In recent years we’ve seen our island embracing new ventures with open arms.
New brands and businesses are popping up everywhere and the difference, from say ten years ago, is that these brands have real sticking power and longevity of life as we enter an era of divine acceptance for something outside of the norm.
Rex Leasing is one such business. The brainchild of Ian Drake, Rex Leasing went live at the beginning of October this year and it has reimagined the way we buy and use automobiles. Renting and leasing is a growing culture in the UK, with people renting everything from TVs to washing machines. Whether this is in part due to the increased cost of living that has had a huge impact on the buying trends of the millennial generation is yet to be seen, but particularly for cars it makes sense.
Whilst the concept of car leasing is by no means new, it’s a new idea for an island so obsessed by ownership. Gef caught up with Ian in Rex’s Victoria Street abode to talk all things leasing, and to meet his fellow mammalian brethren, Rex the seal.
GEF: Alright, Yessir! So tell Gef the message behind Rex Leasing and the reasons you started up.
It came about by me thinking about getting a new car and ways to get a new car. I’ve always kept up with trends in the UK with regards to the motor industry and I’ve been blown away by how quickly a car’s value depreciates; it loses 20% of its value as soon as you drive it out of the showroom, and you’re never going to get that money back.
Car leasing is a great alternative for commercial and non-commercial users, and it’s something I want to educate people on, that there’re other options available when it comes to using cars that aren’t widely advertised.
GEF: So what does ‘car leasing’ entail?
It’s a fixed monthly payment for a brand new car for a period of two to five years. Buying a car isn’t an investment, so for me it makes sense to lease a car and then upgrade to another brand new model a few years later.
All cars are made to order and there’s the luxury of specifying particular specifications for the car you want. They’re brand new with only delivery miles on the clock, and they come straight off the boat and on to the customer.
When you own a car there are so many additional issues that require you to spend money. Used cars need servicing, tyres need changing etc. and there are so many surprise costs that go along with car ownership that everyone can relate to. Leasing is a fixed cost so you know exactly how much you’re going to spend over a two-year period. For a relatively small monthly fee you can drive a brand new car, including servicing and maintenance, with no hidden extras.
In principle it’s sort of like a mobile phone contract; you rent the handset for 18-24 months and then you upgrade to a newer model. I don’t know many people that buy their handset outright, as there’s such a rapid change in technology that people don’t want to be locked into a contract when a newer, more sleek model release is on the horizon.
GEF: What issues did you face when trying to set up Rex Leasing on the island?
I enquired with a few different lending companies in UK whose immediate reaction was saying no to helping an Isle of Man business. It’s something I challenged and couldn’t ascertain a proper answer as to why there was some reluctance. A lot of time was spent convincing lenders that the island is a great place to invest in, and I think their initial scepticism was a knee-jerk reaction to past practices and policies.
I had to have a lot of in-depth conversations with a lot of lenders and really had to push to convince the lender’s decision makers. After the initial default responses, I now have a varied pool of lenders on board that are willing to help. That’s been the main challenge, but it’s a way of thinking that I’ve challenged and changed.
GEF: We’ve noticed that a lot of Rex Leasing’s branding has featured a seal, which Gef is absolutely thrilled about. Can you tell us a bit more about the name and your preferred choice of aquatic mammal?
I always knew that I wanted the face of the company to be an animal. The name Rex came about from thinking about potential names, and Rex was short, sharp and to the point. We started thinking about potential animals, with a lion or a T-Rex as initial ideas, but I really wanted people to know that this is a local, Manx-owned business with a local director, and what better animal than a seal!
Yes, we could have walked the more linear lines of a cat with no tail, but I had such great memories of going to Peel when I was younger and seal watching, and it just fell into place. No one’s got a bad word to say about seals, have they!
And there’re so many puns to do with seals – ‘seal the deal’, ‘seal of approval’ – I could go on and on.
GEF: You’ve recently left secure employment to fly solo and imagine Rex Leasing. What’s the biggest change been for you?
It’s a mad feeling working 9-5, Monday-Friday, with no one in the office but yourself, but I’m concentrating on the bigger picture. The company went live on the 1st October, and we’ve really built some momentum in just six weeks. The idea has been popular and we’ve had over 250 enquiries. We’re seeing that [car leasing] is a concept that a lot of people have toyed with, but have been unable to access it.
December’s a bit of a weird time to try and get your business off the ground, as everyone’s got one eye on a mince pie, so I’m looking forward to the new year.
I love the freedom of working for myself and on my own project. It’s scary and daunting jumping ship, but it’s also super exciting and rewarding. You’re essentially a one-man band when you start your own business. I’m the head of accounts and also the head of marketing, so I’m just learning the rhythm of heading each department!
GEF: Ultimately, what would the face of the Isle of Man car leasing game look like to you?
I’d love to convince and educate people that car leasing is the way forward. I’m not too concerned about taking over the world or being mega rich with a multinational company. I just want to provide an alternative service for the island and show them that there are other options available.
There’s no need for me to have a showroom, which has both its pros and its cons, as all cars come brand new from a mainland UK manufacturer. All maintenance is done on the island, and Rex Leasing is working with some fantastic garages on the island. If I can get a car from a dealer on the Isle of Man then of course I will, as it’s sustainable for the island’s economy and increases the sales of a Manx garage.
At the moment, all cars Rex Leasing supply are brand new, but we’re starting to see lenders launching used car leasing, which is really exciting. Normally, when a car reaches the end of a contract it’s sold on UK auction sites, which is where a lot of used car dealerships on the island will get their stock from. I’m hopeful that I’ll eventually be in the position to buy these cars at the end of the contract and sell them to island dealerships at a reduced cost. It would save money for the dealer in terms of shipping and the cars are only 2-3 years old, fully maintained and serviced with relatively low mileage.
GEF: What’s the pros of moving into the used car leasing game?
It’s exciting and even more affordable. You can get near-new cars that are ridiculously cheap. A lot of people want to lease a certain make and model, but a brand new car would be too expensive, so used car leasing really opens the door to everyone and every car.
It’s a concept just entering the UK market now, so hopefully it’s something we can offer, too.
Rex Leasing is based at 3rd Floor Consort House, 16 Victoria Street, Douglas. Visit www.rexleasing.im or call Ian on 622 111.