BUSINESS or pleasure, renting a van can be a convenient and relatively affordable option.

So what should you be looking for when considering a rental?

First, what are your needs? For a passenger van you need to know exactly how many people will be going with you and what kind of luggage they’ll be carrying.

If you’re looking for a cargo van make sure the cargo will safely fit in the van.

If you need a passenger minivan, you’re probably better off renting a van through a traditional car rental agency, as their rentals will be better equipped with the conveniences passengers will expect.

In terms of moving cargo, then look for a business offering box vans but importantly make sure you are aware of the final cost and that you understand everything that is and isn’t included in the price.

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What kind of insurance is included in the rental? Will your cargo or passengers require any special equipment and, if so, how much extra is it? What does the insurance, if included, cover?

Some companies will try to sell additional insurance products you may not need. For a passenger van, check your personal vehicle’s insurance policy as well as any protection paying with a credit card may afford.

These same protections may not apply in the case of cargo van rentals and additional insurance may be required to cover the load.

There is plenty of choice so look for a company that can offer a comprehensive range of vehicles that can be supplied to match any requirement.

Check out the terms and flexibility, there might be a minimum rental period or some hidden or unexpected costs, particularly when it comes to any damage.

Check the vehicle inside and outside for any damage, as this should be detailed on your agreement. Also ensure that the van’s mileage is correct and check the fuel level.

Make sure that you know what to do if the van breaks down or you have an accident – the last thing you will want to be worrying about is finding the emergency number to call.

When dropping the van off, ensure you return the vehicle in the same condition as you collected it in.

If you are setting up a van rental business, then there are some important things to look out for.

Spend some time evaluating who your customers are going to be, vehicles, rates, competition, market, latest technology and manpower.

A business model must be equipped to deal with the changing marketplace is it providing value for you and the customers, if not have a re-think.

Keep a track of such things as average length of rental, revenue per user, utilisation and many other metrics.

Having a disposal plan is important. Timing is everything, is the used market strong and get the vehicle into as good a condition as possible.

What are the risks? You have a fleet of fast depreciating assets so ook for the best fleet finance scheme with the best interest rate and processing fees.

Then there’s the competition. Just like any other business you need to market effectively and try to come up with a unique selling point to give you an edge. It might be best to use an experienced marketing agency, particularly one which can partner with other industries such as hotels or travel.

Put yourself in the place of the customers and provide  disclosure of the rental agreement without anything hidden.