How to start a man and van business

Man and van businesses are part of the £1 billion removal industry in the UK. People are always in need of services for the stressful process of moving house or transferring goods. So, if you’re comfortable with lifting things and driving around, a man and van business might be great for you. 

If you’re wondering how to start a man and a van service, the right preparations can help you succeed and find your first clients. Luckily, we can help you get started. 

This guide will discuss how to start a man and van business, including: 

  • What you’ll need for a man and a van business
  • How to set up your man and a van service 
  • How to organise your business for success 
  • How to market your business to find customers 
  • How to get your finances on the right track from day one

What you’ll need for a man and a van business

Knowing how to start a man and van business requires a bit of planning. Make sure you have everything you need before helping customers. 

Know your market

Market research can help you understand demand and help you decide on services and marketing to find the right customers. With a van, you could help people move on a smaller scale. This might make the most sense for people moving flats rather than larger homes. 

It may be useful to know that people in the UK move about eight times in their life, mainly between the ages of 18 and 30. In 2021, 427,000 households in the UK said they wanted to rent or buy a new home. To get to know the behaviour of your area, consider researching more specific statistics. You can also refer to moving sites like Rightmove to get a better idea of trends. 

Find your target audience

Market research can also help you decide who your target audience is. For example, you may want to focus on the 18 to 30 age group. You could also target a city setting because cities are more populated with flats. With that in mind, consider marketing yourself to university students who need to move their belongings in and out of student accommodation. 

Other service options include oversized or delicate shipping that’s difficult to mail. Or you could market yourself to other small businesses as some use delivery services. 

Focus on your location 

You’ll also need to decide where you’ll offer your services. Then, set a radius of how far you’re willing to travel. Be sure you know your location well so you can serve people efficiently and successfully. To do this, consider studying the best routes and traffic patterns. 

Keep in mind that the further the distance you’ll travel, the more opportunities you’ll have for work. With that said, longer distances will lead to higher gas expenses and road tolls to take into account. So, you may want to start on a smaller range to make your operations more manageable. Then, expand your radius as your business grows. 

Have the right skills 

A large part of knowing how to start a man and van business is having the proper skills. You’ll need to be able to drive a van and follow traffic directions well. 

Not only this, but you’ll need a full, valid UK driving licence (category B) to drive the van. This licence lets you drive most vans, so you shouldn’t need a special licence. 

To appear more credible, you may also want to become a member of the British Association of Removers, a recognised trade association in the UK. If you eventually want to do commercial moves, you may need a commercial moving certificate or BS 8522. 

Aside from driving skills, physical strength and endurance will help you move large equipment and goods. You’ll also need people skills to work with clients. 

Get the proper equipment 

The key to starting a man and van business is having a reliable and spacious van. You can use this van to move clients belongings efficiently. If you already have a van, you’ll save on this startup cost. If not, you’ll need to buy or lease one. You could buy a van for about £7,000- £15,000 or more, but leasing could be as little at £99 a month.  

Aside from a reliable van, you’ll likely need: 

  • Protective gloves
  • Dollies for moving large objects
  • Protective removal blankets for inside the van 
  • Tie down straps 

You can factor these necessary expenses into your startup costs

Create a business plan 

Once you’ve done these preparations, you can put your findings together in a well-organised business plan. Planning for your business will help you structure your operations and intentions. You’ll also be able to prepare for startup costs and determine how you’ll find your first customers. 

All in all, a business plan allows you to outline long-term and short-term goals that can help you grow and succeed. Plus, if you need funding or a loan to start your business, having a developed plan can help you look more prepared and professional to investors. 

How to set up your man and a van service 

Once you know how to start a man and van service, you can get started with setting it up. We’ll cover a few things you’ll need to do. 

Register your business

You’ll first need to register your business. You can either register as a sole trader or a limited company. It’s easier to register as a sole trader, but you will be personally liable for your business. Limited companies involve more reporting and managing, but they are a separate legal entity from you. You can register on the UK government website here

If you register as a sole trader, you may use your van for personal and business purposes. As a limited company, you may look into leasing a car through your business

Name your business

Also, consider coming up with a catchy business name to help you appear legitimate and professional. You can put this name and logo on your van to market your services and differentiate your van from personal vehicles. Learn more about registering a company name here

Plan for your taxes

Once you register your business, you’ll need to register for taxes with the HMRC. This means you’ll manage your own taxes as a self-employed person. Businesses typically need to pay income tax, dividend tax, and national insurance. 

As a limited company, you’ll also need to pay for corporation tax. Then, if you expect to earn over £85,000 annually, you’ll need to register for VAT. 

Find insurance   

Insurance will be an important part of your man and van business. You’re required to have motor or van insurance to drive in the UK. Not only is it necessary, but getting the right insurance protects you from the costs of a damaged or broken down vehicle. 

Aside from this, you’ll likely need public liability insurance. This will protect you if you’re responsible for the damage of something or someone while on the job. 

How to organise your business for success 

You’ll also need solid organisation to succeed with your man and van business. Organised daily operations will help you find and manage your first customers. 

A price list 

To charge customers properly, you’ll need to put together a price list for your services. With removal services, pricing often varies depending on the job. So, you may want to offer free quotes to assess each job uniquely. But, consider outline some minimum costs so people know what to expect from your quotes. 

Consider your business expenses, such as gas, tolls, and insurance costs, to determine the best prices. A profit margin of at least 10-20% will help you earn enough from each job. Then, get quotes from similar small businesses to see what they charge. 

Business management 

To organise your operations well, look for a business management platform like Google Workspace or Microsoft 365. These can help you keep your contacts, calendar, and documents all in one place. As a result, you’ll be able to manage your commitments and send customers important information. 

Business current account 

The key to starting a man and van business is managing your finances well. Plus, straightforward finances can help you understand your performance and make accurate reports for taxes. But, organising this information can be tricky. 

A business current account will help you differentiate your business finances from your personal ones. This can simplify your tax returns and help you stay on top of your cash flow

Accounting software 

To save time and keep track of your finances, you’ll also need accounting software. Countingup offers a two in one business current account and accounting software that can help you better understand your finances and manage them efficiently. 

Not only can the Countingup app put all of your financial information in one place, but it offers tools that will make it easier and faster to run your business. For example, you can easily create and send unlimited invoices straight from the app. Plus, Countingup will notify you when invoices are received and automatically match them to payments. 

On top of this, the app has automatic expense categorisation using HMRC approved categories. This helps you easily find proof of expenses. And even more, the app generates cash flow insights and organises your data, making it easy to stay on top of bookkeeping and produce income statements

Tools like these will help you understand how much you’re earning and spending to alter your habits and plan for business growth. 

How to market your man with a van service to find customers 

Now that you know how to start a man and van business, you’ll need to market that business to find your first customers. There’s a few things you can do to get started. 

Brand yourself 

With your target audience and market in mind, you can develop a brand for your man with a van business. Your brand identity is how you present your business to the public, with a consistent tone and design.

You can use your brand to design a business logo using tools like Canva. This logo can go on your van to appear professional and stand out. Then, use your branding to create marketing materials like brochures and business cards. This will help you look professional and memorable. 

Claim your Google My Business page

It’s a good idea to claim your Google My Business page, so you’re accessible online. This means you’ll appear on Google and Google Maps when people search for removal services in your area. 

Make a website 

Putting together a business website can help you appear professional and accessible. You can even link this website to your Google page so people can learn more about you. Your website should have your name, contact information, and services. You could even add a ‘request a quote’ page with an accessible form. 

Use social media 

To grow your digital presence, consider creating social media pages for your business. This way, you can engage with people in your area. You can also promote your services by posting regular content. 

Target your advertising 

Consider advertising your services in places relevant to your customer. For example, you could leave brochures and business cards in student accommodation buildings. This will make you a convenient option.  

On top of this, you could list your services on sites like Get a Mover or Compare My Move so people will come across your services. 

Focus on customer service 

Once you find your first customers, focus on promoting friendly and efficient services. Good customer service will help your business reputation. You can also ask people to review you to show potential clients how reliable you are. This will help your man and van business move towards success. 

Confidently manage your business finances from the start

Once you know how to start a man and van business, you’ll need to organise your finances well for success. But, financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.