What the leasing companies say
While leasing companies adopt smart repair techniques with their cars before sending them to auction, they take a different approach with vans.
Duncan Metcalfe, head of remarketing at Alphabet, which operates a fleet of more than 9,000 vans, suggests that the cost of many of the smart repairs is often more than any additional value realised at auction.
“Buyers of used commercial vehicles expect a little wear and tear,” he says.
Leasing companies also suggest that trade buyers prefer to see damage on a vehicle and decide themselves what action to take.
Glenn Sturley, vehicle remarketing director at Lex Autolease, which has 70,000 LCVs on its fleet, says: “Prior to being defleeted, none of our LCVs undergo any form of smart repair. We take this approach to ensure that prospective buyers are aware of any damage before they decide to go ahead with the purchase.”
Ogilvie Fleet cleans and valets vans prior to auction and carries out cold dent repairs but damaged areas that require paint are left.
Operations director Jim Hannah says: “If a scratch requires painting, trade buyers prefer to deal with it themselves and have work carried out to their own standard but we do anything that we can disguise with a small repair without painting.”
What the auction houses say
Damaged, poorly presented vehicles are less desirable, according to the major auction houses.
Duncan Ward, general manager - commercial vehicles at BCA, says the process of bringing vehicles back to ‘showroom condition’ through paint technology, cold metal dent removal and repairs to interior and trim can maximise returns in the remarketing chain.
He says: “Trade buyers are typically looking for a van with retail potential, while end-users want a vehicle they can take away and start using in their own business with the minimum of delay.”
But Matthew Davock, head of LCV at Manheim, says: “There is no one right answer when it comes to deciding what and when to invest. For example, investing in replacing items of trim is probably more beneficial on a typical two to three-year old van than undertaking smart repairs. The eventual retail buyer may plan to put decals on the van which cover any cosmetic scratches, so a localised repair would serve little purpose.
“How the van has been used, its age and mileage will all impact upon whether a smart repair is worthwhile. It is also necessary to factor in who the auction buyer might be, as a franchise dealer is likely to require a van to be ‘ready-to-go’ while other independent dealers may have
What the residual value guides say
Van fleet operators need to weigh up whether a repair is technically possible and whether it makes financial sense in terms of enhancing sales prices, bearing in mind current used van market trends.
George Alexander, commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s, says: “In the present climate, it
might prove to be the best policy to have a van professionally valeted and leave such minor damage to be seen and assessed by trade buyers who are best placed to decide which course of action to take.”
Both Glass’s and CAP agree that having a van professionally cleaned is essential.
Ken Brown, editor of CAP Automotive’s Red Book LCVs and Motorhomes, says: “We often see vehicles that have been properly cleaned but exhibit body and paint damage go for more money than vehicles that are in better condition but haven’t been cleaned.”
Fleet operators should pay attention to the interior of the van to send out the right message about how a used vehicle has been maintained.
“If the interior is a tip with plenty of trim damage and has an array of worrying stains on show, the perception will be that the previous owner will have driven and maintained the van as if it were stolen,” says Alexander.