With online portals and handheld device compatibility, lease transactions can be processed 24/7

Most seasoned equipment leasing and finance industry pros remember the days when originating a lease was a major undertaking and an exercise in administrative excess. The process started with a handheld HP-12 C calculator that was used to “run the numbers.” Next came reams of paperwork that had to be typed up, error-free of course, since most of the paper was in the shape of multi-part carbon forms. All of this documentation had to be transferred back and forth between the leasing company, the equipment vendor, and the customer, typically using a courier or overnight shipping company.

All of this happened during normal business hours, which typically meant that the leasing company people were available from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, except of course on federal holidays, when, like the post office, they were closed. This proved frustrating for the equipment vendor’s sales team, who wanted to close the transaction, and the customer, who wanted the equipment, but there wasn’t much they could do to expedite things.

The telephone played a big role in the lease origination process, and was also the primary means of getting answers for questions about the lease or for obtaining support when there was some kind of problem, billing or otherwise. Coordinating and executing the lease origination process could become somewhat cumbersome, but there weren’t many options to do it any other way.

When everything was signed and all the documentation was in order, the transaction was completed, a check was cut and overnighted to the vendor, and another new equipment lease was underway. The process typically took at least a week or two, maybe longer, but that’s the way things were done, and if you wanted to lease equipment, that was how you did it. Despite these hurdles, however, the advantages of equipment leasing were undeniable, and astute business people in just about every industry rapidly realized that leasing equipment was far more advantageous—for many reasons—than buying the equipment outright.

Today those benefits remain, but the process has changed dramatically—for the better. Leasing equipment is still arguably the most cost-effective means of acquiring new—or even used—equipment, software, and related services, and originating a lease has become a lesson in efficiency. Leasing is cost-effective because the customer pays only for the value received from actually using the equipment and anything else included in the lease. In fact, this concept of paying only for value received is the fundamental reason that usage-based billing is becoming increasingly popular.

Beyond those already powerful benefits, leases also conserve cash, preserve credit lines, and typically enable customers to upgrade their equipment at any time during the lease term with a minimum amount of paperwork and related hassles. Equipment vendors, on the other hand, benefit from an equipment lease by creating stronger relationships with their customers, generating bigger tickets by bundling consumables and services with the lease package, and protecting the account from outside competition.

But one of the things that makes leasing so attractive today is the ease with which an equipment lease can be originated. Progressive leasing companies have leveraged technology to its fullest extent in order to make the lease origination process convenient, efficient, and extremely easy. Leasing equipment today has been simplified and streamlined to the point where it’s almost fun.

The biggest change is that the calculators and typewriters and three-part carbon copy forms have all been replaced by technology, typically in the form of Internet-based lease origination portals. Because the foyer to the modern equipment leasing company is online, business hours have been dramatically extended—24/7 is the rule rather than the exception. To make the process even more efficient, progressive and innovative equipment leasing companies have made their portals compatible with handheld, wireless devices. With this kind of technology in place, a customer or equipment vendor can originate a lease with little more than a smartphone and in less than an hour.

Customer service for leases has changed as well. Many typical customer service functions have been automated, and those that haven’t can often be handled online with greatly expanded hours of support available. Equipment leasing customers have a multitude of support options available to them and can essentially get help whenever they need it.

A modern equipment lease is a study in financial efficiency and responsive customer service. There is truly no better method for acquiring new business equipment.