Insider’s Guide to Snaring the Best Lease Deal

Every year, … of business owners and … managers are faced with the task of … … … for … their firms want to acquire. Snaring the best leasing …

Every year,Guest Posting thousands of business owners and financial managers are faced with the task of obtaining attractive financing for equipment their firms want to acquire. Snaring the best leasing arrangement requires only a bit of planning and a smidgeon of finesse. You can save time, land a better lease deal and make the leasing experience less of a conundrum by considering several important factors.

Plan Ahead

Before seeking lease proposals, invest a little time in planning and preparing. Establish priorities by considering the relative importance of such factors as lease pricing, balance sheet considerations, ongoing leasing needs and the necessity of the prospective lessor to have specialized equipment/industry knowledge. If the transaction is relatively insignificant in the overall scheme of things, a truncated planning process might be in order. If not, allow enough time to: 1) identify and pre-qualify lessors, 2) review and select a lease proposal, 3) allow selected lessor to conduct due diligence and get credit approval, and 4) to complete lease documentation.

Assemble an information package for prospective lessors that anticipates what they will want to know before submitting a proposal, including: 1) background information on your company and management bios, 2) three years of financial statements and interim financials, 3) a list of company trade and credit references, and 4) a description of the equipment to be acquired, including acquisition cost. Anticipate questions about your firm and disclose them in advance.

Choose the Right Leasing Company

The starting point for getting an attractive leasing proposal is in choosing the right leasing companies to bid. All leasing companies are not alike. Some specialize in specific industries, some in certain equipment types, and still others in transaction sizes. Leasing companies also vary in size, capabilities, expertise and integrity. Do your homework to pre-qualify leasing companies that will bid. Lessor qualities to look for include: 1) knowledge; 2) reputation; 3) ability to perform; 4) helpful business contacts; and 5) a relationship approach. Try to identify at least three leasing companies to bid.

As in any field, leasing professionals have varying degrees of knowledge and expertise. Look for leasing representatives and managements that have a good understanding of lease structuring, equipment issues, documentation, credit evaluation, the capabilities of their firms, your industry and other leasing issues. Avoid lease ‘sellers’ with obvious limited knowledge. It is too easy to be led down the painful path of misinformation and misrepresentation.

Because the entry bar for setting up shop in equipment leasing is relatively low, it is important to locate leasing companies that have good reputations in the business. Check to see whether the bidding leasing companies belong to one or more of the major industry trade associations (e.g. ELA, EAEL, UAEL, and NAELB). While membership in these associations doesn’t guarantee high ethical standards, each of these organizations has standards and processes to review members’ unethical business practices. Contact relevant associations for references. Then, get several names of customers, banks and vendors to contact.

Along with good ethics, the ability to perform as agreed is equally important in considering leasing partners. Ask for and get financial information, background information on the key managers, a listing of recently completed financings, names and contacts at key funding sources for each leasing company being considered. Review this information and follow up with the contacts provided. If your industry and/or the equipment to be leased are highly specialized, make sure the leasing companies have completed several arrangements similar to the one you are seeking. Check lessors’ websites and brochures to make sure that the type of leasing arrangement you are seeking is specifically referenced and discussed.

Good leasing partners offer more than equipment financing. In many cases, lessors have met or worked closely with bankers, attorneys, CPA firms, business insurers, equipment vendors and investors. If the leasing company serves a wide variety of customers, some of these contacts can prove invaluable. Try to get a feel for the depth and breadth of each leasing company’s ability in this area.

Since you will be working closely with the selected leasing company and may have additional leasing needs in the future, why not choose a leasing partner that values relationships? Although it is not easy to identify relationship-oriented leasing companies at the quoting stage, check customer references to inquire about lessor follow-up, attentiveness, willingness to learn about customers and willingness to be helpful.

Get a Large Enough Lease Facility

Right-sizing the leasing facility can save a lot of time. Look for an arrangement that will cover equipment needs for at least the next six to twelve months. A helpful rule of thumb is to obtain a leasing facility that is at least 20% more than what is needed. If a leasing credit line is an available option, this can be a helpful tool in securing the right amount of lease financing.

Choose a Lease Term That Matches Equipment Use

The term of the lease should match the expected use of the equipment as closely as possible. If the term is too short, the monthly cash outlays for the equipment might exceed the expected benefits to be derived from the equipment (cost savings or revenue production). If you sign a lease that is too short that also includes fair market value end-of-lease options, and you exercise one of these options, you might wind up overpaying for the equipment. If the lease term is too long, you might lose the flexibility of upgrading to newer more desirable equipment. More than a few lessees have been stuck with equipment they no longer need, yet they still have a significant lease balance remaining.

Notwithstanding your preference, a shorter lease term returns the lessor’s investment in the equipment faster and lessors generally perceive a faster recovery to be a credit enhancement. You might be able to manage any mismatch between your preference and the lessor’s by obtaining favorable end-of-lease options. Seek end-of-lease options that include: 1) the right to return the equipment to the lessor; 2) favorable renewal options; and 3) favorable purchase options. Seek ways to limit what you are charged by requesting fair market value options that are “capped” (have upper limits) or favorable fixed options.

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Learning How to Lease

A lease is a contractual arrangement in which a leasing company (lessor) gives a customer (lessee) the right to use its equipment for a specified length of time (lease term) and specified payment (usually monthly). Depending on the lease structure,Guest Posting at the end of the lease term the customer can purchase, return, or continue to lease the equipment. Leasing works for any type of business. Every imaginable type of organization leases throughout the world including proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and government agencies, religious and non-profit organizations. Over 80% of American businesses lease at least one of their equipment acquisitions and nearly 90% say they would choose to lease again.

Almost limitless possibilities

Your Company can lease anything associated with the operations of your business including all types of capital equipment, hardware, software, and soft costs such as installation and consultation. Leases for large equipment such as container ships and passenger or cargo aircraft can also be arranged by professional companies such as Loanmarketeer or Ecapitalservices. Other than leasing military equipment to small countries with tin – pot dictators who happen to have delusions of grandeur, leasing is possible in all business equipment situations.

Leasing preserves vital credit and capital.

Leasing your equipment versus purchasing through a conventional bank loan makes better use of your money. Most business owners have wrongly been conditioned to believe that through purchasing equipment out right they are saving interest and finance charges.

Is a bank loan cheaper than leasing?

Banks charge lower interest rates than leasing companies, don’t they? Well, not exactly. That’s because rate per se, the cost per thousand dollars of equipment per month or the “interest rate” that is being factored into the transaction, is an unimportant consideration. Far more important are the terms and conditions of the transaction.The terms of your “low rate” bank loan usually require that you keep some money, perhaps 20% to 30% of the loan amount in a non-interest bearing account at that bank as “compensating balances” (so the bank is really lending you 70 cents of their money and 30 cents of your own money for each loan dollar). When you compute the real yield on that, you find that a five year 8% loan with a 30% compensating balance requirement is really about a 24% loan (because you’re paying interest on 100%, but only getting 70%). Using the same formula, a 20% compensating balance requirement makes their yield on that 8% loan almost 18% and with a mere 10% compensating balance, it’s still about 12.5%.

So you have this “low” bank rate, but you have to leave part of the money in the bank. You also have covenants that require you to maintain certain financial ratios, the bank have filed a blanket lien against your assets and you are cross collateralized with your personal accounts, your kids’ trust accounts and everything else. There is probably a clause in the loan agreement that says that if at any time the bank feels uncomfortable with your industry they can call the loan even if you have made every payment on time, and another that says they can increase their rate if their cost of money goes up. Oh, and they probably didn’t want to finance the entire cost, preferring that you made a down payment. In short, there are terms and conditions that you probably didn’t know about and a rate effectively higher than you imagined. So it is pretty clear that the “rate” is not the only factor in making a decision on how to finance equipment. You have to look a lot deeper.

Another factor militating against bank financing and conventional ownership is that new technology is obsolescing everything that was “new technology” before, and that is something that is going to continue to happen in the future… only faster. So, given that most equipment is going to be worth very little very soon, conventional financing becomes even less desirable.

It is the use of equipment which generates profit, not the ownership.

Cost Analyses

Here is a quick and easy way to estimate what a piece of equipment can actually cost using leasing and after tax costs. Since qualifying leases can be expensed directly, the tax benefits are available sooner.Here is an example:1. Determine the equipment cost $89,900.002. Monthly Lease Payment (60 month lease*) $1977.003. Tax deduction (We’ll use 40% of gross**) $790.804. Deduct line 3 from line 2 to get the net cost per month $1186.20Now let’s translate this into operating figures:5. Divide by 22 business days*** to get the net cost per day $53.92Divide by 8 hours**** to get the net cost per hour $6.74Thus a $90,000 piece of equipment can really cost less than $7 an hour

NOW TRY THIS WITH YOUR SITUATION:1. Equipment Cost $______2. Monthly Payment (line 1 x .0235) $______3. Tax Deduction ( ___ % of line 2) $______4. Net Monthly Cost (line 2 less line 3) $______5. Net Daily Cost (line 4 ÷ by ___ days) $______6. Net Hourly Cost (line 5 ÷ by ___ hrs) $______*Illustration only. Actual rate may vary.** Federal plus state usually around 40%.*** Avg. # of business days/month at five days per week.**** Select hours of operation per day.

Leasing is flexible

Types of Leases

While leasing companies may use the same name to describe a lease, the terms and conditions written in their contracts often vary. Be certain to review your documents carefully and ask your account executive to explain anything that is unclear.

True Lease or Operating Lease.

Works best with equipment that rapidly depreciates or becomes obsolete in a short period of time. In a true or operating lease, the leasing company retains ownership of the equipment during the lease. True or operating leases typically have no predetermined buyouts; customers usually classify these payments as an operating expense. This type offers the lowest payments and typically is the most tax-friendly form of leasing. True or operating leases offer three choices at the end of your lease:

return the equipment to the leasing company,
purchase the equipment at its fair market value or option amount, or
extend your lease term
Finance or Capital Lease.

If you plan on owning the equipment at the end of the lease such as heavy construction equipment, ships or aircraft, the full purchase price plus interest charges are spread over the length of the lease. You will own the equipment at the end of the lease for a minimal amount, such as a fixed percentage of the original cost or $1.00.

Skip Lease.

Organizations that need a flexible repayment schedule such as seasonal businesses, agricultural companies, recreational services firms, and school systems. You specify months when no payments are made. You have the flexibility to adjust to irregular cash flow.

Municipal Lease

Local and state government organizations looking to acquire equipment, the tax structures and details of municipal leases vary considerably from standard business leases. Seek the advice of your financial advisor to better understand your municipal lease optio

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