Start with the purpose in mind
The reason for considering a specialist passenger vehicle is because there are no standard, off-the-shelf vehicles which meet your needs.
In this case, the primary need is to accommodate a number of people on board a vehicle, whilst taking into account their levels of mobility and their intended journey.
The rest of the minibus specification should be shaped around this primary need, rather than the other way round.
Start with a blank piece of paper
When buying a minibus there is always the temptation to pick up an old specification and tweak it to fit your current purpose.
This can add confusion to the process, and may mean that you end up with features you don’t need, or that the end product doesn’t quite fit the bill.
Remain open to new ideas
If a customer has a particular feature or piece of equipment in mind and places this as a high priority you can end up having to fit a whole specification around it, often compromising other areas to the detriment of the finished product.
The key to creating a specification that works for you is to be flexible at the planning stage, maintaining passengers as the prime consideration, and be willing to compromise in other areas to achieve a workable outcome.
Seek advice - but choose your "Expert" wisely
It’s always good to discuss vehicle specifications with people who have immediate experience of creating them. This may be a regular buyer of minibuses, or a commercial vehicle professional.
Whilst you may be able to find any number of well meaning members of the motortrade, or former engineers wanting to assist, they may not always know the facts.
In the case of Minibus Options, we have decades of experience and up to the minute, firsthand knowledge. True expert advice, given freely.
Don’t be constrained by too much detail
Technically gifted writers can produce pages and pages of highly detailed specification, delving into the most minute details of construction method, materials and equipment.
If the specification is technically correct, and takes into account the most up to date legislation, this would make a great start for a tender process. However, at the planning stage, too much detail can stifle creativity and significantly increase the amount of time it takes to produce the right specification.
Keep in mind the rules and regulations
Make sure you have a clear understanding of which rules apply to your drivers, and your organisation as a transport operator.
Misunderstanding these rules can mean that you exclude some volunteers from driving, or that you miss a vital piece of equipment required for you to legally operate a vehicle.
Minibus Options are experts in this field and would be pleased to lead you through the legislative mine field.
Leave plenty of time to get a vehicle on the road
In addition to the time it takes to design a specification, get funding in place and agree on a purchase, you will need to consider the lead time for a vehicle designed specifically for your requirements.
Base vehicles can take anywhere between 3 and 6 months to arrive in the UK, after which it can take between 2 and 4 months to convert, certify and register a minibus.
Stock chassis, or completed vehicles may be available to reduce this timescale, however, scarcity of such vehicles can often lead to compromise on specification and / or price. If you want to make sure you get the vehicle you really need – leave plenty of time.
Don’t cut corners
Being budget conscious is wise in this day and age and we would discourage increasing a specification for the sake of it.
We do however take the time to consider how a specification may be improved.
Some times a minor tweak, such as improvements to access for passengers or something to help a driver to their job safely can make a
massive difference to how a vehicle is used, often for a relatively small additional cost.