White Van Man is arguably the most maligned figure on the UK’s highways, accused of bullying other road users at every turn as his battered vehicle splutters out diesel fumes faster than he can splutter out obscenities. So the stereotype goes. In fact, earlier this year, MoneySuperMarket ran a driving etiquette survey and found that White Van Man, the nickname given to any number of self-employed tradesmen, was indeed viewed as the rudest on the road. But is this stereotype actually bad for business? And are tradesmen really judged on the type of van they drive?
It appears so. A recent study by van specialist, Vanarama, has revealed the condition of a tradesman’s van can significantly influence whether or not they’re offered a job, with over half (51%) of the 2,000 respondents confirming they’d worry about how good a tradesman was if he couldn’t afford to drive a decent work vehicle. In addition, over a third (39%) of people polled said they’d worry about the reliability of the tradesman if his works van wasn’t up to scratch.
You are what you drive
We may not like to admit it, but other road users’ perception of us is influenced by the type and condition of the car we drive. And while, for normal commuters, this may do nothing more than influence the type of hand gesture we’re given, for tradesmen it can mean the difference between getting a job or not. Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents to the Vanaram study said the condition of a tradesman’s vehicle could influence how confident they were in whether that tradesman would do a good job or not. In addition, almost half (49%) considered the age of the vehicle to be important, and nearly two-thirds (59%) reckoned being able to see a company logo also gave confidence in the quality of work that tradesman would carry out. So, is it time for White Van Man to shake the stereotype and clean up his act?
How white van man can go green
If tradesmen are suffering a dip in business due to the type of van they drive, it could be time to trade up – something which might not only alter people’s perceptions, but might also mean they spend less to keep the vehicle on the road and even save money in the long run. Another MoneySuperMarket study found that, thanks to a combination of lower road vehicle duty and potential offers on insurance, as well as lower servicing costs and greater fuel economy, new cars are cheaper to own and run than equivalent five-year-old vehicles. So updating the van could help boost business and cut overheads. In addition, switching over to an electric van could also make commercial sense, particularly for those tradesmen who only cover short distances between jobs. This is because most electric vehicles have a range of about 40miles between charges and, if the van can be charged up at each job, then there’ll be no need to worry about running out of juice and petrol costs will be cut completely. Furthermore, electric vehicles are exempt from the congestion charge, so this could net London’s tradesmen an extra saving. And there is an ever-expanding range of electric vans taking to the road, from the Renault Kangoo ZE to the Peugeot eBoxer, and Volkswagen has announced it is to release an electrically powered city delivery van called the ‘e-load Up!’ So maybe it is time for White Van Man to go green. But what do you think? Do you judge a tradesman by the state his van is in? Do you dread seeing a white van in your rear view mirror, replete with Coke cans, Mars bar wrappers and ancient editions of the Sun trapped in the gap twixt the windscreen and the dash? Or are you a tradesmen who feels unfairly labelled as a road menace? Let us know in the box below.