George and Mary-Lynn

How To Get Your Customers To Finance Your Business

By Bigg Success Staff
01-18-08 

Bigg on Small Business

money_rose_jpg

You either treasure your customers or you go out of business. Ultimately, customers pay your bills, one transaction at a time. In addition to that, customers can finance your business.

Of course, all industries have standard protocols within which you must remain. Or do you? What if you thought creatively? What if you could find a way to win customers and get funding for your business at the same time?

Look at related industries for ideas. Do they follow the same practices as yours? Talk to your customers. What would entice them to consider a creative payment arrangement?

It may be that the customer helps finance your business by the strength of their credit and the commitments they have given you. You don’t care where the money comes from … as long as it comes!

4 ways customers can get you money fast, even if you have bad credit.

#1 – Customer deposits
Wouldn’t it be nice if your customers paid you in advance? Many businesses operate under this model, if you think about it! Even if only a portion of your revenue is prepaid, wouldn’t it make a huge difference to your cash flow?

A marina owner we know employs this concept. One of his primary sources of revenue is dock rentals. He offers his customers a huge discount if they pay for their entire year’s rental a year ahead. Most of his customers take advantage of this offer. He never worries about cash flow.

#2 – Purchase order financing
What if the customer isn’t willing to pay in advance? You may still be able to get funded upfront by using their purchase order as collateral. This won’t work for just any customer – they need to be a company with good credit. 

To turn this pre-receivable into funding, your purchase order must pass two tests. First, it must be non-cancelable and verifiable. Second, you need a gross profit margin of at least 20 percent.

This is not cheap financing – expect a discount between four and seven percent of the purchase order amount. However, isn’t 93% of an order better than no order at all?

You’ll need to pay your purchase order financier off once the order turns from a pre-receivable to a receivable. That’s where the next source comes in.

#3 – Factoring
If you accept credit cards, you’re familiar with the concept of factoring. You get paid now by a financier who gets paid by your mutual customer later. Factoring is only slightly different. 

Factoring can work in a number of ways – let’s assume that you want to completely outsource your credit and collection process. This is expensive money, but you don’t have to worry about payment. The factor takes care of it! You’ll need customers with good credit ratings.

Depending on a number of factors, expect a discount between one and fifteen percent of the invoice amount. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? However, you won’t wait for your money. You don’t need a credit and collections department. You won’t write off any bad debt. Is it starting to sound reasonable?

#4 – Strategic partnering
What if your customer became your partner? This arrangement has worked for a lot of businesses. Be careful because your relationships with other customers may be affected.

We know a man who owned a specialty printing company. His largest customer was a fundraising company – they sold goods through organizations wanting to raise money. His customer wanted to offer a new product that required special equipment. He negotiated for them to pay for the equipment in exchange for a royalty on all sales produced by that equipment.

The customer effectively got a rebate on all their purchases of that product. Plus, a participation in sales from the machine they bought. The owner had a whole new profit center, with no financial risk.

So look to your customers if you need money for your business. You might get paid even before you make the sale!

How have your customers financed your business? Share your bigg ideas with us!

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(Image of money rose by kissthis, CC 2.0)

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