Big thank you from

Jenny Munro talks to Chris Sloan

CHRIS Sloan, 35, runs a new company, `Lisburn Van Hire', which opened last month. He lives in Anahilt with his wife Lisa, who also helps run the business located at Gravelhill Road, near the Maze Racecourse.

After regularly hiring vans for various reasons including moving house and clearing the garage, the couple, who have three children, decided that setting up their own van hire company would be a good idea. Following some careful research this is exactly what they did.

The firm offers short and long term hire and a delivery and collection service.

It is an early start each morning in my house trying to get everyone organised. The eldest children who are aged 16 and 14 leave to catch the school bus and Lisa takes the youngest to primary school.

I head on to the office at the Maze and check the emails and answering machine. I'm usually at the yard for Sam. I look at the day's schedule and then head out into the yard and inspect the vans. I check the oil, water and tyre pressure for example and then make sure the lights are all working properly and the vehicle is road worthy

As a family run business I know the importance of offering a personal and friendly service, and this is what I try to do with our customers. I work Monday to Saturday from 8.30am - 6pm but I do try to accommodate the customers as best I can and operate flexible hours if required.

So far most of the vans have been used for business and personal use to mainland UK and down south. On most occasions the van is collected directly at the Maze but occasionally I am asked to organise for the van to be taken to the customer.

When the client arrives I take down details from their licence and make sure the appropriate insurance is sorted out. We have a specially installed system which allows me to complete an insurance transaction at the click of a button.

A lot of customers use the vans when they are moving house or taking furniture to their holiday homes and businesses also may require a van if one of their vehicles is off the road. When the vehicle is returned I check it isn't damaged and that it has been refuelled.

I like to have a chat with the customer and then, when they leave, I start to tidy the van and get it ready for the next customer.

Throughout the day I take bookings and I spend quite a bit of time planning ahead. I have to make sure none of the bookings overlap.

Lisa is very good at organising the administration side of the business and helping me with the paper work. Occasionally I have business meetings with local mechanics and vehicle dealers to discuss buying new vehicles. As the business is in its early stages I have been busy sorting out advertising and letting people know that there is a local van hire company in the area.

When I have finished for the day I go home and have dinner with my family. Lisa is studying and works as a nurse as well as helping out with the business so she is kept busy

I try and help her out by preparing the meal and once the children have their home works finished I try to relax.

I enjoy watching TV in the evenings and spending time with the children. I do have an interest in football and rugby but I don't really have much time to play these days though.

Ulster Star