Thursday, June 18, 2009

Factoring Can Help Cash Flow

Managing cash flow is a major consideration for many businesses. Cash flow, in essence, is a balance of money coming into the business and money going out of the business. Money comes into the business when goods or services are sold. Money goes out of a business to pay for things like inventory, payroll, capital expenditures, and more. Cash flow management can be tricky and even well-established businesses can have a hard time managing cash flow from time to time.

Fact: when businesses extend credit (which occurs anytime a business has to send an invoice for products or services), it will have 10 to 20 percent of its annual sales stuck in accounts receivable. That’s a significant amount of money each year!

When a business needs assistance managing their cash flow, the business can turn to a variety of resources, including banks and other lenders. However, many businesses either can’t get funding through a traditional lender, or would prefer to get funding through alternate means. Factoring is an alternate mean that is very appealing for many businesses. Factoring, in essence, is “cash without borrowing.”

Here’s How Factoring Works

A business sells its accounts receivable (outstanding invoices) to an investor (factor) at a discount rate – usually of about four percent). The factor then collects the money from the customer. Because the business sells the accounts receivable at a discount, the investor is able to collect on the discounted margin. That margin is generally based on a percentage of the total cost of the invoice, but may also be based on a flat rate.

Factoring is a very common practice that has been around for thousands of years, according to Vital Force Factoring. It is generally a business-to-business service, but consumers also use factoring systems anytime they make purchases with a credit card. In the case of a credit card arrangement, the credit card company will pay a retailer for goods when a consumer makes a purchase. Therefore, the credit card company, acting as a factoring agent, serves as a middle man and is in charge of managing payment for a product or service. The factoring system works in much the same way as a credit card system in business-to-business transactions.

Benefits of Factoring

Many company, such as Florida-based First Capital, are in business to buy receivables in exchange for immediate cash – as much as 97 percent of the total amount of the invoice. Some businesses use factoring for funding when they are unable to get bank loans or loans from conventional lenders. In a pinch, some businesses even use factoring to pay for inventory, payroll, and other immediate needs.

Factoring can also help businesses to improve their invoice collection rates as factoring companies handle all aspects of accounts receivable for a company. Some businesses enlist the help of factors if they are unable to collect on an invoice. The factoring company will then use its own resources to collect on the invoice, allowing both the business and the factoring company to receive payment.

Many factoring companies will also perform credit checks on new customers in order to determine the risk associated with engaging in a partnership with the new customer. This credit check can also help businesses to assess a credit amount or interest rate for the new customer.

When looking for a factoring company, look for a company that has a high advance rate for invoices, offers fast payment on invoices, has appropriate invoice management tools, and has a good reputation for collecting payment from customers. It may be helpful to review several different factoring companies before selecting the company that’s best for your needs.

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