The majority of the vehicles sold are either minibuses or minicoaches and the company specialises in wheelchair accessible models which Wayne estimates represent around 75% of all sales. The focus on accessibility is a progression from ambulance sales as Heatons began by supplying secondhand ambulances to organisations such as the Red Cross and the St John’s Ambulance.
Some dealers specialise in particular marques but Heatons are happy to deal with the products of any manufacturer providing that they are of sufficient quality. ‘We look to buy late, low mileage, clean honest vehicles and will buy any make across the board,’ said Wayne.
What is in stock can vary tremendously from one week to the next, though the aim is always to have vehicles that could meet the needs of as many purchasers as possible. Some operators swear by Mercedes or VW, others by Iveco or Ford. I was surprised that there were no Sprinters in the yard. Pointing this out to Wayne he said, ‘The booted luxury coach ones and the big VW LTs don’t even go in the advert. Philip has regular customers that he knows are likely to be interested. We did have some accessible Sprinters in stock a few months back but they soon went. Sometimes we have a dozen Sprinters and no Ivecos, it just depends what comes up.’ ‘We had a big Vario Treka come in this morning with an 06-plate, which is pretty late for a used Vario. It won’t be here long. Something like that we have people in mind for before they come in.’
‘The oldest we usually have in will be around 2004, though we will buy older if they are particularly low mileage and in good condition,’ he said. An example was a 52-plate Renault Master that was collected by a private couple while I was there.
It isn’t exactly in keeping with the mainstream of what Heatons do, but they also offer service buses. These tend to be Optare Solos and Wayne estimates that on average one a month is sold. Philip pointed out that these did not usually appear in the company’s advertisements because, like the luxury Sprinters, he generally had a list of customers waiting for them.