There are many different financing options available to businesses that could use improved cash flow. Two of the more popular options are purchase order financing and accounts receivable factoring. Often times PO financing and factoring are considered alternative financing options, as the process is much faster and easier to obtain than a traditional SBA loan from a bank. While these two methods are related, have similar benefits, and often times can even work together, they still are very different forms of financing.
While both purchase order financing and accounts receivable factoring are great ways of improving your cash flow, the main difference is when you receive the improved cash flow. With PO financing, you receive funding to pay your suppliers with once they provide you with a purchase order. With factoring you get funded once you invoice your customers.
Since the money is out longer, and isn't backed up by a receivable yet, PO financing is typically more expensive than factoring. However, for very large purchase orders, traditional accounts receivable factoring may not be able to provide you with enough cash flow to pay your suppliers so that you can fulfill the purchase order. In these situations purchase order financing may be necessary. As a general rule, accounts receivable factoring is a better way to maintain healthy cash flow for your business, while purchase order financing should be used for extremely large purchase orders.
Another big difference between purchase order financing and accounts receivable factoring is whether or not you are taking on new debt. In the case of factoring you are not taking on any new debt, instead you are selling your receivables at a discount in order to get improved cash flow. With PO financing, you are taking on new debt. PO financing provides you with a loan based on a purchase order. This loan can get paid off if you factor the resulting receivable, or once your customer pays you for the resulting receivable. However, it is still a loan that uses the purchase order, and resulting receivable, as collateral. As a result, you are taking on new debt with purchase order financing.
Since accounts receivable factoring and purchase order financing are both alternative forms of lending, they don't come with the strict credit limits that a traditional loan from a bank would assign you based on your company's credit. Accounts receivable factoring is probably the only form of financing that does not come with any credit limit. With factoring there is no limit to how much your factoring company can advance you. Since factoring is an ongoing relationship, as your receivables grow so does the advance you receive. Factoring is based on your customers' ability to pay, not your own. With purchase order financing, it is typically looked at on a case by case basis and the amount of the advance is limited to a certain percent of the purchase order's value. So similar to factoring, the larger the PO, the larger the loan. However, you will not receive one hundred percent of the purchase order value.
Whether or not you receive credit insurance is another difference between purchase order financing and accounts receivable factoring. If your factoring company offers non-recourse factoring, then that means that you receive credit insurance when you factor an invoice. With purchase order financing, since there is no receivable yet, you are not receiving credit insurance. That said, if your customer you are looking for PO financing on is not credit worthy, then their purchase order may not qualify for PO financing. On the other hand, once a purchase order is fulfilled and invoiced, by factoring the invoice you will receive credit insurance on it.
When you factor an invoice, you are doing much more than just receiving an advance and getting credit insurance, you are also outsourcing your accounts receivable. Your factoring company will perform all of the credit checking as well as collection work. This can result in significant cost savings as you will not need to subscribe to expensive credit agencies and also may allow you to avoid hiring extra employees to manage your accounts receivable. With purchase order financing, most likely the company providing you the funding will still run credit checks on your customer, they do not manage your accounts receivable for you. You are still responsible for sending out account statements and making collection calls.
There is no clear cut answer to this question, it depends on your needs. For most small to medium sized businesses accounts receivable factoring is not only more cost effective but also provides you with additional service such as credit insurance and accounts receivable outsourcing. However, while factoring allows you to maintain healthy cash flow, it may not provide you with enough cash flow if you need to pay your suppliers to fulfill a larger purchase order. In these situations purchase order financing may be necessary.
At DSA Factors we actually recommend using accounts receivable factoring to maintain healthy cash flow and reduce costs. The cash flow you receive from factoring may provide you with enough funds to avoid needing purchase order financing. However, you may still use purchase order financing from time to time as needed. As a result we offer our factoring clients the ability to obtain PO financing when needed.
While there are companies that only provide purchase order financing, they often times may take a week to a month or more to provide you with funding. Typically they only work with foreign suppliers and finished products that are being shipped directly to your customers from overseas. Their interest rates tend to be variable and often times higher than what a factoring company might offer you on a similar loan.
By factoring your invoices and having your factoring company provide you with purchase order financing as necessary, you will most likely receive a better rate and a quicker response when you need purchase order financing. At DSA Factors we make PO financing decisions in a matter of minutes, and can fund you the same day you call us about a PO. We also don't require you to work with foreign suppliers, we don't require you to be purchasing finished products, and you can ship to your customers yourself. Because you are shipping to your customers yourself, if the order isn't for a full container, you will be able to fill up the container with additional merchandise for smaller PO's or just for inventory. Since we will also be factoring the resulting invoice for you, we can also offer you a lower interest rate on the loan you receive and reduce the time that the loan is out for. Plus you get all the benefits that come with factoring, credit insurance and accounts receivable outsourcing.
Another benefit to working with an accounts receivable factoring company is that by factoring invoices on a regular basis, you are developing a healthy working relationship with a financial partner. In the future, as your company's needs change, your factoring company may be able to offer you additional services to facilitate growth. By securing purchase order financing through a PO financing company, it is typically a one-time deal, and you don't get the opportunity to develop a working relationship with them.
To learn more about how accounts receivable factoring and purchase order financing can be used together to help grow your business, give DSA Factors a call at 773-248-9000. We are a family owned and operated business that works with clients nationwide. Whenever you call DSA, you will always be able to speak with a principal, whether it is Ben, Max, or Howard Tolsky. With over 30 years experience offering factoring and PO financing to our clients, we have money to make your company grow!