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Loan or Lease? You May Need Both to Buy A Franchise; It's Important to Know Your Options

By Dr. John Hayes

Leasing equipment for your franchise can be a viable alternative to purchasing. Franchisees can preserve valuable working capital and may reduce their personal liability by leasing versus purchasing their equipment. There are a number of other advantages that leasing offers.

If you're investing in a franchise that includes equipment, such as a POS system, or fryers and ovens for the kitchen, or if you need a vehicle, such as a van or panel truck, you may be well advised to lease rather than to take out a loan. Leasing equipment is the equivalent of “renting” the equipment, which means that you won't take money from your working capital to buy the equipment. With a lease, you set up a monthly payment, and at the end of the lease you can acquire the equipment, or upgrade it and roll the package into another lease.

The advantages of a lease include:

  • Preserve your working capital. Nowadays it's important to keep cash on hand rather than use it to buy items that could be leased.
  • Claim a tax benefit. Section 179 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Code allows you to write off a percentage of a monthly lease payment. The law frequently changes, so it's important to consult with a tax advisor before claiming this benefit.
  • FICO requirements are usually lower for leasing.
  • There are no prepayment penalties.
  • You can choose the terms: 24 to 60 months.
  • If you're "corporate worthy" (you've been in business at least five years) you may not have to sign a personal guarantee.
  • If you own an existing business and you're opening a second unit of that business, you may be able to use the first business to guarantee the lease, and you won't have to sign a personal guarantee.
  • Closing costs are minimal: almost always less than $500.

There are few disadvantages to a lease, although no one will argue that if you've got the money, and can afford to spend it, then it's less expensive to buy products outright and save the interest. Few people are in that economic situation, however.

Securing a lease may be faster than securing a loan – especially if you're leasing an equipment package, software, a POS system, or a vehicle that's recommended by a franchisor that's well known to the lender. But you will still need to provide personal financial information and provide a variety of documents to the lender.

Since 1979, John Hayes has worked in the franchise community as a consultant, franchisee and franchisor. He is the author of several franchise-related books and countless articles that have appeared in media worldwide. Dr. Hayes has served for many years as an advisor to franchisors, franchisees and small business owners internationally. He is the author or co-author of 18 non-fiction books including the Franchise Pre-Investment Checklist, Franchising: The Inside Story, Start Small, Finish Big, You Can't Teach A Kid To Ride A Bike At A Seminar and Get It! and The Secrets of Cultivating the HomeVestors Millionaire Mindset. To contact Dr. Hayes visit FranchiseMastermind.com.

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