Nothing wastes more time than running from one side of the store to the other to buy one more item. It’s much more efficient for you if you carry most of the tools you’ll need with you at all times. In a sense, as a handyman on the go, you’ll need to have a little traveling hardware store with you.
That means you’re going to need some storage space. Most operators get by with a truck that has a lid or “topper.” It does give them the storage space of an SUV, but they don’t have to switch vehicles if they already have a reliable truck. Of course, if you have the budget to buy a new (or gently used) vehicle, then there are some alternatives. Vans are a proven vehicle for service people of all kinds. They have more space than a hood van, allowing you to fit into your little mobile hardware store.
If you can’t afford a new (or used) lid for your truck, or don’t even have a truck right now, don’t despair. If you’re just starting out, you can certainly get by with whatever space there is in the passenger seat and backseat. The most important thing is that everything you drive looks clean and well cared for. The old “pride of ownership” will come in handy here. Your customers might be a little suspicious if you were driving a top-of-the-line new vehicle anyway, so make the most of the fact that a used but clean truck or car makes you appear honest.
In terms of color for your ride, white vehicles look a bit more like standard service vehicles. That doesn’t mean you should repaint whatever you’re driving now, but when it’s time to upgrade, choose white for the pro points.
Another important consideration for your vehicle is fuel efficiency. Expect to drive over 1,000 miles per month. If fuel prices go up even a little bit again, that could seriously eat into your profits. Sure, you can raise your rates a bit, cut back on your service area, or start charging an “out of town” fuel fee, but all of that just masks the problem. According to the government fuel economy site, the most efficient full-size trucks are the 2-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid and the 2-wheel drive GMC Sierra 15 Hybrid. For small trucks, the 2-wheel-drive Ford Ranger and 2-wheel-drive Toyota Tacoma win. For cargo vans, the 2-wheel-drive Chevrolet Express 1500 and 2-wheel-drive GMC Savanna 1500 earn top awards for fuel efficiency.
For what it’s worth, I have a Toyota Tacoma predecessor, but mine is a 4×4. It’s approaching 200,000 miles and it still runs wonderfully, even when there’s a half ton of cinder block in the back. My first vehicle was a GMC Suburban, and while I wasn’t too focused on how well it ran and its usefulness as a work vehicle, the wise old men in rural New Hampshire coffee shops always seemed to approve, saying, “Now that’s a vehicle.” . It’s sad to note that four-wheel drive doesn’t deliver good fuel efficiency, but anyone who’s driven a four-wheeler knows how quickly the power from those two extra wheels drains the gas tank. That said, depending on where you live, having a four-wheel drive vehicle can be the difference between getting to work or not getting to work.