Best Leasing Deal
Every year, 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.
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.