Okay....so you are a restaurant owner. Chances are you’re getting bombarded at least weekly by sales reps, phone calls, faxes, direct mail pieces, strip-o-grams, etc. approaching you with a unique program that can get you working capital based on your credit card sales. Sound familiar? Heads are nodding I’m sure.
Since it is becoming more mainstream every day, I am assuming most restaurant owners are somewhat familiar with what a Merchant Cash Advance is. I am also assuming others are not so familiar. I am writing this in hopes of soliciting comments and questions. I really want to know what thoughts, perceptions, and experiences (have you used this type of funding?) are out there.... both good and bad.
What is a Merchant Cash Advance? Here's the crash course. Well, first of all... it’s NOT a loan. There is no interest rate, APR, etc. It has a fixed cost known as a discount rate. It is a form of factoring or simply put.. a purchase and a sale. Merchant Cash Advance companies (aka the Factor) agree to purchase a percentage of a merchant’s future credit card sales at a discount. In turn, the merchant gets a cash advance (usually from $5K to $200K) against those future sales to inject into their business any way they see fit. In most cases without personal collateral or guarantees.
Because the Merchant Cash Advance company assumes all of the risk (advancing a merchant funds against sales that haven’t even occurred yet) this type of funding does come at a premium. This is where it gets scary. Discount rates range from 20% - 50%.
At some point most restaurant owners are going to need money. They may want to expand, replace broken or outdated equipment, fund an advertising campaign, buyout their bipolar cheez whiz addict evil partner, whatever the case may be. Now, we all know how much banks and traditional lending institutions adore the restaurant industry. That’s right... they roll out the red carpet every time they see you coming. They just can’t wait to lend you money.
Traditional wisdom dictates that when you go looking for money...get the best rate possible. If you can secure bank/traditional money at a good rate and good terms...go for it. It is without argument the best route possible. But for those out there that do not get the red carpet treatment from your bank...where do you turn? Friends? Family? Many have gone that route as well.
A Merchant Cash Advance is simply one more option to explore and it is a viable one. Again, the cost of the funds are high. With that being said...it is not for everyone. If you are needing working capital just to keep your doors open, meet payroll, pay off high interest debt, buy a new Corvette, or float yourself through a seasonal rut.....RUN AWAY! This option is not for you.
But, if you can spend $2 and make $5 or more...it’s very much worth considering. This type of funding absolutely has to be used strategically. There must be a realistic return on investment for it’s use. From my own personal experiences in this industry I have found that most of the business owners I have funded are opportunists. They find a way to make money, save money, or solve a problem with a Merchant Cash Advance. All without the headaches of traditional lending. 70% of them come back for future fundings as well. Many of these business owners are A&B paper, they use our funds to supplement their bank money. For others, the accessibility of the funds simply outweighs the cost.
So, is it Good or Evil? What’s your take?