Expert Session: VanLease

A van has four wheels and it gets you from A to B, so you might be forgiven for thinking it is just a car with a bigger load capacity. But for professional van drivers and companies, there is a lot to consider when choosing new vans and managing a van fleet. We share with you some ins and outs on van leasing with Athlon Belgium Van Specialist Steve Somers.

    What makes leasing vans different from leasing cars?

    “Vans are a crucial element of our customers’ core business. They are far more than just a means of transport: for many drivers, they are also mobile workplaces which they use to serve their customers. Besides making the right choice of a suitable van and fitting it out, customers want a guarantee that they can make maximum use of the vehicle for their daily activities. That means the vehicle needs to be available at all times. So services, repairs, tyre changes and so on need to be quick. You also need to think carefully about exactly when these trips are made and who is going to make them. Does the employee go to the garage during working hours? Or will the customer go for a stress-free option with pick-up and delivery, provided by Athlon? What type of replacement vehicle will be included in the contract to ensure seamless continuity for their business?  So creating a custom service package for a customer means that the leasing partner needs a clear picture of what the customer’s activities involve and what their daily work schedule looks like. That leaves the customer free to focus on what matters to them and their customers, without having to worry about their vans. We deal with that worry for them.”

    What interesting developments do you expect in the van business? 

    “The days when a commercial vehicle was just a metal box on wheels are long past. It is fascinating to see what has happened over the last few years: constructors have managed to turn the traditional van into a fully equipped vehicle with all the technological gadgets we have had for years in cars. Options like active safety features and extensive multimedia systems have become part and parcel of today’s vans. Today’s engineers also focus on ergonomics for drivers. The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle – sitting for long periods – are well-known to office workers, but they also affect professional drivers, who often sit in their vehicles for hours without moving very much. Many drivers don’t realise how important an ergonomic sitting position is for their health. ‘Stay healthy, drive ergonomically’, is what we always say to our customers. And electric vans are starting to become more popular as well.”

    Are you also seeing changes in the way customers think of their vans?

    “Customers are becoming more aware that the day-to-day management of their van fleet is a lot of work if they do it themselves. It takes a considerable bite out of their budget.  So they are increasingly opting to contract out fleet management to their mobility partner. The growing number of brands, models and power options on offer also makes it difficult for customers to choose the perfect van to suit their activities. Companies need experts to advise them. Receiving a new vehicle that is immediately ready to drive is at the top of their wish list more and more often as well. The customer orders a vehicle with custom fittings to suit their activity, attractive stickers for the sides and a full tank of fuel, so they have a fully operational vehicle to drive within moments of delivery. Time is money.”

    Athlon van with car print
    Steve Somers

    Do you have tips for choosing the perfect van?

    “Clearly there are many factors that influence the choice. When choosing a van, you always need to consider your professional activity and the goods you need to transport. That will help you to select the bodywork shape, dimensions, volume and load capacity.

    “Your choice might also depend on geographical factors. Do most of your activities take place in city centres? If so, the vehicle needs to be manoeuvrable and fit into underground car parks. Or do you need to go off-road regularly? In that case you would be better off with a four-wheel drive. Do you tow a heavy trailer, and is four-wheel drive the right choice there as well?

    “Choosing the right fittings is at least as important, if not more so. Athlon has a wide network of partners to help with this. And the finishing touch is the stickers on the sides of the van, bearing the company’s name and logo. That turns your vehicle into a travelling advertisement for your business!”

    Why should customers choose Athlon as their van lease partner?

    “We put our customers at the heart of everything we do. From the largest international exporter to the smallest man-and-van courier: they are all equally important to us. Our many years of experience and our passion at both local and international level make us the perfect leasing partner.  We have a team of experts at hand to analyse the fleet and consult with the customer on how we can come up with a made-to-measure service package. That leaves the customer free to focus on what matters to them and their customers, without having to worry about their vans. We deal with that worry for them. It’s that simple.”