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Tips for Tradies

Tradies. Contractors. Those vital people who come around to your place to do something practical that you can’t do for yourself. They come in all flavours – gardeners, electricians, cleaners, plasterers, carpenters, builders, interior decorators, etc. etc. Perhaps you’re one of them.

Now, one thing that every tradie needs is a decent vehicle.  There are some jobs that you just can’t do using public transport or on a bicycle.  But what do you need to look for in a set of wheels if you are a tradie?  What do you need to keep in mind before you head over to our car reviews to pick yourself the right car for your work?

  • What tools do you need?  You are going to have to carry everything you need with you to every job.  This means that you’re going to have to put it somewhere in your vehicle.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that a van is a must, in spite of the popularity of vans with tradies.  Anything with a decent dollop of luggage space will do the trick – even a ute will do if you carry gear that can stand getting wet.  MPVs, 4x4s and station wagons are other options. If your business is less tool-intensive (e.g. mobile computer whizzes, pet groomers or piano tuners) then something smaller can work – a hatchback allows easy access to the few tools that you do have.
  • Do you need to pull a trailer?  Builders, gardeners and carpenters often have to haul around a trailer, either to take large amounts of stuff to the clients’ places (builders, carpenters) or to take stuff away (gardeners).  You’re going to have to consider engine size and type in this case.
  • Ground clearance.  Some jobs need a decent bit of ground clearance, especially if you’re going to have to take the vehicle over rougher ground to get your gear right where you want it.  Others don’t so much.  Utes and 4x4s have good ground clearance, which is why they’re popular choices for most tradies.  However, a lot of contractors just run around on regular roads in the suburbs and can park on the street or in the driveway, so ground clearance isn’t always necessary.
  • Signage.  Are you planning on putting your business logo and contact details on your vehicle?  It’s a good way of attracting new business.  In this case, you may have to consider the colour of your vehicle. If your usual logo is plain black, it’s not going to show up on a dark coloured van or 4×4.  If you have more than one vehicle for your business, it’s good if the vehicles match.  However, if you’re a sole trader or owner/operator and you only need the one, then you can be a bit flexible when it comes to colour.  White isn’t the only colour for a van or work vehicle.  I knew a tradie once who scored a van cheap because the previous owner had given it a metallic pink paint job.  One quirky logo later and he had a very eye-catching work vehicle that stood out among the fleets of white ones.  Similarly, there is no rule that says that gardening/landscaping contractors have to have dark green 4x4s in spite of the “close to nature and good in the bush” image these tend to have.

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