Award-winning Chequers Contract Services is benefiting from much-improved fuel-efficiency and reliability after switching to Mercedes-Benz.
The South London-based cleaning and building services specialist runs a fleet of 85 vans, the majority of them car-derived models. Following a spate of problems with its previous supplier’s vehicles, Chequers has replaced comfortably more than a third of its vans over the last 18 months, and plans to become an all-Mercedes-Benz operation within the next three or four years.
Most of the vans supplied to date by Dealer Sparshatts of Kent have been Long and Extra-long Citan 109 CDIs – introduced in 2013, the Citan is the smallest van ever to wear a three-pointed star. Chequers is also running half a dozen mid-sized Vito 113 CDI Longs and a pair of larger Sprinters.
Chequers Contract Services was founded in 1987 by brothers Gary and Paul Jeal, and operates from headquarters in Croydon. Its clients include local authorities, housing associations, schools and colleges, as well as commercial enterprises.
The company has won a string of prestigious accolades, the most recent including ‘Best Business for Apprenticeships and Employment of Young People’ at the London Business Awards 2014, ‘Business of the Year’ at the Croydon Business Awards 2014, and the ‘Carbon Smart Gold Award for the Environment 2014’.
Most of its Citans have been allocated to mobile cleaners – Chequers employs more than 40 who, between them, clean 2,000 staircases in blocks of flats every week. The bigger Vito vans, meanwhile, are used by window cleaning teams who use water fed pole systems, while the Sprinters are assigned to the company’s Drainage division. Future upgrades to Mercedes-Benz vehicles will benefit staff working for the firm’s School Cleaning, Office & Commercial, and Grounds Maintenance departments.
Chairman Gary Jeal recalled: “At the time we bought our first Sprinter Mercedes-Benz did not offer a small van, but that all changed with the launch of the Citan. Sparshatts’ sales executive Peter Corry left one with us so we tried it on four or five different rounds and it really did the business, particularly in terms of fuel consumption – the returns were up to a third better than we’d been getting from our previous car-derived vans, which was a revelation.
“As we’ve added more Citans to the fleet, so our running costs have come down, with the result that we cut our annual fuel bill by 25% last year. Given that most of our mobile cleaners are filling up twice a week, this represents a considerable cost saving.”
He continued: “Those who drive the Citan can’t believe how much better it is than their previous vehicle; they just love the Mercedes-Benz. This explains why our cleaners are practically queuing up when it it’s their turn to upgrade.”
Chequers’ Mercedes-Benz Vans are the subject of a Service Care agreement, under which all labour, parts and lubricants required in routine servicing by Croydon-based Mercedes-Benz agent SG Smith are covered by a single, fixed monthly payment.
“The maintenance package is competitively priced and allows us to budget with confidence,” added Gary Jeal. “So as far as we’re concerned, everything with Mercedes-Benz is ‘spot on’.”
Packed with clever features, the Mercedes-Benz Citan achieves up to 65.7 mpg and produces CO2 emissions as low as 112 g/km. Panel van versions are available in three lengths – Compact, Long and Extra-long – and offer volume carrying capacities of up to 3.8 m³ and a maximum payload potential of 735 kg.