Although factoring volume exceeded $112 billion in volume in 2005, which represented a 9.3% increase over the prior year, many decision makers tend to either employ other methods or choose not to go after additional financing to grow their business. If a company is either in a high-growth mode or is experiencing serious cash flow issues and is not able to establish a working line of credit with a bank, why wouldn’t they turn to factoring? There are three main concerns and objections that many decision makers have that can be overcome with educating the customer about the product.
Concern #1: Cost
The reality is that the cost of factoring is expensive compared to other types of financing (typically bank loans or lines of credit). If a company has the credit standing to get a bank line of credit that offers flexible terms, they should do so. If they have overextended their line or don’t qualify altogether and need additional capital to expand the business, the CFO should at least crunch the numbers to see if factoring is a viable option. There are some industries that experience low margins and slow payers. In general, factoring probably isn’t a good option for those types of companies. If, however, the margins are higher (over 12%), factoring may be a good way to take advantage of new sales opportunities and increase profits. Factoring fees can range anywhere from 2% to 4% per month depending upon several variables, including average dollar amount per invoice, credit standing of the debtors, and the average time it takes to collect the receivables. If a company enjoys the size of margin that can easily cover the factoring fees, it makes perfect sense to employ this type of financing, rather than forgo incremental profits and lose market share to a competitor.
Concern #2: Customer Perceptions
This is a concern with most prospects that are unfamiliar with factoring. The issue centers around notification and collection. At the inception of a factoring relationship, each account debtor is notified that a secured party (the factor) has taken title to invoices in which they owe payment. The letter also states that all present and future invoices due must be paid directly to the factoring company until otherwise notified by the factor. This is necessary to do this because if protects the factors collateral and to be protected by the UCC. Many business owners worry that they will be perceived in a negative light when the customers get these notices. There is no reason to worry. Factoring is hardly a new form of financing. Many industries (manufacturers, distributors, apparel & textile, trucking, and temporary staffing) rely on the services a factor provides. Factors only interact with customers on a random basis, mainly at the inception of the relationship.
Several large companies such as Walmart, Costco, and Target, have internal divisions within their accounts payable department to work with those vendors who factor their receivables. Should a customer who is unfamiliar with factoring question the notice and ask what is going on, the owner or manager only needs to tell them they have chosen to use a company to manage and finance their accounts receivable.
Concern #3: Losing Control over Receivables
Some people feel that allowing a factor to collect their receivables takes control away from them. A prospect should consider that a factor has provided an advance on a piece of paper and until they collect from the customers, they have nothing. However, it would be counterproductive for a factor to be overly aggressive in collecting receivables and risk alienating the customer base. Factors typically work hand in hand with the client to collect receivables and oftentimes allow the company to make collection calls. When payment is substantially late, the factor’s staff will likely make collection calls, but normally in a professional and courteous manner. A good factoring company will provide the client with comprehensive aging and performance reports, as well as credit screening for new customers. In effect, the client will not lose control of their receivables. They will actually be more on top of things because of the enhanced services the factor offers.
If more decision makers were educated about the benefits of receivables factoring, they would likely take a look at how it could help expand their business. Traditional lenders can’t always provide the solutions, so it makes sense to keep an open mind to alternative forms of financing.