Commercial Truck Financing How is the System Structured

First there are the captive finance companies. Think of them as the financing arms of all the major manufactures. They exist solely to provide financing to the public in an effort to sell their trucks. In the past they have been somewhat liberal in their underwriting criteria and like the mortgage industry perhaps too liberal. This relaxed underwriting of the past has caused serious defaults today. This has resulted in a subsequent tightening of credit. The end result is the selling of less trucks and trailers; customers have a harder time getting financing. Nonetheless, the captive financing company will always be part of the commercial truck financing game.

Second are the independent financing companies. They are not tied to the manufactures in any way. They exist to make a profit from financing commercial trucks and other equipment. They can be a welcome alternatives for several reasons. First they can be someone to turn to if a good credit customer is “tapped out” with the captives. This means they have already financed trucks with the captive financing companies and they don’t want to do anymore for the customer (at least for now). These “A” credit sources are competitive on rate with the captives and, using different independent sources, a customer can finance an unlimited number of trucks. Independents are great for other reasons too. Say a customer wants a TRAC lease with different parameters than what the captives are offering. They can search for an independent that can tailor a TRAC lease for that customer. This is invaluable for the more sophisticated customer that has tax structure as their main objective. Here’s another one, we have customers calling us all the time that may only work nine months out of the year. They need financing that can offer skip payments. This way the customer can make nine payments a year instead of twelve; taking three months off of making their payments. One last one that hits home with us, the customer with bad credit. A captive financing company generally works only with people with good credit. For the customer with bad credit, their choices are limited. Thanks to independent financing companies (like ours) that specialize in customer with bad credit; these customers can get the financing they need to start or grow their business. Think of independent financing companies as offering financing products that can accommodate almost any need.

The third financing arm for commercial truck financing is the in-house financing program. Usually offered by the smaller vendor, in-house financing offers benefits for both dealer and customer. By offering financing in-house the dealer is able to move more inventory than if he didn’t. This is important because a smaller dealer doesn’t always have a captive finance program. And with credit tightening up the independent financing companies are becoming less important. The dealer can act like an independent financing company by offering all the same products while keeping the benefits of earning interest on the trucks they sell. The bad side, of course, is they also suffer in the case of defaults where the customer stops making payments. The benefits to the customer is they have a one stop shop where they can finance a truck at the same place they are purchasing it from. Downside is they are limited to their inventory.

This information will help you become a more educated consumer. By know who the players are you can better approach how to finance that commercial vehicle. Good luck!

Financing Cash Flow Peaks And Valleys

For many businesses, financing cash flow for their business can be like riding a continuous roller coaster.

Sales are up, then they do down. Margins are good, then they flatten out. Cash flow can swing back and forth like an EKG graph of a heart attack.

So how do you go about financing cash flow for these types of businesses?

First, you need to accurately know and manage your monthly fixed costs. Regardless of what happens during the year, you need to be on top of what amount of funds will be required to cover off the recurring and scheduled operating costs that will occur whether you make a sale or not. Doing this monthly for a full twelve month cycle provides a basis for cash flow decision making.

Second, from where you are at right now, determine the amount of funds available in cash, owners outside capital that could be invested in the business, and other outside sources currently in place.

Third, project out your cash flow so that fixed costs, existing accounts payable and accounts receivable are realistically entered into the future weeks and months. If cash is always tight, make sure you do your cash flow on a weekly basis. There is too much variability over the course of a single month to project out only on a monthly basis.

Now you have a basis to assess financing your cash flow.

Financing cash flow is always going to be somewhat unique to each business due to industry, sector, business model, stage of business, business size, owner resources, and so on.

Each business must self assess its sources of financing cash flow, including but not limited to owner investment, trade or payable financing, government remittances, receivable discounts for early payment, deposits on sale, third party financing (line of credit, term loan, factoring, purchase order financing, inventory financing, asset based lending, or whatever else is relevant to you).

Ok, so now you have a cash flow bearing and a thorough understanding of your options available for financing cash flow in your specific business model.

Now what?

Now you are in a position to entertain future sales opportunities that fit into your cash flow.

Three points to clarify before we go further.

First, financing is not strictly about getting a loan from someone when your cash flow needs more money. Its a process of keeping your cash flow continuously positive at the lowest possible cost.

Second, you should only market and sell what you can cash flow. Marketers will measure the ROI of a marketing initiative. But if you can’t cash flow the business to complete the sale and collect the proceeds, there is no ROI to measure. If you have a business with fluctuating sales and margins, you can only enter into transactions that you can finance.

Third, marketing needs to focus on customers that you can sell to over and over again in order to maximize your marketing efforts and reduce the unpredictability of the annual sales cycle through regular repeat orders and sales.

Marketing works under the premise that if you are providing what the customer wants that the money side of the equation will take care of itself. In many businesses this indeed proves to be true. But in a business with fluctuating sales and margins, financing cash flow has to be another criteria built into sales and marketing activities.

Overtime, virtually any business has the potential to smooth out the peaks and valleys through a more robust marketing plan that better lines up with customer needs and the business’s financing limitations or parameters.

In addition to linking financing cash flow more closely to marketing and sales, the next most impactful action you can take is expanding your sources of financing.

Here are some potential strategies for expanding your sources for financing cash flow.

Strategy # 1: Develop strategic relationships with key suppliers that have the ability to extend greater financing in certain situations to take advantage of sales opportunities. This is accomplished with larger suppliers that 1) have the financial means to extend financing, 2) view you as a key customer and value your business, 3) have confidence in the business’s ability to forecast and manage cash flow.

Strategy # 2: Make sure where possible that your annual financial statements show a profit capable of servicing debt financing. Accountants may be good at saving you income tax dollars, but if they drive business profitability down to or close to zero through tax planning, they may also effectively destroying your ability to borrow money.

Strategy # 3: If possible, only transact with credit worthy customers. Credit worthy customers allow both the business and potential lenders to finance receivables which can increase the amount of external financing available to you.

Strategy # 4: Develop a liquidation pathway for your tangible assets. Equipment and inventory are easier to finance if lenders clearly understand how to liquidate the assets in the event of default. In some cases, businesses can get resale option agreements on certain equipment or inventory from prospective buyers assignable to a lender to be used as recourse against a lending facility for financing cash flow.

Strategy # 5: Joint venture a sales opportunity with another business to share the risk of a large sales opportunity that may be too risky for you to take on yourself.

Summary

The primary long term objective of a business with fluctuating cash flow and margins is to smooth out the peaks and valleys and create a scalable business with more of a predictable sales cycle.

This is best achieved with an approach that including the following steps.

Step #1. Micro Manage your fixed costs and cash flow and accurately project out the cash flow requirements of the business on a weekly basis.

Step #2. Take a detailed inventory of all the sources you have for financing cash flow.

Step #3. Incorporate your financing constraints into your marketing approach.

Step #4. If possible, only transact with credit worthy customers to reduce risk and increase financing options.

Step #5. Work towards expanding both your financing sources and available source limits for financing cash flow.

Business cycle stability and cash flow predictability is an evolutionary step for every business. The industries with longer sales cycles will tend to be the more difficult to tame due to a larger number of variables to manage.

A continuous focus on the process for improvement outlined will help create the desired results over time.

Accounts Receivable Financing

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There is a reason why accounts receivable financing is a four thousand year old financing technique: it works. Accounts receivable financing, factoring, and asset based financing all mean the same thing as related to asset based lending- invoices are sold or pledged to a third party, usually a commercial finance company (sometimes a bank) to accelerate cash flow.

In simple terms, the process follows these steps. A business sells and delivers a product or service to another business. The customer receives an invoice. The business requests funding from the financing entity and a percentage of the invoice (usually 80% to 90%) is transferred to the business by the financing entity. The customer pays the invoice directly to the financing entity. The agreed upon fees are deducted and the remainder is rebated to the business by the financing entity.

How does the customer know to pay the financing entity instead of the business they are receiving goods or services from? The legal term is called “notification”. The financing entity informs the customer in writing of the financing agreement and the customer must agree in writing to this arrangement. In general, if the customer refuses to agree in writing to pay the lender instead of the business providing the goods or services, the financing entity will decline to advance funds.

Why? The main security for the financing entity to be repaid is the creditworthiness of the customer paying the invoice. Before funds are advanced to the business there is a second step called “verification”. The finance entity verifies with the customer that the goods have been received or the services were performed satisfactorily. There being no dispute, it is reasonable for the financing entity to assume that the invoice will be paid; therefore funds are advanced. This is a general view of how the accounts receivable financing process works.

Non-notification accounts receivable financing is a type of confidential factoring where the customers are not notified of the business’ financing arrangement with the financing entity. One typical situation involves a business that sells inexpensive items to thousands of customers; the cost of notification and verification is excessive compared to the risk of nonpayment by an individual customer. It simply may not make economic sense for the financing entity to have several employees contacting hundreds of customers for one financing customer’s transactions on a daily basis.

Non-notification factoring may require additional collateral requirements such as real estate; superior credit of the borrowing business may also be required with personal guarantees from the owners. It is more difficult to obtain non-notification factoring than the normal accounts receivable financing with notification and verification provisions.

Some businesses worry that if their customers learn that a commercial financing entity is factoring their receivables it may hurt their relationship with their customer; perhaps they may loose the customer’s business. What is this worry, why does it exist and is it justified?

The MSN Encarta Dictionary defines the word worry as:

“Worry

verb (past and past participle wororied, present participle wororyoing, 3rd person present singular worories)Definition:
1. transitive and intransitive verb be or make anxious: to feel anxious about something unpleasant that may have happened or may happen, or make somebody do this

2. transitive verb annoy somebody: to annoy somebody by making insistent demands or complaints

3. transitive verb try to bite animal: to try to wound or kill an animal by biting it

a dog suspected of worrying sheep

4. transitive verb

Same as worry at

5. intransitive verb proceed despite problems: to proceed persistently despite problems or obstacles

6. transitive verb touch something repeatedly: to touch, move, or interfere with something repeatedly

Stop worrying that button or it’ll come off.

noun (plural worories)Definition:
1. anxiousness: a troubled unsettled feeling

2. cause of anxiety: something that causes anxiety or concern

3. period of anxiety: a period spent feeling anxious or concerned…”

The opposite is:

“not to worry used to tell somebody that something is not important and need not be a cause of concern (informal)

Not to worry. We’ll do better next time.

no worries U.K. Australia New Zealand used to say that something is no trouble or is not worth mentioning (informal)”.

Query: if a business is financing their invoices with accounts receivable financing, is this an indication of financial strength or weakness? Query: from the point of view of the customer, if you are buying goods or services from a business that is factoring their receivables, should you be concerned? Query: is there one answer to these questions that fits all situations?

The answer is it’s a paradox. A paradox is a statement, proposition, or situation that seems to be absurd or contradictory, but in fact is or may be true.

Accounts receivable financing is both a sign of weakness with regard to cash flow and a sign of strength with respect to cash flow. It is a weakness because, prior to financing, funds are not available to provide cash flow to pay for materials, salaries, etc. and it is an indication of strength because, subsequent to funding cash is available to facilitate a business’ needs for cash to grow. It is a paradox. When properly structured as a financing tool for growth at a reasonable cost, it is a beneficial solution to cash flow shortages.
If your entire business depended on one supplier, and you were notified that your supplier was factoring their receivables, you might have a justifiable concern. If your only supplier went out of business, your business could be severely compromised. But this is also true whether or not the supplier is utilizing accounts receivable financing. It’s a paradox. This involves matters of perception, ego and character of the personalities in charge of the business and the supplier.

Every day, every month thousands of customers accept millions of dollars of goods and services in contracts that involve notification, verification and the factoring of receivables. For most customers, “notification” of accounts receivable financing is a non-issue: it is merely a change of the name or addresses of the payee on a check. This is a job for a person in the accounts payable department to make a minor clerical change. It is a mainstream business practice.

Bobby McFerrin wrote and performed a song called “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for the movie “Cocktails” starring Tom Cruise. The song was a number one U.S. pop hit in 1988 and won the Grammy for Best Song of the Year. Here are the lyrics:

“Here is a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry be happy

In every life we have some trouble

When you worry you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy……

Ain’t got no place to lay your head

Somebody came and took your bed

Don’t worry, be happy

The land lord say your rent is late

He may have to litigate

Don’t worry, be happy

Look at me I am happy

Don’t worry, be happy

Here I give you my phone number

When you worry call me

I make you happy

Don’t worry, be happy

Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style

Ain’t got not girl to make you smile

But don’t worry be happy

Cause when you worry

Your face will frown

And that will bring everybody down

So don’t worry, be happy (now)…..

There is this little song I wrote

I hope you learn it note for note

Like good little children

Don’t worry, be happy

Listen to what I say

In your life expect some trouble

But when you worry

You make it double

Don’t worry, be happy……

Don’t worry don’t do it, be happy

Put a smile on your face

Don’t bring everybody down like this

Don’t worry, it will soon past

Whatever it is

Don’t worry, be happy”

The bottom line: “notification” should not be an issue in most situations involving accounts receivable financing; non-notification factoring is another option that is available for businesses concerned with confidentiality that meet minimum credit standards for asset based lending. Bobby McFerrin was right: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.

Purchase Order & Letter of Credit Financing

Many business opportunities come with an associated challenge. For most entrepreneurial businesses, the greatest challenge is financing the business opportunities created by your sales efforts. What are your options if you have a sales opportunity that is clearly too large for your normal scale of operations? Will your bank provide the necessary financing? Is your business a startup, or too new to meet the bank’s requirements? Can you tap into a commercial real estate loan or a home equity loan in sufficient time to conclude the transaction? Do you decline the order? Fortunately there is an alternative way to meet this challenge: You can use Purchase Order Financing & Letter of Credit financing to deliver the product and close the sale.

What is purchase order financing?

Purchase order financing is a specialized method of providing structured working capital and loans that are secured by accounts receivables, inventory, machinery, equipment and/or real estate. This type of funding is excellent for startup companies, refinancing existing loans, financing growth, mergers and acquisitions, management buy-outs and management buy-ins.

Purchase order financing is based upon bona fide purchase orders from reputable, creditworthy companies, or government entities. Verification of the validity of the purchase orders is required. The financing is not based on your company’s financial strength. It is based on the creditworthiness of your customers, the strength of the commercial finance company funding the transaction, and in most cases a letter of credit.

What is a letter of credit?

A letter of credit is a letter from a bank guaranteeing that a buyer’s payment to a seller will be received on time and for the correct amount. If the buyer is unable to make payment for the purchase, the bank is required to cover the full amount of the purchase. In a purchase order financing transaction, the bank relies on the creditworthiness of the commercial finance company in order to issue the letter of credit. The letter of credit “backs up” the purchase order financing to the supplier, or manufacturer.

Is purchase order financing appropriate for your sales program?

The perfect paradigm is a distributor buying products from a supplier and shipping directly to the purchaser. Importers of finished goods, exporters of finished goods, out-source manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors can effectively use purchase order financing to grow their businesses.

Is purchase order financing appropriate for growing your sales orders?

Purchase order financing requires you to have management expertise- a proven track record in your particular business. You must have bona fine purchase orders from reputable firms that can be verified. And you must have a repayment plan; often this is from a commercial finance company in the form of accounts receivable or asset-based financing.

You should have a gross margin of at least 25% to benefit from purchase order financing. Sellers of services or commodities with low margins, such as lumber or grain, will not qualify.

The bottom line decision for purchase order financing:

It can take two or more years to develop a profitable business. Banks generally base their lending limits on a business’ performance for the past two or three years. Purchase order financing, combined with letters of credit and/or accounts receivable or asset-based financing can give you sufficient funds to cover your operating costs, financing costs and still realize significant profits. If you qualify for purchase order financing, you can grow your business by taking advantage of large purchase orders and eventually qualify for bank financing.