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Guest Column: Comparing fleet financing options

TAUC has teamed up with Enterprise Fleet Management to offer members the opportunity for substantial savings (up to 15%!) on vehicle operational expenses. Below, Enterprise's Steve Usselmann offers some tips for contractors to consider when it comes to financing your fleet operations.

Fleet Financing Options Can Be Like Comparing Apples to Oranges

by Steve Usselmann, Enterprise Fleet Management

Anyone shopping for vehicles knows there are lots of choices when it comes to selecting the right vehicles with options and aftermarket equipment that will do the job at the best possible price. But, when it comes to paying for the vehicles, there also are various options that can make a big difference to the bottom line. This can be especially important for those that have medium-size fleets.

Financing a fleet of vehicles not only requires a considerable amount of money upfront, it also demands a continuing amount of money, time and resources to keep the fleet operating most efficiently and cost-effectively. That's why comparing various financing options based on the monthly payment alone can be a lot like comparing apples to oranges.

By acquiring vehicles through a professional fleet management company, a separate line of credit may be established. This can optimize cash flow and preserve the company's bank line of credit for other business opportunities, such as operations, expansion, additional personnel or other investments. A fleet management provider also can provide some basic financial measures to assist a company in making a lease/buy decision based on its own unique circumstances as well as evaluating the effect various forms of financing can have on its overall capital structure.

While interest rates for leasing vehicles are generally competitive for various financing options, it is important when making a decision to consider both the hard and soft costs associated with the administration of fleet purchases. These include the amount of time that owners, managers or employees must spend on issues related to acquiring and disposing of vehicles, as well as managing maintenance appointments and invoices, insurance and vehicle registration and reporting.

A fleet management company that offers a managed maintenance program can monitor and ensure regular service checks, scrutinize invoices, and use its experience and expertise to guarantee the most economical, timely and high-quality repairs for fleet vehicles. This includes arranging maximum warranty benefits, rebates, price breaks and other opportunities to minimize expenses. In addition, customers may be protected from having to pay for unnecessary repairs or those that may already be covered by warranty.

A fleet of vehicles can hold the keys to trimming expenses and improving cash flow without sacrificing vehicle quality or performance. Working with fleet management professionals who can analyze the cost of your fleet and provide recommendations on how to improve cash flow is a good place to start.

Steve Usselmann is Senior Vice President, Enterprise Fleet Management, a full-service fleet management company for businesses with medium-size fleets. He can be reached at 314-512-2332 or steve.usselmann@efleets.com.

Enterprise Fleet Management, a full-service fleet management company for businesses with mid-size fleets, is an affiliate of Enterprise Holdings Inc. With 58 fully staffed offices nationwide, it supplies most makes and models of cars, light and medium duty trucks and service vehicles to businesses across the United States. In addition to winning the 2012 American Business Award for Innovation in Customer Service, Enterprise Fleet Management supports a comprehensive set of environmental initiatives that includes helping customers purchase verifiable greenhouse gas emission offsets by pledging to match a portion of each customer's greenhouse gas offset purchases up to a total match of $1 million. Enterprise has been recognized with the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) "Blue Seal of Excellence" award for 14 consecutive years, an industry record, and is dedicated to ICAR training.

For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.efleets.com or call toll free 1-877-23-FLEET.

09/04/2012