Below you will find a foolproof van flipping business plan. Flipping vans is a fun and rewarding hobby and can become a full time job. You can start with as much or as little money as your feel comfortable with. I started with only a few thousand pounds and never looked back.
I have tried lots of different business models over the years but I always end up coming back to the same simple model I started with on day one. The only tool you will need is a smartphone. You don’t need a laptop or fancy camera. I run the whole business from my phone. I write all the ads take the photos and manage all the enquires from it.
Finding vans at trade money
You can find vans in lots of different ways, but the easiest way to find quality used van is from you local franchised dealers. You can visit large van auctions or buy from the various companies suppling ex fleet stock, search eBay, Craigslist or autotrader for vans to resell. But your local franchise dealer is nearly always your best option.
The reason you’re local franchised dealers are your best bet is that they have a constant supply of used vans that they need to clear. Every garage has a limited amount of money and space. So most garages have a network of dealer they pass cars on to. Saving them time and money and avoiding the cost and uncertainty or using auction houses to clear unwanted stock.
Dealer part-exchanges are normally found round the back of the premises. This isn’t because the dealer is ashamed of them its simply because the van may be high mileage or be to old to qualify for the ‘approved used’ program, or simply be over aged stock.
To start with all you need to do is simply let the salesman and sales managers know you’re looking to buy trade vans.
The real advantage of this is that after time you can build a relationship between yourself and the garages you deal with. Allowing the garage to have a reliable cost effective way of shifting their unwanted stock, and giving you the most efficient and cost effective way of acquiring quality stock.
The reasons this works so well are listed below:
1. Vans normally are sold at trade value or less.
2. If you’ve built up a good relationship with the dealership staff often they will call you with a van.
3. The dealership may sell vans in job lots allowing you to get even better deals buying in bulk.
4. Locally based saving you time and traveling costs.
5. The van will (normally) have been HPI checked saving you time and money.
6. Often they give you the price they need for the van saving you hassle (All you need to do is say yes or not for me)
What to buy and what to avoid
So you’ve established a supply of vans, what next? Often the best stock is normally the leased exciting. You may like the idea of trading in fun hot hatches and prestige convertibles, but the reality is that the fast moving stock is often the boring run of the mill stuff.
Your focus should be on small economical vans with low running and insurance costs. Ideally in a boring none offensive colour scheme, no flat reds or hearing aid beige.
Most used dealers work on a margin of £1000 regardless of whether the van is priced at £2000 or £5,000. So you really need to ask yourself is it worth trading in van that are worth more than two or three thousand pounds?
Not sure what vans to buy? Find our in depth guide here – Which vans should you buy to flip.
Valuing a vans for resale
Putting an exact valuation on a van can be hard we cover how to do this in detail in my article – How to value a car you plan to flip.
Preparing your van for resale
Prepping the vans for resale is really important, if done correctly it gives you the edge over your competition, adds value and make the sales process easier.
Every van that you sell needs to be clean, even if you’re going to sell it on for under £1000. Spending time cleaning your car can add thousands to the vans value. You could hire a professional, but washing your van yourself will be much cheaper.
Cleaning the Exterior
Starting with the outside. Give the bodywork a good wash down with a sponge and a clean soapy bucket of water, pressure clean the arches removing any mud or road grime. Alloy wheel should also be cleaned with with wheel cleaner at this point. I alway view this as doing half the job. The van should then be dried and the door shuts cleaned. I still favour an old fashioned chamois, but lots of other products work equally well.
With the van now washed and dried it time to turn your attention to the interior. I like to start by opening all the doors and boot. I then take a micro fibre cloth and dust down all the interior surfaces and rub off any stubborn mark. After that stage is completed I then use a small 2” paint brush, to remove any dirt in any hard to reach areas. Working it in to the air vents and tight gaps between trim.
Then I recommend cleaning the windows. I start by cleaning the outside of the drivers window then move to the inside. Then drop the window slightly and cleaning the top third of the glass, before raising it again. Then simply mover around the van repeating the process.
There are lots of products available. It the glass isn’t very dirty I normally use a liquid spray cleaner. You simply spray a mist across the window and remove it with a clean paper towel. But for dirty glass and particular for the front screen I prefer a window polish. This is simply applied with a micro fibre cloth and removed with a separate clean cloth. You should also inspect the interior mirrors at this point.
Now for often the most time consuming part, cleaning the carpets and seats. Again I start in the drivers area. Its normally the dirtiest area and I like to get it out of the way. The carpets and seats need to be hoovered thoroughly, you may need a firm brush to remove the most stubborn particles.
This is a good time inspect the spare wheel area under the carpets, making sure the spare and tools etc are clean and secured. If the van has leather it’s at this point that a leather should be cleaned. Once the carpets and seats are cleaned, the only thing left is to apply a quality dash dressing.
Exterior Paintwork and Trim
With the interior now clean its time to inspect the exterior. The first step is to look for any obvious marks on the paintwork. These should be removed with some polish, or compound for more stubborn marks or scratches. Once done the rest of the paintwork should be polished following the manufactures instructions.
Once you have polished the van, I like to touch in any deeper scratches if need be using touchup paint. A small touch-up pen or pot of paint can be purchased from a quality motor factors or often on Amazon.
All thats left is the exterior plastics, the vinyl and rubber should be finished with a quality plastic & vinyl restorer.
The Engine Bay
Personally and with all the modern electronics I largely leave the engine compartment alone. If anything I just wipe the plastics and covers over with a damp cloth.
I have made a list of essential valeting equipment which you can fine here – Essential van valeting equipment.
As you’re not a garage and it’s not 1970s the only affective way to sell your car is on the internet.
The internet is a very visual experience so great photos are the best way to stand out to buyers. It’s best to take as many as possible, including all the relevant service history and documentation. You can take great photos with a smartphone. I have written a complete guide which you can find here – How to photograph a van with a smartphone.
Writing a great advert
Next you need to write a great description of the van detailing the options, colour and any interesting desirable features.
You should alway be 100% honest when advertising a van. Giving a true description of the van saves you and the potential purchaser time and money.
Make sure to include the following facts in order:
- Year of registration & registration plate info
- List of equipment and special features
- Approximate mileage
- Full service history if it has it
- Number of owners if low
- Contact details
You can find a more detailed guide to writing a perfect advert here – How to create an effective used van advert.
Advertising and marketing
So you’ve got the van looking great, photographed and written a great advert, all you need to do now is pick the best place to advertise on. You can choose from local paper classified ads, eBay, Craigslist or Autotrader. But the best option for sell a van is currently Facebook.
Having tried every option over the years Facebook is currently the fastest and most efficient way to sell vans. It beats classified websites, paper ads and all other forms of social media. You are simply join your local van selling or free classified groups. Most areas have several and I advise joining as many as possible.
Then simply post your advert to one of the groups, facebook will automatically ask you if you want to post to the other groups you are a member of. You select the relevant ones and it automatically posts to the chosen groups. The real beauty of this is Facebook has made managing, posting and responding to your adverts super simple and efficient.
You can then manage all the enquires via Facebook messenger. Facebook allows you to manage your adverts across multiple groups all in one place. Without the need to juggle phone calls or email enquires form multiple websites. Once it’s sold you just mark it as so and it’s removed from the listing, anyone who has enquired receives a notification telling them its now a sold item.
I have had huge success with this form of marketing. It allows you to put your van right in front of potential buyers, super fast and it’s easy to manage.
I explore all the options in my full article here – How to sell vans and light commercial vehicles on facebook (with tips).
The sales process
If you’ve followed the the rules above half of your job should be done for you. Either way you can turn the odds of success to your favour by following the list below.
1. Always have the van cleaned before demoing it.
2. Always make sure the van is in good mechanical condition, and all the pressures and levels are correct.
3. Always make sure you have all the relevant paperwork and service history ready for inspection.
4. Buyers will almost always want to haggle so its always best to have your lowest price in mind and stick to it.
5. Never leave the buyer alone with the van keys.
If you want to know more or want to learn how to handle a test drive find my more detailed guide here – Selling a van in 5 simple steps.
In the old day I would normally take payment by cash or cheque. But in the modern world I only except bank transfer and would advice you to do the same. Its simple effective and there really is no reason to accept any other form of payment. If you want to learn more about how you should take payment on a van check out our article – What is the safest way to pay for a van?
Once you’ve sealed the deal, you still have a few things to do. Its important to put the deal down in writing and include the following details:
1. The date
3. Make and model
4. Registration number
5. Vin number
6. The names and addresses of the buyer and seller
Make two copies – one for you and one for the buyer – and make sure all parties sign both receipts!
Thats about it all thats left is for you to fill in the tear-off at the bottom of the V5C registration document and send it to the DVLA. Give the top part of the V5C to the new owner.
We’ve written an in-depth article on it here – How to transfer ownership of a van or commercial vehicle in the UK.
Flipping vans can be an excellent side hustle or a full time venture. You can find all the information you need to run a successful van flipping business on this website. But the most import thing you can do is start!
Good luck and we hope you enjoyed the article.