The length of lease terms can vary, anywhere from five-to-10 years, depending on customer requirements. The experts suggest that companies using trailers for high mileage applications seek out shorter terms.
"If you're running that refrigeration unit 4,000 or 5,000 hours a year, it's not going to last 10 years," says Mallozo.
GE Trailer Fleet Services offer customers a Customer Value Analysis (CVA) tool, which is a calculator that allows them to input key financial and fleet information from their operations. The tool will show the impact of the various financing and ownership options (i.e. own vs. lease, vs. sale-leaseback, vs. sale-rentback etc.) This helps them make informed leasing decisions.
In addition to the equipment and the lease, companies should look for leasing entities that are willing to provide value-added services to its customers.
"We like to do ride alongs with their drivers to look at their delivery aspects and see if we can offer any suggestions that would make their deliveries easier," says PLM's Adams. "Or when it comes to spec'ing the correct kind of trailer, would a different type of ramp or lift gate make the driver's life easier?"
"We offer 24/7 emergency road service," notes Xtra Lease's Frank. "It's staffed by people 24 hours a day. They take calls from anyone having trouble and find the closest vendor that can get out to help them."
"We have a product called VeriWise," says GE's Nelson. "Our product allows the customer to officially keep track of where their trailers are. On refrigerate trailers, it allows them to monitor the condition of that unit. Should the unit deviate from the current set-point, it will provide an alert."
Beyond this, companies really need to look at the expertise of the leasing entity. Potential lessors need to search out companies that can leverage their size and purchasing power in order to provide better pricing on equipment. The experts stress it is important to partner with entities that have qualified technicians, especially refrigeration technicians. They should also have a service infrastructure that allows them to handle any over the road crisis, 24/7.
"Visit the company's locations or interact with other customers to get their experiences," says PLM's Adams. "Get a good comfort level for them. It's a fairly long-term working relationship that you'll be entering into."