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There are more and more lenders entering the market of constrction factoring. This should be good news for construction companies and it may well be, however, there are some real potential pitfalls for companies that use this form of finance.

For many construction contractors this form of finance may present a real lifeline and an opportunity to finance growth but it is imperative that you understand how it works and how charges can mount.

One frustration I have is that businesses who are on the fringe of the construction industry can be assisted by more traditional factoring providers. Unfortunately lenders with specialist construction factoring products will ‘force’ these businesses down this route as it reduces their risk, reduces their exposure, increases their fees and ultimately provides a better return for their shareholders. There seems to be little benefit for the business that is ‘forced’ down this route.

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The permanent recruitment sector has historically been neglected by the invoice finance industry. There was a time when the industry would not finance perm recruitment companies.

So why was the perm recruitment industry neglected?

It was neglected because of the perceived risk involved in dealing with invoices that related to permanent placements. With temporary recruitment the rates are agreed, work is completed, timesheets are signed and invoices are raised. If the hours are multiplied by the agreed rates correctly there is very little that can be queried. In comparison, an invoice for a perm placement is raised when the candidate starts work and sometime before they have even started. What happens if the candidate does not show up on the first day? What happens if they walk out after their first week? What happens if the company finds they are not suitable and let’s the candidate go? Typically there are various rebates due depending on when they part company. As such there is no guarantee that invoices raised will be settled in full if at all.

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Recently we were approached by a landscape gardener than needed assistance in raising some working capital. The family owned business has issues as they were working for the well known house builders. These clients would take a long time to pay and in the meantime they had to pay their workers weekly.

They had approached their own bank who were unable or unwilling to provide an overdraft facility. They referred them to their invoice finance arm who were unwilling to assist as the business was considered to be in the construction industry as they were required to submit applications for payment to the house builders like any other contractor. From there they had approached several independent invoice finance providers who were unwilling to help for the same reasons. The landscape gardener then approached us at Funding Solutions UK.

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Arrangement fees for factoring have crept into the industry in recent years. If you look back at historical comparisons between invoice factoring and overdrafts they would typically say that arrangement fees were payable on an overdraft facility and not on an invoice factoring facility. However, this is no longer the case. Some lenders charge an arrangement fee, a legal documentation fee and a ‘take-on’ fee. The take on fee is the service charge applied to the debts in existence when the facility commences. For example, if you have a debtor book of £500,000 and a service fee of 1% then the take on fee will be £5,000 on day one. Add to this the arrangement fee and legal documentation fee and the first day of your factoring facility is an expensive day at the office!!

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The best factoring company for your business will depend on the unique characteristics of your business and importantly on your own requirement.

The main aspect of any factoring companies proposition is the structure of their facility, service levels and pricing.

Structure of a facility

It is imperative that the facility is structured to meet the needs of your business but some lenders may not be able to structure a facility to meet your needs. Some lenders have a credit policy that will not allow them to finance any debtor that exceeds over 25% of your total ledger. If you have one large customer that accounts for a large proportion of your sales ledger or all of your sales ledger such a lender would prove to be restrictive. You will need a lender that does not have such stringent criteria when it comes to concentration limits. Another example can be exports. Some lenders will simply not finance export sales so if you have export sales or are looking at export sales than you need to consider a lender that can finance those sales. Smart Factoring Quotes understand the capabilities and requirements of each lender in the market.

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If you are looking to finance a recruitment business you are in luck as there are several options open to you especially if you are providing contractors or temps that complete time sheets. That said, if you are a permanent recruitment company there are also several options that are available to you.

If you are a recruitment company thatis paying wages weekly against signed time sheets there is a good chance your clients are only paying you monthly at best. Recruitment businesses or notoriously cash negative for this very reason and if you have a fast growing recruitment business this problem is only compounded.

So what finance solutions are available to you?

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If you are looking to improve your business cash flow their are a few things that you can do and we will talk through these separately. In essence you are looking to speed up the flow of cash into the business while slowing down or eliminating the flow of cash out of the business. Let’s take a look at the different areas that can assist:

Credit control – if you are offering credit terms to your customers then it is important to ensure that you are paid on time. You have provided a good service or product and you are entitled to be paid. You have even been generous enough to offer credit terms so it is not asking a lot to be paid on time. Slow payers can have a real impact on the cash flow of your business. In reality if you are dealing with large organisations that have payment runs, etc.. it can be hard to dictate payment terms but you should still stay on top of it. Efficient credit control improves cash flow and importantly reduces the risk of bad debts.

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As a small business factoring can be an ideal solution for your working capital requirements. Factoring does not require you to be well established or even profitable. To qualify for a factoring facility it is more important that your business has the right processes in place, is in a suitable sector and has good quality customers.

Processes

A small business needs to ensure that it’s invoicing procedure is suitable for invoice finance. This means you should create a good audit trail. Agood audit trail for a factoring facility will differ from business to business. For a wholesaler it will include a purchase order, a proof of delivery and an invoice raised in arrears of the delivery. A temporary recruitment company will have a signed agreement, signed time sheets and then invoices submitted on the back of those timesheets. The key is to prove that your product or service was requested, prove that is was delivered to the satisfaction of the customer and as already described that the invoice is then submitted in arrears of the service or product being provided.

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