradesperson. At the same time, consumers are turned off by vehicles in a state of disrepair, meaning a tradesperson’s van – often their only form of marketing – can end up working against them. The condition of a vehicle would put off nearly two-thirds of those we surveyed (63 per cent) from rehiring, whereas a dirty van was most closely linked to poor service and an inconsiderate driver or business. Knowing all this, why would a tradesperson continue to drive a vehicle which is in need of a serious makeover? The reality is that a number of barriers to buying new vehicles exist, especially for small businesses with limited cash flow – not least the high upfront cost of vehicle purchase. A tradesperson may feel that precious capital may be better spent on elsewhere than on a brand new LCV, particularly given depreciation and the risk that advances in automotive technology could render a purchase passé in just a short space of time. However, leasing a new vehicle can circumvent these barriers and provide tradespeople with a new vehicle in an affordable way. With added benefits such as lower CO2 emissions, better fuel efficiency, improved reliability and updated ‘wrapping’ or sign-writing, leasing can be a workable solution. The challenge for the vehicle leasing industry is to help businesses make that connection, so more SMEs are encouraged to access the vehicles they need to make every first impression the right one. Tony Murtagh is head of SME Direct at Lex Autolease.
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