From Lutons to making the switch to an 18-tonne Removal Lorry
“Our transition into the world of HGV’s was on our minds for around 2 years before we took the leap. We had been growing the business for around 6 years, operating only Luton vans and that worked for us at the time. Our thought process and only concern was that with all the narrow, one-way roads around Worcester city and the tricky access around the steep slopes of the Malvern Hills, a Lorry just wouldn’t suit us in our current demographics so we just managed. However, it was only a matter of time with our rapid growth until we found ourselves often having to hire vans to accommodate how busy we were. We were probably hiring vehicles 3 or 4 times a week so it quickly became clear that we needed another vehicle to add to the business so this time we decided instead of buying another Luton for £30k – £35k let’s look at buying a lorry with the loading capacity of 3 Luton’s for the price of 2. Our thought process was that by having a lorry for the larger and further away jobs would give us much more capacity for local moves with our fleet of Luton’s.
We found ourselves at a point where the frequency of larger jobs was increasing and our clientele was changing which swallowed up our resources quicker when only using smaller vans so an 18-tonne removals lorry was sounding very appealing for the next step of our growth.
I started looking into the process of applying for an operator’s licence in the middle of lockdown with a lot of caseworkers from the Office of the Traffic Commissioner’s working from home, I found this very tricky as you could never contact people by phone for advice, everything was done by email and I sometimes didn’t get a response to my questions for 2-3 days. The whole process took around 3 months however could be quicker in the current climate but finding a transport manager and somebody to do your vehicle maintenance checks in advance is essential. If you are planning on starting from scratch when going into HGV’s I would definitely recommend doing your research, not just into the operator’s licence but also getting the correct software, driver card readers, Vehicle unit devices and also if you are driving through London, you will also need to look into DVS2020.
Appointing a CPC-compliant transport manager was quite easy for us as we already knew someone who owned and operated another removal company locally. In the future we may put one of our team through the relevant qualifications however as we are only operating 1 vehicle at the moment it makes sense for us to outsource it. Transport manager costs will vary depending on how many vehicles and trailers you operate but they should be able to give advice to anyone starting up so ensure it is someone you trust.
Now that we have been operating with a lorry for around 6 months, we sometimes question how we managed without one for so long, don’t get me wrong it’s not out working every single day but the access issues we worried about are certainly not as bad as expected. Our lorry has air suspension which helps massively when unloading as you can drop the whole rear right down but also raise it higher when reversing up a sloped drive. It has surprised me at times, I remember getting to an unload ahead of the team and looking at a very steep drive thinking ‘no way is the lorry getting up there’ but sure enough it made it. It has been great using the lorry for longer distance moves all over the country with an overall saving in fuel, the only thing we had to do was add a couple of extra seat backs in the cab so that you can send more than 2 people long distance without having to send a support vehicle.
All in all getting an 18-tonne removal lorry HGV has quite a large start-up cost and we were faced with a few challenges but once you are over that point I would 100% recommend it to anyone looking to grow a removals business”.
If you enjoyed reading this case study take a look at some of our other removals customers: