About Invoice Factoring
Perhaps you've heard about Invoice Factoring but you're not sure how it works or how it might help your business. The purpose of this post is to provide a clear explanation of what Invoice Factoring is and how it works.Basically, Invoice Factoring is a viable alternative to traditional financing methods, providing your company with fast access to working capital. There's no large debt to repay and there are no strings attached. It probably sounds too good to be true, but we can assure you it's not! Invoice Factoring has become a lifesaver to many businesses, so let's go into this a little further to see how Invoice Factoring might help your business go from just so-so to really great!
How Invoice Factoring Works
A very brief definition of invoice factoring is that it converts your open invoices into immediate cash, which of course sounds perfect if you're experiencing a cash flow problem. Factoring saves you from having to wait the 60 or 90 days (sometimes even more) for payment by your customers. With invoice factoring you have the flexibility to factor whichever invoices you want and however many invoices you need, to ensure you have enough cash on hand to grow your business.
The following is a short description of how the process works -
Once you and your chosen factoring company have reached an agreement and set up your account, you're now free to begin submitting copies of your unpaid invoices to the factoring company. These invoices must be for products that have been delivered or for work that's been completed. With invoice factoring you simply continue invoicing your customers as usual, then fax or email a copy of the invoice directly to your factoring company.
Now here's the good part! You'll receive a cash advance within 24 hours! Once the factor has verified your invoices, a deposit of as much as 95% of the value of the invoices will be deposited directly into your bank account.
You continue working as per usual, and the factoring company works to collect on your accounts. It's now your factor's responsibility to engage in the active collection of these accounts, thus allowing you more time to focus on the big stuff, like providing your customers with excellent service and continuing to grow your business.
As a customer of the factoring company you can repeat this process with as many different clients as you want and as many times as you want. You may choose to factor all of your clients, or just the clients that are known for being slow-paying clients. The choice is yours!
The Benefits of Invoice Factoring
Once you're working with an invoice factoring company you'll have control over your cash flow, and more importantly, you'll have a working relationship with your factor that will help your business grow in lots more ways. Let's take a closer look at some of the ways a factoring company can help you grow your business -Credit Checks and Background Verification
It's important to all businesses that they work with honest, reliable customers; customers who have a solid payment history. Sales must be turned into revenue as quickly as possible. However, we know that credit checks and background verifications can be very expensive and these costs very quickly eat away at your working capital. Now, it will be your invoice factoring company who provides these checks for you, at no additional charge. This means that any issues will be addressed before they affect your business, thus ensuring that you're working with top-quality customers.
Credit Repair and Credit Building
Even if your business credit is less than perfect, you can still apply for a competitive invoice factoring program. The benefit of this to the business owner is that, not only will factoring your open invoices cover your daily operating costs, it will also help pay down any current debt in order to rebuild your credit rating. The good news is that start-ups also qualify for invoice factoring so, if you're just getting your business off the ground, factoring is the ideal financing alternative to help you hit the ground running.
Other Money Saving Opportunities
Invoice factoring can certainly save your company money, and it's not only with competitive rates. By negotiating with your suppliers for early-pay discounts or other payment incentives, you'll soon discover new ways of putting your rejuvenated cash flow to good use. And don't forget that, depending on how much you factor, you could well qualify for a volume discount, and this will further reduce your rates.
Steady and Consistent Cash Flow
When you begin factoring your invoices you'll be able to regain complete control of your working capital. Whether you're simply tired of waiting up to 90 days for money that's owed to you, or perhaps your business is subject to seasonal fluctuations, either way, invoice factoring is the ideal method for regulating your cash flow.
Now You Can Start Dreaming Big!
You may have become used to business being steady, but with invoice factoring you'll have the opportunity for business growth in many new ways .
o You'll be able to attract larger clients, with better contracts;
o Increased business marketing efforts;
o New technology investments, or upgrades;
o The ability to employ more staff;
o Training and further education programs for existing staff;
o Relocation of your business, or site expansion.
Finally, No More Debt!
One of the most attractive things about invoice factoring is that it's not like a traditional loan: it won't add additional debt to your balance sheet. In fact, it's actually the opposite; because Invoice Factoring provides you with the extra cash you need to be able to settle old debts. With factoring, it's already your money so there's no money to pay back and no interest to pay. All factoring does is help you get your money into your bank account - quicker!
Why Haven't I Heard of Invoice Factoring Before?
This is a question a lot of business owners ask. Invoice factoring certainly isn't new, but maybe it's just been overshadowed in the past by bank loans and other types of business investments. The fact is that factoring goes right back to the days of the Roman Empire, where factors assisted businessmen (usually farmers) in growing their business. Then, later, it was used in the textile and clothing industry to help pay for raw materials, to finance transactions, and accept larger purchase orders. Today, invoice factoring is used by many different types of industries, such as:
' Staffing, HR
Becoming Familiar with Factoring Terminology
Don't be discouraged because you don't understand factoring terminology. See below for an explanation of general factoring terms :
' Account Debtor:
An account debt or is your customer.
' Accounts Receivable Ageing Report:
This is the name given to a report which shows the financial figure of unpaid receivables, in addition to how long they've remained unpaid.
' Accounts Receivable Factoring; also known as Invoice Factoring:
These two terms can be used interchangeably because they mean exactly the same thing.
' Discount Rate:
This refers to the percentage of the invoice charged by the factor as a fee for advancing funds.
' Due Diligence:
This refers to the background research carried out by the factor to determine potential customers.
' Factoring Advance Rate:
This rate is a percentage of the invoice that's advanced within 24 hours to the client - this figure is generally between 80 and 95% of the total amount of the invoice.
' Factoring Broker:
A factoring broker is a third party whose position is to connect business owners with appropriate factoring companies in order to meet the business's goals and needs.
The right to retain possession of property until a debt has been discharged.
' Non-Recourse Funding:
Most businesses have experienced customers who fail to pay their invoices within the agreed payment terms, or worse, the invoice is never paid at all! Non-Recourse Funding is when the factor assumes all responsibility for unpaid invoices. Because the factoring company is accepting the risk, Non-Recourse Funding is more expensive than Recourse Funding.
' Recourse Funding:
With Recourse Funding, your company must buy back the receivables if your client fails to pay within the agreed payment terms.
This is the amount of the Accounts Receivable retained by the factor until such time as full payment has been made by the customer.
' Spot Factoring:
This refers to a one-off agreement that offers staffing companies the ability to factor just one single invoice.
Your Customers, and Factoring
It's important that we point out here that factoring is not a negative thing, and your factoring company is definitely not a collections agency. In fact, it's important to your factoring company that they maintain good relationships with both you and your customers, and it's their aim to provide the best customer service possible. It's in your factoring company's best interests that the factoring process works as smoothly as possible.
The following will give you a general idea of how factoring works :
' Once you've made the decision to start invoice factoring, your dedicated account manager will start by verifying that your debtors are indeed customers, in addition to advising them of your new remittance address. It's important to remember that it makes no difference to your clients where they send their payment: they know their invoice must be paid, so this is simply a change of address for payments.
' Your factoring account manager will be very experienced and will assure your clients that they'll be well taken care of, and that the factoring company will be managing your invoices in future by taking over your accounts receivable. And that's all there is to it! Nothing will change between your company and your customers: you'll still invoice them as usual, and they'll simply forward their payment to a new Post Office box. Your account manager will be available to help if any problems should arise.
What You Should Look For in a Factoring Company
Once you start doing your own research you'll discover that there are many factoring companies out there, but they're definitely not all equal. The following are points to consider when comparing factoring companies:
As we've explained, factoring is a little more expensive than a traditional bank loan, but some small businesses don't qualify for a bank loan, so being able to achieve some working capital is better than none at all. Do your research, and make sure you understand the overall cost of factoring, in addition to the extra smaller fees that may be charged by your factor. These extra fees may include account set-up fees, application fees, credit reports, costs to research any liens, charges for last-minute funding, or for money transfers. Not all factors charge these extra fees, and not all factors have hidden fees, which means that it's very important that you choose a factor you're comfortable with and one that you can trust.
This is a very important aspect of factoring, and one we can't stress enough. Make sure you very carefully read the fine print of your factoring contract! If you start working with a factoring company and then realize that you're locked into terms that don't suit your own particular circumstances, you're going to be extremely unhappy. These unsatisfactory terms might include how much you're able to factor each month, or being tied to a specific factoring company for the life of your business. If you sign up for a long-term contract, then change your mind, it's going to be a very expensive exercise trying to get out of the contract. Don't let this happen to you! Be very clear on how much you can factor each month, which clients are eligible for factoring, and how long you're signing up for.
At one point or another we've all had to deal with a business with poor communication skills, and we probably all agree that it's extremely frustrating. So, imagine a business with poor communication skills that's also handling your money! Naturally, when it comes to your business and your money, you need someone that's going to immediately respond to your inquiries. All factoring companies are going to say their customer service is second-to-none, but be very cautious here. Pay close attention to when and how your potential factoring company responds to your calls and emails, because this is how they'll be responding to your customers. If you're not 100% happy then move on to another factoring company, because there are certainly plenty to choose from!
' Industry Expertise
Remember that there are many factoring companies out there servicing many industries, so you should be looking for one that services your own industry. Ideally, you'll choose a factoring company that specializes in your niche, which means that they'll already understand a lot about your business. The bonus of using a factoring company with industry expertise is that they may also offer programs specific to your industry, such as fuel cards and back-office support. It's these extras that may prove very beneficial when making your final decision on a factoring company.