It’s a good news/bad news situation at its classic best. Your firm has the ability to receive orders or contracts but you are challenged with restrictions or unavailability of inventory and PO (purchase order) financing. Financing a business based on assets such as inventory and orders in coming has never been more of a challenge in Canada.
When we speak to clients we advise there is no one method that seems to handle all inventory and P O finance challenges. But the good news is that via a variety of effective business financing tools you can employ you are in a position to generate working capital and cash flow from these two asset categories. Let’s examine some real world strategies that have made sense for clients.
The root of the problem is simply, you have orders and contracts, but those will potentially be lost to a competitor. Conventional wisdom is that you go to your bank and ask for financing to support inventory and purchase orders. As you may have experienced, we aren’t big believers in conventional wisdom on that matter!
However, utilizing a convention purchase order funding source does allow you to purchase product and get your suppliers paid, thus facilitating you ability to deliver to your customers.
One of the main benefits that many clients don’t realize is that inventory financing and P O financing don’t necessarily require your firm to have a long or strong credit history; the focus on structuring the transaction is around the inventory being financing and the general credit worthiness of your client, who will be paying yourself or the inventory or P O financing firm
The overall process is fairly simply and easy to understand when it comes to putting the transaction together successfully. On receipt of your confirmed purchase order your supplier is paid via cash or a letter of credit. Your firm of course completes final shipment of the product, which typically involves some additional time on your firms part. On shipment and of course payment from your customer the transaction is in effect settled. In a true pure po financing scenario the P O funder is paid immediately on your invoicing of the product. That is facilitated by your firm selling the receivable via a factoring type transaction as soon as you have generated the invoice.
There are always limitations to this type of financing – so things we look for early in the transaction are the ultimate remarket ability of your product in case there is a transaction risk. Naturally, as we stated, the overall credit worthiness of your customer is key, his receipt of goods and payment in effect closes the transaction.
Inventory financing and PO financing are generally more expensive than traditional financing, due mainly to the significant transaction risk that the lender takes. Therefore we strong recommend that your firm has solid gross margins in the 25% range to cover the associated costs of a po financing, inventory financing transaction that also factors in the time it takes to get paid by your client, as that typically adds 30-60 days on to the whole cycle of the transaction.
If there is one great tip of ‘ secret’ that we share with clients its simply that the best method of ensuring financing in the manner we have outlined is to consider an asset based line of credit. Coupled with a facility that will finance your purchase orders this is the ultimate working capital tool that will allow you to grow business quickly and significantly. This type of facility is generally a non bank facility and is offered by independent finance firms.