«  View All Posts

Independent Contractor

Choosing a Semi-Truck Leasing Company: Which Lease Program is Right for You?

March 4th, 2022

Brent Schaffler

Brent Schaffler

Brent received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. Cloud State University. He spent nine years in the retail industry before joining the ATS Team in 2012. Brent worked in the driver recruiting department for 2.5 years before transitioning to the Competitive Equipment Sales (CES) Team. He manages the leases of independent contractors from ATS and its affiliates.

Maybe you’re new to leasing and you don’t know where to start.

Maybe you’ve been leasing for a few years but you don’t like the company you’re leasing with. 

How do you find a good company to lease on with? Do you choose a trucking company or a leasing company? A small company or a large company? 

What do you need to consider before leasing? 

More importantly, what makes a good leasing company? 

No matter where you are in your leasing journey, it can be overwhelming to feel like you don’t have all the information you need to succeed. And if you don’t know what makes a good leasing company a good fit for you, it’s easy to make the wrong choice…year after year and contract after contract.

As a leasing manager, I’m here to help you understand what makes a good leasing company and how to choose the best one for you, even if that means you don’t choose our company. 

You’ve got a lot of questions and might not know where to start. 

In this blog, I’ll discuss:

  • Trucking companies vs. leasing companies
  • Characteristics of great leasing companies
  • How to choose the best leasing company 

When you’re finished reading, you’ll know exactly how to choose a leasing company that has everything you’re looking for. 


Truck Leasing Companies vs. Trucking Companies with Lease Programs

There are two types of companies you can lease a semi-truck from: a truck leasing company or a trucking company that has a lease program. It’s important to note their differences. 

A truck leasing company will simply lease you the truck and that’s it. It’s your responsibility to make regular payments to them; that’s the extent of their involvement. You’ll need to find a company to sign that truck on with to move freight or you’ll need to broker your own freight. 

A trucking company that has a lease program is a whole different ball game. A trucking company might have a leasing division or they work closely with a leasing company to offer a lease program. 

Keep in mind that a truck leasing company won’t typically have the level of support drivers new to leasing need. You’ll need to sign on with a carrier to get freight unless you want to get your own authority. Navigating brokering your own freight can be challenging as a first-time lease driver.

That’s why, for the purpose of this article, we will primarily be focusing on trucking companies with lease programs.

Characteristics of Great Trucking Companies with Lease Programs

Everyone wants something a little different out of a truck lease. Some drivers might want to bring their pet along and some could care less. Some want specific equipment in the truck, like a fridge, and others only care if the truck runs. 

While you should keep this in mind during your search for the best lease program for you, ask the following questions to help you weed out the great companies from the not-so-great.

Is the Company Supportive?

First and foremost, you should search for a company that is supportive — especially if you’re new to leasing. Everything they do should be done with the driver’s success in mind. 

Will the company support you when you break down, or will they leave you high and dry? While some companies will work with you if your truck breaks down, some won’t. Find out if they’re the type of company that will try to find you a rental truck, put you up in a hotel or help you get home while your truck is in the shop for an extended period of time. 

Are there staff members you can always go to with questions? Is someone going to advocate for you? A great trucking company will have multiple departments designed specifically to help you — whether that’s the customer service department that’s ready to assist with any question you may have or a road service group making sure you get full warranty benefits.

Consider what the company will do if you happen to miss a payment. Will they seize the truck immediately or will they work with you? A good company will have solutions to help you work through any barriers to your success. 

Does the Company Pay Well?

The way a company’s deductions are set up can say a lot about a trucking company. Will they help you succeed? Or are they set up to make you fail? 

Compare weekly truck payments with how much money you can be expected to make each week. Will you be breaking even or will you actually be turning a profit? Be sure you take a close look at the program’s pay structure and expected weekly pay. You need to make sure you’ll be getting enough freight to keep you running and making enough money on each load to help you make a profit. 

You don’t start making money until you make your truck payment for the week. If drivers are usually sitting around waiting for freight or the company doesn’t pay well, you might struggle to make ends meet. 


Does the Company Have Well-Maintained Equipment?

Not only will a great truck leasing company have new, well-maintained equipment for you to lease, but they may also have warranty options on that equipment to support you if something goes wrong. 

Getting into an old truck or a truck that hasn’t been maintained can cost a lot more than it’s worth. Take a closer look not just at the make, model and year of the truck, but also at the warranties on the truck. You should be looking for a truck that may still have factory warranties on it or has additional warranties offered by the company. 

Is the Company Stable? 

There’s something to be said for stability. A company that has been in the industry for a while has most likely built up a strong customer base and a reputation of reliability. Newer companies, on the other hand, may still be trying to get their footing. 

When you partner with a stable company, you’re more likely to enjoy a stable paycheck.

How to Choose the Best Leasing Company

Sure, an ad on social media is great, but you really need to do some digging and ask some questions to make sure you find a trucking company that’s a good fit for you. Make a list of your negotiables and non-negotiables and start looking into companies.

Talk to Other Drivers

Word of mouth is one of the best ways you can learn more about a trucking company and its lease program. When you see a prospective company’s trucks in the lot at a truck stop, hunt those drivers down. 

Ask them what they think of the lease program. Ask them if they’re being paid well and if what’s being promised in the ads is accurate. Ask them if they’re being treated well and if they’re being supported by the company. Find out what they do and don’t like about the program. 

This is the best opportunity to get straight answers from drivers just like you. No sales, no gimmicks, just honesty. 

Read Reviews

Research the company. Review their website and read the good reviews and the bad ones. If something sparks your interest, write it down and ask your recruiter about it when you talk to them. 

People typically don’t write reviews unless something went really well or really poorly — keep that in mind.


Talk to Your Recruiter and Be Honest

Once you have a good understanding of what you want out of a lease program and you’ve looked into the company, schedule a call with a recruiter. Tell them exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t hold back — especially when it comes to pay and home time. 

Talk with your recruiter about what you do and don’t want and they’ll either match you with a program or help you determine if their program isn’t right for you. This is where having a list of negotiables and non-negotiables will come in handy. Companies that don’t meet your needs can be crossed off the list right away.

Say, for instance, that you have a pet that you’d like to ride with you. If that’s a non-negotiable, you’ll easily be able to knock companies off your list if they don’t have a favorable pet policy.

Choose the Best Leasing Company

You’ve probably heard horror stories about semi-truck leasing companies. It can make you skeptical of all leasing companies.

But now that you know how to choose a great leasing company and how to choose a lease program that matches your needs, you can avoid another horror story. 

It’s time to start looking for the best leasing company for you and your family. 

For your convenience, we’ve put together a list of the top companies to lease with this year. Carefully reviewing each one and comparing their offerings with your needs will help you find the best match.