With so many factoring companies out there to choose from, picking the best factoring company for your business can seem a daunting task. However, knowing what sets factoring companies apart can make the process much easier. Here are some of the questions you need to ask when choosing the right factoring company for your business.
Perhaps the most important question to ask is what your factoring fee will be. In general fees are given as a percent of an invoices value. Factoring rates can vary based on the terms you offer your customers. Typically, factoring companies will quote rates for net 30 day invoices, so if you offer net 60 or net 90 it is important to let the factoring company know that. Of course, you don't just want to go with the company offering the lowest rate without analyzing what they are offering you. There are different types of rates, additional fees, and different services that each factoring company offers. Obviously, you want to get the best deal, but in the same way that you wouldn't just purchase the cheapest car on the lot at a car dealership, you also don't want to just sign up with the factoring company who offers you the lowest rate. For more details on factoring rates, check out our blog article How to Find the Lowest Rate for Accounts Receivable Factoring. At DSA Factors our factoring fees are very similar to a credit card processing fee.
There are two different types of rates that factoring companies can quote you, fixed rates or adjustable rates. Adjustable rates are great for marketing as they sound incredibly low, while fixed rates are about 2% higher on average. However, don't be deceived by an incredibly low adjustable rate, there is hidden interest charges that you aren't being told about.
The easiest way to understand the difference between these rates is to compare them to taking a limo or a taxi to the airport. A fixed rate is like taking a limo, you are quoted a higher rate but that rate will not change, even if you get stuck in traffic (or your customer doesn't pay on time). In general, with fixed rates, you also receive better service, just like you would expect from a limo. The only difference between fixed rate factoring and a limo is that limos tend to be more expensive than cabs, but fixed rate factoring tends to be cheaper than adjustable rate factoring.
Adjustable rates are similar to taking a cab. The rate that is quoted to you is basically the same as the flag fall, it is simply the minimum amount you have to pay to factor an invoice. Then, the meter will start running, either from the day your factoring company funds you, or the date of the invoice. The meter stops once your factoring company gets paid by your customer and the payment clears their bank, typically an additional ten days from when they receive payment. So while the initial rate may seem very low, the actual rate is much higher, especially if you get stuck in traffic (or your customer pays late). Just like a dishonest cab driver, there are even some factoring companies that will allow a skipped invoice to go 30-60 days beyond terms before contacting your customer since you will be paying the interest on it.
To better understand the similarities and differences between these different rate structures, please read our article Fixed Rate vs Adjustable Rate Accounts Receivable Factoring. At DSA Factors we always offer fixed rate factoring so you always know exactly how much factoring will cost you and you will get the lowest rate.
Recourse vs non-recourse factoring is perhaps one of the most important details you need to look at when choosing a factoring company. With non-recourse factoring, your factoring company is providing you with credit insurance on your receivables. This means that if one of your customers is unable to pay, it is your factoring company who is out the funds. If you are factoring with recourse and a customer is unable to pay, then your factoring company can request that you return the funds that they advanced to you. Typically, non-recourse factoring is only available to wholesalers and not to service providers, however not all factoring companies offer non-recourse factoring. You can learn more about non-recourse factoring by reading What is Non-Recourse Factoring? At DSA Factors we offer non-recourse factoring to our wholesale clients.
Reserve is funds that your factoring company holds back until they receive payment from your customer. Typically, factoring companies will hold back between 10%-20% of the invoices value in reserve. Oftentimes this is advertised as an advance rate of 80%-90%. If 10% is held in reserve, then the advance rate is 90%. The reason for reserve is to cover your factoring company in case a customer takes deductions. Even with non-recourse factoring, while your factoring company is offering you credit insurance, you are still responsible for customer satisfaction. Choosing a factoring company with a low reserve rate, or high advance rate, is important if you are relying on factoring to improve your company's cash flow. You can learn more about reserve and advanced rates in our article Factoring Your Receivables at a High Advance Rate. At DSA Factors we want to help your cash flow as best we can so we are proud to offer a 90% advance rate.
In order to factor an invoice, your factoring company must first approve your customer. Factoring is not a loan, your factoring company is purchasing your receivables, so your factoring company is actually extending credit to your customers. As a result, before you can factor an invoice, your factoring company needs to first look up your customer to determine whether or not they are credit worthy for the amount of the order. Partnering with a factoring company who offers high approval rates is important because if your factoring company turns down an order, then you won't be able to sell to your customer. While approval rates can vary from industry to industry, in general here at DSA we have a 95% approval rate. Although most accounts that get turned down are because they are past due and later get approved once payment is made.
Most factoring companies will charge you additional fees in addition to the normal factoring fee. While they should be upfront with you about these fees, they may not tell you about them unless you ask. Most factoring companies will charge a transaction fee when they fund you, and this fee can vary based on the payment method (check, ACH, or wire). However, your factoring company may also allow you to hold onto invoices for several days so that you aren't paying them transaction fees every day. Some factoring companies charge fees for credit approvals or setting up new customer accounts. Most factoring companies also charge an application fee, and it is important to know if this is a one time fee at the start of your relationship or if it is charged each time you renew your contract. Monthly or annual fees are also not uncommon. Some factoring companies may even require you to pay for other products they offer even if you don't use them. Even if a factoring company offers you a very low rate, if they are charging too many fees then the actual factoring rate may be much higher. It is important that you work with a factoring company that does not charge you lots of fees. At DSA Factors we do charge transaction fees for payments made via ACH or wire, but there is no fee for payment made by check. We also have a one time application fee that is required only at the start of our relationship.
Most factoring companies can fund you in as little as 24 hours, although some may take longer. If you are relying on factoring to improve your cash flow, then you need to partner with a factoring company that offers a quick turnaround time. At DSA Factors, if we receive your invoices by noon Central time we can fund you the same day for them, invoices that come in after that get funded the following business day. For new clients, we can get you set up and start funding you in as little as 24 hours.
Some factoring companies require all of your business to be factored while other factoring companies allow you to choose which accounts you want to factor. If you have good accounts that consistently pay you early for your invoices, or prefer to pay with credit card, then you may not want to factor them. When a factoring company allows you to choose which invoices get factored, this is known as Spot Factoring. Even if you plan on factoring all your accounts, it may be a good idea to partner with a factoring company offering spot factoring since your needs may change in the future. At DSA Factors we offer spot factoring to all of our clients, allowing you to choose which accounts you wish to factor.
Many factoring companies have minimum volume requirements, meaning that you are required to factor a certain amount of invoices in a particular period of time. For example, they may require you to factor $500,000 per year or $50,000 per month. If you do not reach these volumes, then they will charge you an additional fee based on the difference between the minimum volume and your actual volume. Oftentimes these minimum volume requirements are prohibitive to startups, smaller companies, and seasonal industries. It is important that you ask about minimum volume requirements as they typically are not advertised. At DSA Factors we never have any minimum volume requirements, and we are always happy to help out startups and small businesses.
Many factoring companies will lock you into a 1-year or multi-year contract. During that time, you will not be able to switch factoring companies, stop factoring, or receive a loan from a bank without being required to pay additional fees to break the contract. If your volume decreases during the term of the contract and your factoring company has minimum volume requirements, then you may be liable for paying these fees as well. Many of these contracts automatically renew if you do not notify the factoring company within a specified period of time, and many factoring companies charge renewal fees. It is important that you find a factoring company that doesn't have a term to their contract so that your business has the flexibility that it needs to adapt to changes. At DSA Factors, our contract has no term to it, you can stop factoring after 3 months, or factor for 20 years or more without ever having to sign a new contract.
Some factoring companies offer purchase order financing in addition to accounts receivable factoring. Purchase order financing provides you with a short term loan so that you can pay your suppliers in order to fulfill a large purchase order. While factoring provides you with improved cash flow, it is limited by how much you have in open receivables. If that is not enough to cover a large purchase order, or it would prevent you from selling to other customers while that order is being produced, then you may wish to consider using purchase order financing as well. PO financing is more expensive than factoring, and it is debt, but if you can't fulfill a large invoice and grow your business with factoring alone, then it can become a very valuable tool. PO financing companies will be unable to work with you while you are factoring, so if you want to do both you need to work with a factoring company who also offers PO financing. At DSA Factors we offer PO financing to our clients and will work with them to minimize the expense of PO financing.
Most factoring companies are owned by banks or international corporations. However, there are still a handful of smaller, family-owned factoring companies. The difference of course is whether you will be dealing with an account manager or principal of the business. As you can probably imagine, a small, family-owned factoring company will provide you with much better customer service, and a principal will be able to do a lot more for you and work with you in ways that an account manager would not be able to. If you are a startup, small business, or growing business, it is probably very important that you work with a small, family-owned factoring company as they will be able to provide you with the flexibility and personal attention you need to grow your business. As a small, family-owned business, whenever you call DSA Factors you will always be able to speak with one of our principals.
These days almost all factoring companies offer you an online portal. It is important that you understand what exactly is offered through the portal. The most common offering is allowing you to request credit approvals, and some companies may even offer automatic online approvals. Reporting is also usually offered online, such as real time aging statements, or the ability to pull remittance on past payments. Your factoring company may even offer your customers the ability to make payments online. Even if you still may prefer to speak with your factoring company over the phone, it is important to know what types of conveniences they offer through their web portal. At DSA Factors we offer all of these features and more, best of all, if there is something you would like to see on our portal, you can tell Ben and he will try his best to make it available to you.
Perhaps one of the most important things to ask a factoring company is if they work with your industry. If they don't then perhaps they may be able to refer you to a company that does. While most factoring companies work with a wide variety of industries, there are some specialized industries such as construction, medical, and government work that require specialized factoring companies. At DSA Factors we specialize furniture, bedding, giftware, housewares, textiles, apparel, and food, but also work with service providers and many other industries.
Having a bank loan or line of credit will definitely make it difficult to work with a factoring company, but it is still possible. Typically, banks will place a lien on all of your receivables, making it so a factoring company is unable to purchase them. However, some factoring companies are willing to work with banks by creating an intercreditor agreement allowing them to factor either select invoices or all of your invoices. If you have a bank loan or line of credit you should inform any factoring company that you speak with about it to see if they are willing and able to work with your bank. Just keep in mind, just because a factoring company is willing to work with a bank, does not mean that a bank is willing to work with a factoring company. At DSA Factors, we're always happy to work with your bank on an intercreditor agreement. Some of the banks that we have successfully worked with in the past include Chase Bank, M & T Bank, and National Bank of Canada.