A study from the British credit-reporting firm Creditsafe showed that one in six companies surveyed that lease fleet vehicles have attempted to renegotiate the terms of their leases in the past 12 months — a stat that holds both positive and negative news for field service companies.

We’ll get the negative news out of the way first: Clearly, the prolonged economic slump has affected companies’ ability to afford their commercial fleets. Also, the rise in video conferencing and telecommunications has meant that fewer companies actually need to send a service tech out into the field as often to deal with customer-service requests.

David Knowles, the Business Development Director at Creditsafe, said in a release: “With transportation costs increasing dramatically while the economy remains stagnant many firms leasing vehicles are being forced into renegotiating their contracts in a desperate attempt to cut costs. Technical innovation has also left many firms questioning whether sales and support teams that traditionally spent significant time on the road need to rely on face-to-face interactions to close deals.”

However, there’s a silver lining to this news: The high number of lease defaults (33 percent of the leasing agents surveyed reported said their customers have either missed payments or gone insolvent) means that leasing firms are starting to worry about their existing customers. And that could mean — as we’ve written before — that now may be a good time for field service companies to take a look at their own lease and see if they can swing a better deal, since so many leasing agents appear to be in a deal-making mood.

Frank Buchanan, writing in Spend Matters, said that by his calculations, 64 percent of companies have leased their fleet vehicles from the same company for more than eight years. So while the recession is clearly doing major damage to companies of all stripes, it may turn out that field service companies can use the favorable conditions to their benefit.

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