In the business world, leasing equipment has long been an accepted methodology for technology that either rapidly changes or costs significantly less every few years. I’ve heard churches make this statement: “I’ll be stuck with this equipment and I’m not confident that it is technology that will suit us for five years or longer.”
Look, if the device they’re thinking about purchasing has a good chance of not meeting their needs for at least five years, you ought to provide them with a leasing option.
Conversely, if they’re going to be in a facility for a number of years and you don’t see the application (how you do what you do) changing significantly, then purchasing (owning) certain technologies will make more sense. Common examples include speakers, amplifiers, microphones, video monitors, video tape/DDR decks, switchers, routers, distribution amps, screens, communications headsets/matrixes, lighting dimmer packs, many lighting consoles and most conventional lighting fixtures.
The majority of these devices do change somewhat, but for the most part are mature technologies that don’t see quantum leaps every few years. It can make a lot of sense to go ahead and include these items in a building campaign or capital funds program as a purchase.
But for technology that does change rapidly or that the church may outgrow in less than five years, why not provide leasing options as a separate part of the system proposal to churches?
Generally speaking, there are three basic lease types:
- Lease percentage buy-out
- Lease dollar buy-out
- Lease only
The first two lease types can be compared to getting a loan from a bank, except the monthly payment can be lower. With the first type, you’d have a “balloon payment” (large cash outlay) at the end of the lease. The second type is closest to a loan, with a $1 purchase option at the end of the lease.
The idea of changing out “high-technology items” is to keep the church on or near the front edge of the technology curve to meet their needs for today and plan for future contingencies. Second, the church isn’t “stuck” with any technology that is easily replaced by something faster/better/cheaper down the road. This also opens up the possibility for creating a resale program of gently used equipment for yet another sale to another client.
The way I see it, manufacturers and integrators can both offer leasing arrangements. The manufacturer can benefit from acting as the leasing agent (and reaping the profits of doing so) while the integrator benefits from a sale that repeats itself every few years and the church stays up-to-date. This is a win-win-win scenario! I think too many firms are losing sales opportunities because the cash-flow of the church can’t support the outright purchase of everything they need. Isn’t it time to rethink the model and offer leasing to churches?