|Factoring in the Future of a Trucking Business: A StoryGerald Smith let the phone ring on his desk. He let his morning coffee cool and left his cigarette to ash itself in the tray, because he is trying to make the biggest decision ever for his trucking company. Smith Trucking Company was at a turning point of growth and Gerald had to decide if signing with a factoring company was the right way forward.
Gerald’s father had started as an owner-operator and had grown Smith Trucking Company into a fifteen trailer fleet over forty years. There had been some hard times when it seemed everything was going to go under and even Gerald’s mother strapped herself into a cab to make hauls. His father had worked long enough to see the price of hires drop dramatically during the recession and to see the explosion of fuel prices afterwards. But now things were different: the company was in Gerald’s hands and he needed to ensure that this business would be left in great shape for his sons.
There just never seemed to be enough money to go around, and certainly no spare cash, but to move his company successfully into the future he needed a steady and reliable cash flow. His employees needed to be paid. They had families and household bills too. Some of the refrigerated trailers were in need of repairs and he felt to stay competitive it was also a good idea to invest in specialized haulers to be ready for the constant requests he was getting for loads of new energy and agriculture equipment. Every time he had to turn down a request, Smith Trucking looked weak in a very strong market.
He knew what his father would have said – ‘wait, take your time before adding new technology’. Gerald allowed himself a good hard chuckle. He remembered when his father was totally against installing GPS units in the cabs. His Dad would say “Why on earth do you need some stranger telling you to get off the exit that everyone knows has been there for years?” He smiled to himself as he remembered his father poking fun at the other drivers who switched to automatic, even though automatic was quite obviously more efficient (though less manly). His father days were long gone and technology was actually an important improvement for the business such as having Qualcomm to cut down on fruitless time communicating on the phone for bills of lading.
Gerald believed a successful man is always thinking of his next step. What would be the next step for Smith Trucking? And how would he be able to afford it? Funding was all tied up in the mortgage for the office and garage and in the fuel bills. He just finished paying off the small bank loan for installing satellite radio in the trucks for the guys.
He wondered about factoring and utilizing Transportation Factoring Services – was this the answer for him? There was a lot he didn’t understand about the process. It sounded like a ninth grade math problem and he wondered how this would fit into the trucking business. Factoring companies buy your invoices and manage your accounts receivable for a certain percentage of the invoiced amount. The factoring company gives the trucking business its payment right away which allows the business to have continuous cash flow so it can pay employees, buy fuel, and make repairs for upcoming hauls. Without this assistance, you’re placed in the position of waiting for payment from your customers, and this can often be thirty days, or more. During those thirty days the trucking company can’t pay its employees and bills with invoices.
Gerald had to really consider what his next step was going to be. He had heard of companies charging for same day money transfers, advancing a percentage of the money owed to your business, while the rest is held in a private account if the bill wasn’t paid within sixty or more days. Plus it was worse still if the customer didn’t pay up at all because then the factoring company would take it right out of the money supposed to be coming to you! He’d even heard about some companies putting you onto a sliding percentage scale regardless of any previously signed contracts for possibly 3% or 7%, and there you are now with 10% coming as a charge to you out of the freight bill. His friend Ronnie who had a trucking business in Missouri, was run nearly into the ground by a factoring company that charged him the full freight bill on top of the factoring fees. Well, what was the point of going to a factoring company if there was shady business like that going on?
But it turned out to be quite easy. All the factoring companies who are providing Transportation Factoring Services he researched were open about their business practices and very friendly on the phone when he called. Customer service appeared to understand their company and explained in clear, concise English exactly how it all worked. He didn’t mind signing an exclusive contract. He liked the idea of a long term commitment so he knew he wouldn’t have to bother going back and forth to different companies and wasting time filing more forms. Nobody charged him for credit checks and they offered him a fuel advance on the pick-up of the load. In fact there were a few companies who offered him a non-recourse factoring program, and this was exactly what he had been hoping for. Also he was happy to hear how much he was offered in terms of percentages on the freight bills. It sounded like a great scheme to him.
For Gerald it was quite a relief to be dealing with the factoring company. They were extremely helpful and more personable than the bank staff. It seemed as though those bank people spoke another language, but these factoring guys knew the trucking business and spoke to him like a client, not like a beggar for a handout. The factoring companies didn’t worry over his credit and the debt troubles his father had had in the past of the company. Factoring was based on the credit of his customers and on their reliability which worked well for Gerald because he and his father had built up good strong relationships over decades with their list of clients. He knew immediately that there would not be any problems when they were contacted by the factoring company regarding their invoices. His clients wouldn’t think poorly of Smith Trucking and the factoring companies appeared capable of handling the accounts receivable in the same polite manner that his father had used over the years.
Feeling happier now, Gerald stepped out of his office to advise his secretary to expect to receive the contract very shortly from the factoring company. There was a new bounce is his step now: he knew instinctively that this new step would raise the future of his company to a new and higher level, and that all the stress from the past could now be put behind him. He suddenly realized that, with this new cash flow, he could actually expand Smith Trucking Company and who knows, move into Canada, which had always been his dream. His heart felt full knowing his sons wouldn’t have to worry about money because of the right decisions he had made for their trucking business.