Popular Fleet Vehicles for Field Service and Mobile Service Businesses
- October 3, 2018
- By: Vonigo
It’s the one thing that all field service and mobile service businesses have in common: fleet vehicles.
You want functional fleet vehicles that are economical to operate and maintain, and that are representative of your brand. But there are many choices, so what do you go with? And how do you go about acquiring them? Lease or buy? And what colors should they be?
We’ve highlighted some of the popular vehicle types, brands, and models that field service and mobile service companies choose for their fleets.
How to Buy and Lease Fleet Vehicles
For starters, should you lease or buy? We’ve published articles on that topic that will help you consider the economics of both options.
If you’re leasing, you are essentially paying for the use of the vehicle long term. You’re not acquiring an asset, which is an important distinction. You can replace your vehicles more often and save money on maintenance and replacement costs in the near term.
Most all major car brands offer leasing options, and also offer “fleet support” for buying and leasing. It’s a term that means you will get preferential treatment, pricing, and service, due to paying for multiple vehicles at a time.
Cube Trucks/Cube Vans
One the large end of the scale are cube trucks and vans. These are popular with moving companies, because of their size and variety of storage capacity. Not all cubes are created equal, however.
The capacity of a cube van is typically measured not in the cubic feet of storage that it can carry (though that can be a factor as well) but by its weight rating. A “one-ton” cube van can carry a lot less than a five-ton, for example. And the latter will be noticeably larger in size.
For moving companies, the most economical approach might be to have a number of trucks in different sizes. When it’s a larger move, send the big one. For smaller local moves, a smaller truck might do.
They can be among the most expensive options for companies, but the Mercedes Sprinter van is still one of the most popular fleet vehicles.
Why? The primary reason is that it has an enclosed cargo area, that a technician can stand up in. For that reason, it’s popular with field service companies that store a lot of tools or perform service inside their vehicles. A lot of plumbers and electricians choose Sprinter vans, as do businesses like dog grooming.
Our client Velofix chooses sprinter vans for their franchise, as the cargo compartment has enough room for their work stands, their tools, and of course for their mechanics to perform the actual service on bikes.
Other Brands of High Clearance Vans
Mercedes Benz is the original creator of what is commonly called a Sprinter van, but other bands have gotten in on the game as well. Ford’s Transit model is also popular, as it offers similar functionality, in a more cost-effective North American domestic option.
The Dodge Ram Promaster is another popular model and comes in a panel-sided cargo version and a multi-windowed model that is suitable for use as a shuttle bus.
If sprinter vans are cost prohibitive, the next best thing for a lot of fleets is a full-sized cargo van. The primary difference is the inability to stand up inside the van itself. For this reason, a cargo van is better for mobile service businesses that do not have to perform any work inside the van itself.
They are popular with window washers, carpet cleaners, chimney sweeps and other businesses that require a lot of rigging or tools and don’t require a dedicated workspace.
If a cargo van was good enough for the A-Team, maybe it’s good enough for your mobile service business.
A key feature of vans, minivans included, is the sliding doors on the side. They make tools and parts accessible to the technician from the side or front of the van. With minivans, you get all of that convenience in a smaller package.
Their smaller size means better fuel economy, and crucially, easier mobility, especially in urban centers where parking is a factor. Another key feature of cube trucks, sprinters, cargo and minivans is that they offer a large canvas on which to display your branding, acting as a large mobile billboard for your company.
If easy access for hauling equipment is a factor for your company then you might prefer pickup trucks as your fleet vehicles. While your gear may not be protected from the elements, you have easy access to it.
One example where pickup trucks might be a popular choice is with commercial window washing companies. Each job might require a different amount of rigging, signage, and machinery like pressure washers that have to be moved several times at the job site.
The convenience of the open bed of a pickup truck might offer the most efficiency, depending on the scale of your operation and of the types of jobs you do.
Smart Cars and Other Small Vehicles
In cities, smaller cars are becoming more popular as fleet vehicles. They are more economical to buy and to operate, and much easier to park. They are also eye-catching and can reflect positively on your brand.
One benefit of smaller vehicles is that it is less cost-prohibitive to expand your fleet. In turn, it can economical to expand your operating area as well.
Businesses like home cleaners and in-home health care that don’t require a lot of tools can expand their fleets much faster, without the high cost of larger vehicles and stocking them with a battery of tools.
Want to take save more money on fuel, and invest in a vehicle that will be part of your fleet for a long time? Hybrids are becoming more popular, for the economics of operating, the reduced impact on the environment, and the “green” aspect of branding your business.
If your business wants to be viewed as more eco-friendly but also requires longer-range trips to cover your whole service area, hybrids can be a popular choice.
Some Popular Hybrid Fleet Vehicles
Ford offers a number of hybrid vans, cars, and trucks as fleet vehicles, both as full hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
In the compact car range, the Toyota Prius has been a top-seller for many years, but the Toyota line-up of hybrid cars has expanded to include quite a few models, including SUVs.
Other major car brands like GM, Mitsubishi, Lexus, and Volvo have entered the hybrid market also.
Increasingly, electric cars are becoming a popular choice as fleet vehicles. Battery technology continues to evolve rapidly. More charging stations are available now. Concerns around things like operating range are becoming more of a thing of the past.
If your fleet parks at your headquarters each night, electric vehicles can be especially handy. You can install the requisite charging stations to make sure they are always charged up.
When your brand wants to position itself as environmentally friendly, electric vehicles are the number one choice. Companies like Tesla have even entered the market with fully-electric long-haul cube trucks. For the cost-conscious field service business though, a smaller model like a Ford Focus or Nissan Leaf might be a better option.
Some Fully Electric Vehicle Options
The Chevy Bolt and Volt are favorites among many businesses due to their small size and lower initial cost than a lot of plug-in electric vehicles.
The Nissan Leaf has been a top-rated choice among electric car enthusiasts for many years as well. It’s often chosen as a lower-cost alternative to Tesla.
In 2018, most of the major car brands offer plug-in electric models in many shapes and sizes. The choices for electric fleet vehicles are expanding.
Even though they are not actually classified as fleet vehicles, we’ve added electric bikes to the list. In urban centers, sometimes it’s more efficient to use bikes to access the “last mile” of a service area.
If your business doesn’t require a large collection of tools, then an electric bike, outfitted with plenty of cargo storage, could be a great choice. The technology of electric bike engines has advanced a lot. Electric cargo bikes are the “vehicle” of choice for more and more landscaping companies, delivery services, and home cleaners.
While electric bikes still leave technicians exposed to the elements, they can be a word-of-mouth generator. This is especially true in cities that support cycling culture and environmentally conscious choices.
Some Surprisingly Useful Electric Bikes
The RadWagon electric cargo bike hauls a surprising amount of weight and packs a serious punch in terms of torque. Tern, Yuba, and Yokler also offer popular options that offer speed, comfort, mobility, and impressive cargo capacity.
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