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Sam Sterry's blog: Rental vans - filling the gap for UK SMEs

Date: 16 March 2018

Sam Sterry, Director of SME, Europcar UK Group looks at how van rental is 'filling the gap' for SMEs

Today's SMEs are facing challenges on several fronts.  They need to stay 'fleet of foot' to remain competitive - but they also need to keep a close eye on cash flow.  For many that can mean delaying significant purchases - such as new vehicles.  But without the right vehicles, these small enterprises that are the backbone of the UK economy could lose out on valuable orders. 

This is an even more significant challenge for firms that rely on vans for their day to day business.  Commercial vehicles are the lifeblood for many small businesses, enabling deliveries to be carried out and supplies to be sourced for customer orders.

Recent analysis of the Europcar SME customer base has revealed some interesting trends in how the company's commercial vehicle services are used.  It appears that van rental plays a crucial role in 'filling the gap', with 47% of SME's hiring for just 1 day at a time and a quarter hiring for 2-3 days.  These vehicles could well be providing cover for a company's own fleet during servicing and maintenance, or to cope with a sudden increase in customer demand.

However, with just over 1 in 10 (11.08%) SME rentals in 2017 being for more than 20 days, it seems that van hire is also viewed by small businesses as an effective way to keep business on the road for the longer-term.  Having the certainty of vehicle reliability that hire from a reputable supplier brings removes a headache for the owners and operators of small businesses that can't afford to disappoint customers waiting for goods or services.

Short wheel base (SWB) vans, perhaps not surprisingly, are the most popular choice for SMEs, doing the most mileage in 2017.  However, car-derived vans (CDV) also proved a popular option for small firms, followed by long-wheel base models (LWB).  It's clear, therefore, that having access to a wide variety of vehicle types is crucial to keep small businesses on the road.  And vehicle hire offers that flexibility - rather than being 'locked in' to one type of vehicle for all a company's needs.

Fluctuating demand, often across a national footprint, is logistically testing for firms of all sizes.  However, vehicle hire can provide the answer - keeping UK business on the road.  The key is to find a partner that can support a company's needs, easily and efficiently.  The most reputable vehicle rental companies provide access to up-to-date vehicle models, featuring the latest motoring technology, which means they deliver better fuel efficiency.  And all vehicles should be fully maintained, with roadside assistance as standard - tackling the dual challenge of employee well-being and business productivity.