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Now the company is underscoring its rapid rise to market leadership by standardising its fleet on smart extended-frame Ford Transits. Finished in an arresting livery of red and white with full-colour photographs on a matt black background, the vans are expected to prove as effective promotional tools as they are working vehicles.
So far seven of the vans, Transit 350 EF Jumbos powered by 2.4-litre TDdi 90PS diesel engines, have been purchased through Ford dealer business centre Hendy Southampton. "The vehicles have been fantastic - you can tell, because not one franchisee has rung to say anything derogatory about them to date!" said Derek Lilly, director and co-founder of Dream Doors. "They think theyâ€™re absolutely gorgeous - and itâ€™s true, they are lovely-looking vehicles."
The company specialises in reconditioning dowdy kitchens by replacing doors, drawer fronts, worktops and appliances as required. It allows customers to custom-design their rooms for a smaller outlay than total replacement of units would incur, though it also undertakes complete kitchen, bedroom and bathroom replacements.
"We do a little bit, a lot or all of it," said Mr Lilly. "We use only top-quality materials and fitters, because then very little can go wrong. Our success depends on strict quality control." With its business based on home visits from the outset, Dream Doors considers the image it conveys with its transport to be up there in importance with such factors as reliability, load capacity and whole life costs.
Before Dream Doors decided to standardise its fleet, fitters drove various makes of vehicle, but new franchisees are now required to buy a Transit to Dream Doors specifications, and existing vehicles will eventually be replaced. Vehicles are generally expected to run for up to five years, though this is not fixed, and there is no specified mileage, because this can vary widely depending on the nature of the territory.
"Iâ€™ve had a long history of dealing with Ford for cars as well as vans, so that was a starting point," said Mr Lilly. "Transit has been the leading brand for a very long time, so apart from the build quality it makes it very easy when it comes to obtaining spares or repairs.
"The Jumbo fitted all our prerequisites and more. We needed vans that were absolutely reliable. Payload is not really a factor but loadspace is very important to us and these vans provided exactly the space we need to run our franchise." Ply-lining has been specified.
"We compared costs and Ford gave us a fabulous deal that beat all the competition hands down. In fact it was embarrassing how good it was compared to the other makes we considered!" said Derek Lilly. "Ford has been very helpful to us - and very professional."