It’s true for just about everyone that our cars are pretty central to our lives. There aren’t many people out there who would be able to function day-to-day without their car. This only becomes more significant when your vehicle is your business. Whether you rely on your car to get to clients and customers, or if your business is based on shipping and logistics, there are very view business that doesn’t treat vehicles with a certain amount of importance. But that does mean that you’ll probably come up against some surprising problems that you might not have had to deal with before both as a business owner and as the owner of a vehicle. So before you decide to build a business around your vehicles, here are some important things that you’ll want to consider.
What kind of vehicle?
This is entirely going to depend on what you’re going to be using it for. Is your business something that only involves you needing to go from place to place? Then you’ll be fine with a simple, reliable car. But if your business is run out of a warehouse with large quantities of stock then you’ll probably need something closer to a flat-bed truck or at the very least a large van. A good rule of thumb is to balance the size of the vehicle based on the size of your business. If you’re a two or three person start-up, you’re probably not going to have much need for a truck. If your business has recently grown and expanded into new territories then it might be time to retire the company car and move on to something bigger.
When you’re thinking about a vehicle for your business, the thing that should be at the forefront of your mind should be this: who’s actually going to be driving it? Is it going to be you? Or is the vehicle going to be in the hands of one or more of your employees? The choices that you make in this regard are going to have a big impact on your insurance rates among other things. You will have a far greater amount of control over your own driving behaviour, so you can be sure that you’re not going to drive up your insurance premiums. If you’re going to put the vehicle in the hands of someone else, then make sure that it’s someone you trust. Do as many thorough checks of their driving history as you can, both to ensure that your insurance premiums aren’t too high and to make sure that you are comfortable giving this amount of responsibility to them. If you have the budget and time frame for it, consider putting any employees who might be getting behind the wheel forward for additional training to ensure that they are as safe as possible when out on the road. Not only can this lower insurance rates but will also offer you far greater peace of mind as well.
As well as making sure that your driver is as responsible as possible, you need to ensure that the vehicle itself is as safe as it can be. A business vehicle is probably going to have to stand up to far more intensive, long-haul driving than a standard family car, and it will also probably end up carrying far more cargo depending on your business. You should take great care to keep the vehicle regularly maintained and make sure that the risks of anything happening while on the road are kept to a minimum. Remember that breakdowns are the least of your worries. While breakdowns can be a real problem and have serious consequences for your business as a whole, the real issue when your vehicle is not maintained is that it puts the driver and everyone else on the road at risk. If there’s one thing that you should never skimp on when it comes to your vehicle, it’s safety. If something does happen then, it’s important to figure out who is at fault. If you’ve kept your vehicle well maintained and it wasn’t an issue with the vehicle itself, then there’s a chance that the liability could fall with the driver or even the people who loaded the vehicle in the first place. If you want more information about the kind of legal support that you can get if something happens, you can find it out at Robins Cloud.
If you’re using your vehicle for business, then it’s obviously going to count towards your expenses in a significant way. But it’s important to figure out how those expenses divide up. A lot of the costs a vehicle incurs is going to tax deductible. If it’s your personal car and you also use it for business purposes, then it’s important to keep track of exactly how much you’re driving it for business. That way you can keep an accurate record of your fuel costs which will make claiming tax back on those costs far easier. You should talk to an accountant to figure out what is the best method of deducting vehicle expenses for your business. If the vehicle is specific to your business, then it’s important that you never use it for personal reasons because that will put you in a position where you’ll have to start claiming some of the vehicle’s value as 1099 income. Different vehicles obviously have vastly differing fuel and insurance costs, which is also something that you’re going to need to think about. Can your business actually afford the kinds of costs that a larger vehicle is going to incur? It’s all a matter of checks and balances. You might need to spend more on a larger vehicle, so you want to make sure that you’re in a position to make that money back.
Lease or buy
There was a time when the mark of success was that you were able to buy the vehicle for your business. The idea of a “company car” was one that many people aspired to. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always ideal. There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to both leasing and buying a vehicle, and you’ve got to figure out what’s best for you and your business. If you buy the vehicle, you’ll probably need to take a loan out for the full value of it which you’ll need to pay back. You’ll need to pay the full amount back even if the value of the vehicle decreases, for example, if it’s in an accident. Whereas if you lease the car, then the car’s value at the end of the lease will have an impact on how much you pay back. A lease is also a good option in you don’t think you’ll be able to scrape together the money for making a down payment on the vehicle as many leases don’t require one. You should also think about what you plan to do with the car at the end of the lease. If you buy the car then once you’ve paid off the loan you get to keep it, sell it, or hand it down to an employee, whereas with a lease you return the vehicle and possibly take out a new lease. Leased vehicles are also a tax deductible expense which may impact your decision. Leases will also often have a mileage limit on them, so if you’re planning on driving the vehicle regularly over long distances then you might be better off purchasing it.
There are no hard and fast rules for exactly what to do when it comes to the vehicle for your business. Just like with any car, the important thing is to weigh up what your needs are and make your choices based on that. Think about what you’ll be using it for, what kind of business you’re running, any one of a dozen other factors before jumping in and putting down money on a vehicle. The right one can make all the difference to your business, helping it grow and expand in exciting ways, but make the wrong choices then you could end up with something that’s closer to a money pit and a dead weight than anything else. Thinking about the kinds of things laid out here, you’ll be in a far better position to figure out exactly what you need, want, and can actually afford. As with life, there are few businesses that can really function without transport, so this isn’t something you should take lightly. Do your research, think carefully and do everything you can to make sure that you’re making the right decision for both yourself and your business.