Placer County Uses Leasing Program to Control Fleet Purchasing & Remarketing

January 2006, Government Fleet - Feature

Placer County, located in Northern California, east of Sacramento and near Lake Tahoe, needed to do something when its previous fleet leasing program ended. The former fleet leasing company withdrew from the government fleet business altogether. The county put out an RFP detailing its requirements. The county only has a small portion of its fleet in a leasing program. Out of 1,100 vehicles, only 100 are leased. Placer County needed the purchasing power that comes through working with a major fleet leasing company — one that buys large volumes of vehicles and participates in the manufacturer fleet incentive discounts.Mike Albert Wins Bid
Mike Albert Leasing was awarded the leasing contract with Placer County. Although Mike Albert Leasing is known mostly in the industry for its closed-end leasing programs, Placer County’s program involves an open-end lease. According to Fleet Manager Dennis Gage, the county wanted an open-end program to give it more flexibility and options at the end of a fleet vehicle’s lifecycle. The county might retain the vehicle, especially if it had low mileage, to place in the general fleet; or, the vehicle could be remarketed, sometimes resulting in a back-end financial gain.Placer County’s purchasing department also found the open-end leasing program attractive on a financial basis. The county prefers to use a “toolbox” of financing options for its equipment purchases, says Dave Steward, purchasing manager. A leasing program is attractive when county funding is tight, as it involves lower cap costs upfront and some hedge against increasing interest rates.

The 100 leased units are vehicles used for plainclothes law enforcement by the sheriff’s department and by employees in the district attorney and probation offices. These users needed some variety — their anonymity couldn’t be protected if they all drove white Ford Tauruses.So, the RFP called for a supplier to suggest creative alternatives at competitive funding. Mike Albert was able to provide competitive pricing and funding on a diverse variety of vehicles including Chevrolet Malibu, Impalas and Tahoes, Dodge Stratuses and Durangos, Jeep Grand Cherokees, and other vehicles.More Control Over Process
Placer County utilized the opportunity presented in the changeover to a new fleet leasing vendor to scrutinize its vehicle ordering process and add more controls to the system, Gage says. Mike Albert’s computerized fleet management tools helped, along with the professionalism of its customer service representatives. These reps are able to firmly, yet tactfully, assist the county when employees order new vehicles, by clarifying fleet ordering policies and assisting employees in making the best choices within county guidelines.Another part of this changeover was working with the county’s delivering dealers to smooth the rough edges of the new-vehicle ordering cycle. This step helped reduce time involved in the process, resulting in increased efficiencies.

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