Just as there's a wealth of choice in buying methods, today's van operator has a variety of options when it comes to buying and running their next new van. And, believe it or not, a thick wad of cash may not be the best answer.
Certainly a handful of wonga gives you a lot of buying power, but bear in mind that you may need this valuable capital for other business purposes.
Also, with many manufacturers offering low and zero per cent finance deals, you could be better off spending somebody else's money and keeping yours in a high interest account instead.
Naturally, hire purchase is extremely popular with car and van users and, with the money lending market being so competitive and widespread, you should shop around for the best APR rate before deciding on the right lender.
Remember, with HP you are effectively borrowing money plus interest on an ever-depreciating, fast deteriorating asset.
A spin-off to conventional HP is PCP (Personal Contract Plan). Here the future value of the vehicle is calculated and deducted upfront, meaning you borrow less so the monthly outlay is effectively reduced. At the end of the term you have three options ­ pay the final lump sum (usually the projected value of said vehicle); use the old van as a down payment towards a new one and continue the deal; or simply hand in the keys and catch the bus home. Essentially PCPs are a good idea, although you must ensure the future fixed value of your van is acceptable or you will lose out when the contract terminates.
Have you considered not owning your next van at all but leasing it instead? This is becoming popular because it allows you to budget for how much your van will cost to run right from the outset. Depending on which plan you choose, leasing or contract hire will take care of all maintenance and even insurance costs so all you do is fuel up and put it to work.
Speak to your accountant first, but leasing is more tax efficient than purchasing because on HP the VAT is paid in advance while contract hire leasing is just paid for in monthly installments.
Contract hire isn't registered on a firm's balance sheet either, which may be useful to some businesses. Certain leasing deals even allow you to buy the vehicle after you've used it. As with hire purchase, the leasing and hiring market is extremely cut-throat and you should take your time to sort out the best deal for your needs. Incidentally, main dealers have some of the most attractive plans on offer. You need to be aware that if you have to cancel the contract early you could be hit hard with a penalty ­ so read the small print carefully.
Finally, what about straight rental? Many companies operate special schemes for longer-term usage. It's more expensive than conventional HP or leasing, but the beauty is that you can return the vehicle when it's not required ­ ideal for firms which may only need an extra van at certain times of the year.
Whichever route you choose, speak to an industry expert or your accountant first. As more and more business are discovering, it's not so smart to own your own fleet of vans anymore.

Health and Safety is more than just law: it places the reputation of your business on the line so, when upgrading to a new van, consider the same for the refrigeration unit your livelihood relies upon.
Increasingly, operators need to consider multi-compartment designs that can hold both frozen and chilled foodstuffs safely together.
As always, the choice is between a tailored conversion on a van or a more universal fridge unit, which is mounted on a chassis cab. The latter is the pricier option but at least it enables a larger design to be used. Plus it can be transferred to your next vehicle and so have a longer working life.
Refrigeration units are constantly improving, so take your time to find the right system for your needs. For example, leading industry expert Thermo King recently introduced a new series of temperature control units for both larger vans and small trucks as part of its new V-190 Max line up.
According to the company, modular designs are the way to go because they provide maximum flexibility for the operators.
Transportable fridge units, which can be transferred from van to van, are another growth area. GRO has launched two new temperature-controlled pallets (known as TCPs), offering capacities of 200 and 400 litres and temperature ranges from ­18°C to +4°C, respectively. Both feature internal rechargeable batteries and can be operated via the van's own electrical supply or conventional mains. A larger 800 litre pallet is also offered.
A variation of this theme is now available from VIA Ice, a service from VIA Solutions which provides special ice boxes for compact car-derived vans right up to large articulated trailers. VIA also offers dry ice and eutectic plates for temperature control, enabling the transportation of chilled foodstuffs without a conventional refrigeration unit. Although eutectic plates can operate at temperatures down to around ­30°C, there's no provision for topping up the chilling when in use. This can pose problems for operators who have to frequently open the doors when making local deliveries.
Many of the leading refrigeration companies can provide complete packages to help the operator. For example, VIA Solutions has its own fleet of vehicles for rental or leasing that can be individually tailored to suit your requirements.
Just like the van market, there's a cold war in the fridge industry as it fights for your custom, so shop around for the right deal.
With excellent and highly efficient new designs constantly coming onto the market, it's now time for you to chill out when buying your next new van!