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Construction

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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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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It is interesting to see certain invoice finance providers now using specialist departments to deal with businesses that operate in the construction sector.

In part this is really good news for businesses that are definitely a part of the construction sector. If they are very much entrenched in contractual debt, applications for payment and stage payments then a lot of businesses would not have a suitable cash flow solution. Now they at least have an option albeit an expensive one with low prepayments. That said it is probably structured and priced according to risk although part of me feels in some instances lenders are taking advantage where they feel they are the only lender willing to assist.

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Invoice finance quotes can differ dramatically.

They can differ in different ways and for different reasons and it is important to compare like with like. We have touched on this elsewhere on this forum and this article is worth a read – http://www.invoicefactoringforum.com/invoice-factoring-quotes-comparison/

However, when considering any invoice finance quote is is important to understand the following:

  • what service is actually being offered. Please remember that a full factoring offer that includes a credit control service and bad debt protection will cost less than a finance only facility.
  • have you considered total costs? different companies charge different fees beyond the headline rates of the service fee and the discounting fee. Some service fees are all inclusive while other companies charge for nearly everything on top of the service fee.
  • What is the quality of the service? Remember you get what you pay for.
  • Is the structure of the facility right for your company? If not then no matter how cheap it is you are wasting your money.

I feel it is important to find the right structure and then properly evaluate total costs to allow a genuine comparison.

 

Construction factoring is a topic that we have covered several times on this forum.

It is a sector that struggles to find suitable forms of working capital finance as banks are reluctant to offer overdraft facilities and invoice finance companies are uncomfortable with the risks associated with the construction industry.

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Single invoice factoring, often called spot factoring, is available via Smart Factoring Quotes.

If you are looking to factor a single invoice or a batch of invoices this is possible. Traditional factoring and invoice discounting facilities typically require a lengthy contract that will attract a service fee whether you use the facility or not.  Spot factoring attracts a simple charge which is a small percentage of each invoice and you can pick and choose when to use the service and which invoices you finance. The big advantage compared to traditional invoice finance facilities is the flexibility – you can access cash when you need it rather than being tied in to lengthy contracts that require every invoice to be notified.

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Invoice Finance companies will typically not provide finance to companies in the construction industry that raise applications for payment. However, at Funding Solutions we have been finding finance for such companies from the very outset. Clients of ours include scaffolding firms, tiling contractors, roofing contractors and various other construction related businesses. If you are looking for finance against applications for payment then give us a call.

Part of this is because they cannot actually take assignment of an application as it is not a legal document whereas an invoice is.

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We have several invoice factoring clients who operate in the scaffolding industry. They have always found it difficult to find invoice factoring companies who want to lend to them because of the industry that they operate in. However, as an industry scaffolders require cash flow finance because the house builders are slow to pay yet wages need paying weekly. On top of that funding for tubing is hard to come by and often has to be hired in at high rates or bought for cash which only compound the problem.

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