Whether you're an independent owner-driver or the operator of a large fleet, investing in a vehicle (or vehicles) is one of the largest financial outlays you'll undertake for a transport business. With that amount of money at stake it's most definitely caveat emptor (let the buyer beware), so there are a number of things to be aware of to ensure you're doing business with a reputable HGV dealer. |
Meet and Greet
It goes without saying that the ideal scenario is to visit a dealer in person before making any decisions about purchasing a truck. Of course, this is not always practicable (see below) but it is definitely preferable, because when it comes to new vehicles, the range of options is vast, including interior décor, axle ratios, the size of the cab and engine rating – among others. For used vehicles it's even more important to see them in person rather than just in a digital image.
Pay for the Name
While you'll almost certainly pay a little more, purchasing a truck from a franchised dealership (of well known names like Iveco or Mercedes etc.) means you'll have the backing of the brand's reputation. Of course that's not suggesting that independent dealers are not to be trusted, but this tip particularly applies if you are in the position of having to purchase unseen.
Look Behind the Scenes
The first thing to do when you visit a dealership you're considering purchasing a truck from is look around their operation and see that it matches the pictures they display on their website or magazine advertisement. Check that it is well maintained and presentable – if it's not, it could certainly be an indication as to how they conduct their business.
If you're buying a used vehicle it's also a good idea to ask to have a look through the dealer's workshop if they've stated it's been maintained and serviced by them. If the workshop is off-site or they have used a third party, ask to see documentation.
What's the Source?
Another very important issue to investigate is the provenance of the vehicles before they end up at the dealership. Find out whether they obtain stock from a regular supplier, if they buy at auction or privately, and whether there is paperwork documenting their history in terms of inspections, services and accidents.
It only takes a minute to Google the name of a dealer and see what comes up. But don’t just stop at their website – burrow a little deeper into online forums to see if there are any reviews from customers, either good or bad.
Sometimes it's just not possible to view a truck before purchasing it, but there are some steps you can take to get as much peace of mind as possible.
• Purchase from a franchised dealership • Get a referral or recommendation from a valued associate within your network • Request documentation or proof of the service history • Get as many photos and videos as possible
Purchasing a truck is not as straightforward as fronting up at a sales yard, finding a smooth ride and liking the colour of the seat trims. Taking the time to ensure the reputation of the dealer you choose is key to affording the confidence to make a significant financial outlay.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange offers a valuable service providing information about issues like purchasing a truck and the latest news from the industry. Matching delivery work with available vehicles, over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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