Controlling maintenance costs is van buyers’ main priority

controlling costs

Around two thirds of businesses that use light commercial vehicles say controlling the cost of servicing and maintenance is their main priority when choosing a vehicle to buy or to rent.

That’s according to a survey conducted by market research firm GfK, which gathered the opinions of a broad cross-section of UK businesses with less than 500 employees who use LCVs for their business.

Nearly half the sample (45%) identified service, repairs and MOTs as a major cause for vehicle downtime, second only to breakdowns (53%);  60% of survey participants considered the provision of like-for-like replacement vehicles a key factor to consider when choosing an acquisition deal.

Comments from vehicle managers taking part in the survey included the view that cost is not the same as price when acquiring a vehicle.  One respondent told the researchers that keeping the price low was no good to customers without the offer of a replacement vehicle, or if the service and maintenance was unreliable.  Saving on price does not equate to an overall saving when the total cost of the whole service is factored in.

“Vehicle downtime is a major headache for any business using an LCV,” said Eddie Aston, the UK MD of Northgate, which commissioned the survey.  “Inclusive service and maintenance is now a priority for businesses acquiring new light commercial vehicles.  The research shows that vehicles are off the road for an average of 12 days a year and downtime means hassle, expense and, at worst, loss of business.  It causes extra paperwork, unplanned expense and loss of productivity, and reduces the opportunity for advertising.  Added to that, if a vehicle has been tailored to an individual business’ needs it will often be difficult to replace.”  

The survey also found that although businesses attempted to manage their downtime to avoid unproductive periods, few had any formal processes in place.  

“Any business’ reputation is dependent on getting the product to the customer on time or fulfilling a service requirement to an agreed deadline,” Eddie Aston added.  “Vehicle breakdowns and downtime in general mean you are letting the customer down and adversely affecting your productivity into the bargain.”