A focus on flexible rental part 1: Benefits of a specialist

Choosing a specialist LCV supplier can guarantee the right vehicle for the job and ensure peace of mind.

04/10/20185 minutes read

Currently around one in ten vehicles on UK roads is a light commercial vehicle (LCV), and this number is growing rapidly. A report by CV Informer in June 2015 found that the total UK van fleet equals 3.35 million vans, with a 2.7% increase in Q1 2014 compared to same quarter in 2013, the biggest rise since 2008.  To add to this, a report from the RAC predicts that by 2040, the current number of vans on the road will double.

One of the factors fuelling this boom in the van market is the growth of online shopping, with Office for National Statistics figures showing that in 2013, 72 per cent of British adults shopped online, up from 53 per cent in 2008. More online shopping means more parcels out for delivery, which equals more LCVs on the roads.

To keep the wheels of the British economy turning, it’s vital that fleet operations run as smoothly as possible, with minimal disruption. With our specialism in LCVs and as the pioneers in flexible vehicle hire, we have a fundamental understanding of how important vehicles are to business operations.  Businesses don’t just choose us because we offer a flexible alternative to contract hire or purchase – although this does offer major benefits financially and operationally, with Northgate they also have the ongoing support of an LCV specialist, right on their doorstep thanks to our national reach. Here’s why this is a big tick in the box…


With longevity comes experience and knowledge, so knowing that your fleet is inexperienced and safe hands can help you focus solely on your business without the added worry and hassle of managing your vehicles. Northgate Vehicle Hire has been supplying and managing vehicles since its conception 35 years ago and has always specialised in LCVs. As a consequence, it is unlike other national LCV rental suppliers, who are more car rental turned van rental and therefore can’t necessarily offer the same level of expertise where LCVs are concerned.

As a fleet operator in its own right, whatever challenges a business might face in terms of fleet operations, Northgate has experienced them too. So whether you’re a fleet manager at a blue chip company or heading up an SME, we are well placed to advise on best practice and deliver what you need. What’s more, the relationship doesn’t end when we hand over the keys.

Northgate helped SME Quicksilver Transport create a fleet solution that helped it save £7,500 in year one. In 2012, it was looking to expand its small fleet to include a 7.5t lorry but the outright purchase of even a second-hand one would have stripped the business of its accumulated savings. Contract hire was deemed too risky because the company had no formal contract work. So, the business owners concluded that flexible hire was the best option and contacted Northgate as the market leader in the current marketplace. Northgate quickly helped the company identify ways of making huge savings, which included covering all servicing and providing replacement vehicles, therefore reducing costly downtime.

At the opposite end of the spectrum after winning a contract with Virgin Media in 2011, Fujitsu Telecommunications quadrupled its employee base, and with that came a need for a new fleet provider. We worked with Fujitsu to create a flexible rental fleet management strategy using Northgate vehicles. Our expertise meant we were able to deliver savings of more than £35,000 per month for the company, which operates a fleet of nearly 1,000 LCVs.


For many businesses, smooth fleet operations are pivotal to achieving business objectives and maintaining high levels of customer service, which is why the quality of your vehicles is so important. Modern, reliable vehicles that remain on the road can minimise business disruption and lost business. This might sound like an expensive proposition but with Northgate’s flexible rental model, this is possible without a huge financial outlay. By using a Northgate fleet of vans, a business can raise the standard of its fleet, with newer vehicles improving brand image and customer service delivery at the same time.

Quality standards should extend beyond just the age of a vehicle – businesses should select an LCV supplier that can guarantee quality in terms of the level of service delivered. With Northgate, minimum Rentable Standards give the hirer reassurance that every vehicle hired is not only legal and safe but also maintained to a high standard for a satisfying driving experience.

A quality service also means choice and although there are numerous flexible vehicle hire suppliers on the market, few have the breadth of choice that Northgate can offer. A fleet of over 50,000 vehicles, from leading manufacturers, across 60 branches can be a great reassurance to businesses that operate regionally or nationally. Its LCV expertise and supplier relationships also mean it is able to offer more bespoke commercial vehicles for its customers. It is willing to go above and beyond normal standards to provide solutions that perfectly fit the customer’s needs. For example, customers can tailor their vehicles so they are fit for purpose, with the ability to add van racking, roof racks, tow bars, their own company branding and more. 

The reassurance that your supplier truly understands you is vital for a long lasting relationship. Northgate listens to and understands its customers. Indeed, Northgate’s flexible rental model has been engineered with the customer in mind to minimise disruption and reduce any potential impact on business operations. What’s more Northgate’s network of 60 branches means customers experience a local, personal touch and a point of contact that can often be missing from other LCV providers.

We appreciate how costly vehicle downtime can be to businesses (it can cost £727 per day, according to Autoglass – source Fleet World 2013). One of our largest and most loyal customers, Enserve, once said, “If the wheels aren’t turning we’re not earning”. This is a universal truth for any van operator, whether it’s a one man band, a business start-up, an SME or a large blue-chip company.

So thanks to the inclusive service, maintenance and repairs (SMR) carried out through Northgate’s in-house workshops, replacement vehicles and partnership with the AA to provide a market leading breakdown and recovery service, businesses can be assured that disruption will be minimised.

Selecting the right LCV supplier can be a risky business, choosing the wrong van supplier can affect a business’ ability to stay on the road, serve customers and ultimately generate a profit. When selecting your supplier, think expertise and quality; think the market leader.

Contact us to find out about van long-term rental today.

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