July 2010, Business Fleet - Department
Can I Quote You?
With some basic information and a few mouse clicks, you can perform just about any transaction on the Internet, right? ... Except get an instant online quote for a fleet lease - until recently.
Fleet Connect by LeaseCompare.com offers a new method to get a quote on a lease or a finance rate for any commercial fleet vehicle from your computer, instantly, without having to provide any personal information.
A pioneer of online consumer leasing 10 years ago, LeaseCompare.com allows consumers to compare new and used lease payments in real time from multiple lenders and apply for credit online.
"Fleet Connect brings the functionality, transaction ease and speed of the Web into the fleet leasing world," says Tarry Shebesta, founder and president of LeaseCompare.com.
Potential clients enter basic vehicle information and pricing to see a comparison of commercial lease and loan payments for multiple terms and residual values. Programs are quoted for open-end commercial TRAC lease, closed-end lease and commercial financing.
Though the initial interface is Web-based, Fleet Connect begins the personalized service once the customer submits a credit application.
Shebesta's tagline could be "We'll lease (almost) anything." In addition to passenger cars and pickups, Shebesta has quoted box trucks, dump trucks, flatbeds, landscapers and limousines through Fleet Connect. Shebesta says he once even quoted a lease for a $500,000 tree shredder.
Leases can be of varying lengths, and they are tailored to the client and his or her needs. Vehicles can be pulled out of dealer inventory or ordered from the factory. If applicable, fleet identification numbers are applied. Fleet Connect has handled lease requests of any number of vehicles for small and large fleets.
While Fleet Connect will procure any vehicle, Shebesta says about half of his business comes from applicants looking to finance or lease used commercial vehicles they've found on eBay or other online classified sites.
In addition to vehicle leasing, financing, procurement and delivery, Fleet Connect provides full-service fleet management, including fuel cards, maintenance and repair management, emergency roadside service, a rental program, license and title management, accident management and motor vehicle record checks through its partnership with LeasePlan's Network.
A Growing Need
Lance Donny, CFO of PureSense, an irrigation monitoring and software firm based in Fresno, Calif., found Fleet Connect's fleet leasing online service after using its consumer portal.
The company is in the process of tripling its growth. In planning for 2010, PureSense decided to move from reimbursing drivers for use of their own vehicles to a fleet leasing and management program. The company needed a dozen vehicles right away and another 10 or more the rest of the year. "We have a fairly big appetite for a number of vehicles and credit," Donny says.
The company needed new ½- and ¾-ton 4x4 diesel pickups with service bodies. The units would have to be on flexible, open-end leases on one master lease agreement that included a fleet maintenance and fuel program.
However, as a venture-backed, shareholder-owned firm in the progress of becoming profitable, getting funded for fleet leases was a challenge. "I had to forge relationships on the fleet side, especially in this market, where credit is constricted," Donny says.
Donny used Fleet Connect to obtain quotes while he was shopping around through local dealers. He went with Fleet Connect. "The rate was competitive; the terms were competitive," says Donny. "It was very much turnkey. I didn't have to worry about paperwork, other than signing the lease documents."
Fleet Connect procured the vehicles and facilitated the upfits with a local body builder.
Donny says the key for the deal was "the ability to hand off to someone and say, 'This is how much and when, go find the vehicles, go find the credit, bring me back the lease deals and I'll make a decision or ask questions.'"
"And then," adds Donny, "have him deliver."