Best advice for van drivers during the coronavirus

Every business is facing big challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But here are practical ways to keep van drivers safe and healthy, and vans working reliably...

van in use

Although the UK is in an extended lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with tough rules on social distancing, there are lots of businesses who need to keep working. They’re playing a crucial role at this time, providing support for key services such as the NHS and food shops or helping people at home.

We’ve compiled a list of useful information for van-owning businesses, covering health and safety for your drivers and customers, as well as how to keep your vans maintained and reliable.

Stay safe while working

This one is simple but crucial: if you are sharing your vehicle or anything it is coming into contact with, including anything you are moving around, you must keep everything clean.

Door handles, steering wheels, gear selectors, grab handles, air vents, dashboard controls – it’s a long list, but everything you touch or interact with must be kept clean and wiped down with an appropriate cleaner after every use to stop the spread of the virus. While constant cleaning may feel tedious, it’s essential to keep you, your colleagues and your customers safe.

You should also wear gloves, ideally disposable ones, especially when interacting outside your place of work, using fuel pumps and collecting or delivering stock.

Keep a two-metre distance to colleagues at all times, avoid shaking hands with suppliers or other business contacts and make only essential journeys. More exposure means more risk.

Customer etiquette

For many, face-to-face customer contact is a vital part of their business. While Covid-19 makes this challenging, levels of customer interaction can be maintained.

Gloves, two-metre social distancing and ideally face masks are essential in maintaining safety for you and your customers. It may feel awkward, uncomfortable or impersonal, but they’ll be reassured that you’re going to these lengths to protect them.

Communication is key. We all know the challenges, so stay friendly, let the customer know the situation and tell them what you can and can’t do. 

If you’re delivering something, call the customer first and arrange a drop-off point to avoid contact. If it’s a service you’re providing, be clear with your customers that safety is key.

My business has changed dramatically. Can I still buy a van?

Restaurants, grocers and even pharmacies are having to dramatically change the way they operate thanks to social distancing and the lockdown. With thousands isolating and millions stuck inside, business owners are looking for innovative ways to keep delivering vital support to the UK – particularly through home-deliveries.

But what if you don’t have a van? Many dealerships have opted or been forced to close their retailer outlets, meaning leasing, renting or even buying a van has become harder. However, dealerships are still operating online and over the phone, therefore calling them could mean you’re still able to get your hands on a vehicle – especially if you can prove that the service you provide is helping in the fight against the coronavirus. 

Like you, dealers are going to great lengths to support customers while keeping them safe, so options such home or work delivery of a vehicle (which you should insist has been cleaned extensively inside and out after delivery) are still an option. For more advice, read our article on whether you should buy a vehicle during the coronavirus crisis.

During the coronavirus lockdown, it's still important to keep your van serviced and working hard

Maintaining and servicing your van

In these unprecedented times, having your van on the road and working hard for you is more crucial than ever. There is a six-month exemption on MOTs from 30 March, but your van still may need essential service work, repairs or maintenance.

Driving to servicing centres is often time better spent doing your job and another unnecessary social interaction. Therefore, it’s key to utilise schemes provided by manufacturers to make servicing your van easier. Some manufacturers offer services to either pick up the your vehicle and return it after a service, or to send round mobile mechanics. You can read our guide for more advice on servicing your vehicle yourself.

What if my van isn’t moving?

Unfortunately for many businesses, the coronavirus will result in their vans being sat stationary for weeks or even months. During this time, it’s vital that small but regular maintenance is carried out to ensure it remains in full working order.

This will include monitoring tyre pressures and putting the battery on a trickle charge to ensure it doesn’t go entirely flat.

My business is losing income. How does this affect my van finance?

Many businesses have found themselves facing an extended shutdown and are having to make do with a limited amount of government support. This raises questions for many concerning van finance and leasing contracts and whether they’ll be able to afford them. 

The good news is, manufacturers will be keen to help your business and retain your support in the long-term, so many are providing help to their finance customers and are urging them to call up and discuss their contract. Ultimately, they’ll want to keep you as a customer and are here to support you.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more: all the latest coronavirus advice for drivers >>