It’s a curious time for the motor trade. In March 2020 UK van sales have held up due to the need for home deliveries and urgent vehicle replacements for tradespeople and essential workers during the coronavirus crisis. According to Motor Trader magazine van sales in March “increased 20-fold as a proportion of total vehicle sales on the platform”. In contrast, the UK’s new car registrations slumped by 44% with the coronavirus crisis leading to forecourt closures and sales down 203,000 in March according to figures issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Many traditional van owners are now choosing to modify their vans as delivery vehicles within the gig economy as retailers seek new avenues to get their products to market as shops close and online ordering becomes the new norm.
For many people their van is much more than just a method of getting around. From a pop-up gourmet burger van to a mobile windscreen repairer, people rely upon their vans as an extension of their company, because you can do a lot of things from a van once it’s fitted out with everything you need.
Van modifications can improve your business in a number of ways and a wide range of industries can benefit. But remember also that you need to tell your insurer about some van modifications to ensure you stay legal on the road and safe in business. Here we take a look at some of the top van modification products
For example, most vans are packed with empty space which you can customise with some simple modifications. Overhead shelves are a useful way to add additional storage to your van and depending on your needs and one of the most popular ways is to add overhead shelving in the van’s scab. This can be used for a load of reasons and can give you quick and easy access to maps, driver refreshments, delivery documents, light tools and other organised kit to make day-to-day life much easier.
Up On The Roof: When you often need to carry large or bulky items like scaffold pipes or metal ladders as you should think about installing a roof rack or bars for extra storage capacity. Do remember to consult the owner's manual first as you should know the maximum weight permitted on your van's roof. Usually the ladder will bolt on to the van's roof rack and a special ladder lock ensures extra security as well as smooth when loading and unloading.
On the Shelf: Consider your van as an empty space that you can personalise to your needs. If you need to carry lots of small parts, adding some bolted in storage boxes could help you to organise. Or, you could install metal chests and racks for tools and heavier machine parts. Inside you could consider plywood lining to help protect the interior paintwork from the scrapes and scratches. It’s easy to install, often comes pre-assembled and easier to clean than metal. Plumbers, electricians and mobile fitters might also want to consider installing a workbench as a modification.
The Incredible Bulk: Interior bulkheads isolate your van's cab from the load area. There are twofold benefits. Firstly, people looking into you cab can’t see what’s lurking at the back of the van thereby removing temptation from would-be burglar. Secondly, a fitted bulkhead can prevent items from flying into the cab if you have to stop suddenly thereby avoiding injury to both the driver and the passenger.
Lock And Load: There are a whole host of van lock options you can install to make your van more difficult to break in to. Deadlocks are independent steel locks that work separately from your basic door locks and retro fitted to an older van. For those drivers making multiple deliveries slam locks robotically lock the door as soon as it's closed, so you don't need to worry about using your key or putting wear and tear on the exiting locks. Hasp locks cover your existing lock with a circular shield not only act as a visual deterrent, they are difficult to smash open.
A Good Grilling: If you’ve got rear windows in your van its worth looking at an extra security measure in fitting window grilles or blank which act as a visual deterrent because it makes your van look harder to break in to, but it also stops a potential thief from getting inside to access your valuables.
On the Right Track: Fitting your van with a Global Positioning System (GPS) often includes a tracking system which will let you know where your van is located in the unfortunate event that it is stolen. You'll should be able to recover your van quickly.
Out of The Blue: A Bluetooth handsfree kit means you can you can safely take calls, listen to music and much more without taking your focus away from the road. A microphone also helps when talking with customers or with those back at the depot.