There are two different types of rates that most factoring companies quote potential clients these days, fixed rate (or flat rate) and adjustable rate. These terms should sound familiar to anyone with a mortgage, and surprisingly they aren't all that different in the world of factoring. In the world of mortgages, a fixed rate remains the same for the entire 30 year life of the mortgage, while with adjustable rate mortgages you get a teaser rate for the first 3, 5, or 7 years and then the rate goes up on you. In the factoring world, a fixed rate means that the rate you are quoted is the rate you pay for the life of the invoice, you don't pay any interest, even if your customers pay their invoices late. With adjustable rate factoring, you are offered a low teaser rate, but you wind up paying interest for as long as it takes your customers to pay back your factoring company. Just like with mortgages, getting a fixed rate costs more than an adjustable rate, but in the long run it will save you money. At DSA Factors we have had a number of companies ask us about adjustable rate factoring over the last few years, but upon doing the math, all of them have chosen to go with fixed rate factoring, which we have been offering to our clients for over 30 years.
Adjustable rate factoring offers you a very low base fee for factoring invoices, often times it can be less than even 1%, but like most things in life, if it's too good to be true it probably is. Once your factoring company funds you for the invoice the clock starts ticking and you start getting charged interest from that time until payment is received for the invoice by your factoring company. They will also add another 5-10 days worth of interest as they wait for the check to clear the bank.
Adjustable rate factoring can be beneficial if your customers pay like clock work and pay early. It also can be beneficial if you don't need immediate cash flow. If you can hold onto your invoices for a few weeks before submitting them to your factoring company to get paid, you can potentially save quite a bit of money as your factoring company won't have the invoices for very long before they get paid. Of course in both these situations you are missing out on one of the primary benefits of factoring, improved cash flow.
Besides the fact that you can face some pretty steep interest charges on your slow paying customers. Your factoring company has little motivation to collect payments for invoices in a timely fashion. If a good customer misses an invoice, which we all know happens from time to time, your factoring company may not bother to notify them until the invoice becomes 30 or even 60 days past due since they can charge you more interest during this time.
Fixed rate factoring is very simple, you are given a rate based on the payment terms of the invoice, and that is the fee you pay regardless of how long it takes your customers to pay for your invoice. While it is true that it will cost more to factor a net 60 day invoice than a net 30 day invoice, you will not be charged any additional fees if it takes a customer 60 days to pay a net 30 day invoice. At DSA Factors we have always offered fixed rate factoring, and while it may be harder to sell the higher rate to prospective clients, we find that it is a much more honest and cheaper option. As a result we have clients who have been factoring with us for over 20 years.
Besides the fact that you aren't being charged interest for slow paying customers, with fixed rate factoring it makes your accounting much simpler as you always know what factoring will cost you and you can easily build the cost into your prices. Plus, since your factoring company does not benefit from late payments, they have more reason to collect in a timely fashion. As a result, they are less likely to turn down reorders due to an account being past due.
If your customers pay early you still pay the same factoring fee. However, if you have customers who consistently pay early, for example if they have 2% 15 net 30 terms, DSA Factors would be willing to work with you to put together an early pay discount program for these customers.
A good way of thinking about adjustable rate factoring is that it is a lot like taking a cab, you have a small flag fall but the meter keeps running until your factoring company gets paid. With fixed rate factoring, it is a lot like taking a limo, you know the price going in, and the service is usually better as well. But don't worry, whichever route you choose, you don't need to give your factoring company a tip!
At DSA Factors we have run reports for our clients showing them what their fee would be with adjustable rate factoring, and while it typically is very similar, flat rate factoring has always proven to be the cheaper option. If you would like to learn more about adjustable vs flat rate factoring please give DSA Factors a call at 773-248-9000 and we would be happy to talk to you about it. We would even be happy to run an analysis on your payment data to see which option would work best for you.