A five-step guide to setting up your vehicle for work.
As a tradie, you rely on your work vehicle. You need a vehicle that's tough enough to handle everything life and work throws its way, but also comfortable and efficient enough to support you and your business for years to come. This is why it's so important to get your tradie work vehicle set up right. Take a look at our five-step guide to achieving exactly this.
1. Vehicle selection
The first step is to choose the type of vehicle that best suits your purposes. There are a number of different elements at play here, and you need to consider all of them together if you are to make the right choice.
- Budget: Of course, you can only purchase the van that your budget will stretch to, so limit your choices based on what you can afford. However, don't be tempted to buy a cheaper tradie vehicle if that means compromising on the other factors on this list.
- Durability and comfort: You'll be driving with care, but you'll also be driving a lot. Look for other tradie reviews and gauge just how rough and ready your vehicle is, as well as how much comfort the cab offers.
- Reliability: Check those reviews for reliability as well. You need a vehicle that is going to serve you well over the years, not contribute to your expenses with excessive maintenance needs.
- Efficiency: Fuel costs are rising in Australia, so look for a vehicle that achieves a healthy L/Km rating. Choosing a substandard model may result in greater costs over time. You may also qualify for tax benefits if your van is classed as fuel efficient.
- Job-specific needs: What will you be carrying? Do you need to customise your van to meet any load-specific needs? Factor this into your choice so you select a vehicle that meets all your requirements. Think about how you will advertise your business, too, and how you want to apply this branding to your chosen vehicle.
2. Find your aftermarket supplier
Next, you need to decide which aftermarket supplier you plan to work with as you customise your vehicle to achieve the best set-up possible. You need a supplier that ticks all the following boxes.
- They can offer you a fair price for the kind of accessories and equipment you need – remember to keep your budget in mind when considering this.
- They can offer you combination deals, such as ute trays and canopies together, to save time, effort and money.
- They boast a strong track record of getting great results for their clients – online reviews from previous and current clients will help you to understand this.
- They can offer you ongoing services and support – think about what you might need in the future and try to make sure your supplier can offer this.
- They offer a guarantee on the quality of the aftermarket products they provide.
- They sell products that have been approved for commercial vehicles in your class so there is no danger of invalidating your warranty or your vehicle insurance.
- They are an established organisation that are going to be able to offer you maintenance and spare parts in the long term.
- They have a strong online presence and customer service team, backed up with physical stores for convenience and reliability.
Spend time on your search as this will give you the best chance of finding the aftermarket partner who can supply all of this to you and your business. An ongoing relationship with the right aftermarket supplier is a must as your business grows.
3. Choose accessories
We've already discussed customisation as one of the key aspects of getting your tradie van set-up ready. But what kind of equipment will you be adding to your vehicle? You may decide to add:
- Canopies – These will enable you to carry more materials and equipment in a safe and protected manner while also giving you additional flexibility and security. A good quality canopy should offer a tough built body and safety glass windows along with the ability to customise window configurations and add a range of optional accessories.
- Drawer systems – Keep your tools and equipment organised with the right drawer system, but also choose a system that is going to keep everything stored safely on long journeys.
- Ute trays – Will also enable you to carry more materials and equipment but without being restricted in height. When choosing a ute tray key consideration should be weight and strength. Your ute tray shouldn’t weigh your vehicle down too much but should be strong enough to carry a heavy load. The ability to add accessories is also very important for ute trays.
- Bull bars – Bull bars make your vehicle all the more versatile, and they are ideal if you are towing or navigating rough terrain. A bull bar is designed to protect your vehicle and its passengers, but they also allow you to mount other crucial 4x4 vehicle safety accessories like radio aerials and lights.
- Roof racks – As a tradie additional storage is always useful, so why not add some roof racks and utilise an unused portion of the vehicle to carry a little extra.
- Lights – Extend your hours of service with the right lighting rig, and maintain safe and effective standards of operation.
- Anything else specific to your purposes – Your business is unique, which means your tradie vehicle needs to be unique, too. Consider which other accessories you may need based on what kind of work you will be carrying out with your van.
4. Consider your GVM needs
Your GVM, or your Gross Vehicle Mass, is how much your tradie vehicle will weigh when it is fully laden with tools, equipment, personnel and materials. This is an important consideration and makes a big difference to which vehicle you need to choose.
While paint supplies and equipment can add up to a significant weight if you are moving the items in bulk, it's not going to be as much as it would be if you were in the garden design trade and were carrying paving slabs, for example. Calculate the kinds of loads you will be carrying and then compare this against the specifications of the vehicle. Think about the ratings of the vehicle's suspension and its axles. Ask your vehicle dealer about maximum weights and their effect on the vehicle's braking capabilities or the load placed on the clutch, gearbox, engine and differential. It's also important to think about what kind of loads you will be towing. You will not be permitted by law to tow any loads that exceed the vehicle's BTC or brake tow capacity.
Finally, will you be towing heavy loads while the van itself is fully laden? If so, you need to be aware of the GCM (Gross Combined Mass) rating. This value relates to the maximum mass you can load into your vehicle while also towing safely.If you find that your needs exceed the maximum GVM, BTC or GCM of your chosen vehicle, you may need to upgrade. Factor this into your budget and look at upgrading the axles, suspensions and other components to bring the vehicle up to code for your requirements.
5. Fitment and delivery
With your vehicle selected, along with the accessories and add-ons you need to get the job done again and again, your attentions now need to turn to fitment and delivery. Consider the following factors:
- Locality – Work with a partner with a physical base in your area to make the delivery as timely and efficient as possible.
- The right relationship – Your fitment and delivery partner needs to be prepared to work with you to help you to achieve a vehicle that suits your needs perfectly.
- Industry knowledge – Your partner needs to understand the industry you will be operating in, so they can apply their own skill and experience to your plans for your vehicle.
- Legal and regulatory compliance – Only work with a qualified partner who can deliver you a vehicle that is in full compliance with all applicable legal requirements and industry regulations.
- Long-term support – You may need additional work carried out on your vehicle, for example, if your needs change in the future. Work with a partner you can rely on to provide additional support as and when you need it.
A solid reputation – Check out reviews of the business you choose to work with, or speak to other figures in your industry to get a good idea of the organisation's reputation. Good word-of-mouth reputation is a solid indication that this is a company that can be relied upon.
Choose Flexiglass and achieve the ideal set-up for your tradie vehicle. Here at Flexiglass, we provide tradie van accessories and upgrades, as well as fitment and delivery services and top-notch support, to commercial clients across Australia. Reach out to our team today or pay us a visit at our locations in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland.