First impressions count or last.  Image or perception is everything.  Success sells.

Phrases like these roll off the tongue and, like it or not, how we look and come across, especially the first time we meet someone, does make an impression that sticks.  In business, looking successful as well as smart can be crucial as people not only buy from people they like but like to buy from successful people.  After all, if plenty of others are buying from this supplier, as evidenced by their appearance, then it must be a good thing to do.  Also, we like to think our new supplier will still be in business in a year or so’s time to provide after sales care.

Arguably the two greatest displayed symbols of a person’s material wealth and business success (leaving aside the super-rich with their yachts etc) are their house and car.  The house stays private but the vehicle travels with the business person and becomes part of their presented image as perceived by clients, prospects and potential collaborators.  Consequently, choice of car or van needs careful thought for anyone in business and here’s a few pointers.

Not surprisingly, turning up in a jalopy is probably a poor move as it suggests a struggling business.  If you’ve ever hidden your car at the back of a customer’s car park or parked on the street instead then you’ll know what I mean.  Or maybe you’ve dreaded the thought that your prospect will perhaps walk out with you to your car as a courtesy and you have to make the excuse of needing the bathroom to force an immediate goodbye!  It’s a similar case with vans although an older van in good condition, especially if well sign-written, can still look pristine and give the right impression

It’s a real dilemma for start up businesses as, by definition, they are not yet successful and are likely to be watching every penny.  Additionally, they have no trading history and are statistically high risk when it comes to credit.  Fortunately though, there are funding companies that will look at start up businesses providing that at least one of the following factors is present; the directors have a clean credit score, there’s at least 3 months of profitable trading or a larger than usual deposit is available.  As long as one of these boxes can be ticked then the business will be able to “fake it till they make it” with a new leased vehicle.

Choice of vehicle is also important and certain new cars will enhance a business’s image whilst others may detract from it and it varies from industry to industry.

For example, a flashy, expensive convertible works well for those recruiting into the MLM or network marketing sector as selling the dream of residual income to motivate their downline or attract new distributors can’t be overdone.  Just watch out for the many Facebook and LinkedIn posts of pictures of high end houses and cars by MLMers as proof of this.

Conversely though, a recruitment consultant might be advised not to turn up at a customer’s site in anything too over the top as it could make the customer questin the fees being charged and wondering where their cash goes.

Similarly, when the customer is a consumer rather than a business, the impression a car gives is important.  An independent financial adviser might not want to overdo it but his or her clients may respond better if they feel he or she is on a level footing with them so, if the customer base is generally affluent, a matching motor might be appropriate.

I recently spotted a post on LinkedIn by a salesperson for a green energy company that supplied various types of modern, efficient, non-carbon based heating and solar generation.  The post was a picture of his new company car, a very smart Mercedes A-Class.  No mention was made of which exact model it was but the A-Class is currently only available with a traditional internal combustion engine fuelled either by petrol or diesel ie not very green.  How much of a better image would be projected had this “green” company chosen from the expanding range of electric and hybrid vehicles now on the market such as the Nissan Leaf or BMW i3.  It’s harder to sell a philosophy to customers if they don’t believe it’s genuine.  In a sense, to sell it, you have to live it.

So having a vehicle that projects a successful image is important but the actual choice of car itself has to be appropriate for the industry and the type of customer.

If you’d like to discuss which car is right for your business or career or to know more about how leasing works and how it could work for you, please get in touch.  If you think others would be interested in this article, please share it.

Matt Spivey

Vehicle Leasing Neva Consultants
Left the corporate world in 2013 after ten years at Vodafone and now specialising in car and van leasing with Neva Consultants.Serial networker and member of BNI Wakefield Wealthbuilders, 4Networking and The TradesHub Academy South Yorkshire.

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