For many fleets, used vehicles are an excellent alternative to buying or leasing new. It's an option to consider when you have a short-term assignment, need an extra truck on a new construction job, or want an executive car on a budget. But finding vehicles that meet your specs for the right price, without consuming valuable time, is a different story.
Market Direct Fleet (MDF) in Pocatello, Idaho, provides used fleet acquisition services to small and mid-size fleets, focusing on used passenger cars, light-duty vehicles up to 1-ton trucks and cargo vans and some medium-duty vehicles.
"We can procure anything from current model year with super-low miles up to five- and six-year-old [vehicles] with 70,000 miles and anything in between," says Adam Wood, president of MDF. In the past 12 months, MDF has had particular success procuring domestic sedans, year-old cargo vans and high-end executive vehicles.
MDF has clients in all 50 states and has handled procurement requests from one vehicle to 130 in a single order. MDF interfaces with major leasing companies such as GE Capital, ARI and Enterprise, and also services fleets directly on a sales-only (non-lease) basis.
Due to the recent economic downturn and changes in the auto industry, the fleet market at the dealership level has changed. "There's not a lot of inventory out there, and dealers are less willing to sell their new units into fleet situations," Wood says.
Buying used can be a good value for companies who plan to keep vehicles for long-term, high-mileage use. "It's a sensible way to go, because the biggest hit in cost is depreciation," he says. "[Buying used] can avoid a good 20 to 25 percent of that right off the top, yet still provide a vehicle that's under factory warranty."
Finding the Right Used Vehicle
Fleet managers can send requests to MDF via email or phone. MDF checks dozens of sources from up to 50 markets to find the right vehicles. Then it provides a list of the best available units that fit the client's specs.
MDF guarantees that the vehicles it delivers have clean title histories and are ready for work. Many units come from franchised dealer retail stock and have already been fully serviced and detailed. For vehicles that have not been through an OEM-certified pre-owned program, MDF has its own. "It's a conglomerate of half a dozen manufacturer certification programs," Wood says. "If the vehicle doesn't pass, then we don't deliver it."
Once the client approves the purchase, MDF secures the vehicles and arranges delivery. All vehicles are delivered with 30-day temporary permits. Sales paperwork can be sent to the fleet's leasing company, directly to the fleet manager or both. MDF does not handle or arrange vehicle leases.
"Our delivery time is typically about a week, which makes us very appealing if there's a need to make a quick purchase," Wood says.
What Others Say
Varsity Contractors, a national provider of janitorial and HVAC maintenance services, was MDF's first client. Varsity leases through GE Capital and uses MDF to procure all its used vehicles.
"We've had great service with Market Direct," says John Kelly, Florida Regional VP for Varsity Contractors.
Tyson Lee of System 1, a provider of janitorial services in multiple states, says MDF saves him the time and effort required for fleet shopping. Lee is a district manager with System 1 and oversees finance, customer service and other business matters.
"I don't have time to check out all the dealers and meet with people for the whole car-buying process," Lee says. "Adam's been good about understanding what [my] needs are. He's not a typical used-car salesman. He knows that time is of the essence."