Leasing Is Back
Leasing Is Back

Leasing is back with a vengeance. Attractive lease rates and high trade-in values are energizing its surge in popularity. As more and more of our clients' customers see leasing as an attractive alternative for acquiring a new vehicle, our efforts in securing more products and profit on these transactions must intensify. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, it is critical that you find and relay creative methods to capitalize on the additional profit opportunities leasing presents for our clients' F&I departments.

That being said, although leasing has become more popular with consumers, many F&I managers continue to overlook a lease's potential — and, like cash deals, often put little or no effort in securing additional profit on them. We can attribute the lack of interest and enthusiasm F&I managers and sales managers have for leases to a lack of knowledge and understanding of how a lease really works. While there are many among us who do not know how a lease works, those who do embrace leasing with the same attitude and determination as finance deals and get great results.

Though certain parts of this article, such as how to calculate a lease payment, may seem elementary to some, the information is vital in developing the confidence and credibility necessary to go into a lease transaction and come out a winner. Information that will enhance their knowledge of leasing and provide them additional skills necessary to gain more commitments from their customers to purchase protection products and services on lease transactions. Learning how to perform basic lease calculations is the first step in understanding leasing and how it works.

Basic Lease Calculation

There are a few factors that need to be determined before you can calculate a lease payment. The first is the MSRP, which needs to include any dealer installed items (hard adds) that can be residualized; other items that cannot be residualized (soft adds) need to be rolled into the gross cap cost. The gross cap cost, otherwise known as the sale price, needs to be determined and must include any soft adds, upfront fees such as the acquisition fee, title and registration fees, dealer fee first payment or any other fees that will not be collected at the lease's inception.

You must determine the cap reduction — better known as total money down — which can be in the form of a rebate, customer cash or trade equity (negative equity may be added to the net cap cost up to the lease companies maximum advance) that will be deducted from the gross cap cost to determine the net cap cost. The money factor needs to be determined; if the lease company provides you with an interest rate rather than a money factor, divide the interest rate by 2,400. For example, if the interest rate is 6%, 6 / 2,400 = 0.0025 money factor. All that’s left to select is the lease term, miles per year and residual percentage.

Once you have all the factors that will make up the structure of the lease, calculating the payment becomes a matter of basic arithmetic. Now, let's put it all together and see exactly how a monthly lease payment is calculated.

Step 1: Determine the residual or future value portion of the lease that will be left at the end (MSRP x residual % = residual value). Step 2: Determine the depreciation — that’s the portion of the lease which will be used (net cap cost – residual value = depreciation). Step 3: Determine the monthly depreciation (depreciation / lease term = monthly depreciation). Step 4: Determine the monthly rental charge (net cap cost + residual value x money factor). Step 5: Determine the monthly sales tax (monthly depreciation + monthly rental charge = base payment x sales tax % = total monthly lease payment).

Now who needs a DMS to figure out a lease payment? I often say “knowledge is power,” and knowing how to calculate a lease using a simple calculator goes a long in projecting confidence and credibility all the while providing a solid foundation when explaining the concept of leasing to a customer. Here's an example of how it all breaks down:

MSRP $35,000
Gross Cap Cost $33,000
Cap Reduction -$2,000
Fees +$1,260
Net Cap Cost =$32,260
Residual @ 52% $18,200
Lease Term 39 Months
Money Factor .00085
Miles Per Year 12,000
Sales Tax 6%
Step 1: Residual
$35,000 MSRP
x .52 Residual %
= $18,600 Residual
Step 2: Depreciation
$32,260 Net Cap Cost
-$18,200 Residual
= $14,060 Monthly Depreciation
Step 4: Monthly Rent Charge
$32,260 Net Cap Cost
+$18,200 Residual
= $50,460 Total
x .00085 Money Factor
= $42.89 Monthly Rent Charge
Step 5: Sales Tax
$360.51 Monthly Depreciation
+ $42.89 Monthly Rent Charge
= $403.40 Base Payment
x .06 Sales Tax %
= $24.20 Monthly Sales Tax
+ $403.40 Base Payment
= $427.60 Total Lease Payment
Start on the Right Foot

It is important to start the transition to F&I on the right foot, and perhaps more so during lease transactions, as they can be more of a challenge. Making a great first impression sets the tone for a better relationship with the customer. Meeting and greeting customers out in the showroom, in their comfort zone, rather than having them pulled along the dreaded walk to F&I is most important to setting a positive tone.

It is equally important that the F&I manager establish credibility right from the start. At the point of sale, customers are done with small talk and want to get right down to business. So teach your F&I managers to save the small talk for the sales consultants. F&I managers need to display confidence and credibility, and take on an advisory role. The more you know about your customer the better off you’ll be.

Albert Einstein once said “Know where to find the information and how to use it — That's the secret of success.” So true; you will find indispensable information about your customer only if you ask, and that knowledge is the secret to F&I success. The information gathered by the F&I manager permits them to present products and gain commitments to purchase based on their customer’s criteria rather than theirs. Presenting based on a customer’s criteria is the game changer, as it makes better sense to the customer and is seen as much more valuable to them.

Of the most successful F&I managers, nearly all have one thing in common: They all adhere to a consistent method when making a presentation of F&I products and asking for the sale. Their willingness to remain consistent, along with their understanding that their process drives their performance, has permitted them to develop to the point that they are able to display confidence and credibility during every presentation. These attributes are essential in the F&I arena, and you can depend on them for consistently good results.

Starting on the right foot takes discipline and a willingness to let the process drive profits. It all starts with three key components; F&I managers need to “set the tone” they need to “establish credibility” from the start, and they must “gather information” they can use to form a presentation and gain commitment to enroll in F&I products and services based on their customers' criteria.

Take it to the Next Level

Tell, don't sell. Telling the features during your presentation, and selling the benefits when asking for the sale is the best advice anyone can offer. Telling allows the F&I manager to expose all the products in the shortest amount of time, all the while making it seem as though they are telling about one product with a whole lot of features. Selling during the presentation oftentimes will wear out the customer, causing the F&I manager to overlook a product that may have made better sense to their customer. Selling more products on leases is quite simple when the presentation makes sense. After making a telling presentation and the customer says “No”, try this:

“You really have only three responsibilities outside of making the payments on your leased vehicle: 1) maintain the vehicle, 2) provide insurance on it and 3) return it in satisfactory condition. That’s why I am surprised you didn't select option three, which is the most popular option with our lease customers because it provides them with the most logical coverage. Excess wear and tear provides a remedy for unforeseen lease-end charges, the pre-paid maintenance program is set up to fulfill your requirement to maintain the vehicle and the tire-and-wheel program provides protection for the most vulnerable part of the vehicle. Now that I have restated the benefits of the programs, doesn’t it make sense to enroll?”

Though words speak volumes, utilizing all the tools F&I managers have at their disposal will significantly improve product sales as well. Tools such as evidence manuals, props, the lease-end “wear square” lease companies provide to the customer and the lease contract itself is a great selling tool. By showing customers the excess wear and tear portion of the terms on the contract and providing them with a remedy could be the difference in a sale or no sale of an environmental contract, paintless dent repair or excess wear-and-tear coverage. Hand them a set of keys with a price tag on them and remind them they will need both sets of keys at lease termination.

Do your clients' F&I managers utilize an evidence manual that beholds information on the benefits of the products and services being offered, as well as proof of claims paid? That just might be the difference between a sale and a no sale. When all else fails, perhaps the F&I manager can rely on the "apartment" close:

Business Manager: “Do you mind if I share something with you?” Customer: “No, not at all.” Business Manager: “Leasing a vehicle is a lot like renting an apartment. May I explain?” Customer: “Sure, go ahead.” Business Manager: “There may be another way to look at it. Do you mind if I share something with you? Let’s say you’re renting an apartment and the air conditioner stops working. Are you going to pay for the repairs yourself? Or will you be relying on the landlord to pay for the repairs?” Customer: “Why, the landlord, of course.” Business Manager: “What if the roof begins to leak?” Customer: “I’ll call the landlord.” Business Manager: What happens when you leave the apartment? Are you going to patch and repaint the walls where you hung your paintings? Are you going to clean or replace the carpet that may have become stained while you were living in the apartment?” Customer: “No, I would expect the landlord to take care that.” Business Manager: “I couldn't agree with you more. I would feel the same way. Leasing is a lot like renting an apartment. If something should go wrong mechanically with the vehicle, you can rely on the manufacturer’s warranty to make the repairs just like you would expect the landlord to make the repairs to the air conditioner and roof. When you turn the vehicle in to the lease company, like the landlord, you should expect some wear and tear. However, if the landlord determines excess wear and tear, they’re able to retain all or a portion of your deposit, right?” Customer: “Yeah, I guess so.” Business Manager: “Your vehicle lease works much the same way, but there is no security deposit for the leasing company to recover from. So if the lease company determines excess wear and tear they will send you a bill for the repairs, regardless if they make the repairs or not. Can you see how spending just a few dollars more per month now could protect you from the potential of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unexpected lease end expenses down the road?” Customer: “Yes. That makes sense!”

Sure that makes sense, and a sensible, no-nonsense presentation will make a world of difference. Leasing is a great choice for customers that are interested in attaining the lowest cost of driving. A lease allows customers to get a new vehicle every few years, it minimizes residual risk of purchasing and allows the driver to drive a vehicle that is (in most cases) under factory warranty throughout the term of the lease. However, specific responsibilities remain that go along with a lease. It is through our willingness to uphold a process regardless of a lease, finance or cash deal that we will yield the greatest result.