Retail Credit is being withheld causing many retailers to try to find a buyer for their retail sales contracts. Higher interest and larger discounts are not enough for the finance companies to purchase the contracts. Credit is not offered, as before, therefore to survive in business, it is necessary to have your own in house finance company. If you don’t have one, then you should seriously consider starting one.
It is a self-supporting protection for your business to succeed. Outside finance organizations have raised their requirements so high for that only a few people can now qualify for credit.
Credit Cards have been a source of financing for smaller amounts. That availability may be eliminated with the new laws soon going into effect. The credit card interest and requirements to get a card are higher, and credit limits may be much smaller. Consumers will be looking for retailers with in house financing.
Take the fear out of financing.
The first step in managing your own financing is to select a software program that will successfully support the monitoring and communication functions of a finance company. Financing is the key to business success.
1. Financing is a very profitable business.
2. You can manage your own credit accounts.
3. Double your profit without increasing your sales.
4. Finance is the largest industry in the world.
5. There is almost no cost in generating the business. You have created all the forms and contracts at the time of the sale.
6. You can make the sale and retain Customers Loyalty.
7. Payments will provide daily cash flow. As you add to your portfolio the cash flow will also increase.
8. Interest is charged every day of the year.
Businesses are losing their availability of outside financing. There is no better time to start your financing than now.
Your finance division or company is the “Life support system” for your businesses. The criteria for purchasing an account has not changed for the companies who do their own financing, therefore they are doing business as usual. Many of these stores have gained volume because they can finance sales that the others lose. Larger down payments will make the contracts stronger
A customer who has purchased over the years, and are suddenly turned down for financing a new purchase, can destroy the customer’s confidence and loyalty.
Start your finance division now and each month as you add more contracts your daily cash flow will become sufficient to support your business. If you re-invest your finance profit it will grow at a much faster rate. At that time your business will be self sustaining and will not depend on others to dictate your success or failure.
The leasing industry in Canada has historically been dominated by a number of different types of entities that provide equipment and lease financing to Canadian business.
The types of firms that are the key players in lease financing in Canada can be broken down into the following categories:
Life Insurance Companies
Credit Union leasing firms
Third party Independent Finance Companies – Canadian owner
Third party Independent Finance Companies – Subsidiaries of American firms
Captive Leasing Companies
Bank Leasing entities – Subsidiaries of divisions of Canadian banks
We would venture to say that probably 90% of Canadian business owners and financing managers think of ‘ Third Party Independent Finance Companies ‘ when they are looking to source lease financing for their equipment and capital expenditure needs.
Canadian chartered banks have moved in an out of the Canadian lease financing industry over the years. Currently only two the Big 6 Canadian banks have full fledged separate lease entities that actively market lease financing to their customers. In our opinion the reasons customers choose a bank lease financing entity are as follows;
Existence of a Current Banking Relationship
Dollar size of transaction
Let’s elaborate a bit on those points. Because banks are in the position of having the lowest cost of capital in Canada for business financing rates on bank leasing deals tend to be excellent. On average we would observe that rates on larger deals tend to be 3-4% over the Canadian prime rate. This is excellent pricing, as independent firms tend to price at 4 to 5 to 6% over the Canadian prime rate. That is on average of course because every customer’s credit quality and situation is unique.
Business customers have bank lines and term loan arrangements with their bank. So it is a natural logical extension that they would discuss their needs with their banker, who may, or may not be able to offer a lease financing solution. We indicated that only two of Canada’s chartered banks have full fledged lease entities. Some of the other banks have leasing division, which are much smaller and more specialized in size, and some banks choose to ‘ partner ‘ with third party independent finance firms that are both Canadian or U.S.owned.
We also referenced dollar size as a key factor in a customer choosing a banking lease arrangement. Banks in Canada have virtually unlimited capital, so they certainly can choose to finance any amount they choose.We say unlimited capital, that is a bit of an exaggeration but Canadian banks are currently viewed as some of the strongest in the world re their own credit ratings and capital ratios.
Banks are traditionally a bit slower to enter into the lease financing area, and banks use the function in some respects to develop new corporate banking relationships. In fact we have observed that in the 2009 and 2010 banking environment in Canada the bank lessor in fact attempt to develop a full corporate banking relationship with customers who approach them for lease financing needs.
Leasing is a good source of profit for the banks – the banks tend to make solid credit decisions on assets and corporate credit quality, and lease pricing provides some nice yields compare to some other parts of their business.
Some banks in Canada have, in the past, purchased some of the private independent Canadian lease companies that were getting large and successful or had a specialized market or geographical niche… Banks are often quick to sell portfolios and eliminate leasing divisions when they feel that market conditions suggest that.
In summary, the Canadian leasing landscape is made up of a number of market participants. Banks play a key role, but not a dominant role in the industry. Lease financing via a bank is often a relationship driven arrangement with the business customer’s current incumbent bank. Banks who participate in lease equipment financing have excellent rates but higher credit and asset requirements. Business owners are cautioned to source the assistance of an experienced leasing advisor to determine which leasing arrangement (bank or non-bank) is best for their needs.
Generally, borrowing funds from alternative debt financing sources is more expensive than taking out a traditional bank loan. However, many times companies either do not qualify for a traditional bank loan or credit line or must pay very high interest rates, include a co-signer/co-borrower, and/or attach communal assets. In that case, these alternative sources are excellent financing sources. Remember, banks determine the interest rate charged based on risk. The highest credit grade corporate customers are charged prime. All other businesses are charged prime + a risk factor. If a bank will not provide financing, the perceived associated risk is higher. These alternative funding sources mitigate their risks by specializing in a particular industry or asset class and compensate for this risk by charging higher fees and/or interest rates.
Example- SBA loan.
A data housing firm, Acme Technologies, made the decision to spin off its data management operations in preparation for its strategic acquisition by a larger corporation. The data management division had largely gone unnoticed despite its successful management by the division’s management. Needing to recoup some value from the division, which Acme’s CFO suspected might be terminated by Acme’s acquirer, Acme’s CFO made the offer to sell the business to the division’s management.
Although the division’s management team was skilled in a number of functional areas including sales, operations, and cash management, they had no experience handling complex financial transactions. They needed guidance so they used their network to find an advisor. They approached a U.S. Department of Commerce-sponsored Minority Business Enterprise Center (MBEC) located at a renowned university for assistance. The MBEC assigned a business advisor to help them.
The business advisor advised the management team to create a company to buy the assets of their employer. She then found a lawyer that completed their incorporation documents and successfully registered the company within three business days. Next, she spent hours requesting and compiling documentation to create an Executive Summary, pro-forma financials, and management team resumes to present to banks and direct lenders. Finally, she used her relationships with financial institutions to locate three entities that financed acquisitions and worked rapidly.
The CFO initially gave management six weeks from the time the offer was made to complete the transaction. The business advisor pushed back in conversations with the CFO and wrangled an extension. Several issues arose which the business advisor worked through quickly with the management team.
Two institutions, one direct lender and one community bank, emerged as the front runners. Both were highly responsive and flexible and recommended the use of an SBA loan. The community bank met face-to-face with the management team and championed the other banking functions it could provide, along with the long-term benefits of working with them. Subsequently, the management team opted to obtain financing from the bank.
Five weeks after meeting with the business advisor, the community bank provided a Letter of Commitment (LOC) to finance the acquisition. Three weeks after obtaining the LOC, the management team closed on the financing and the purchase of the division and began operating under the new company name, Acton Technologies.
Many firms benefit significantly from either setting up on their own or partnering with a third part to set up a customer financing program for their products. Key benefits are increased sales, cash flow, customer loyalty, etc.
But are there also some risks for the company to be aware of also – Of course there are and let’s look at some of those risks.
We would also point out that these risks are in fact the same ones taken on by independent leasing firms also.
Foremost from a risk perspective is that fact the customer financing program will be viewed by the customers as the one and same as your company. Therefore customer service and financing ability are in fact now part of your firm’s reputation.
Companies may also find that the borrowing costs to set up a program are in fact higher than their normal business operating costs. Naturally the method in which the finance division is set up also affects the debt levels of your company. No business wants to fail because it took on higher debt in an effort to in fact help their customers!
On a long term basis company lenders might view your firms foray into customer financing as an additional risk factor, which they might try to compensate on by imposing restrictions such as additional covenants, requests for more equity into the firm, etc. The bottom line is simply that setting up a customer financing scenario may in fact affect your own firm’s ability to borrow.
If your firm is larger then analysts and firms looking at your firm might in fact be raising issues and perceptions around which business you are actually in, i.e. your products, or the financing of those products. Business owners and financial managers will always want to ensure that ultimately they are sticking to their core business model and philosophies. If your firm becomes too enamored by financing you possibly run the risk of total business failure. There are numerous cases in financial history where firms collapsed because of the shenanigans of the finance division.
We have heard the term in business ‘sticking to our knitting’, which of course simply means that management needs unique skills to run a business, and those skills are different in financing. Owners and managers related to the customer financing division must have strong skills in financial sales, structuring, and credit… Naturally we are also inferring that additional skilled personnel ultimately must be hired.
No company every wants to look back in hindsight and say that if failed or stumbled because efforts and funds went into financing, as opposed to r&d, marketing, staff, and product growth. Do not let a customer finance program become an obstacle to your ultimate business success
Business owners should ensure that there is good communications between the main operating company and the customer financing division – clear goals and philosophies should be set out re the function of such a customer finance program.
In summary the benefits of offering financing to your customer are very obvious, and proven true by some of the largest and most successful companies in the world – but all you have to do is to do it right! Ensure your firm is aware of the risks and challenges and monitor your customer financing program on an ongoing basis to ensure you are not straying from your core business model.