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If you’ve been thinking about cashing in on Australia’s delivery boom, you’re not alone.

COVID-19 kicked a growing industry into overdrive last year. Online shopping was up more than 41 per cent year on year in Australia (since November 2019) and in April last year, around 5.2 million households were shopping online – that’s 25 per cent of the total population.

The final leg of getting all those goods to the doorstep fell into the lap of road transport operators, with hundreds of contractors running vehicles alongside our well-known freight and logistics giants.

And whether you’re thinking of jumping into the pool, changing your career, or investing in a new vehicle to open up a revenue stream for your business – finding the right vehicle for the job is paramount.

We’re here to help.

1. Find your market

You may already have a product and potential clients firmly in mind. But if you’re just starting out, deciding which industry you want to work with and tailoring a vehicle to match requirements like cargo type, size and expected driving environment is definitely a good first step.

You might be looking into one of the following categories:

  • Retail and parcel delivery
  • Fresh produce and cold chain goods
  • Restaurant or café meal delivery
  • Heavy freight or equipment transport

Every application requires a different type of vehicle—and there might be big (or small) differences in important aspects like power, payload, body type, towing capacity and suitability for a particular job.

Working out your target market will also help to decide whether you need to get a rigid vehicle licence. Light commercial vehicles under a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of 4.5 tonne can be driven on a standard Australian driver’s licence – and this can be handy if you have staff working for you or if you’re not keen on advanced driver training.

2. Check out light commercial vehicles

Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) cover any two-axle rigid vehicles with a cab chassis construction, including vans, dual-cab utes and trucks with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) greater than 1.5 tonne, but less than 4.5 tonne.

LCVs are perfectly suited to work in metro regions, like shop-to-door goods delivery, groceries, and stable and refrigerated food transport. That’s not to say they aren’t also suitable for a range of rural or off-road applications, as some also come with 4×4 and All-Wheel-Drive capabilities.

If you’re looking to maximise payload and cut down on multiple trips to depots, a light-duty truck is an attractive option. A truck cab chassis can be easily matched to refrigerated or van bodies and specified for particular cargo.

There are also great options for light trucks that come pre-bodied to drive-away from the saleyard, meaning you can put them straight to work without having to do extensive research or wait for bodywork after purchase.

3. Consider heavy commercial vehicles

This covers everything with a GVM over 4,500 kg, including vehicles with three or more axles, articulated trucks, prime movers and semi-trailers, multi-combos and buses. Depending on the size and configuration of the rig, there are different levels of rigid licences required.

Heavy commercial vehicles are used for a huge variety of delivery applications: fruit and veg, livestock, line-haul freight, construction materials, large equipment delivery (think bobcats, cars and farm machinery), just to name a few.

This is traditional truck territory, and like their smaller LCV cousins, some thoughtfully designed medium-duty trucks come pre-bodied and specified for immediate use, especially in the cargo freight and last-mile delivery space.

But if you’ve settled on servicing a more specific field, like heavy freight transport that requires a heavy-duty truck, then you’ll need to spend a bit of time researching a vehicle that is fit-for-purpose.

4. Understand vehicle specifics

After finding your target product or preferred client base, you’ll want to find equipment that specifically meets those requirements.

We’ve put a little extra emphasis on this: equipment that’s designed specifically for use in your application will save time and money over the course of ownership—and save your back when you’re hard at work unloading deliveries.

The features that will be most beneficial will depend on the type of work you’re planning to do.

Aside from a suitable power rating and payload capacity, there are loads of useful features on trucks (that come standard or as extras) which can increase your ability to work faster and more safely, especially in distribution that requires multiple drop-offs.

  • Curtain-sides
  • Gates (or gate-rated curtains)
  • Hydraulic tailgates
  • Rope rails and tie-down points
  • Interior body lighting
  • Air suspension seating
  • Reversing, side and interior body cameras
  • High visibility features: cornering lamps, safety handles/steps, large mirrors

If the work is mostly metro, or you have staff driving for you, upgrading to automatic or automated manual transmission will also provide a more user-friendly driving experience – note: traffic.

Consider heavy transport for livestock, equipment and construction

This is where power, torque, axle configuration and weight distribution over the chassis have a huge effect on your ability to take on jobs.

Researching the right combination of chassis and body, plus a safety suite you’re comfortable with are all key to finding something that will hold up under a heavy load, day after day.

There’s a massive range available on the market, and it can be helpful to have a chat with an expert – ideally someone already in the field, or someone at a local dealership who can help you pin down specifics.

5. Get good aftercare support

With a target market and nailed-down products and transport, it makes good sense to back it all up with watertight aftercare support and a decent warranty on the vehicle’s chassis, body, parts and accessories – making sure you and your business stay on the road.

Before handing over the cash for your new workhorse, it’s worth considering the whole-of-life costs of owning a vehicle, too. You can check out our blog on this topic here.

Investing in a new piece of equipment? Check out this blog on the instant asset write-off and other government stimulus measures, or have a look at this handy factsheet for businesses.