Monday, March 26, 2018

Common Invoice Factoring Mistakes You Should Know

matter of invoices
Factoring is used by many businesses to increase their capital. A factoring agreement is where the funding source, called the factor, buys the right of the seller (client) to collect on an invoice at a discount.

The factor usually pays most of the value of the invoice upfront and the remaining balance upon actual payment of the buyer. It is not a loan and helps keep the business cash flow steady. Here are some common invoice factoring mistakes to avoid:

1. Not sending an invoice - This one is pretty obvious, but a lot of companies don’t send invoices. Invoices should be sent for both written and verbal contracts. This is a means to remind your customer that they need to pay you and exactly how much they owe. People tend to have a lot of things going on for them and payables can easily happen.

Invoices are part of your records and if you’re not careful with your accounting practices, you could be at risk of being overcharged by the factor. Make sure you plan for how you account for the advance and fees attached to it.

2. Failing to ask for the maximum limit upfront -The factor will usually appraise your business and set a maximum amount that you can advance. You need to find out how much is available to you before you enter into an agreement. It is important that the amount is enough to fund your business so you that you can look for better alternatives if it is not enough.

On this note, you should also ask how much is the upfront percentage that you will receive. As already mentioned, the factor will pay a percentage of the total advance (75% to 85%) and pay the remainder once the buyer pays the invoice.

3. Not exploring all your options - Just as it is with any aspect in your business, you need to do a thorough research on your options for funding. Different businesses have different needs and thus have different financial solutions. Just because a friend’s business is doing well by using one particular facility does not mean it is good for your business to. Explore your options by finding out what’s available out there, weigh the pros and cons of each option and determine whether or not these apply to your business.

Consider your options before committing to a contract with one funder. Speaking of contracts, don’t commit to a long-term receivables finance contract of several years. You need to make sure that you have the ability to refinance or not and a long-term contract will limit this capacity. Make sure that you have an alternative plan and that you can gracefully exit the agreement and switch strategies when you see the need.

4. Not monitoring your factor’s relationship with your customer - Remember that once you enter into a debtor financing contract, your factor will be the one who will handle collections. They will be the ones who will deal with your customers in terms of invoice payments on your behalf. Make sure that the factor has exceptional customer service. They should make sure that your relationship with your customers remains intact and positive.

A good way to check your factor’s responsiveness and customer service practices is to try out their contact points yourself. Send them an email, give them a call and chat with their chat support and see how well they handle questions and attend to concerns.

One other important issue in this matter is that when you turn over your invoices to a funder, you will lose track of your customers’ payment habits. You will not know whether or not your customers are paying promptly. You will also not be able to keep track of your cash collection cycle. These are things you would want to think of when considering invoice factoring as a financial solution.

5. Invoice factoring vs. invoice financing - Make sure that you are entering into an invoice factoring agreement and not one for invoice financing. The difference between the two is that for invoice factoring you are turning over collections of your invoices to the factor as a third party in the sales contract with your customer. Invoice financing is where your invoices are merely used as collateral for a loan from the financing company.

It is also important to note that as a business owner, you should not turn to invoice factoring as a solution for every small setback in your business finances. Note that most invoice factoring finance companies have higher interest rates compared to business cash flow loans. However, it is easier to procure invoice factoring than it is to get a bank loan.

6. Failure to understand all the terms of the contract - Make it a habit to read everything when you are running a business. This is particularly important in contracts because you will be binding yourself to these terms and you will be held liable for any violations or non-conformity. Read the fine print, make sure that there are no hidden fees or conditions that were not made known to you upfront.

Be sure that you know the term requirement or whether you are required to meet monthly minimums. Find out what will be the penalties if the terms are not met. Determine these factors before you enter into an invoice factoring contract.

Business is not a simple, one-sided operation. There are so many factors to consider and this compilation of common invoice factoring mistakes will hopefully help you make sure that your business runs as smoothly as possible.

Whatever your business decisions are in terms of funding, debtor factoring etc, the most important factor to consider is whether or not you do need to bring in a third party into your business relationships. Consider the benefits as well as the risks and continually weigh these extremes because things and circumstances change. What you need now may not be what you need in six months or a year.

Aside from regular self-evaluation of your business practices and standards of procedure, take into consideration your customer. Are they happy with your practices? A good business standard is to make sure that your customers don’t just buy from you once. They should want to keep coming back to you to buy more.

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