We feel sorry for you. Your firm is not in the service industry. They are the lucky ones with respect to inventory financing – there is no inventory! Unlike your business, which produces goods and carries inventory to meet customer order needs your services firms have no storage requirements!
If your firm has an investment in inventory then financing for that asset is often, if not always, vital. Financing via bank credit lines for the inventory component of your balance sheet is always difficult, if not in some cases impossible. Most business owners and financial managers know that of your two major current assets ( receivables and inventory ) that banks prefer receivable, aka a/r financing.
So how do you finance your inventory, and what are the requirements to get such a facility in place? The reality is that every business is different and your firm will have different categories of inventory – most commonly they are raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods.
Inventory financing in Canada is most often financed under an ABL facility. What is ABL is the next question our clients always ask. The acronym stands for asset based lending, and is a specialized type of financing that is mostly carried out by non bank institutions. Facility sizes tend to range from 250k and up, as it is not really economical for all parties (you and the lender) for finance amounts much under that.
Your ability to control, report, and purchase inventory most economically are key drivers in an inventory financing decision made by your inventory financier. Your ability to monitor, stock, and produce and bill and collect are the basic requirements for an inventory financing facility. We would point out that in many cases this facility also includes a receivable component, because, as we all known, inventory flows into a receivable which flows into… dare we say it… cash!
If you are unable to finance your inventory properly you can very easily get into what can best be describe as a ‘ cash trap ‘- and that’s not a good trap to be in. Typically each one thousand dollars of inventory on hand can cost you between 150 and 250 dollars per year when you take into account some obvious and not so obvious factors such as financing costs, storage, handling, insurance, and deterioration of the inventory which by its necessity forces you to do an asset write down.
The irony is of course that you can have too much inventory or too little, it’s a balance act.
When you arrange inventory financing you want to ensure you have reasonable levels of product – so you need to focus on both financing cost and order costs.
If you have inventory financing fast efficient turns are potentially more possible and you annual carrying costs can be dramatically reduced- don’t forget that the cash you invest in inventory could be put to work elsewhere and in many cases earn, for example, at least 12% more in profits. That’s a very typical number for a manufacturer.
Financing inventory is a challenge – you want to be able to take advantage of volume discounts, but at the same time limit your investment in inventory while satisfying customer order needs. Whew! That’s a real teeter totter don’t you think?!
Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced business financing advisor who can guide you through inventory financing in a manner that supports your business and industry. Beating the inventory financing challenge is a solid financial accomplishment.