Factoring Funding

What Every Freight Broker Should Know About Factoring

Invoice factoring has been around for thousands of years and can be traced to the 18th century B.C. Babylonian king, Hammurabi. Over the past 10 years, transportation intermediaries are directing more and more of their carrier payments to factoring companies ‐ anecdotally, we hear as much as 80%. At Triumph Business Capital, we’ve processed carrier payments for over 500 freight brokers, and our experience is consistent with those reports.

Why Now?

It starts with economics. Lots of new capital has flooded the commercial finance sector, and many new factoring companies have entered the transportation space. And, why not? The collectability of a freight bill is terrific. As a result of increasing competition, carriers are solicited daily with factoring offers of high advance rates (the percentage of the freight bill advanced at time the invoice is sold or “factored”) coupled with factoring fees that are a fraction of what they were 10 years ago. In fact, factoring fees are typically at or below the same pricing which many brokers charge for quick pay.

The quality of factoring services has improved as well. Many of the top factoring companies offer online credit services, fuel purchase programs, equipment and insurance financing and mobile technology applications. The factoring industry has come a long way, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the difference between recourse and non‐recourse factoring? And, how does it affect me?

A. Recourse means the factoring client is ultimately responsibility for the payment of the invoice. Non‐recourse factoring allows companies to sell their invoices in a style in which the factoring company assumes the credit risks. Often misunderstood, non‐payment for legitimate disputes (such as shortages, claims, late delivery, etc.) remain the responsibility of the client regardless of contract form. The style of a carrier’s factoring contract should have no impact on the freight broker.

 

Q. What is a Notice of Assignment and do Freight Brokers need to acknowledge them?

A. The Uniform Commercial Code (§ 9‐406) outlines the business and law underlying the invoice factoring industry. The ability to assign payment obligations (accounts) from the
broker (account debtor) to a factor (assignee) was a purposeful and intentional provision that the UCC drafters identified to provide businesses with opportunity to raise working
capital. Remember, the assignment of pay proceeds is separate and distinct from the assignment of services or other responsibilities in a legal contract (i.e., Broker‐Carrier
agreements). Payors cannot restrict the assignment of proceeds and are subject to double‐payment liability if they choose to ignore proper notification. Notice of
Assignments (NOA’s) can be presented by an invoice “stamp”, separate communication (letter) or both. Once you have been “effectively noticed” all payments must go to the
factoring company, whether the invoice has a stamp or not, and regardless of any claims by the carrier whether or not a particular invoice was factored. Never stop sending
payments to the factor until you receive a release letter, which the factoring company should be willing to provide

 

Q. What makes a Notice of Assignment binding? Is a signature required?

A. The effectiveness of an NOA is a question answered by case law, but the practical guidelines are simply and widely accepted. The account debtor is not required to
acknowledge the NOA with a signature and, even if there was a signature, it might not be clear as to whether the person signing the NOA had the proper authority to do so.
So, you don’t have to sign them – but that doesn’t really matter. Once an account debtor sends payment to the factoring company, it’s broadly understood that they did so based
upon receiving notice. (Why else would you send money to someone other than the carrier who hauled the freight?) If you pay a factoring company one time, then the NOA
is probably effective and you’re most likely bound by its terms. Now, you can refuse to use carriers that work with factoring companies, or even certain factoring companies,
but you can’t ignore a valid NOA once received.

 

Q. Am I obligated to pay a carrier’s factoring company if we haven’t received a Notice of Assignment.

A. Short answer is No. With more and more “online” or “cash advance” lenders entering the space, this question is more likely to come up than you may realize. A business may
grant a factor or lender a security interest in its accounts receivable, and perfect that security interest by filing a UCC financing statement. Security interests establish priority
among secured creditors, but do not impact payment remittance. It’s all about assignment and your receipt of effective notification of that assignment.

 

Q. Does the presence of a factoring company restrict our ability to offset future payments for claims?

A. Frankly, there’s a lot of “urban myth” surrounding this subject, but it ultimately depends on the broker‐carrier agreement. UCC § 9‐404 provides the factor (assignee) with certain
protections against claims and defenses – but only to the extent that the contract was silent on those provisions. Generally speaking, the broker’s obligation to the pay the
factor are identical to the contractual obligations for paying the carrier. As a practical (and ethical) matter, the factor is entitled to the same level of communication regarding
claims and setoffs that you would reasonably provide the carrier.

 

Q. What can be done about factoring companies which report slow payments and delinquencies to credit reporting agencies, regardless of how timely those payments are sent?

A. There are two primary reasons for unfair credit reporting: the U.S. Postal Service and bad factoring companies. Mail times are continuing to deteriorate, and payors using mail
service providers are likely experiencing additional delays. If you’re committed to mailing your payments, utilizing the “Intelligent Bar Code” will reduce USPS time and
processing errors. Alternatively, most reputable factoring companies will accept payment by ACH or wire, particularly if your TMS or accounting system can provide
reasonable instructions for correctly applying those payments.

 

Q. What about the “bad actors” in the factoring community, who are unreasonable, annoying and difficult to deal with?

A. The International Factoring Association (IFA) is an engaged trade organization which is elevating its constituency through education, best practices and advocacy. Over 450 IFA
members ascribe to a Code of Ethics and the organization actively responds to inquiries and disputes. You can contact the IFA at (800) 563‐1895 or info@factoring.org.

Invoice Funding

Making Sense Out of Carrier Payments

Freight brokers pay carriers – that’s what you do.  You do it for fuel advances and again when the load’s settled and billed. You pay when it’s due and sometimes you pay quick.  You pay by fuel card, by express check, by bank draft, by paper check.  And mostly you pay factoring companies – after they call to verify the load, again to check for advances and yet again to collect.  You’re ready to pay the trucks who’ve been with you forever, the one that showed last week and the one which may still call back.  You pay carriers – but is that what you do best?

New Technology, More Options

Large industrial firms have been outsourcing vendor payments for decades. It’s become a standard practice in medical, hospitality and government contracting.  The consistent premise is to operate your business within your business systems, and to have your systems feed payment instructions to payment processors – seamlessly, safely and cost effectively.  That’s the goal.

The evolution of technology integrations has also resulted in a proliferation of financial solutions.  Some of these solution structures make particular sense in certain industries, not so much in others.  Some providers offer credit capacity, others focus only on technology solutions.  Just to make things more confusing, the terminology isn’t consistent.  But overlooking the labels just a bit, we can identify three general categories of payment processing solutions.  For purposes of this road map, let’s call them Dynamic Discounting, Supply Chain Finance and Virtual Card Payments.  And, of course, there are combinations of the three, but let’s get started anyway – paying particular attention to what makes sense in for-hire transportation.

Dynamic Discounting

The simplest form of payment processing involves an arrangement between a buyer (such as a freight broker) and vendor (carrier) whereby payment for goods or services is made early in return for a reduced price or discount.  Dynamic Discounting has been primarily a technology service offer with the following characteristics:

  • Transaction unchanged between buyer and vendor
  • Servicer may or may not provide credit or liquidity
  • When credit is provided, it’s most typically in the form of a loan structure (to buyer)
  • Often combined with other tech-based services, such as freight bill auditing

We haven’t seen huge impact of Dynamic Discounting in the trucking space, largely because of the complexity.  Most truckers are happy with two payment terms: standard and quick.  The market saturation of factoring companies has probably simplified quick pay requirements as well.

Supply Chain Finance

Often called “Reverse Factoring”, the basic premise is that buyers (freight brokers) can become more attractive to their vendors (carriers) by incorporating working capital options from the onset. Unlike traditional factoring, where carriers sell their accounts receivable, reverse factoring is a financing solution initiated by the broker to help its carriers to finance their open accounts more easily and at a lower cost than what would normally or otherwise be available.  In Europe, where factoring is more prominent than in the U.S., Supply Chain Finance has become more prevalently adopted than traditional factoring.  Characteristics include:

  • Cost benefits to both buyer and vendor
  • Proactive alternative to “Factor Fatigue”
  • Optimal in markets where buyers deal with a large number of small vendors and can rely upon the payment processor to minimize onboarding costs

Our company’s payment processing platform, which we call TriumphPay, is a form of Reverse Factoring or Supply Chain Finance.  There are a few other very good products coming to the transportation intermediary market in this style as well.  From a broker’s perspective, the quality of the carrier experience, and consequently their rate of adoption, will largely drive the cost saving benefits to be realized.

Virtual Card Payments

Despite several transaction models, this is a style of B2B payment processing that uses a single-use credit card number. Virtual card payments have become extremely popular in certain industries and offer distinctive advantages to buyer, including fraud deterrence and revenue opportunities.  However, processing costs are transferred to vendors which has resulted in limited adoption in other industries.

  • Highly controlled, buyer-centric process
  • High adoption rates in stable and/or contractual vendor communities (i.e., hospitals/medical providers)
  • Low adoption rates in markets with high factoring penetration

To be fair, Virtual Cards are a valuable tool to have in your payment processing toolbox.  You’ll need to determine whether it’s a platform you lead with or use to supplement other transaction models.

Outlook

Payment processing options are coming.  If the U.S. trucking industry is similar to other markets around the world, it will be coming quickly. But please understand, these are customized solutions that can be tailored to fit your business like a glove.  The more time you invest in learning about the various structures, including their relative strengths and weaknesses, the better equipped you’ll be to make these financial products works for you.

 

 

Increase Cash Flow

3 Quick Ways to Increase Cash Flow

Cash is king. You know this as well as anyone else. Without cash, you can find yourself in some pretty uncomfortable situations, like not having enough money for payroll, or making late payments to vendors and bill collectors.

So what can you do to manage your cash flow effectively? Let’s take a look at three quick and easy ways to increase your cash flow—and help you sleep at night.

1. Sell or lease unused assets

You paid good money for your assets and, even if you’re no longer using some of them, it’s time to put that investment to work again. Take an inventory of the assets you’re not currently using and consider selling or leasing them.

How do you shed the assets? Use your industry contacts, such as suppliers, to find buyers or lessees. Also search for websites that specialize in auctions for your industry. For assets with significant value, contact a business broker.

2. Deposit additional cash into interest-earning accounts

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. Let the banks work for you for a change. Deposit any cash you won’t need for a while into an interest-bearing account so it can grow. Look for an insured account with the highest interest your financial institution offers and let your money sit there.

Here’s a tip: If you’re concerned about locking your funds away in a long-term account like a certificate of deposit, consider a money market account instead. Money market accounts offer greater interest than regular savings accounts, while still giving you access to your funds. After all, cash flow is what you’re after—not more restrictions.

3. Factor your receivables

Invoice factoring is perhaps one of the smartest cash flow solutions out there. In fact, this is how many other small to mid-size businesses manage cash flow effectively.

You may be asking yourself: How does invoice factoring work? Here’s how. Simply send your invoices to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital and we’ll fund the money straight to your bank account—usually within 24 hours.

Keep in mind that we verify the creditworthiness of your customer. If the customer has a history of missed or late payments, the invoice may not be approved for the financing.

Get paid today

We believe that getting paid shouldn’t be the hardest part of your job.

When you factor your invoices with Triumph, you’ll also gain access to a host of back office solutions. Solutions like free credit checks to make sure your clients have the ability to pay; and collection services to get your money from those who won’t pay.

Ready to get started? Factor your invoices with Triumph Business Capital and get paid today.

 

Invoice Factoring

Debt Collection vs. Invoice Factoring: What’s The Difference?

It’s not only been days, but weeks—or even months—since you performed work for your client, and you still haven’t received payment. Sound familiar?

As a professional, you need to be paid on time. You’ve got people to support and bills to pay. You may be considering using a debt collector to secure payment from your customer. Or, you may have considered proactively factoring your invoices with a trusted, credible factor. But which one is the smarter option. Are there any hidden implications you should be considering before making your decision?

The answer is yes. There’s actually a huge chasm between debt collection and invoice factoring. Think through these three key differences before reaching out to either one.

1. Purpose

The primary purpose behind using a debt collector is very different from the reason you’d use an invoice factor. While invoice factoring involves current unpaid invoices—no more than 30 days old—debt collection deals with invoices that are at least 60 days past due.

Debt collection

If you’re still trying to get paid months after you’ve completed the work, it might be time to check in with a debt collection agency.

Invoice factoring

If you prefer timely payment for your work instead of relegating your receivables to the bad debt file, you’ll want to connect with a reputable invoice factor like Triumph Business Capital.

One of the benefits of working with an established and reputable factor like Triumph is that we’ll not only factor your invoices; we’ll also provide a host of back office solutions—including debt collection—to ensure that you get paid on time for the work you perform. Welcome to the best of both worlds.

2. Funding timeline

How much longer are you willing to wait to be paid? The difference between how long it takes a debt collector to get funds to you and how quickly an invoice factor sends you funds can be a game changer.

Debt collection

You’ll be paid, but only after the collection agency receives payment from your customer. That can take time—if it happens at all. Add an aggressive process that can alienate customers, and you may decide that engaging a debt collection agency just isn’t worth it.

Invoice factoring

With factoring, you simply sell your invoices at a small discount and get immediate cash for your business. How fast? You get paid before the factor receives any money from your customer—usually within 24 hours.

3. Fees

How much are you willing to pay to be paid? In an ideal world, the payment conflict wouldn’t exist. But in today’s environment, unfortunately, you often end up either arm wrestling your customers or throwing up your hands—a sure sign of giving up altogether.

Debt collection

When you hire a debt collector, you’ll likely pay a hefty 25% to 30% collection fee—which still beats giving up 100% of an unpaid invoice! But there’s an even better option.

Invoice factoring

Getting paid shouldn’t be the hardest part of your job. Invoice factoring isn’t free, but weigh its small price against its great advantages: you’ll receive an immediate payment from the factor—usually 70% to 100% of the invoice—followed by any remaining balance (minus a fee) as soon as the factor collects full payment from your customer.

Get paid today

Factor your invoices with Triumph Business Capital to get paid today.

When you factor your invoices with our team, you’ll also get access to a host of back office services like credit checks to make sure your clients can pay, and collection services to get your money from those who won’t.

Ready to get started? Factor your invoices with Triumph Business Capital today.

Invoice Factoring Service

Get Paid On Time While Maintaining Business Relationships

Let’s face it, money can get in the way of any relationship, whether business or personal. And small or mid-size business owners like you never want to compromise relationships with customers or vendors.

But without the funds to pay your bills on time, how can you avoid damaging your relationship with your vendors? And how can you demand timely payment of your invoices without jeopardizing your relationship with your customers? What’s a small to mid-size business owner to do?

Managing cash flow takes diplomacy—and these three industry secrets.

1. Set up mutually beneficial payment terms

If, for example, a customer refuses to pay an initial deposit, but wants you to work on a large project that won’t be completed for months, you can negotiate progress payments. As you reach the agreed-upon benchmarks, you’ll receive partial payments, at least enough to cover your overhead and project costs. This will keep your contractors and vendors happy.

Your customer will benefit, too, by making smaller periodic payments instead of paying a huge lump sum upon completion, or even a hefty deposit with a large final payment.  

2. Pay your bills on time

Another key point is to pay your bills on time—always. Set up automatic payments so you never miss a bill payment. Timely payments go a long way toward improving your credit and your credibility. Vendors and contractors appreciate on-time payments and may even give your account preference over other businesses.

On the other hand, late payments can be a black mark against your business—vendors may not be as willing to work with you, and may stop extending credit or services.

3. Offer discounts for quick payment

Everyone likes to save money! Offer a discount off the top of your invoices if your customers pay within a specified period instead of waiting 30, 60, or 90 days to submit payment. Many will jump at this chance, and your offer will generate good will with them. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Get paid, today

Still struggling to get paid by your customers so you can pay your vendors? Invoice factoring can be an easy and effective way to manage cash flow while maintaining—and even improving—business relationships.

Simply send your invoices to a reputable factor like Triumph Business Capital so you can get paid today. When you factor your invoices with Triumph, you’ll get 70% to 100% of your funds upfront. And as we collect full payment from your customers, we’ll then pay you the remaining balance on your invoices, minus a small fee. In the end, you’ll get the cash you need to pay vendors and creditors quickly.

Since 2004, Triumph Business Capital has helped thousands of small and mid-size businesses manage their cash flow effectively. When you factor your invoices with our team, you’ll also get access to a host of back office services like credit checks and collections: We’ll make sure your customers can pay you, and we’ll get your money from those who won’t.

Ready to get started? Factor your invoices with Triumph Business Capital today.

image of two people high-fiving

Cash Flow Gaps? Boost Your Bottom Line with Invoice Factoring

You’re running a small or mid-size business and that takes money—lots of it. But coming up with the capital you need, when you need it, can often pose significant challenges—like how to meet payroll, pay vendors, upgrade equipment . . . the list goes on and on.

So how do you manage cash flow effectively? Let’s explore some common business cash flow problems and what you can do to turn those problems into productivity and profit.

4 common small business cash flow problems

1. Meeting payroll demands

As a small business owner, you know that payroll can take a large chunk of your budget each and every month, if not every week. At best, many small business owners lose sleep over payroll; at worst, some lose their business entirely.

Bankruptcies in the U.S. increased to 25,227 companies in the second quarter of 2016, from 24,797 companies in the first quarter of 2016. That’s a staggering number of businesses that closed shop in just this year alone.

Perhaps you can still keep your doors open, but just by a crack. You’re struggling every payday to meet the financial demand. You’re bound by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—laws that set the minimum wage and establish guidelines regarding overtime—as well as state payday laws outlining when employees must be paid. No matter how much you want to treat your employees fairly, if you can’t meet those requirements, you could be in for it.

An employee who has a payroll grievance, whether about regular pay, overtime, or vacation pay, can submit a complaint against your company to the appropriate state or federal agency.

The result? An investigation by the agency, which may, in turn, lead to financial penalties, the loss of your business license, or a lawsuit against your company. Your business could be liable for back pay, fines, or other financial judgments—not to mention the collateral costs and work disruption associated with such investigations.

2. Maintaining a flawless credit score

Since your credit score plays a key role in the viability of your business, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on this number. At the very least, get a free credit report each year and make sure the information is both correct and current. You can request removal of any negative information after seven years, but don’t forget that you’ll have to wait up to 10 years for a bankruptcy to drop off your report.

If your credit score is less than a perfect, get back on track with these simple steps.

  • Pay your bills on time—always. Arrange automatic payments on every debt so you never miss a payment. Timely payments determine up to 35% of your score.
  • Keep open all accounts that are in good standing. These older accounts positively influence your length of credit history—about 15% of your score.
  • Apply for a credit card—but read the fine print for interest and fee information. Most importantly, only use the card for small charges you can afford to pay back every month.
  • Keep a low debt load—carrying more than 25% of your limit will increase your debt-to-income ratio and damage your score. Pay the bill on time and in full each month.
  • Don’t apply for more credit accounts than you need. If you must open new lines of credit, don’t try to open them all at once. Prospective lenders will check your credit, which lowers your score, and these pings stay on your record for two years, accounting for 10% of your score.
  • If you have a dispute about a debt, be proactive to communicate with the lender.  If all else fails, take the issue to small claims court before the debt gets into collections. Avoid lawsuits and judgments, too.
  • Review your credit report often, disputing incorrect information. You can get one free report each year, but monitoring its accuracy more often may be worth the cost as you’re rebuilding your credit.

3. Surviving slow-paying customers

You know the drill—you deliver your end of the bargain; you invoice; and then you wait . . . and wait . . . and wait to be paid. All the while, you have overhead costs to cover, vendors clamoring for their money, and employees who need to be paid on time.

Maybe your payment terms are net 15, but your customers insist on their terms—net 30, 60, or even 120. You don’t want to lose their business so you reluctantly agree. Fair? Not at all. And, as you well know, waiting to get paid can have serious financial consequences, like not having enough money to run your day-to-day operations, much less expand your business.

You could, of course, apply for a line of credit or get a loan to help carry you through the month, but will you get approved? And with the piles of paperwork and myriad backup documents required—not to mention the back and forth with the bank—you could be practically out of business before the bank makes a decision, much less actually gives you the funds your business needs. And let’s face it: you simply cannot afford to wait all that time only to be turned down.

4. Avoiding unnecessary debt

“Debt” is a nasty four-letter word to a small or mid-size business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years, mostly because of insufficient capital, poor credit arrangements, and—you guessed it—too much debt.

Unfortunately, debt can be accumulated rather quickly when trying to boost cash flow or finance growth. Perhaps a business loan could help, but loans must be repaid—and with interest, which can add up significantly.

Fact is, unnecessary or additional debt can be the first step on the slippery slope toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy or even “Closed!”

Fortunately, you can utilize financing solutions other than bank loans—options such as invoice factoring—that won’t incur that four-letter “D” word or burden your business with additional cash flow hardship.

How to overcome cash flow gaps

With potential hazards lurking around every financial corner, how can a small or mid-sized business overcome cash flow gaps and boost its bottom line in this economy—or any economy?

Alternative lending

You could opt for cash flow solutions like alternative lending, but that can prove costly. If your loan is a payday loan, your payment will be withdrawn from your checking account every single day. If the money isn’t in your checking account, you’ll accrue additional fees, increasing the payoff amount and delaying the payoff date—damaging your bottom line by keeping your business in debt and paying exorbitant interest longer than expected.

Merchant cash advance

You could also consider a Merchant Cash Advance, which charges you based on your projected sales. But this, too, can be costly—and risky. If your future sales don’t meet your projections, you could end up repaying more than you actually sell, and at a high interest rate. While invoice factoring offers a genuine cash flow solution by purchasing your existing invoices, a merchant cash advance can actually add to your stress.

Invoice factoring

Invoice factoring answers each of these financial challenges. Here’s how it works.

You simply sell your invoices, minus a small discount, to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital. After checking out the creditworthiness of your invoiced customer, the factor advances 70% to 100% of the invoice amount to you as immediate cash for your business.

In a recourse factoring agreement, you’re likely to see 100% advanced, while a transportation company with a non-recourse factoring agreement would likely see a 90% to 97% advanced, and a small business with a general factoring agreement would likely see 70% to 95% advanced. And when you customer pays the invoice, the factor remits the balance, minus a fee, to your business.

So instead of waiting 30 to 120 days—or even longer—to receive your customer’s payment, you get cash in hand within 24 to 48 hours.

Triumph offers both recourse and non-recourse invoice factoring for approved clients. With non-recourse factoring, you’re not liable if your customer doesn’t pay your invoice for credit reasons. Since the factor assumes all risk with non-recourse invoice factoring, your business reduces bad debt while increasing cash flow, even if your customer never pays the invoice.

Here’s why invoice factoring might be right for your business.

Get more cash for immediate needs

Invoice factoring helps relieve payroll pain, giving you ready cash to meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payroll. Need to stock up on supplies? No more waiting for your customers’ payments so you can purchase supplies or pay vendors. How about the rent or mortgage payment? Invoice factoring can take the stress out of meeting all your first-of-the-month commitments.

Get more cash for growth opportunities

With invoice factoring, you can expand operations, hire more staff, or develop a new product line. Your customers’ unpaid invoices no longer hold your business hostage, stifling your progress. And unlike a conventional loan, there’s no limit to the amount of financing with Triumph. The cash you receive for your invoices is unrestricted—you don’t need Triumph’s approval to use it for whatever your business needs.

Get more cash without more debt

Sure, bank loans or lines of credit could shore up your finances. But would your business be approved? How long would that take? And at what cost? Invoice factoring gives your business the cash you need quickly and easily. It doesn’t show up on your balance sheet as debt and your business won’t have to make onerous interest payments. Invoice factoring doesn’t negatively impact your credit score either.

Let Triumph help you boost your bottom line today

We believe that getting paid shouldn’t be the hardest part about your job. Since 2004, Triumph Business Capital has helped over 7,000 small and mid-size businesses in the U.S. manage their cash flow.

As your partner, we’ll factor your invoices so you can get paid today—and make your financial challenges a thing of the past. And in addition to helping you manage cash flow through invoice factoring, we offer a host of other business services thourgh our parent compmany Triumph Bancorp to help you do what you do best.

Asset-based lending

Does your business need $1 million or more? Triumph Commercial Finance Business Capital offers asset-based lending (ABL) solutions for small and mid-size businesses. As your company steps up to this next level, Triumph Commercial Finance may be your best option for continued growth.

Defined as a loan or line of credit secured by balance-sheet assets (“collateral”) such as accounts receivable, inventory, etc., ABL typically costs less than invoice factoring. However, its loan underwriting process also has more requirements, including CPA-reviewed or -audited financial statements that reflect favorable earnings and tangible net worth. Additionally, ABL can be more restrictive than invoice factoring.

Equipment financing

Triumph Commercial Finance also specializes in equipment financing for the construction, refuse, and transportation industries—so you can upgrade your operations to grow your business or expand your footprint. Loans for purchasing new or used equipment range from $250,000 to $6 million, and loan terms are typically two to five years.

Back office solutions

Invoice factoring at Triumph Business Capital includes a slew of helpful back office solutions like free credit checks, collection services, data storage, and more. It’s our goal to help you reduce overhead costs and simplify your operations.

Take the guesswork out of taking on new clients. Triumph Business Capital offers free credit checks to help you make informed decisions before signing a new contract. And our online portal gives our trucking clients access to freight broker credits that we monitor daily.

After you’ve provided the contracted goods or services, our Account Resolution team will ensure that you receive timely payment. What’s more, Triumph Business Capital provides account management reports online—conveniently available to review at any time—so you can make smart business decisions based on your actual data (ageing reports, collection reports, etc.).

Insurance services

Need insurance at competitive rates? Triumph Insurance Group Business Capital offers a wide range of insurance options for the transportation industry, as well as damage protection for new and used equipment. Get the property and casualty insurance coverage that’s right for you—and at the best price, with affordable payment options.

Let’s get you paid today

Triumph Business Capital is committed to helping small and mid-size businesses manage cash flow and so much more. End late payment worries and slow cash flow problems. Factor your invoices and get paid today with Triumph Business Capital.

Have questions about invoice factoring or Triumph Business Capital? Please leave us a comment below.

Business Factoring

How Much Does Invoice Factoring Cost?

Don’t you love that feeling—you know, the one you get when an invoice pays? With invoice factoring, you don’t even have to think about processing invoices, and you can forget about having to wait 30, 60, or 90 days to receive your client’s payment. You can actually get paid today.

The many benefits of invoice factoring

No more invoices to process, no waiting for clients to pay, and immediate cash in hand—invoice factoring simplifies your bookkeeping experience and helps you get paid on time every time.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The factor advances most of the invoice amount—usually 70% to 90%—after checking out the credit-worthiness of the billed customer. When the bill is paid, the factor remits the balance, minus a transaction (or factoring) fee.”

The benefits of invoice factoring are many, but how much does it actually cost? In this article, we’ll explain everything you always wanted to know about invoice factoring (but were afraid to ask).

Non-recourse factoring vs. recourse factoring

With non-recourse factoring, the factor assumes all the risk of collecting the debt. That’s a lower-risk option for small companies that can’t absorb the cost of unpaid invoices, but it does cost slightly more than recourse factoring.

Larger corporations often favor recourse factoring because, if a customer fails to pay, they can afford to return the funds they received from selling the uncollectible invoice to the factoring company.

Aside from the cost differential between the two, there are times when the cost differential is not justified by the credit risk being taken.

For example, if you’re selling to WalMart or the Federal Government, the chances of either one not paying because of credit reasons are quite small. Thus, paying a premium for non-recourse starts to look a little less attractive. If you do elect for non-recourse factoring, pay special attention to the Security Agreement that you’ll be required to sign and make sure you ask the factor to specifically go over when you will be covered and when you will not be covered from credit risk.

Whether you opt for a non-recourse or recourse factoring agreement, if your customer pays the invoice in 45 days or less, your total factoring cost with Triumph Business Capital would average approximately 3.9% of the invoice. However, different factoring companies determine what fees they’ll include, and these fees can drive up the cost of their services.

 

Factoring fees

The paragraphs that follow explain the most common fees that many factors charge. Remember that fees vary from factor to factor, so check with your factor before getting started.

Application/Due Diligence Fee

Some factors charge this fee some do not. Those that do not may recover this upfront expense by increasing the initial financing fees. This fee varies highly from factor to factor and can cost anywhere from zero to thousands of dollars.

Closing Fee

The factor retains a percentage of each invoice, typically 1–3%.

Monthly and Termination Fees

Some factors may require that you sell a certain amount of your invoice each month and sign a long-term contract. If the monthly target isn’t met, a minimum monthly fee will be charged. Terminating the contract early can trigger a cancellation fee—typically a percentage of your line of credit.

Discount Fee

The cost of paying for your invoices in advance can vary anywhere from 1.5–5% of the invoice value each month. This wide disparity is yet another reason to check with your factor before jumping into a relationship.

Factoring Fee

If your invoices go beyond the 30–45 days covered by the advance discount fee, you can expect an additional charge of 2–3% or more for every 30 days that the receivable is outstanding beyond the original 30 days. Some factors may prorate the fee daily, while others may charge on a 10-day basis.

Triumph’s Factoring Fee depends on your unique factoring agreement. Our factoring experts considering whether you’ve chosen recourse or non-recourse factoring, the credit quality of your customers, and more. But in general, let’s say you decided to factor a maximum of $3,000 with a 95% advance rate over a 90-day repurchase period. Meaning, you’d get paid $2,850 within 24 hours of signing your factoring agreement, and the final 5%—sans standard factoring fees—after 90 days. In this scenario, you’re likely to see an initial 0.40% factoring fee totaling $12.

While the scenario we just presented is common, it’s important to remember that your factoring fee will vary depending on the terms of your factoring agreement.

How does Triumph Business Capital compare to other factors?

Now that we’ve broken down the fees, let’s get into specifics. While not all factors are entirely transparent with their pricing, we’re an open book. The last thing we want to do is surprise you with a fee. Here’s how our pricing structure compares to other popular factors you may have heard of.

Other companies charge flat advance rates of 10–15% and $15 per wire, but offers free ACH transactions. Some don’t include a setup fee, but they charge a fee based on the advanced amount.

Triumph Business Capital, on the other hand, works with your business to fit your budget and requirements. Triumph takes into consideration the credit risk associated with your customers, the time it takes them to pay their invoices, and the monthly funding volume we forecast for your business.

Can factoring save you money?

Consider this simple illustration. You decide that invoice factoring is the best option for your business, so you convert your invoices into cash instead of waiting a month or more to get paid.

With immediate cash in hand, you can stop worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills and get on with the growing your business. And when you pay vendors more quickly, you can take advantage of their discount offers, which saves you money. You’ve not only gotten invoice collection off your plate, you’ve paid your bills and saved money in the process—and that’s good business.

Get paid today

The hardest part about your job shouldn’t be getting paid. Let Triumph Business Capital help you factor your invoices and get paid today.

Invoice Factoring Companies

Invoice Factoring vs. Traditional Bank Loan: What’s The Difference?

Invoice factoring and a bank loan have very little in common—other than the fact that both provide cash to small businesses. Here’s a simple factoring vs. bank loan comparison to help you decide which can work for your business.

Invoice factoring

With invoice factoring, you simply convert your invoices into immediate cash to cover operating costs without taking on debt. You sell your invoices at a small discount to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital and get immediate cash for your business.

Worried about your credit? No problem! Invoice factoring is primarily based on the quality of your customers’ credit, not your own credit or business history. While most banking institutions look at the same documentation we do, our focus primarily on the quality of your customers. Don’t let the successes and failures of your business journey stop you from getting paid.

Plus, invoice factoring works fast. You’ll typically receive approval in about 24 hours. Better yet, there’s no debt to repay, and you have unlimited funding potential.

As long as you have invoices, you have the opportunity to convert them into cash. Even startups are eligible for factoring.

Traditional bank loan

Compare that to a bank loan. You pay principal and interest over time, and the funding potential is capped by the bank. After completing all necessary paperwork, the approval process can take months—and it’s based on your company’s operational and credit history. If you’re a startup, chances are you won’t be approved for bank funding.

Additionally, bank loans and lines of credit often carry what’s called a loan covenant. Essentially they’re conditions in a commercial loan that require you to fulfill certain financial performance requirements. If you don’t meet the covenant requirements, you can default on your loan or line of credit. If your bank representative is nice, they may waive the default and charge an additional waiver fee. In the end, it’ll likely cost you more than you bargained for.

 

Bank loans or lines of credit also come with restrictions that forbid you from taking certain actions like purchasing or selling assets for your business, incurring additional debt for any reason, and more. Because of restrictions, you’ll often find yourself with the financial resources you need without the freedom to use them to solve your biggest business problems.

 

While a “line of credit” implies that you’ll be financed for whatever you need up to a certain amount, more often than not, that’s not actually what happens. Your credit line often comes with so many restrictions that it’s often easier to look for the next best option.

 

Which is best for your business?

If you own a business that has a long history of favorable cash flow and profits, or is well-capitalized, then a bank line of credit might be the right choice. But if you’re a new business—or one that may have had a significant hiccup somewhere along the road—then there’s no comparison.

Invoice factoring gives you immediate cash flow without creating debt on your balance sheet, and it’s virtually an unlimited source of working capital.

While banks require a wide range of collateral and financial statements, often refusing businesses that need additional funding but can’t meet the stringent borrowing requirements to qualify for a new bank loan.

Why Triumph Business Capital?

When considering factoring, it’s important to work with a reputable factor with a strong track record. Triumph Business Capital has provided factoring for over 7,000 small to mid-sized businesses since 2004. We have a long history with the transportation industry—and staffing agencies, government contractors, and small businesses are increasingly seeking us out to help solve their cash flow challenges. Triumph also offers smart Asset Based Lending and Equipment Financing options as well as a discount fuel card program.

Triumph is a proud member of the International Factoring Association (IFA) and strictly adheres to the IFA’s code of ethics. Originally called Advance Business Capital, the company joined Triumph Bancorp Group in 2012. As a financial holding company, Triumph Bancorp, Inc. maintains a diversified line of community banking, commercial finance, and asset management activities. Since day one, our vision has been centered on four core business priorities—delivering value, developing people, demonstrating expertise, and displaying a commitment to enterprise success.

Factor your invoices today

Ready to get started? Let Triumph Business Capital help you factor your invoices—and get you the cash you need when you need it.

Accounts Receivable Financing

4 Short-Term Funding Options for Your Small Business

What are some of the popular types of short-term funding available to small businesses? How can you fund your business? You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers!

 

1. Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping is a funny word for a smart financial concept. The term comes from the phrase “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps.” An individual is said to be bootstrapping when he attempts to found and build a company from personal finances or from the operating revenues of the new company. According to Investopedia, more than 80% of new startup operations receive their funding from the founder’s personal finances.

 

So where exactly does the bootstrapper get startup funds? A bootstrapper may pull from a savings account, use zero interest credit cards, or leverage personal assets like selling a house or car and cashing in on a 401(k). With bootstrapping, the business is your own—no answering to investors like venture capitalists.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of bootstrapping?

Business owners who utilize bootstrap funding don’t have to worry about diluting ownership between investors. They don’t need to issue equity, and they can focus debt on personal sources. The downside? Unnecessary financial risk is all on the entrepreneur. And bootstrapping may not provide enough investment for the company to become successful at a reasonable rate.

What other companies have used bootstrapping?

If you decide to bootstrap, however, you’ll be in good company. Dell Computers, FaceBook, Apple, The Clorox Company, and The Coca-Cola Company each catapulted to greatness from humble beginnings as a bootstrapped enterprise. To learn more about bootstrapping, Fast Company offers 10 tips for bootstrapping your startup.

 

2. Friends and family

Of course, you can always tap into friends and family. With business plan in hand, pitch your idea to those closest to you, explaining what you’re selling, what you plan to charge, and how they’ll make money by backing your business.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of tapping into this method?

Be upfront about the risks and put the rules behind the investment in writing. Whether you’re asking for a loan, an investment, or even a gift, remember that each one comes with strings attached.  In the case of loans and investments, you will have to pay the money back: you cannot file bankruptcy if the business fails.

 

Entrepreneur.com offers tips and tactics in Five Tips for Asking Friends and Family for Funding.

 

3. Loan or Line of Credit

You can also apply for a loan or line of credit. What’s the difference? A loan is a specific amount disbursed to you at once in a lump sum. It has a fixed or variable interest rate, and a fixed repayment term. On the other hand, a line of credit functions much like a credit card. You’re given a maximum amount that you can use over a period of time, and you can borrow against that amount as you need money.

What are the benefits and drawbacks?

Once you’re approved for a line of credit, you can tap into it at any time to access the amount your business needs. You can also use a line of credit as an alternate overdraft protection option on a checking account. Keep in mind, though, that excessive borrowing against a line of credit could get you into financial trouble as surely as continuing to rack up credit card debt.

 

Want to know more about the benefits and drawbacks of traditional bank loans? We just wrote an article to compare and contrast traditional bank loans and invoice factoring. Read the full article here.

 

4. Invoice Factoring

Invoice factoring can be a small business owner’s best friend. It’s been around for over 4,000 years, dating back to the time of King Hammurabi of Mesopotamia. In the 1900s, the most popular industries for invoice factoring were the garment and textile industries. Today, the transportation industry, staffing agencies, government contractors, and small businesses are taking full advantage of invoice factoring. The reason? It helps relieve the stress of cash flow and slow-paying clients without adding debt.

How does invoice factoring work?

Here’s how: you sell your invoices at a small discount to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital and get immediate cash for your business. Since 2004, Triumph Business Capital has provided factoring services for 7,000 small to mid-sized businesses throughout the U.S.—so you can be sure you’re working with a reputable company that has your best interests in mind.

Are there any drawbacks?

Invoice factoring can have higher fees than traditional financing, with fees based on sales volume and factoring agreement. But it’s a small price to pay for welcome relief and cash in hand. Learn more about the Common Risks Involved with Invoice Factoring.

 

What are the best options for short-term business funding?

Triumph Business Capital offers more than just invoice factoring. If your business has grown to the next level and you’re looking for a larger loan to pay for new equipment or provide additional working capital, Triumph offers smart Asset Based Lending and Equipment Financing options as well as a discount fuel card program.

 

Read The Ultimate List of Funding Options Every Small Business Owner Should Know About to see more of our recommendations for short-term small business funding.

 

Get paid today

At the end of the day, when you’re considering how to fund your business idea, the best option is one that helps you achieve your business objectives with minimal risk or high rates. That often turns out to be invoice factoring with Triumph Business Capital. Let Triumph Business Capital help you factor your invoices and get paid.

 

Invoice Funding

The Ultimate List of Funding Options Every Small-Business Owner Should Know About

It’s a big world out there. We’re talking the world of funding for small- to medium-sized businesses. That’s why we’re giving you a bird’s-eye view of the available options—everything you need to know about funding your business.

Invoice Factoring

You may have heard of it; maybe you know a company or two that use it. But what exactly is invoice factoring?

 

Invoice factoring can be a welcome relief for a small business or government contractor—or any business owner tired of waiting for their invoices to be paid. You simply sell your invoices at a small discount to a factoring company and get immediate cash for your business. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Now billions of dollars in accounts receivable flow through factors each year.”

 

Should you consider invoice factoring for your small business?

Here’s what you should know about invoice factoring before diving in. Invoice factoring virtually eliminates cash flow problems. There’s no need to process invoices and wait—and wait—to get paid by your clients. No more putting plans on hold because there’s just not enough money to put them into effect. Or worrying about meeting payroll because you haven’t been paid yet. Non-recourse factoring even reduces bad debt since the factor assumes all risk if the invoice isn’t paid.

 

Got bad credit? Bank loan application already declined? No worries. Invoice factoring companies look at your credit and business history differently than a bank would. They base the majority of their decision on the quality of your customers’ credit and business history, not your own. The downside? Invoice factoring can have higher fees than traditional financing, but it can be well worth it when you consider its many advantages, including being able to sleep at night.

 

Whom should you trust?

It’s important, of course, to work with a reputable factoring company like Triumph Business Capital. Since 2004, Triumph has provided factoring for over 7,000 small to mid-sized businesses like yours—from the transportation industry to staffing agencies, government contractors, and other small businesses.

 

If your business has grown to the next level and you’re looking for a larger loan to pay for new equipment or provide additional working capital, Triumph also offers smart Asset Based Lending, Equipment Financing, and a discount fuel card program.

 

SBA Loan

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can also help finance your business with a guaranteed loan issued through participating banks and other lenders.

 

The most popular type of SBA financing is a General Business Loan, otherwise known as a 7(a) Loan. You can use the funds to establish a new business or assist in the acquisition, operation, or expansion of an existing business. The SBA guarantees loans up to $5 million to help small business owners with major investments, like building new facilities or buying land, machinery, and equipment. The SBA also offers loans that help small business owners affected by natural disasters and other kinds of emergencies.

 

Should you consider an SBA loan for your small business?
If you don’t qualify for a traditional bank loan, the government can help—although you’ll still need to work primarily with a bank. Aside from a low annual percentage rate (APR), you’ll receive funding in less than a month. Also, you’ll have more time to repay an SBA loan. If you use the loan for working capital or daily operations, you’ll have seven years to pay it back. Buying new equipment? You’ll have up to 10 years. If you use the funds for a real estate purchase, the terms go up to 25 years. A longer loan term means a lower interest rate and lower regular payments.

 

The application process, however, can be daunting. An SBA loan requires good credit and may call for collateral—and the paperwork can be both lengthy and cumbersome. The best way to navigate the process is to work with a bank that has extensive experience with SBA loans. The advantage? Lenders offer flexible terms and low rates since the federal agency guarantees the loans.

 

Alternative Lending

You’ve probably seen advertisements for alternative lenders like Kabbage, OnDeck, Lending Club, Prosper, Street Shares, and Deal Struck. Even PayPal has become a major player in the alternative lending space.

 

Alternative lending is a saving grace for some small businesses—especially if they need cash fast, or if bad credit disqualifies them for traditional lending. Sometimes referred to as “direct lending,” alternative lending provides cash in hand within two to three days on average, with a 12- to 36-month repayment period. And there’s no restriction on how to use the money.

 

Merchant Cash Advance (MCA)

MCA is an alternative financing source that provides businesses with a lump sum of cash by purchasing a set amount of their future sales. MCA companies debit your business account on a daily basis until the loan is paid in full.

 

Sound like invoice factoring? Not quite. Merchant cash advances and invoice factoring are both alternatives to traditional financing. Each involves a simple, quick application process with minimum credit requirements, making it easier and faster for small businesses to get approval—but while merchant card advances may seem like an equal option to invoice factoring, there are several catches.

 

Primarily, if your receivables are inconsistent, you may not have enough cash in the bank everyday that a withdrawal is made. At that point, you’ll overdraft on your account and experience the fees and penalties that follow.

 

Should you consider merchant cash advance for your small business?

Merchant cash advancements typically involve more risk than invoice factoring. A merchant card advance charges you based on your projected sales, while invoice factoring companies purchase your existing invoices. Since merchant cash advance payments are solely based on a prediction, rather than an actual dollar amount, this means that if your future sales don’t meet your projections, you could end up making large payments, with a much higher interest rate—usually significantly more than invoice factoring.

 

The larger problem could be that the payments continue for a period beyond your revenue generation. This form of cash advance is typically associated with incredibly high interest rates and should be avoided if at all possible.

 

Should you consider an alternative lending source for your small business?

The process for applying for alternative lending is fast and often easy. The loan application can be completed entirely online and approved in just a few minutes. Approval rates for alternative lending are much higher (64 percent, as opposed to about 20 percent for big banks, according to Inc.), and you could have your money in a matter of days, rather than weeks or months. Typical lending ranges from $10,000 to $100,000.

 

But alternative lending can be costly. In fact, the cost of these loans can be significantly more than the annualized rates associated with conventional financing. If your loan is a payday loan, beware. Your payment will be withdrawn from your checking account every single day. If the money isn’t in your checking account, you’ll accrue additional fees, increasing the payoff amount and delaying the payoff date. Another thing to keep in mind—be sure you’re working with the lending company that actually provides the financing, versus dealing with a broker, which leads to substantially more costs.

 

Microloans

Heard of microfinancing? It’s the new buzzword in funding circles, yet its concept dates back over 200 years. The first case of microlending, attributed to the Irish Loan Fund system introduced by Jonathan Swift, sought to improve conditions for impoverished Irish citizens.

 

So what is microfinancing? According to Investopedia, “Microfinancing provides options to customers with limited resources to promote participation in productive activities or to support a small business.” Simply put, it’s a type of banking service for unemployed or low-income individuals or groups who have no other access to financial services. Some microlenders even provide information in the areas of financial literacy, such as understanding interest rates and managing financial risks. Several organizations, including the Small Business Administration, offer microloans to help emerging businesses and underserved individuals get solid financial footing to start and grow their businesses.

 

The SBA offers microloans of up to $50,000 with a maximum term of six years. Administered through community nonprofits, the loans can be used for working capital or for the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery, or equipment. You can’t use the funds to pay an existing debt or to buy real estate.

 

Here’s how SBA microloans work: The SBA makes funds available to specially designated intermediary lenders—nonprofit organizations with experience in lending and technical assistance—including Justine Petersen, Grameen America, and Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, to name but a few. These intermediaries then make loans to eligible borrowers. But before these lenders consider an application, qualifying for SBA microloan financing may require borrowers to complete specific training or planning—requirements designed to help you launch or expand your business successfully.

 

Other independent organizations—such as Bentley Microfinance Group, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Business Center for New Americans, and Opportunity Fund—also provide microloans to the underserved community outside of the SBA model.

Should you consider a microloan for your small business?

A microloan is easier to get than a traditional loan, especially if your credit report is less than perfect or you don’t have a long credit history. If you don’t have a credit score, you can opt for a credit-building loan that lets you establish credit. On the other hand, a microloan usually costs more than a traditional bank loan.

 

Additional Government Funding Options

The federal government isn’t the only agency that can help your small business get off the ground and grow. Every state and many local governments have economic development agencies dedicated to helping both new and established businesses to grow and succeed. These agencies offer such services as start-up advice; training and resources; financial assistance through loans, grants, and tax-exempt bonds; business location and site selection assistance; and employee recruitment and training assistance.

 

Some states also provide grants for expanding childcare centers, creating energy-efficient technology, and developing marketing campaigns for tourism. These grants usually require the recipient to match funds or combine the grant with other forms of financing, such as a loan. The amount of available grant money varies, depending on each grantor and the type of business to be funded.

 

In addition to loans, the SBA also offers grants to nonprofit and educational organizations in many of its counseling and training programs. However, the SBA does not provide grants for starting or expanding a business.  

 

Here’s another way the government can help put dollars into your business. The Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF), enacted into law as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, provides capital to qualified community banks and community development loan funds (CDLFs) to encourage small business lending.

 

What does that mean to the small-business owner? Your community bank can be a resource for commercial and industrial loans; owner-occupied nonfarm, nonresidential real estate loans; loans to finance agricultural production and other loans to farmers; and loans secured by farmland.

 

If you’re in the biomedical space, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can be another resource for your business. The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, offering funding for many types of grants, contracts, and even programs that help repay loans for researchers.

 

Should you consider government funding for your small business?

Government funding may come with free technical assistance, including workshops, seminars, or onsite consultations. Sometimes government agencies bring together all the recipients of a particular grant, facilitating peer-to-peer learning. These gatherings often provide grantees with their first introduction to others delivering similar services in the same city—which, in turn, can lead to more potential funding or resource-sharing opportunities.

 

However, as you’d expect, a great deal of red tape goes hand-in-hand with government funding. We’re talking time-consuming paperwork, meticulous recordkeeping, and demanding reports. And you can anticipate that the agency providing government funds for your program will closely monitor the use of those funds. It’s also possible that the receipt of government dollars will discourage donations from private sources.

 

Crowdfunding

It all started in 1997, when a British rock band funded their reunion tour through online donations from fans. Since then, crowdfunding has become a smart option for entrepreneurs and others to raise money, awareness, and support for a business or a project, especially when turned down by traditional lenders.

 

Through online platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Fundly, RocketHub, and Fundable, your small business can receive needed funding, with donations ranging from as little as $5 up to $5,000 and more. In exchange, your business offers rewards like T-shirts, tickets to shows, or perhaps a personal call from the founder of the company. The better the reward, the better the chance of donations.

In addition to soliciting donations, you can use the crowdfunding concept to get a loan. The site LendingClub, for example, allows members to directly invest in and borrow from each other, essentially eliminating the banking middleman.

 

Should you consider crowdfunding for your small business?

According to the research firm Massolution, the estimated fundraising volume for global crowdfunding is a whopping $34 billion. But while there’s money to be had, crowdfunding has its drawbacks as well. If you don’t have a great story to tell or a terrific product to sell, then your crowdfunding bid could fail. Some crowdfunding sites don’t collect money until a fundraiser reaches the goal. If your efforts fall short, you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy, and other resources. And then there’s the risk of getting sued if you fail to deliver your rewards.

 

Venture Capital

VC—venture capital—spells big bucks to some companies. An entrepreneur will seek this type of equity financing when the company’s size, assets, or stage of development precludes more traditional funding sources, such as public markets and banks. Venture capitalists generally invest cash in exchange for shares as well as an active role in the invested company.

 

Should you consider venture capital for your small business?

Venture capitalists typically focus on young, high-growth companies, invest equity capital rather than debt, offer a longer investment horizon than traditional financing, and actively monitor the companies in their investment portfolios. Lenders like EarlyShares and MicroVentures generally require some equity cushion or security (collateral) before they will lend to a small business.

 

Venture capital provides businesses a financial cushion, but at what cost? Equity providers have the last call against the company’s assets and require a higher rate of return or return on investment (ROI) than lenders receive. So it’s vitally important to weigh the pros and cons before engaging in a venture capital relationship.

 

Angel Investment

Many startups opt for an angel on their shoulder. Angel investors provide funding for early-stage or startup companies in exchange for an equity ownership interest. Often referred to as a business angel, informal investor, angel funder, private investor, or seed investor, the typical angel invests anywhere from $25,000 to $1.5 million.

 

How do you find an angel investor? Forbes lists a variety of ways—through other entrepreneurs, lawyers, and accountants; AngelList; crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo; or through a colleague or friend of an angel.

 

Check out organizations like CircleUp or Gust that provide online platforms to connect entrepreneurs with angel investors. CircleUp offers the largest online marketplace for investing in innovative consumer and retail companies. Gust connects startups with over 1000 investment groups around the world, resulting in more than $1.8 billion invested in startups to date.

 

Should you consider angel investment for your small business?

Angels can be a Godsend for a startup and the investment usually comes in the form of a lump sum. However, angel investors expect a high rate of return, often 25 percent or more. And as a major investor, your angel may also feel entitled to some control over your company’s future.

 

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, when you’re considering how to fund your business idea, the best option is one that helps you achieve your business objectives with minimal risk or high rates. That often turns out to be invoice factoring with Triumph Business Capital. Triumph believes the hardest part about your job shouldn’t be getting paid. Get paid today.

 

Have questions about invoice factoring or the options listed above? Please leave us a comment below.

Factoring Funding

Is Invoice Factoring Right For You?

Invoice factoring is a saving grace for many industries, from transportation and staffing to small and mid-size businesses as well as government contractors. In fact, invoice factoring can offer welcome financial relief if you’re just starting a business, have bad credit, can’t get funding from banks, or are at risk of losing your business.

A simple process

Invoice factoring lets you convert your invoices into immediate cash to cover operating costs without taking on debt. You simply perform a service for your customer or deliver a product, and send your invoice to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital to get paid. You immediately receive payment upon completion of the load or job being invoiced.

The process is simple and virtually seamless. Triumph purchases the invoice. If you’re a recourse client, Triumph takes the factoring fee out, then a small portion of that invoice goes into a reserve account, usually 5 or 10 percent. This “advance rate” of 90 or 95% is released once the invoice is paid.

If you’re in a non-recourse agreement, you receive 100% of invoice minus the factoring fee. Since the factor assumes all risk in this type of agreement, there is no reserve held in the event that an invoice does not pay.

The pros

You get money when you need it.

Invoice factoring is fast cash in the bank to help cover day-to-day expenses, restock materials, pay staff—or just about anything you need. The alternative? Wait . . . wait . . . wait . . . and then wait even longer—30 days, 60 days, or more—to get paid by clients. But with fast cash in hand, you can keep loyal customers on longer payment terms.

Your invoice factoring company grows with you.

Compare invoice factoring to a traditional bank loan and there’s no competition. Bad credit? Limited operating history? Loan declined? No problem. Invoice factoring companies base their decision on the quality of your customers’ credit, not your own credit or business history. You get cash based on your invoices, not your company’s net worth.

The cons

You might pay higher fees than traditional financing.

Invoice factoring can have higher fees than traditional financing—but it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. Triumph’s fee takes into account the credit risk associated with your customers and the time it takes them to pay their invoices. In fact, invoice factoring provides cash flow that meets your business where it is today and can grow as your business grows because it’s based on your actual account receivables.

Always transparent, always fair, Triumph Business Capital offers options that match each client’s financing needs without incurring debt.

Your factor may work directly with your customer.

Invoice factoring companies work directly with your customers to collect payments on your invoices. You’ll need to ensure that the factoring company you choose is ethical, fair, and respectful. Triumph Business Capital is a proud member of the International Factoring Association (IFA), and strictly adheres to the IFA’s code of ethics. We ensure a smooth transition for both you and your customers.

Your financing depends on your customer’s credit.

Lastly, recognize that your customer’s bad credit may derail your financing. The factoring company may reject your invoices to any customer that isn’t creditworthy.

Three questions to consider

How do you know if invoice factoring is right for you? Ask yourself these three simple questions.

  1. Can my problem be fixed by factoring?
  2. Can I cover the cost of factoring and still make a profit?
  3. Are my customers creditworthy?

Ready to get started? Learn how Triumph Business Capital can help you factor your invoices—because the hardest part about your job shouldn’t be getting paid.

Business Factoring

4 Common Risks Associated with Invoice Factoring

Many businesses turn to invoice factoring  for relief from today’s financial pressures. Faster and easier than a bank loan, invoice factoring doesn’t rely on your credit or your years in operation. You simply convert your invoices into immediate cash to cover operating costs without taking on debt.

In some cases, invoice factoring is the only way a business can get cash. In others, it’s simply the smartest way to get cash—fast. But what risks does invoice factoring involve?

1. Can you trust the factor?

In its infancy, a few unprofessional factoring companies charged excessive fees and used deceptive business practices, giving the entire industry a black eye. Now, however, factoring is not only widely accepted; it’s a trusted funding source for businesses across many industries.

Of course, before entering into any business relationship, you should always exercise due diligence. Investigate how long the factor has been in business and find out where its headquarters are located. Check into the background of its management team. Go a step further and ask for referrals from current clients, and then research complaints or lawsuits using web searches, the Better Business Bureau, and your state’s Attorney General’s Office. Remember to trust your gut: if you feel you can’t build trust with the factor, walk away.

As a respected industry leader and a proud member of the International Factoring Association (IFA), Triumph Business Capital strictly adheres to the IFA’s code of ethics. Providing invoice factoring for over 7,000 small to mid-sized businesses since 2004, Triumph Business Capital is backed by the extensive assets of Triumph Bancorp, Inc., a financial holding company that maintains a diversified line of community banking, commercial finance, and asset management activities.

2. What about uncollectible invoices?

Triumph Business Capital offers two kinds of factoring arrangements to handle invoices—recourse and non-recourse. Both eliminate the hassles and headaches of collecting invoices, so you can spend more time growing your business, gaining more opportunities to find new shippers, or taking the next load because you’ve already been paid.

With recourse factoring, you ultimately take the responsibility for the payment of the invoice. If the customer doesn’t pay the debt, then the seller is liable to repay the factoring company. With non-recourse factoring, your company pays slightly higher fees, but takes on a lower risk. The factoring company assumes all the responsibility for collecting the debt. This lower-risk option is better for many small companies that can’t absorb the cost of unpaid invoices.

3. How will the factor communicate with your customers?

Triumph has designed a seamless process for our clients to transition to invoice factoring. To start, we create a lockbox to accept payments in care of your company. Either you create your invoices or we create them for you. In either case, all invoices are stamped by Triumph with a “Notice of Assignment.” Your debtor will know that the invoice has been assigned to Triumph Business Capital as a third-party partner to help you manage your Accounts Receivable financing.

4. Is your customer creditworthy?

Savvy business owners like you know that perfect customers are rare, and even your best customers may be slow to pay your invoices. At some point, your current or future customers may not be able to pay you at all.

That’s why it’s crucial to confirm your customer’s creditworthiness before conducting business with them. But routine credit checks can be a hefty expense for your business. Triumph Business Capital runs customer credit reports all day long—for free. It’s the Triumph advantage.

When you factor your invoices with Triumph Business Capital, we monitor the creditworthiness of your customers at every transaction. By doing so, we reduce the amount of risk you take, directly reducing the amount of invoices that get kicked back after 90 days. Invoice factoring is about reducing your financial risk, after all. Let’s get you paid.

The benefits outweigh the risks

Bottom line—the hardest part about your job shouldn’t be getting paid.

Invoice factoring provides you with the immediate cash you need to run and expand your business. No more need to process invoices. Worried about your balance sheet? This financing doesn’t show up as debt. Invoice factoring is easy, fast, and flexible.

Ready to get started? Factor your invoices with Triumph Business Capital today.

Factoring Invoices

How to Avoid the Net-30 Trap and Actually Get Paid

It’s a headache and a hassle, and it causes complete confusion—It’s the Net-30 Trap. Does it mean you get paid 30 days from the date on the invoice, 30 days after the client bills their client, or within 30 days of what exactly? Do you get paid at all? What is net 30 anyway?

It’s a power play—and you lose

Fact is, “Payment Terms Net 30” can mean different things to different people—but in most cases, the client wins. In essence, net 30 means you’re extending credit to your client long after you’ve delivered as promised. Fair? I think not.

Chances are, you’ve seen or heard about large companies using their purchasing power to force a supplier to agree to terms that are more favorable to the large company—like a longer period of time to pay or relaxed rules for returning goods. How about the promise of future work to keep you at arm’s length when it’s time to get paid?

If you’re like most trucking or staffing companies, small to mid-size businesses (SMB), or government contractors, you don’t have great cash flow or a big cushion to fall back on. That forces you to finance your customers and accept their net-30 terms, or worse—net 60, or even net 90—leaving you looking like less than a good risk for banks or anyone else checking into your creditworthiness. And with few assets to balance such cash flow challenges, you’re not likely to have leverage to increase credibility and trust.

Three courses of action—and you win

1. Charge interest

One tried-and-true method to help ensure you’re paid—on your terms—is to charge interest if payment isn’t received on time. After all, the threat of interest for late payments is part of our everyday life, from credit cards to loans and even utility bills. In some cases, charging interest may be enough incentive for clients to pay on time.

2. Factor your invoices

Invoice factoring helps take the 30, 60, 90—or never—financial burden off your shoulders, allowing you to pay your bills and staff, stock up on materials, and sleep at night. You simply sell your invoices at a small discount to a factoring company such as Triumph Business Capital, and get immediate cash for your business. Learn more about how invoice factoring works in Invoice Factoring: The Antidote for Net-30, 60, 90, or Never .

3. Walk away

Your last course of action is to be willing to walk away. If the deal looks bad, or too good to be true; if you’re worried about a prospective client’s ability or willingness to pay—walk away before it’s too late. In the short term, taking the job gets you the work; but in the long term, you’d be taking on trouble—big time trouble.

Already stuck in a situation where you’re doing work and still not getting paid? Stop the work; your client will see this and make paying you a priority.

It’s time to get paid

Let’s face it: the hardest part about your job shouldn’t be getting paid. Free your business from the Net-30 Trap and factor your invoices with Triumph Business Capital to get paid, today.

Invoice Factoring

Invoice Factoring: The Antidote for Net 30, 60, 90, or Never

You do the work, deliver the product or service, and wait. And wait. And wonder—will you get paid on time or have to make countless calls to get your money?

Let’s face it. One of the biggest challenges facing small and mid-size businesses (SMB) is getting paid—especially since many companies are increasingly stretching invoice payment from 30 days to 90 days or even longer.

In the meantime, you have employee salaries, vendor payments, and taxes to pay—regardless of whether or not your customer pays you. How, then, do you cover your day-to-day expenses, much less expand your business? You could, of course, apply for a bank loan and cope with its cumbersome paperwork, lengthy process, and restrictive funds limit—not to mention possible rejection. Or your can opt for a more business-friendly way to go—invoice factoring.

What is invoice factoring?

To understand invoice factoring, you have to understand what it is not. Invoice factoring is not debt collection—running after businesses to pay their bills. Nor is it a business loan or line of credit.

You simply convert your invoices into immediate cash to cover operating costs without taking on debt. Invoice factoring helps take the 30, 60, 90—or never—financial burden off your shoulders and, frankly, lets you sleep at night.

Invoice factoring goes by several names—accounts receivable financing, AR factoring, and invoice financing. No matter what you call it, the process is the same: you sell your invoices at a small discount to a factoring company and receive immediate cash for your business. No more need to process invoices. Depending on your agreement, bad debt is also reduced as the factor may assume financial risk if the invoice is not paid. The bottom line—invoice factoring gives you fast access to funds with greater flexibility, minus the bad debt.

Less stress, more cash

You could say that invoice factoring is a stress reliever. It takes the billing and collecting off your plate and transfers it onto the factor’s. It also gives you greater control of your company’s finances by providing the necessary capital when your company needs it. Say goodbye to your customers’ accounts payable procedures or terms, or a traditional bank’s underwriting processes or delays—and your own cash flow problems. How’s that for control?

Another benefit? With fast cash in hand, you can pay vendors more quickly and take advantage of their discount offers, saving you money.

How does invoice factoring work?

Unlike conventional lending methods, invoice factoring is based on the quality of your customers’ credit, not your own credit or business history. You receive cash based on your invoices, not your company’s net worth. That’s welcome relief for start-ups with minimal capital or for businesses experiencing financial challenges or bad credit. Worried about your balance sheet? This financing doesn’t show up as debt.

 

The factoring process works quickly and easily: you deliver a product or perform a service for your customer and send your invoice to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital. You immediately receive a cash advance on your invoice from the factor, who then collects full payment from your customer, and pays you the balance of your invoice, minus a fee. After verifying the creditworthiness of your customer, the factor may not accept invoices for a customer that has a history of late or missed payments.

Invoice factoring vs. traditional loan

Still not sold on invoice factoring?

Consider this: bank loan processing can take weeks or longer. In that case, you might as well wait for the customer to pay you. Invoice factoring, on the other hand, is fast. You can be paid within 24 hours. You decide which invoices to factor and when.

Invoice factoring is also more flexible than a bank loan. You aren’t locked into a long repayment period. And the cash you receive for invoices is unrestricted—you can use the funds however you want. Compare that to a business loan that requires the money to be used for specific purposes.

Who factors?

Invoice factoring has been around for over 4,000 years, dating back to the time of King Hammurabi of Mesopotamia.

In the 1900s, the most popular industries for invoice factoring were the garment and textile industries. There was simply no better way to continue to buy raw materials to produce clothing and textiles.

In the 1940s, transportation industries were added to the roster of factoring participants. From the 1960s through the ’80s, rising interest rates and bank regulations made invoice factoring more popular because it didn’t require the same sort of credit checks. Today, small to mid-size businesses finance their working capital by factoring over $1 billion annually.

“Companies of all sizes, with annual revenues from $10,000 to $10 million, continually approach us for invoice factoring,” says Steven Hausman, President of Triumph Business Capital, an industry leader headquartered in Dallas, Texas. “We have provided factoring for over 7,000 small to mid-size businesses since 2004. We have a long track record with the transportation industry. Staffing agencies, government contractors, and small businesses are increasingly seeking us out to help solve their cash flow challenges.”

The difference between recourse and non-recourse factoring

Just as there are varying client needs, there are various types of factoring arrangements. With recourse factoring, the client ultimately takes the responsibility for the payment of the invoice. Larger companies often use lower-cost recourse factoring. If the customer doesn’t pay the debt, then the seller is liable to repay the factoring company.

Non-recourse factoring allows companies to sell their invoices to the factoring company, which then assumes all of the credit risks for the collection of the invoice. Triumph Business Capital employs non-recourse factoring and assumes all the risk of collecting the debt. That’s a lower risk option for small companies that can’t absorb the cost of unpaid invoices, but it does cost slightly more than recourse factoring.

A small price to pay for substantial relief

What will all this convenience cost you? Invoice factoring can have higher fees than traditional financing, with non-recourse factoring fees based on a variety of considerations.

During the application process, Triumph analyzes the credit risk associated with your customers, the time it takes them to pay their invoices, and the monthly funding volume forecast for your business.

Triumph then offers pricing options that match each client’s budget and risk tolerance. As an added benefit, factoring fees are deductible as a business expense.

Why Triumph Business Capital?

Triumph Business Capital is a proud member of the International Factoring Association (IFA), and strictly adheres to the IFA’s code of ethics.

Originally called Advance Business Capital, the company changed its name when it joined Triumph Bancorp, Inc. in 2012. As a financial holding company, Triumph Bancorp, Inc. maintains a diversified line of community banking, commercial finance, and asset management activities. Since day one, the company’s vision has focused on four core business priorities.

  • Delivering value
  • Developing people
  • Demonstrating expertise
  • Displaying a commitment to enterprise success

“Many clients have been with us since our early days—testament to the integrity of our service and dedication to their business,” says Hausman. “Our team is professional and courteous. We’re a partner with our clients to help them find success with their customers.”

Triumph customers couldn’t agree more. A senior executive at JP Transport, LLC spoke about Triumph: “I have been beyond impressed with the service from Triumph Business Capital. My payments are processed on time every time. The online submission process is fast and easy. Reports on various payment statistics are helpful. I’ve been contacted by Triumph staff just to check on how things are going. Couldn’t be more satisfied.”

Is invoice factoring right for you?

If you’re often caught in the net-30, -60, -90—or never—battle with customers, let us help you determine if invoice factoring is right for your business. Our answers to the following frequently asked questions may get you one step closer to the cash flow relief and improved client relationships that invoice factoring provides.

Q. How much do I have to factor?

A. You have total control over which invoices you want to factor and when. Keep in mind, though, that once you decide to factor one of your accounts, it’s generally required that you factor all the invoices for that customer in order to reduce payment confusion.

Q. What are the costs?

A. The fees for invoice factoring depend on several items, including your customer’s credit risk, how long they take to pay your invoices, and your monthly funding volume. Always transparent, always fair. In any case, your factoring fees will stay the same throughout your entire contract and are contract determined before we purchase your first invoice.

Q. What if I’ve been rejected for a bank loan? Will a factor reject me?

A. Unlike traditional lending, invoice factoring does not rely solely on your credit. Invoice factoring is based on the quality of your customers’ credit, not your own credit or business history.

Q. Can invoice factoring improve relationships with my customers?

A. Absolutely! First, invoice factoring can help increase your credibility. Here’s how: invoice factoring is a recognized, established method for a company to optimize cash flow. Since banks have tightened credit policies for small businesses and startups, many companies now use factoring instead. A factoring company’s willingness to finance your invoices serves as an endorsement of your business as a solid company and a good risk.

Invoice factoring also allows you to give more attention to your customer’s needs—instead of worrying about their payments. Triumph has a decade of experience and dedicated teams that work closely with you to handle the invoicing and collecting of payments. These courteous professionals partner with you to enhance the relationship you’ve built with your customers.

Transitioning to invoice factoring is seamless. Triumph stamps each invoice with payment instructions known as a Notice of Assignment. It’s a very smooth transition for both you and your customers.

Lastly, invoice factoring helps you keep better track of your invoices. Triumph’s online account management, for instance, provides a full array of client reporting and real-time information. The goal is to keep you totally informed on the status of your customers and accounts—and give you the cash you need, when you need it.

Trucking? Staffing? SMB? Government Contractor? Get paid today!

Any business owner or consultant would readily agree that getting paid shouldn’t be the hardest part of the job. Thanks to factors like Triumph Business Capital, it doesn’t have to be.

Freight factoring lets trucking companies get the show on the road. They can pay drivers, insurance, fuel, and other expenses on time, and never have to turn down another job due to lack of cash in hand.

Staffing companies can relax, knowing that they’ll make payroll on time, every time. Small and mid-size businesses can easily replenish their operating capital and get back in business. Government contractors can have the working capital they need to keep the company going strong, without monthly minimums, long-term requirements, or “risk” contracts.

If large invoices or slow payments are standing in the way of your company’s production and expansion, it’s time to learn how invoice factoring can work for your industry—and how Triumph Business Capital can help you get paid today. Get started now, and leave the net 30, 60, 90—or never—far behind.

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Notice: How to Stay Compliant with the Updated Trade Agreements Act

On May 5, 2016, many schedule contractors received a notice of the government’s continual examination of compliance to the Trade Agreements Act (TAA). Schedule contractors are required to comply with this act by verifying the country of origin for all of their products.

If you are a government contractor, here are a few tips to help you stay compliant.

Abide by the TAA

The TAA states that the product produced by government contractors needs to be wholly grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States or a designated country. According to the Trade Agreements Act, the product can also be “substantially transformed into a new and different article of commerce in the US or designated country.”

To find a list of designated countries, you can reference The Federal Acquisition Regulation section 25.003. Major countries that don’t make the list are China and India. If you obtain products from multiple countries, each country of origin needs to be noted. Also, if you use suppliers, they need to tell you the country of origin for every item they provide for you.

Compliance standards for product contracts

If you are unsure if your product has been transformed in a way to make it compliant, you can find recent rulings on the Customs Ruling Online Search System (CROSS), a searchable database of rulings by the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP). In its role of investigating a product’s TAA compliance, the USCBP determines if the manufacturing process has changed the product’s functions or its traits.

Compliance standards for service contracts

If you are a government contractor providing services, the compliance standards are slightly different. The country of origin is determined by where the company is legally established and not by where the services are performed. So even though your services may be performed in another country, if your company is established in the United States or a designated country, you are compliant.

What this means for you

Schedule holders who receive an official notice have five business days to submit a spreadsheet that verifies the country of origin for each product on the GSA contract.

If schedule contractors discover that they aren’t compliant, they have to complete these three steps.
1. Remove all non-compliant products from the contracts.
2. Update GSA Advantage so that the non-compliant products are erased from the system.
3. Update and submit their price list to the National Schedules Information Center.

To improve your TAA compliance, incorporate the following procedures into your ongoing compliance efforts.
Keep a record of your manufacturing process. Tracking each step of this process will make it much easier to prove compliance. It will also help you keep in touch with the right people if that manufacturing process changes.
Verify that suppliers meticulously update their product’s country of origin. If any changes need to be made, be sure to let your GSA Contracts administrator know.
Remove products that are not TAA-compliant. You can use the modifications clause to remove any products that are not compliant with the TAA.

Federal rules and regulations are ever changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the government’s requirements for its contractors. One thing that never changes about working with the government is the need for steady cash flow. To learn more about how government contract financing can benefit your company, visit our invoice factoring page.

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5 Signs You’re a Real-Deal Entrepreneur

You took the leap and started a business, but now you lie awake at night feeling like a fraud, like you don’t deserve the success you’ve created.

It’s called imposter syndrome, a term coined in 1978 by two clinical psychologists referring to high-achieving individuals who are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Before you spend another minute telling yourself that your success is just a matter of luck and has nothing to do with your hard work, take a look at these five characteristics that prove you’re a real-deal entrepreneur.

1. You executed an idea

“Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience.” – Hyman Rickover

Anyone can have an idea. It takes execution to turn that idea into a business. No matter what your business idea is, it’s virtually guaranteed that someone else has—or had—the same idea. It’s the execution of the idea that brings it to fruition and makes it unique and worthwhile.

Just think: there are plenty of social networks, but only one Facebook. There are several search engines, but only one Google. There are many electric vehicles, but only one Tesla. Without proper execution, the greatest ideas die out.

2. You have drive and conviction

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Starting a business takes perseverance. All entrepreneurs take financial risks, work long hours, and face setbacks, but you have the drive and conviction to continue to overcome whatever obstacles emerge.

Whether your end goal is to build wealth, achieve a flexible schedule, or leave a legacy, you have the passion and the drive to push through and build your dreams.

3. You don’t let failure stop you

“Failure is success in progress.” – Albert Einstein

Those who are weak lose motivation when things don’t go as planned, but you know that failure is a springboard to growth. Instead of giving up in the face of failure, you use it as an opportunity to reset your perspective, make necessary changes, or have that “aha” moment of inspiration you’ve been waiting for.

In her column for Forbes, writer Alison Coleman interviewed Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. With nearly five decades in business, Branson is known primarily for huge successes—but he’s faced his share of failures, too. He offers this advice for entrepreneurs facing failure: “Failure is a necessary part of business, so it’s incredibly important for all entrepreneurs and business leaders to know when to call it a day, learn from their mistakes, and move on, fast.”

4. You built a top-notch team

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs

As you know, a growing business can’t be built solely by one individual. It requires a team of people with complementary skills. Whether your entire team is on payroll or you rely on a network of consultants and independent contractors, you’ve created a top-notch team that brings new perspectives and specialized knowledge that enhances your business.

5. You invest in yourself

“Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you. They can run up huge deficits and the dollar can become worth far less. But if you’ve got talent yourself, and you’ve maximized your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return tenfold.” – Warren Buffett

When most people think of investing, they think of stocks, bonds, commodities, or even investing in the dream of another entrepreneur—but all of these investments rely on someone else to turn a profit.

You’re different because you know that the best investment involves turning your passion into financial success. You’re always open to learning and sharpening your skills. You read books, listen to inspirational podcasts, take seminars or classes, grow your network, and invest in your own health and wellbeing.

Get paid instantly

So, fueled by your personal drive and with input from the team you’ve assembled, you’ve followed through on your idea and overcome the obstacles—all while continuing to invest in yourself. Congratulations, entrepreneur, you’re the real deal!

Even real entrepreneurs like you need a quick influx of cash to build on their momentum and continue growing. Learn more about how invoice factoring can help you improve cash flow and be prepared for potential shortfalls.

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3 Ways to Successfully Recruit Leading College Grads

1.9 million college students are expected to graduate this year and most of them will want to start their career right after they walk across the stage.

By targeting college graduates, your staffing agency can dip into a talent pool that comes to the workforce with fresh, new ideas and a willingness to learn and be trained. It’s important to know who to look for and how to win them over to your client’s company.

So how do you get the best talent out of the Class of 2016? Here are three ways to successfully recruit the best of the best this year.

1. Attend career fairs

Many colleges and universities across the nation host career fairs for their students to meet potential employers. By attending these job fairs, employers can meet a number of top candidates. Also, students who attend career fairs tend to be more serious about their future, so these fairs are often effective places to recruit the best talent.

One way to find the best career fairs is by targeting schools. If you’re seeking graduates with a particular degree, Workforce Locator can help you find the top schools for that major.

Remember to engage with students at the career fair. Many times, representatives stand behind their tables without interacting with students as they pass by. Unless you represent a company that is very well known, many students won’t know about you, what you offer, or how you can jumpstart their career. Step in front of the table and take the initiative to connect with every student who walks by your booth.

2. Appeal to their deeper interests

Millennials have different interests than previous generations when it comes to what they want from their employers. In a recent study, 83% of millennials chose their positions based on employee benefits and 54% took a job based on flexible hours and work schedules.

For most millennials, it’s not just about the money. However, because recent college graduates typically carry a large amount of student debt, many companies are taking steps to help them pay down their loans. For example, starting in July, Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ junior employees will be eligible to receive up to $1,200 per year for up to six years as assistance from the company to pay down college debt.

Recent college graduates are also looking for a company that can provide a career path and development opportunities. They want to know that they are valued and that they will have opportunities to learn the skills they need to move up the career ladder to a more prestigious, high-paying position.

3. Understand that their experience may be limited

Train your recruiters and hiring managers to understand that a recent college graduate’s resume will look different from the resume of candidates with more career experience. Many times, the students have been involved in internships or campus leadership positions, which can mitigate their lack of on-the-job experience.

In a Monster article, Enterprise Rent-A-Car regional recruiting supervisor, Chris Fitzpatrick, commented on how a candidate’s involvement in college can help hiring managers connect the dots.
“Involvement in sports breeds competitiveness. Membership in fraternities, sororities, and other clubs and organizations helps develop leadership skills. Although a communications major may not have learned case studies about risk management, the ability to communicate verbally, nonverbally, and cross culturally is vastly more critical. Soft skills such as communication, work ethic, flexibility, and leadership transcend the college majors and are better identified when an entire picture of a candidate’s college experience is seen.”

You can always teach the skills that recent graduates may lack; so if you see a lot of involvement in college on their resumes, it means they are probably driven and dedicated individuals. Oftentimes a student’s non-career experiences during college will translate into the skills needed to do the job.

According to a recent study conducted by Leadership IQ, “89% of the time a new hire fails, it is for attitudinal reasons, not for technical competence reasons.” If you have a candidate who fits culturally, but lacks teachable skills, that individual might still be the right person for the job.

For more Staffing Tips, stay up-to-date by bookmarking our blog, or follow us on Facebook.

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7 Common Bookkeeping Mistakes Freight Brokers Make

Freight brokers have a lot of responsibilities, from matching shippers and carriers to making sure each piece of cargo gets to the right place. Another essential task in this busy industry is bookkeeping. Freight brokers who don’t prioritize bookkeeping can end up losing money in the long run. Here are seven common bookkeeping mistakes freight brokers make and how to avoid them.

1. Attempting to DIY

In order to save money, many business owners insist on handling the books themselves or delegating the task to an inexperienced employee or family member. While you may initially save time and money, costly errors can result in higher bond premiums, more expensive financing terms, and other unforeseen expenses in the long-run.

Hiring a competent bookkeeper will save you money, because the job will be done quickly and efficiently, with fewer errors.

2. Postponing important tasks

Running any business is hard work. Many freight brokers find themselves too busy doing the day-to-day work to focus on important bookkeeping tasks such as reconciling bank and credit card accounts each month. Reconciling statements helps you catch errors and know how much cash or credit you actually have.

Although postponing this task may be tempting, you should reconcile your bank and credit card statements every month, preferably as soon as each statement is available. That way, you can identify any missing deposits, lost checks, or fraudulent charges and address these problems in a timely manner.

3. Not tracking invoices and receivables

If you’re not properly accounting for receivables, you can’t get paid. Getting paid equals cash, the lifeblood of every business.

Experienced freight brokers know that the delay between when you must pay your carriers and when you receive payment from your customers can strain your cash flow.

If tracking and collecting invoices takes too much time, consider invoice factoring. For a small fee, an invoice factoring company like Triumph Business Capital will purchase your invoices. You’ll get paid immediately without the time and expense of dealing with collections.

4. Ignoring liabilities

When a surety looks at your business financials to underwrite a bond, one of their major considerations is whether you have enough assets to cover your liabilities. Inexperienced bookkeepers sometimes remember to record a liability, but then forget to reverse the liability when the payment is made. This error results in an overstatement of liabilities and an understatement of net income, making your business look less financially stable than it actually is.

You can avoid this type of error by hiring an experienced bookkeeper. It’s also a good idea to have another set of eyes (either an owner or a CPA) review the balance sheet regularly and look for unusual account balances.

5. Miscategorizing expenses

Another common error made by inexperienced bookkeepers is miscategorizing expenses or creating too many expense categories. Most businesses and industries have a fairly standard set of expense categories. Miscategorizing expenses or creating too many categories can be a big red flag, signaling to a surety or loan underwriter that your books are not well prepared.

Set up your accounting software correctly from the start with the help of an experienced bookkeeper or accountant and don’t add new expense categories without careful consideration. If you’re unsure of how to classify an expense, ask your CPA or accountant for guidance.

6. Missing details on invoices

When invoicing your customers, you need to provide sufficient detail on each line item. For example, is the charge a flat fee, or do you invoice per mile, per piece, or by weight? If you include additional charges, such as reimbursement for fees or fuel, you should list these as separate line items. Make sure the charges are properly detailed so there is no confusion.

Including the necessary details on your invoices will prevent pushback from your customers for charges they don’t recognize. Any missing information can cause delays in payment—a headache no business owner needs.

7. Missing out on accounting software functionality

Often, in an effort to get their business running, freight brokers purchase an accounting software package but never take the time to learn how to use it correctly. If you’re outsourcing all your accounting and bookkeeping tasks, this is probably not an issue. On the other hand, if you’re using the software at all, even just to enter checks and run reports, you should take the time to learn all of the available functions.

The right accounting software, when used correctly, can save you time and give you real-time information on the state of your business—information you can use to make important business decisions.

Get paid instantly

Want to take one task off your endless to-do list? Learn more about how invoice factoring can put cash in your bank account, while Triumph Business Capital handles the time-consuming task of calling shippers to collect on invoices.

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Small Business Social Media 102: Creating Killer Content

After the first lesson in this series, you now have your social sites all set up and are ready to engage your followers.

People want go where content is fresh, new and relevant. No one likes or follows a page with stale content. With an abundance of ideas on what content to post, how often to post and who you are trying to reach, you do know you want to find killer content for your page.

Creating Engaging Content

You have worked really hard to gain relevant followers. Now you have to keep your audience captivated with interesting content. Content is king in the marketing world, and it doesn’t have to be difficult to create.

Step 1- Create a solid piece of content

Consider this one piece of content your content hub. The majority of your social posts and additional content will come from this one piece. It will take time to create, but it will save you time in the long run. This can be a great blog post, an ebook or whitepaper.

Step 2- Repurpose the Content

Let’s say, for example, you have an informative blog post that you’ve posted to your small business blog. You can repurpose that blog content into the following:

  • Videos or even a video series (Hello, YouTube)
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebook combining multiple blogs
  • Slideshare presentation
  • LinkedIn Pulse post
  • Infographic
  • Videographic
  • Podcast
  • Webinar
  • Multiple Facebook posts
  • Pinterest pins
  • Tweets
  • LinkedIn posts
  • Instagram posts

Use your time effectively by doing all you can to develop more content from content you have already created.

Step 3- Test How it Performs

Test how it preforms. If one Facebook post does better than another, why is that? Could it have been the time it was posted? Could it have been that an image is more compelling than a video or vice versa? The more you know about what content performs better, the more you can perfect your content.
You then repeat the cycle now knowing how each piece of content performs with your audience. If videos resonate more, create more videos. If you see an abundance of whitepaper downloads, create more whitepapers. Testing is an important part of your social media success that should not be skipped.

Scheduling and Reporting Tips:

  • Schedule out your content using tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to save you time.
  • Use link shorteners like Bitly to track who clicks on your links and through what medium.

Engaging Content Tips:

  • Every post needs a purpose. Are you looking for link clicks, likes, shares, retweets, comments, etc.? Make sure your content reflects that. For example if you’re looking for comments, ask a question.
  • Keep track of Facebook, Twitter and other social medium’s changes. For example, sometimes Facebook will release what pieces of content will hold more weight in the ranking algorithm.
    Don’t be afraid to share a blog post more than once. Because of how social media works, your content will probably not reach all of your followers the first time you post it.

For more small business tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram.

Trucks lined up at a truck stop. They are parking in the night.

The Parking Problem

In 2009, a trucker named Jason Rivenburg was shot and killed by a man who stole $7 in cash from him. Forced to park in an abandoned gas station when he became tired, Jason became the victim of a brutal crime. Sadly there are other stories similar to this one; it’s not the first time this has happened nor was it the last. It’s been 7 years since the murder of Jason Rivenburg, and even after a law has been passed, can we say that much has been done to address this problem?

According to a recent report from the Federal Highway Administration, 72% of states reported having problems with truck parking. What is causing the problem for the lack of parking? There are a couple of factors that could be playing into this:

• HOS Rules

With the hours of service rules in place, truckers may not be able to find parking when the clock runs out. In an article by Fleet Owner, one trucker said that the closest safe parking to his intended destination was 15 miles away. In traffic, that distance could be up to 45 minutes. Because of HOS rules, this 45 minutes could cause a trucker to go over his or her allotted time. The impact of hours of service rules on truck parking is causing many truckers to park in unsafe areas, like along highways, interstates, exit ramps and abandoned lots.

• Lack of truck stops

The United States went through a recession in 2008. During this time, trucks on the road decreased and many truck stops had more spaces than trucks. A couple of years after, the economy picked back up as well as the number of trucks on the road. However, truck stops haven’t caught up to the demand, creating a lack of safe parking at truck stops.

So what’s the solution?

After the tragedy involving Jason Rivenburg in 2009, legislation occurred to increase available, safe parking for truckers through Jason’s Law. The law was passed in 2012 providing more than $6 million to put toward the construction of safe truck parking.

In 2015, the National Coalition on Truck Parking was created through the Federal Highway Administration to address this shortage. The coalition met in the fall of 2015 after the survey results of Jason’s Law confirmed the lack of safe parking available. During this meeting, the coalition defined some obstacles and opportunities to reaching the ultimate goal.
The United States Department of Transportation conducted a Beyond Traffic study and concluded that by 2040 the amount of freight moving in this country will increase by 45 percent. Therefore, the truck parking issue needs to be addressed way before we get to that point.

Many truck stops are expanding their spaces and giving truckers the option of “reserving” spots. However, this can cost money, and should a trucker have to pay for his or her safety? Another option for truckers is the big box stores that sometimes let truckers park in their parking lots. Many of their parking lots have the ability to hold that amount of weight, because freight is coming in and out constantly, However, not all big box stores have the same policies. While some are welcoming to big rigs, others turn them away. This is not always a viable option, so it can’t be the only solution.

In addition to the coalition formed, Truckers Had Enough has created a video creating more awareness of the truck parking problem.

Ultimately, we can create laws and coalitions, but in the end, we need to prevent more Jason Rivenburg situations; we need a solution.

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5 Social Media Tips for Staffing Agencies

If you work for a staffing agency, social media can be a powerful tool to help your firm grow by finding the right candidates.

Agencies that aren’t utilizing social media marketing in their strategy are missing valuable opportunities. However, with many platforms available, it can be challenging to determine which are most effective and which are simply a waste of time. In this article, we’ll share five social media tips to increase your staffing opportunities.

1. Understand your target audience

Each social media platform features its own audience. The first step to develop a solid social media strategy is to pinpoint the demographics. Who are your ideal candidates? Focus your efforts on the channels where those individuals will likely be found.

2. Ensure brand credibility and consistency

Another important component of a good social media strategy is branding. Undoubtedly, you will be competing with dozens of other recruiters, all of whom are vying for the same top talent. To grab and keep the attention of potential candidates, your brand must stand out as both credible and consistent. Be sure your agency maintains an active online presence with an image and voice that are consistent across all platforms.

3. Find the right platform

One social media marketing mistake many businesses make—staffing companies included—is trying to spread their resources too thin. Sure, you could be active on multiple social media channels, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. In fact, doing so could have a negative effect. Instead, focus on mastering the top few platforms where you’re most likely to reach your target audience.

4. Make your content searchable

Keywords aren’t just for search engine optimization (SEO). They also make your content easier to find. In fact, search engines rank social media sites so favorably that leveraging the right keywords can increase your results, making locating the right candidates far easier. In the company description, incorporate targeted keywords and links to the agency’s other social media accounts. Keyword-rich “about me” descriptions will enhance your online search ability and visibility. And don’t forget to incorporate relevant hashtags on all posts to better reach your target audience. Hashtags make it easier for your audience to find, follow, and contribute to a conversation.

5. Tap into your current workforce

Successful recruiters have a built-in network of referral opportunities in the candidates they’ve already matched with companies in need. Why not tap into this resource to help spread the word socially about other openings you’re trying to fill? Today’s consumers trust online recommendations just as much as if they’d come from a friend, family member, or colleague; and getting others to share on your behalf provides access to additional networks of potential candidates.

Where to spend your time

Now that you’ve built a strong foundation to support your social media strategy, let’s take a quick look at which platforms tend to be the most beneficial marketing channels for staffing agencies.

  • LinkedIn: Advanced search allows you to look for prospects using keywords, job titles, industries, and more.
  • Blog Posts: Leverage the power of SEO to help candidates find you and learn about your openings.
  • Facebook: Use the new advertising format to target candidates based on a number of variables.
  • Twitter: Use keywords to search for qualified candidates.

For more details on recommended social media platforms for recruiters as well as other valuable tips, watch this short video clip.

And be sure to bookmark our Staffing Blog for the best staffing agency resources, professional advice, tips, tricks, and much more.

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How to Close the Sale

Whether you realize it or not, at some point in your career you will inevitably face the need to sell something, be it a product or service, or even yourself as a qualified candidate in a job interview. Learning how to effectively close the sale, regardless of what’s at stake, is an important part of being successful in any line of work. For many, it’s also one of the most challenging. Here are a few key points to keep in mind that will help you become more adept at negotiating and sealing the deal in any situation.

Understand your ideal customer…

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sales. In fact, it’s something that must be tailored to the audience you’re specifically targeting if it’s going to net you the results you’re after. Having a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is and what their unique needs, wants and pain points are can help you develop a more effective sales pitch. This not only reaches your prospects where they are, but demonstrates why your product or service is something they absolutely must have.

It’s about them, not you…

You may have an amazing product or service that could help people tremendously. The problem is, if you can’t clearly communicate how your offering will specifically benefit your prospects, you’re wasting your time (and theirs). When you sell, focus on your customers’ needs rather than what you believe are the key selling points of your product. What you find great about your product may be different than how others perceive its benefits. As an added bonus, when your sales approach is focused solely on your audience, you’ll naturally begin to build valuable relationships. Because people are more likely to buy from someone that they know and trust, you’ll already be a step ahead of the game.

Use happy customers as sales tools…

You could talk for hours about how awesome your product or service is, but it doesn’t mean nearly as much as when that kind of glowing endorsement comes from an actual customer. In fact, 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family, colleagues and friends more than any other resource. Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied clients and customers who have had a positive experience with your brand to give a recommendation for future sales. Reviews and videos can be a strong and powerful tool for effectively closing the sale.

Ask…

It may seem obvious, but this is the step that many people tend to struggle with the most. If you’ve done your job in identifying your prospects’ needs and aligning the benefits of your product or service with those needs, the final step in asking them to sign on the dotted line shouldn’t be that difficult. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll get a ‘no’? Overcoming objectives and dealing with rejection is par for the course, and will ultimately make you a stronger negotiator over time.

Successful individuals have one thing in common: the ability to close the sale. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the sale of your latest product, an upgrade on a particular service offering or selling yourself as the ideal candidate for that new job or promotion. The key is understanding the science and psychology behind the sales process and making that work for you. By applying the tactics listed above, you’ll be able to hone your skills and start closing deals with cool confidence and an increasing success rate.

A woman with a blue and orange shirt, sitting at her desk working on her laptop. She is smiling as she is working.

The Cash Advance Option You Never Considered

When small businesses have a need for money, the most common next-step is to apply for a loan. What many don’t realize is that they have capital readily available to them in the form of outstanding invoices. In fact, the process of accounts receivable factoring has many favorable benefits over traditional financing methods, particularly in the case of government contracting. Let’s take a look at a few of these benefits and how invoice factoring services might be the ideal solution to your business capital needs.

Dependable Cash Flow

You can’t win a government contract if you don’t have the financial means to fulfill your bid. Don’t miss out on that upcoming RFP due to lack of positive cash-flow to back it up. Government contract financing is fast, easy and cuts out all the red tape involved in getting a loan. You’ll have access to the money you need when you need it, without having to take on additional debt in the process.

Competitive Advantage

Many small businesses feel it’s impossible to compete with larger organizations, particularly when it comes to bidding on government contracts. By working with a reputable invoice factoring company, you can step up to the plate and play ball with the big dogs. Better yet, you can do so with the confidence that comes with knowing you’ve got the funding to back it up.

Hire the Best People

Anyone who has been in business for even a short amount of time knows how important it is to hire a qualified staff of skilled, dedicated workers. Attracting and recruiting top talent is only half the battle. You also have to make sure you’re taking care of their needs so they’ll want to stay onboard for the long-term. Leveraging your outstanding invoices for upfront cash can help ensure that once you’ve landed the right candidates, you won’t lose them due to payroll disruptions or other financial woes.

Think Long Term

One of the biggest factors in successful government contracting is proper preparation ahead of time. You need to know what types of contracts you’re best suited for, how and when to best position your offer, and what bid amount would be most likely to help you come out on top. Having a plan in place for financing is a significant part of this preparation. Plan ahead, research invoice factoring as well as reputable factoring companies now. It will give you assurance that once the bid is won, you are set with your financing needs.

Transparency

Successful small business professionals value honesty and choosing an invoice factoring company is no exception. Not all providers are created equal, but if you do your homework, you can end up with a partner that provides this high level of transparency. For instance, our government contract financing services do not include any monthly minimums, and there are no hidden fees to worry about. It’s a level of trust that is rare in the factoring industry.

If you’re a small business that’s considering entering the world of government contracting, it’s important to know all of your options ahead of time, including the best way to finance your bids. Invoice factoring can provide the working capital you need to confidently throw your hat into the ring and emerge victorious.

A man in a blue button up shirt sitting at a desk writing in a spiral noteback, and working on a computer.

Finding the Right Freight Broker Training

When you search for freight broker training courses on Google, you will inevitably find pages and pages of results. How can you decipher which one is best for your freight brokerage? More importantly, how can you determine which one will provide the best return on your investment? Let’s take a look at a few of the key features to look for when choosing a freight broker training program for your business.

Experience

The goal of any freight broker training program is to gain as much knowledge and value as possible in order to grow your freight brokerage. To improve the chances of achieving this goal, you need a training partner that has specific experience in the freight broker industry. For example, the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) training program is backed by over 30 years of experience in the industry. Typically, the longer the company has been in business, the more reliable their training program will be.

Reputation

Along with extensive experience comes a host of satisfied customers. The reputation of the training provider you choose should be an important factor in determining whether their program is worth the investment. Are there other freight brokers or those in the transportation industry talking about this program? Look for reviews to find out if it’s legitimate. If you’re not careful and don’t do your homework, you could end up with a training program that is sub-par and fails to produce the results you’re after.

Convenience/Flexibility

Freight brokers often find themselves being pulled in a number of different directions. To accommodate this somewhat chaotic schedule, you need a training program that supports the busy freight broker lifestyle. This may include online classes or courses that can be completed at home. Of course, some people are just naturally more successful attending a physical class. Figure out what best fits your schedule and plan from there.

Cost

For most freight brokers who are just getting started, the cost of training is also an important factor. Not only do you need to find a program that will provide quality course material with training options that suit your schedule, but it will also likely need to fit within a particular budget. Companies looking to free up extra capital to fund training may consider freight broker factoring as an option. Simply sell your outstanding accounts receivables to a factoring company, like Triumph, and you could have cash in your pocket the same day. Freight broker factoring is a great alternative to other quick cash options.

As with anything else in business, choosing the freight broker training program that’s best for your freight brokerage is an important step in ensuring a qualified, well-trained staff. Knowing what characteristics to look for – such as the ones listed above – can help take you from overwhelmed to confident when choosing the best freight broker training option for you.

A white 18-wheelers driving with large moutains to the right with a little bit of snow and a lot of green trees. There is a lime green check box to the left of the image as well.

Look for the Green Check Mark and Kiss the Lost Loads Goodbye

Since 1978, DAT Solutions has been a trusted source of information for transportation professionals, providing valuable data on important topics like supply and demand trends, forecasting, benchmarking and capacity planning, which is vital for achieving operational efficiency. As part of our commitment to serve the trucking industry and our valued clients, Triumph Business Capital has had an exclusive factoring partnership with DAT since 2013.

Through this partnership, our clients can enjoy free trials on two different DAT freight matching services – 30 days free on TruckersEdge and 15 days free on DAT Express. All DAT load matching services offer full technology integration with our own proprietary Online Broker Credit program. This provides valuable insight into which loads are factorable while searching for your next load to haul.

In the past, truckers struggled with mustering up the time and resources it took to identify which loads are factorable through their factoring company. By the time you received credit approval, the load could be gone. That’s why this partnership between Triumph and DAT is so beneficial. With the seamless interface, you can search for loads and see which ones are credit-approved – all at the same time. The green check on the DAT Load Boards indicates a factorable load through Triumph Business Capital. It’s that simple!

Freight factoring provides a number of benefits to those in the trucking industry, the most obvious of which is improved cash flow. By selling your outstanding accounts receivable balances, you can gain quick and easy access to much-needed capital without having to rely on loans or other complicated financing options. And because invoice factoring doesn’t involve ongoing debt payments or interest charges, your company will experience reduced risk. Freight factoring is built to last through the various seasons of your business’ life.

What could your trucking company do with better cash flow? Pay your drivers on time, stay up to date on insurance, pay for fuel and much more. Truck factoring can even help you work toward an aggressive growth strategy. Whatever your unique business needs, freight factoring can provide the funding you need to achieve your goals and objectives. And with this exclusive DAT partnership, doing so has never been easier.

To learn more about our DAT partnership and how you can take advantage of this and other great benefits that our factoring company has to offer, click here or visit our Trucking Blog.

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The Drive for Better Health

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Choosing Your Big Rig: Buying vs. Leasing Your Truck

Purchasing a truck can be a significant expense, even for the most established trucking companies. As with most vehicles, acquiring a truck typically requires either a lease or a purchase. Which is the wisest investment? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons associated with each option to help you make a more informed decision for your business.

Leasing

Leasing is essentially financing the use (or deprecation) of your truck, as opposed to a loan, which finances the actual vehicle. There are various types of leasing agreements to choose from, but generally speaking, a truck lease covers the difference between the purchase price of the vehicle (excluding sales tax) and the projected value of the vehicle at the end of the lease terms.

One of the biggest differences between a lease and a purchase is what happens when all the required payments have been made. Unlike a purchase, with a lease, you will not automatically own the vehicle at the end of the terms. Some leases will allow you to purchase the truck when the lease ends for an additional amount of money, while others will allow you to trade the vehicle in, either for another truck or for the remaining cash value.

Depending on the type of lease you choose, you could end up paying more for a “closed end” lease. You could also be paying for mileage or wear and tear before you walk away as well. Furthermore, leases often include other expenses, such as security deposits, non-refundable acquisition fees and other miscellaneous fees.

In short, leasing provides flexible options, but sometimes that flexibility can come back to hurt you, as having an outstanding lease on a vehicle directly impacts your company’s cash flow, taxes and ability to replace or increase fleet.

Buying

Unless you can afford to pay in full, buying a truck typically involves taking out a loan for the purchase amount, less any cash down payment you can come up with. The loan will be for a set term, with incremental payments due that include whatever interest rate your business was assessed. Unlike leasing, purchasing a vehicle doesn’t involve nearly as many fees or expenses. It also provides the distinct advantage of allowing your business to establish and grow equity over time. When that last loan payment is made, ownership of the vehicle is transferred over to your company.

When purchasing a truck, there are a number of available equipment financing options from which to choose. Most importantly, as you make payments on the truck, unlike with a lease, you will continue to increase your equity in that vehicle. Once your financing obligation is met, you will be free to do whatever you’d like with the vehicle, including selling it to raise more capital for newer, better or additional truck purchases.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to lease or purchase will depend on your company’s unique situation. It will also depend on cash flow. If you’re looking to increase your fleet, trucking factoring can help provide an additional avenue of income to help make lease or loan payments more manageable.

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The Goldilocks Effect: Payroll Funding That Is Just Right

You’ve probably heard the well-worn story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In this age-old tale, young Goldilocks is out for a walk in the woods when she stumbles upon the cabin belonging to the three bears. Upon entering and realizing nobody was home, she tests out each of the bears’ beds. Finding baby bear’s bed to be “just right,” Goldilocks promptly falls into a deep, fitful sleep. In real-life, this concept of finding solutions that are “just right” is important, especially in business.

Often times, staffing companies struggle to find the ideal solution to their cash flow woes. Let’s take a closer look at what these challenges are and how they can be overcome.

Funding Your Payroll

When it comes to paying your employees, there are a number of different options available to you. Determining which one is “just right” will depend on your specific business needs and a wide variety of other factors. These options include:

Traditional Revenue Funding – That is, relying on your incoming revenue to issue payroll. While on paper this may seem like the wisest choice, in reality, it may actually be more challenging than you may realize. After all, if your payroll is contingent solely on your income, what happens during a financial down turn? Furthermore, if most of your profits are being paid back out, this type of setup can stunt your ability to grow.

Payroll Loans – Another viable option for funding your payroll is taking out a bank loan. This isn’t necessarily a terrible idea, but it’s not the right fit for everyone. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of taking on additional debt and to assess your company’s financial ability to repay the loan without stretching yourself too thin. Additionally, if you’re finding yourself in a position to need extra funding for your payroll needs on a regular basis, bank loans could potentially make matters worse. In fact, you may not even be approved.

Payroll Funding – The third option is invoice factoring or payroll funding. Unlike the other two methods, there is no dipping into existing or incoming funds, nor does it involve incurring any type of debt (and the interest payments that come along with it). Instead, you simply sell some or all of your outstanding accounts receivable to a factoring company for a small fee. The cash payment you receive in return can then be used to fund payroll (or any other business needs you may have).

When you consider the three available options, it becomes clear that for the majority of staffing companies, payroll funding is the solution that fits “just right.” This is especially true for smaller to mid-sized firms or those that wish to grow and expand, as it doesn’t require the use of existing profits nor does it depend on bank approval or credit-worthiness.

Some of the other benefits of staffing factoring or payroll funding include:

Fast Access to Working Capital – With the right partner, you can have the funds you need in no time. Eliminate the time-consuming task of waiting for invoices to be paid or for banks to make decisions. Get your cash when you need it.

Flexibility – If there’s one thing about the staffing industry, it’s that there can be tremendous ebbs and flows in the demand for talent. With payroll financing, you don’t have to worry about how you’ll keep up with these changing demands, because you’ll always have access to the funding you need.

Opportunity – Growth is something that many smaller staffing businesses strive to achieve. The problem is, many find it difficult to compete due to financial restraints. Having access to funding when you need it allows you to take on those larger clients without the worry of how differing payment cycles might impact your business.

Customer/Client Satisfaction – When you no longer struggle to meet payroll, regardless of external or internal circumstances, employees and the companies you place them with will find your staffing company “just right” too!

Want to learn more about payroll funding? Click here or contact us today!

Invoice Factoring

Small Business Factoring – Taking the Next Step

Keeping up with the demands of a successful business venture, while at the same time, trying to achieve ongoing growth can be quite challenging – even for the most seasoned professional. Whether it’s expanding to reach new market segments, opening additional locations, hiring more employees or whatever else the case may be, invoice factoring can provide the ideal solution to a business owner who is looking to grow his or her company. If you’re ready to take your business to a whole new level but are unsure where to begin, here are a few ways small business factoring can help.

What is Invoice Factoring?

As a small business owner, you’re probably well aware of the struggles associated with cash flow. Finding a way to fund operations and expansions without going completely in the red isn’t easy. In fact, finances are one of the biggest reasons small companies are unable to grow. So what are your options? Well, there’s always a business loan, assuming you can get approved and the interest rate makes it worth your while. Unfortunately, with banks tightening their belts and limiting the amount of funds they’re willing to extend to small business clients, this isn’t always a feasible option.

Enter small business factoring. Rather than relying on credit to create working capital, factoring for small business involves a cash payment in exchange for the purchase of your accounts receivables. There is no loan, no payments and no debt incurred. You simply receive an upfront payment for the amount of your customer invoices, minus a small fee.

Benefits of Small Business Factoring

Invoice factoring provides a number of distinct advantages over traditional funding options. Among these benefits include:

  • Fast access to cash – No more waiting for bank executives or investors to make their decisions
  • No additional debt – Access the cash you need to fund your business growth without the hassle of loan payments
  • Fewer headaches – No more worrying about chasing your customers for payments
  • Control and flexibility – Unlike loans and other forms of funding, you remain in total control over how much of your receivables you’d like to sell
  • No interest – Factoring for small business does not involve any payments or interest
  • No risk, less stress – Because invoice factoring doesn’t involve repayment, there’s no need to worry about how your business’ performance might play a role down the road

Taking the Next Step

You’ve worked hard to establish your small business and make it profitable. Now, the time has come for you to focus your efforts on growth and expansion. Invoice factoring can help you successfully achieve these goals and even exceed them without the worry or hassle of incurring more debt in the process. Getting started is easy. First, determine how much capital you need to raise in order to fund your proposed growth strategy.
With that number in mind, identify your slow paying customers and factor those accounts receivables. Then, choose an invoice factoring company with whom to work. Be sure to select a partner that has experience and a proven track record working with small businesses like yours. Finally, complete the necessary paperwork and receive your payment.

With the right kind of funding, you can focus your time and resources where they matter most: on taking your small business to the next level. If you think invoice factoring might be the right option for you, or you’d like to learn more about how this type of business funding works, contact us today!

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What a New President Means for Government Contractors

With every election year comes a great degree of uncertainty, particularly for those who deal in government contracts. Because each candidate gets to choose how they use federal resources, newly elected officials can have a direct and significant impact on such contracts and their provisions. That’s why it’s important for government contractors to stay informed of what a presidential change could mean for their industry. As US residents prepare to head to the polls in just a few short months, here’s what you need to know.

What Candidates Could Eliminate or Create

Some candidates aim to eliminate certain government agencies while others look to create new ones, and some want to do both. When an agency is eliminated, contractors who work with that agency may eventually find themselves out of a job. In contrast, when a new agency is established, it’s likely to provide the opportunity for additional work. For instance, John Kasich intends to eliminate federal oversight of highways and the Department of Education while Bernie Sanders is focused on increasing government intervention in the areas of health care and higher education. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has pledged to conduct a complete “top to bottom review” of all government agencies if she’s elected.
Staying abreast of each candidate’s tendencies and proposed changes and being well prepared ahead of time is essential.

Changes to Regulations

Anyone in the government contracting field is already well aware of the plethora of regulations that must be adhered to when bidding or working on various contracts. It’s important to note that these regulations are subject to change, and likely will to some degree, depending on which candidate ultimately wins the election in November. Additionally, there are still a number of new executive orders that have been issued but have yet to take place. These pending changes must also be accounted for.

Increased Security and Enforcement

With the importance of cyber security at an all-time high, government contractors should expect an uptick in regulations surrounding the area of information sharing, particularly from the Department of Defense. Additionally, industry experts anticipate an increase in enforcement of any regulations that remain in place, especially in the case of data security violations. It is absolutely critical that anyone in the contracting business stay on top of these security regulations and strictly adhere to them.

Funding to Agencies

Even though candidates may decide to keep a government agency intact, they may subsequently choose to change the funding to that agency. This could result in fewer government contracts, or it could result in an overall increase. Relatively speaking, this particular election season has been somewhat “calm” according to industry experts. Regardless, contractors need to be aware of each candidate’s stance on governmental change.
In any of the above cases, contractors should be well-prepared to handle any financial impact that such a change may result in. Being wise and keeping alternative funding options in mind, such as government invoice factoring, can help ensure financial security even during a time of serious transition.

If you are a government contractor and would like more information about what government invoice factoring is and, more importantly, how it can help keep your business running strong despite the changing landscape, click here or contact us today.

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The Importance of Finding Your Niche While Maintaining Flexibility

The freight brokerage industry is one of intense competition. While being flexible is important, identifying a specific niche to focus on can help your firm stand out and improve your chances of sustained profitability. Some freight brokers naturally know what markets they should target based on their experience within the industry, but others – particularly those who are just starting out – may not find this decision as straightforward. If you find your company is taking on too much, or you’re struggling to differentiate yourself from your competitors, here are a few tips for locating and capitalizing on your most lucrative market.

Benefits of Niche Marketing

The reason focusing on one or two key areas is so advantageous, especially in the freight brokerage field, is because doing so allows your firm to develop a higher degree of expertise. By working in the same market segment day in and day out, you will become immersed in all of the elements that make that sector unique. Over time, this in-depth experience will help your company emerge as a trusted resource, both for existing and prospective customers. You’ll also be able to dedicate your time, effort and marketing dollars to a much more targeted audience, increasing your ROI.

Identifying Your Freight Broker Niche

Some freight brokerages find it easy to identify the specific niche markets where they’d be most likely to succeed. For others, this process takes a concerted effort. If you’re in the latter group, here are a few tips for determining which areas would be best for you to focus.

  • First, assess your company’s unique value proposition. What makes your firm so special? Why should your prospects choose your freight brokerage over another? Identifying these strengths and key competencies can help you further define the area in which your services would be most effective.
  • Next, consider the various segments in the industry to determine which most closely matches what your firm has to offer. Some niches to consider include:
    • Regional
    • Type of product/material being shipped
    • Type of trucks used
    • Specialized brokerage cargo
  • Finally, once you’ve decided on an area of focus, immerse yourself in it. Learn everything there is to know about that particular segment and start marketing your firm accordingly.

Additional Tips

Now that you’ve figured out which market your firm is best suited for, the real work can begin. Developing a strategy and establishing yourself as a key player in your chosen area of expertise isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time and effort to truly achieve the results you’re after. That said, here are a few tips to get you moving in the right direction.

Leverage Your Experience – On-the-job experience is extremely valuable and a critical component of successfully establishing yourself as a niche market expert.

Build Your Portfolio – Focus on landing a few good clients and then build on that momentum. Over time, this will help your freight brokerage to develop a reputation as a leader in your chosen market.

Establish Alliances – In such a competitive industry, putting down roots in a specific segment can be challenging. Linking up with other professionals who are also related to the industry (but not direct competitors) can help. One example is you can find other professionals through the TIA.

Promote Your Specialty – Once you’ve identified and begun conquering your particular niche, make sure your marketing efforts are aligned accordingly.

Invest Wisely – Lastly, you cannot expect to be successful, unless you’re maximizing your firm’s cash flow. If this area still isn’t your strong point, freight broker factoring might be an option to consider.

The freight brokerage industry can be fiercely competitive. While it may seem like a good idea to be open to all areas of business, taking on too much could potentially harm your company in the long run. Focusing on a specific niche market, on the other hand, can really help your firm stand out. The tips provided above should help you identify what areas to focus on for optimum results.

Want more industry tips and tricks? Check out our Freight Broker Blog.

Truck who uses freight factoring pulling into truck stop

Freight Factoring Can Keep You Rolling

Cash flow problems can cause you to put the brakes on your trucking business. Before you find yourself running on empty, take a look at freight factoring; it’s cash flow without debt.

You may have heard of this type of financing before around the truck stop or at trade shows under different names like truck factoring, accounts receivable financing or even transportation factoring. Despite the name, the purpose is the same: to get you cash when you need it.

What is Freight Factoring?

Factoring companies like Triumph Business Capital can purchase your outstanding invoices for a small fee, so you don’t have to wait 30, 60 or even 90 days to get paid.

With that extra cash in hand, you now can pay your drivers (or your salary), insurance costs, fuel and other expenses eating at you. If you’ve been thinking about growing your trucking business, freight factoring can help you buy more trucks and hire more drivers.

With truck factoring, slow paying customers don’t have to slow you down.

Freight bill factoring isn’t one size fits all. It grows with your business. Through recourse and non-recourse factoring, you can tailor factoring to fit your business.

What to Look for with a Factoring Company

Your transportation factoring company will be dealing a lot with your money, so the first thing you want to look for is a team you can trust. Make sure you have the ability to see the status of your funding whenever and wherever you need to.

Yes, a rate is important, but a freight factoring company you can trust is of greater importance. That low rate isn’t going to do you any good when your factoring company won’t communicate with you about when you will get your money.

You should also look for a trucking factoring company that partners with others who offer helpful services to truckers. For example, Triumph Business Capital is exclusively partnered with DAT Solutions, allowing load board users to see which loads are factorable directly on the load board.

Stability is another important aspect to look for in your freight factoring company. Because your factoring company deals with your cash, you want to make sure it is financially stable. Along with Triumph’s financial stability in Triumph Bancorp, it also has the ability to offer your business various financial services- insurance, equipment financing and even asset based lending.

Freight factoring could be the answer to your inconsistent cash flow. Feel free to give an expert at Triumph a call at 866-368-2482.

For up to date information on the trucking industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

An iPhone with Facebook next to letters spelling out social media

Small Business Social Media 101: How to Start Using Social Media

Social media is revolutionizing our world, not only in the way we connect with others but also how businesses market. With 74% of internet users using social media, small businesses can’t ignore that a large part of their audience are active on social networking sites. This audience is filled with current customers, potential customers, and even potential brand ambassadors.

So how can your small business utilize social media to build relationships and ultimately generate sales?

You can’t just start by posting on Facebook or sending out a tweet. You need to approach your social media marketing with purpose.

Identify Your Goals

Why does your company want to be on social media?

Think about your business and what makes sense for your customers. If you run an e-commerce site, then maybe your goal is to drive people to the website to purchase goods. If you are a B2B company, maybe your goal is to build brand awareness or thought leadership in your industry.

Here are some ideas when determining your goals:

  • Build thought leadership
  • Establish brand awareness
  • Drive sales
  • Create relationships with customers
  • Increase website traffic

Once you have your goals identified, write them down. You will want to refer to them as you further develop your social strategy.

Research Your Intended Audience

Each social media platform has a different audience that they cater to. While many individuals and businesses may be on multiple platforms, you need to find where your audience is and engage with them there.

 

Social Media Audience Demographics

This chart is just a snapshot of the social media platforms available to your business. Continue to do research on what platform(s) is best for your small business.

Gain an Audience

Once you have identified the right social media channels for your business, it’s time to build your social audience. You want to find the right people to engage with your content so that ultimately you can fulfill your goals.

  • Invite your customers using email or even giveaways in your brick and mortar store. When we first created our Facebook page, we had giveaways in exchange for likes at a trade show. Get creative.
  • Run Facebook advertisements to get your pre-determined audience to “like” your Facebook page. A little money can go a long way when it comes to Facebook advertising.
  • Use relevant hashtags on Instagram and Twitter to create buzz about your page and content.
  • Use tools like Klout and Follerwonk to determine industry leaders. Follow these users and engage with them on their social platforms. You can also see who follows them, and they might be someone of interest to you too.
  • As you begin to engage with others on social media, you will begin to grow your following. Now that you have followers, you can begin to reach your social media goals.

The next post in this series will highlight how to create killer content to fill your social media pages.

For more small business tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram.

woman typing on keyboard at desk

Get Ahead with Your Carriers: 5 Freight Broker Software Products

Utilizing software product can play a big role in the success of a freight brokerage for a number of reasons. First, it can help streamline operations. It can also dramatically improve efficiency and productivity levels. Finally, it’s one of the most effective ways to maintain compliance at all times. The problem is not all freight broker software products are created equal. To help making your selection a little bit easier, here are few of the more popular options, in no particular order.

Tailwind Transportation Software – The Tailwind product is great for freight broker companies that handle a variety of load types, including local, flat bed, intermodal, and long haul loads. It includes multiple load boards, accounting functionality, customizable quotes and is cloud-based and paperless. The company offers free demos so you can see how the product works prior to purchasing.

Ascend TMS – With their FREE TMS, AscendTMS manages loads, financials, document management and much more. If you need to pinpoint your carriers within your TMS, the AscendTMS tracker allows you to see where your drivers are located using their cell phone’s GPS. Also with this integration, carriers can send a text message with the status of the load, allowing you to keep tabs on the load from pickup to drop off. With AscendTMS, you also have the ability to post to 52 load boards, so your loads have the best chance of getting picked up. Learn more about AscendTMS’ features, here.

McLeod PowerBroker Software – This product is extremely popular among many large freight brokers because it is incredibly robust and feature-rich. It offers a fully integrated freight brokerage operations management system and a complete accounting software solution all in one package, from one company. Furthermore, the company also offers mobile applications so freight can be managed from anywhere.

Aljex– Aljex is a cloud based TMS with products for brokerages, carriers and intermodals. For freight brokers, they provide daily support, giving you the help you need when you need it. Their support is unlimited, allowing you to best use their robust system for all of your needs. From document imaging to posting to load boards, Aljex has many features available to users. You can even request a free demo of the product before you purchase.

3PLSystems, Inc. – The 3PL product branded as “BrokerWare™ Transportation Management System” is designed to operate freight brokerage from A to Z utilizing a wide variety of unique and highly-effective features. These include such options as least cost routing, sales portal, customer portal, and a bi-directional accounting integration. They’re also known for their user friendly interface. The company offers a number of demo videos as well as the option request a live demonstration.

When it comes to choosing the right freight broker software, the options are many. The five listed above should at least give you a decent starting point to help you narrow your selections and choose the ideal product for your business needs.

For more freight broker tips, see what we are up to on Facebook and Twitter!

18 Wheeler Driving in the rain behind a small car

We Ranked the Top Critical Truck Driver Safety Tips

Driving a truck may seem pretty simple and straightforward, but given the size and power of these vehicles, safety is critical. That’s why a significant portion of all truck driver training programs is devoted to teaching future drivers how to keep themselves and other operators safe on the road, while also protecting their precious cargo. If you’re planning a career in trucking, below are critical truck driver safety tips to keep in mind when getting behind the wheel.

Load Cargo Carefully

If you are responsible for loading your own truck, be careful about how you do so to avoid potential issues once you hit the road. Remember that the higher you stack your cargo, the more drag you will have on your truck. By stacking lower and distributing cargo throughout the full space of the truck, your vehicle will be easier to control and maneuver, making it safer. As an added bonus, you’ll also improve your fuel economy. Want to see how to best load your cargo? Use this simple load calculator.

Understand Blind Spots

All vehicles have certain areas known as blind spots from which the driver is unable to adequately see what’s around him or her. For larger vehicles, common blind spots include the area off to the side, just in front of the cab; directly behind the side mirrors; and directly behind the truck itself. It’s important to take extra precaution when conducting certain maneuvers, such as backing up or changing lanes. Also, keep in mind that four wheelers may be unaware of these blind spots. In fact, most four wheelers don’t know about the four no zones. You could think about placing warning signs with pictures of your blind spots on the back of your truck to inform four wheelers of the dangers.

Reduce Speed on Curves

Posted speed limits, particularly on roadways that feature lots of curves, are meant more for four wheel drivers. Larger trucks aren’t meant to hit these higher limits, especially around corners and bends. Driving too fast in such an area can increase the risk of your truck tipping over. Whenever you’re navigating around curves you should always reduce speed below the posted limit.

Drive Defensively

There are plenty of things you can do to ensure that your driving is safe, but since you’ll inevitably be sharing the road, it’s also important that you take into consideration the other drivers around you. Always be alert and prepared for any situation, like avoiding a collision with a vehicle that unexpectedly cuts you off.

Adjust for Bad Weather

About one quarter of all speed-related accidents involving trucks are caused by inclement weather. It’s critical that you reduce your driving speed accordingly when traveling in poor weather. A good rule of thumb is to reduce your speed by one-third when roads are wet and reduce half your speed when snow or ice is present. Allow ample time for other drivers to see your signals before changing lanes, and if you notice other truck drivers pulling over, it might be wise for you to do the same. For more information on winter weather driving tips, check out our blog post.

Drive with Caution in Construction Zones

Believe it or not, incidents involving large trucks account for approximately one-third of all construction-zone accidents. This is why truck driver training includes detailed instruction on how to watch for and avoid such situations. Pay careful attention to all road signs and always err on the side of caution by reducing your speed any time you are driving through a construction area.

Maintain Your Vehicle

Prior to leaving for any type of road trip, you are responsible for conducting a thorough inspection of your truck. Any potential problems should be reported and/or corrected immediately. The act of properly maintaining your vehicle can dramatically reduce the number of safety incidents that occur on the road. Test your knowledge about a pre-trip inspection with these free tests!

Stay Calm

Another important lesson, though one that isn’t usually covered in truck driver training, is that of remaining calm in any situation. For some, this is easier said than done, especially in stressful situations such as heavy traffic or other delays. If you are to remain safe and prevent potentially dangerous accidents, however, keeping a cool head is essential.

Take Care of Yourself

Driving a truck can be an exhausting job, but given the inherent risk associated with the profession, taking proper care of yourself is of the utmost importance. For instance, making sure you always get the proper amount of sleep prior to getting behind the wheel. It’s also good practice to eat well, exercise regularly and enjoy some much-needed time off every so often. Doing so will keep you refreshed and rejuvenated, which will lead to safer driving all around. Trucking companies and drivers are making big changes for a healthier lifestyle; learn more in “The Push to Help You ‘Keep On Trucking.’”

One of the most important goals any truck driver strives for on a daily basis is that of safety. It takes a concerted effort and well-planned execution to avoid accidents and other potentially dangerous situations while behind the wheel. The truck driver safety tips listed above should provide a good foundation for keeping yourself, your vehicle and your fellow motorists out of harm’s way.

brown paper pulled up in the middle with exposing the myths written in the middle

Exposing the Myths of Small Business Government Contracting

Did you know that the U.S. government actually has a goal to award nearly one-quarter of its prime contracts to small businesses? Furthermore, Congress approves over $1 trillion in spending just about every year. Though this is great news, a good number of small businesses are still hesitant to get involved. Much of the resistance is due to a number of myths and misconceptions that are still being perpetuated. If you’re wondering how to get government contracts for your small business, here are some of these common misbeliefs and the actual truth behind each of them.

Myth: My Business is Too Small to be Competitive…

Truth: As mentioned above, the U.S. government sets aside a certain amount of money each year to specifically be spent on contracts with small businesses. That means for many contracts, larger organizations simply don’t qualify. When we take size out of the equation, the opportunities become much more attainable. (You can learn more about the various programs for small businesses here.)

Myth: The Lower Bidder Always Wins…

Truth: Sure, there will be times when another candidate is chosen based on the lowest price, but this is actually more of an exception than a rule. In fact, the Federal Government as well as state agencies have the right to award government contracts to whichever candidate they feel is best suited, regardless of the actual bid amount. Be competitive but confident in your company’s ability to provide quality goods or services, and you’ll have a very good chance of winning.

Myth: It Takes Forever to Get Paid…

Truth: Despite the horror stories you may have heard about on the news or read about in the paper, most government contracts are paid in a very timely manner. In fact, the average turnaround for remittance of monies owed is around 30 days, sometimes even less. Additionally, there are other options available to you when time is of the essence. For instance, government contract factoring allows you to collect what’s rightfully yours upfront without the hassle of waiting.

Myth: I’ll Spend a lot of Money and Time and May Not Even Win…

Truth: While government contracting does involve an investment of time, money and resources, the outcome isn’t nearly as bleak as you may think. In fact, a recent report by American Express OPEN found that small businesses seeking a government contract for three years or less were awarded their first contract in just one year and after only three unsuccessful bids. The old adage that “you can’t win them all” can be applied here, as with any other business dealing, but success is certainly not impossible.

Myth: It’s Way Too Complicated…

Truth: While there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to understanding how to get government contracts, working with Federal or state agencies is really not all that different from doing business with other large organizations. It may take a bit of trial and error, but getting the process down to a science isn’t nearly as difficult as one might think. These tips should help cut down on the trial and error:

Tips to Writing a Flawless Government Proposal
Government Contracting- Rules You Need to Know
How to Bid for a Government Contract…and WIN
The Secret to Getting the Right Government Contract

If you’ve considered the possibility of bidding on a government contract but were hesitant due to one or more of the above misconceptions, the truths exposed above should help you make a more informed decision.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more Government Contracting Tips.

Small Business Owner doing taxes

Small Business Owners: Pay Attention to These Tax Tips

It’s that time of year again – tax season. As a small business owner, there are a number of unique considerations that you must account for while preparing to file. To make things a little easier, we’ve pulled together some best practices and small business tax preparation tips below.

First you need to gather the appropriate documentation reports and transaction lists. It’s always wise to keep close track of all expenses incurred throughout the year so that come tax time gathering the information you need won’t be a time-consuming hassle. This can be done a number of ways, whether it’s in a spreadsheet or within a software program. The more you keep track of, the more you can claim as deductions.
The IRS determines what items can and cannot be deducted for your small business taxes. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Home Office – If you work primarily out of your home, you may be able to claim some or all of the area in which you conduct your business activities. Keep in mind, however, that in order to qualify as a small business deduction, the space you’re claiming must be devoted solely to your business. To determine the percentage you are allowed to claim, measure your office area and divide the results by the total square footage of your home.
  • Office Supplies and Furniture – Many of the supplies that you use in the operation of your small business can be deducted as an expense on your taxes. Furniture is a bit trickier, as there is depreciation to take into consideration. A qualified tax professional can explain your options and help you determine which, if any, make sense for your business.
  • Mileage – The distance you travel in the course of conducting business transactions may be deductible, along with other local travel-related expenses, such as tolls. Again, this can become a bit tricky, as it ultimately depends on your starting point and other criteria. For example, if your office is located in your home, you can start tracking mileage right from there. If your office is located elsewhere, you can only claim the mileage you travel from that starting point to your destinations.
  • Business Travel Expenses – The money you spend while traveling for business purposes, such as paying for a hotel room, airfare and renting a vehicle can all be deducted on your small business taxes provided you have proper documentation. Additionally, a portion (50%) of your meal costs while traveling may also be deductible.
  • Insurance Premiums – The price of small business insurance premiums might be deductible if you are self-employed. Again, sitting down with a tax advisor is recommended to ensure compliance, and that you are availing yourself of all the deductions that you are entitled to.

Next, in order to file correctly with the government, you will need to make sure you complete and file the correct forms. Otherwise, you could end up delaying the process or missing out on available deductions. The type of form you need depends mainly on what you’re claiming as well as the type of business you own. For example, sole proprietors must attach a Schedule C to their personal income tax returns. For LLC and incorporations, there is additional paperwork required and forms must be filed separately from personal taxes.

Finally, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the filing deadlines for specific forms. A few of the dates to be aware of for small business tax filings are as follows:

  • Schedule C must be turned in by the typical April 15th deadline.
  • Form 1120 must be filed by the 15th day of the third month, which is typically March 15. You can’t include this with your personal income tax forms.

For more information on how to do your taxes as a small business, check out these instructional videos from the IRS or schedule an appointment with a tax professional that specializes in small business taxes.

A guy with glasses and a cup of coffee in hand, applying for a job online

Recruiting Strategies to Catch the Millennials

Staying up-to-date on the latest recruiting strategies can be tough, particularly when it comes to attracting quality candidates from the millennial generation. The reason it’s so challenging is because individuals from this demographic are markedly different from previous generations. Before you find yourself frustrated and ready to throw in the towel, let’s take a look at some creative recruiting resources staffing agencies can employ to help win over Millennials.

Understand what motivates them.

Unlike Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials have a completely unique set of desires and needs when it comes to their careers. For instance, younger workers place a much stronger emphasis on things like flexibility, work/life balance and growth opportunity than traditional motivating factors, like salary. Understanding what these workers are looking for can help you position your openings to make them more attractive.

Use social media.

The Millennial generation uses social media for much more than just keeping up with friends and family. They also turn to these online networking sites to connect with brands, make purchasing decisions and – yes – even look for work. If you want to reach candidates from this younger group, you have to meet them where they are, so be sure to incorporate social media into your recruiting strategies.

Create a mobile friendly site.

These days it seems just about everyone has a smartphone or other type of handheld device. This is especially true for Millennials, who are referred to as the first digital natives since they were born and raised during a time when the internet and things like cloud technology were the norm. In terms of staffing, some 1 billion job searches are conducted using a mobile device each and every month. Leverage this by ensuring that your recruiting site is mobile-friendly and can be easily accessed and navigated using any device.

Make culture a top priority.

Candidates from the younger generation want to work for companies that have invested in developing and fostering cultures that value people, not just the bottom line. That’s why employer branding is so important during the recruiting process. Staffing professionals must find a way to demonstrate and effectively “sell” the overall vibe and culture of the company if they want to win over Millennials.

Provide work that matters.

Another key differentiator of the millennial generation is how strongly they feel about making a difference. This applies both to the impact they can potentially make with their employer as well as in the world around them. For this reason, recruiting strategies must involve clearly defining and effectively communicating the role being offered and how it factors in with the big picture.

Be competitive.

Last but not least, if you want to attract and win over the hearts and minds of millennial workers, you must remain at peak performance and in sound financial shape. If payroll funding and cash flow issues are holding you back from successfully reaching qualified candidates, funding through staffing factoring might be just the solution. This will allow you to focus on getting the right people instead of worrying about how to keep them.

With Millennials now occupying more than 50% of today’s workforce, figuring out the best way to reach, engage and appeal to them is more important than ever. By incorporating the above best practices into your overall recruiting strategy, you’ll have a much better chance of landing the types of quality younger candidates that will help drive the ongoing success of your business.

For more Staffing Tips and industry news, ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for daily updates.

Hands with money, taxes

Tax Tips for Staffing Agencies

With the new year comes concerns about staffing news and about correctly filing staffing taxes for your temporary staffing agency. Tax surprises are rarely good. Whether you have filed before or your agency is new within the last year, getting through tax season with accurate and acceptable payroll and tax records are imperative to the success of your business.

Know Your Company’s Tax Status

Although it depends somewhat on your location, most states consider staffing or temporary agencies to be the full employers of temporary employees. This designation requires that your business has a state tax identification number as well as an EIN from the federal tax administration. Double-check with your tax attorney or accountant for the classification of your company before you begin the tax process.

If your agency is, in fact, the employer of temporary employees, you may also find yourself subjected to paying employment taxes. These include temp agency payroll taxes, Medicare, Social Security and federal unemployment taxes and federal income tax withholding.

Completing all of these forms and filings can make your staffing taxes much more complicated than you had originally envisioned. For that reason, consider these tips to help you complete your tax process:

1. Understand Your Payroll Taxes

Your staffing agency is subject to taxation at both the federal and state level, and you are responsible for collecting unemployment taxes from your employees. Although it may be tempting to label your employees as “independent contractors,” the facts that you have legally provided these individuals with their set hours of employment, that you have a continuing working relationship with them and that you are paying them with a set payment method all indicate that they are business employees.

When companies pay your agency to employ your temporary workers, you are responsible for collecting payroll taxes from the pay that is passed on to those workers. The amounts of money that change hands should be clearly spelled out in the contract you make with the hiring companies, as well as with your employees.

2. Calculate the Withholding Amount from Employees’ W-4 Forms

Federal law mandates that you determine the amount withheld from each employee via the information provided by the employee on his or her IRS Form W-4.

With each wage payment that you make to the employee, you are required to withhold an amount. This number is likely different for each employee, depending on his or her earned wages and claimed exemptions. Each wage payment is considered a separate taxable event and must be treated as such.

Use the standard tables provided by the IRS to determine the amount withheld for each of your employees. This amount is based on:

  • The size of each wage payment
  • The frequency of payroll payments
  • The employee’s current marital status
  • The employee’s claimed withholding exemptions as filed on the W-4 form

The W-4 forms are only for you and your company to determine proper exemptions and withholdings as you are calculating your payroll taxes. You do not need to file them with the government or the IRS unless there is a discrepancy in information.

The total amount that you withhold should approximate each employee’s year-end tax liability. If you do not have a completed W-4 for an employee, treat that person’s withholdings as being single with no exemptions.

3. Provide a W-2 to Each Employee

As a company, you are required to withhold the proper amounts from your employees’ pay and to deposit those amounts with the appropriate tax agencies. These withholdings will include federal and state taxes, Medicare and Social Security taxes and federal and state unemployment taxes. In order to complete these requirements, you must provide all of your employees with proper W-2 and 1099 reports that thoroughly explain their yearly compensation and withholding amounts.

All employees must receive a W-2 by January 31 of the year following the employment year. Those who do maintain an independent contractor status and earned more than 600 dollars in compensation should receive a 1099 instead.

4. File and Pay Federal and State Taxes on Time

You can avoid tax penalties by paying your federal and state taxes on time. Your federal tax deposit must be made electronically through one of these methods:

  • The Treasury Department’s free Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)
  • A trusted third party, such as a payroll service or tax professional
  • A financial institution that can initiate an ACH Credit payment

Many states now also require your deposits to be made electronically. Consult your state agencies for more information.

All deposits must be made on time. If your due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or national legal holiday, you have until the close of the next business day to complete your deposit.

5. Maintain Proper Records

Once you have successfully distributed all your W-2 and 1099 forms to your employees and independent contractors, you must make sure that you have proper records that explain the payroll taxes that you paid for the year. Per the federal requirements, keep all records for at least four years before destroying them. Check your state record-keeping requirements as well.

Should the IRS ever question your payroll or business, these records must be kept for examination. Make sure that you have:

  • The names, addresses and Social Security numbers for every employee
  • The period of employment and compensation for each employee
  • The total amounts of pay given to each employee
  • The amounts of each payment kept as taxable wages
  • Complete copies of each employee’s W-4 form
  • All dates and records for each tax deposit made by your company
  • Thorough copies of all tax returns filed
  • Any and all W-2 forms that were undeliverable to past employees

All of these records must be kept in an orderly fashion to be immediately examined by an IRS official if requested.

For more information about taxes and for staffing news, follow Triumph Business Capital on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

Truck, ELD Mandate

Electronic Logging Devices: What this Mandate Means for You

The clock has started ticking.

On December 16, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the official Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, enforcing the adoption of ELDs by all truck drivers before December 18, 2017. Not only did the FMSCA publish this rule by Congressional mandate, but they also believe that this rule will eliminate 1,844 crashes, prevent 562 injuries and save 26 lives.

What does an ELD do?

An ELD tracks the hours a trucker is on the road and location of the truck and will replace the paper logs that truckers have been required to keep. The device can’t allow any deletion of driving time and must be tamperproof. This allows the FMCSA to use electronic data to track compliance for HOS rules. Drivers will still need to keep supporting documents to verify HOS compliance (bills of lading, dispatch and trip reports, mobile communications, etc).

Who Does and Doesn’t Need an ELD?

Drivers who fill out paper logs will be required to abide by the ELD mandate. However, this rule doesn’t apply to some drivers. Drivers that are exceptions to the rule are:

Timecard or “shorthaul” drivers
Drivers in the driveaway-towaway business
Drivers that drive a vehicle manufactured before model year 2000

Why does the model year matter? Before 2000, commercial vehicles have different aspects to their engine control monitors that wouldn’t allow the ELD to capture the information it needs.

Grandfathering of the ELD Mandate

As with any rule, there are exceptions. Because there is equipment similar to ELDs already in use by many carriers, the FMCSA has allowed a “grandfathering” of some equipment. If they follow the standards put in place for Automatic On-Board Recording Devices, then they can be used until December 2019. Such equipment can also be modified to meet the ELD specifications to be used after December 2019.

Two Sides of the Fence

Industry experts can agree that December 16th was a historic day in the transportation industry. However, major industry leaders have different feelings about the mandate. A day after the FMSCA made the final ruling on ELDs, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) sued the FMCSA.

OOIDA also has some issues with the privacy of the mandate. In a recent Transport Topic article, OOIDA President, Jim Johnson says, “This regulation is absolutely the most outrageous intrusion into the rights of professional truckers imaginable and will do nothing at all to improve highway safety. In fact, we firmly believe it will do exactly the opposite by placing even more pressure and stress on drivers than they already deal with.”

While OOIDA strongly opposes the FMCSA’s decision, the American Trucking Association (ATA) believes this ruling will make a positive impact on the trucking industry. According to a recent Commercial Carrier Journal article, this mandate has been a priority of the ATA for about 5 years now.

Other transportation groups have differing feelings surrounding the mandate. Regardless of outlooks, currently the ELD mandate is still in place.

So What’s Next?

Carriers should start the process of finding the right ELD for their business. Manufacturers of the equipment will be required to have it tested and certified with the FMCSA to verify it meets the mandate’s standards. It will keep a public registry of approved devices for carriers to reference, starting on February 16. Before choosing an ELD system, ask the provider the following questions:

How was the certification earned?
Was testing involved? If so, what tests were done?
What state rules were considered in manufacturing?

Due diligence is especially important when choosing your ELD, because if an ELD becomes de-certified, you will need to find a new ELD, which requires more time and money.

Many carriers have been using fleet management software or equipment that functions similar to an ELD for some time, and many should be able to continue using them under the new ruling.

To see what the ELD mandate means for you and your trucking company, please visit the ATA’s summary of the ELD mandate.

The FMCSA posted the full mandate that you can read by clicking here.

For up to date information on the trucking industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Taxes, Trucking

Paying Back Uncle Sam: Tax Tips for Truckers

It’s almost that time of year again – tax season. For truck drivers, there are many unique deductions available that can help reduce monies owed and maximize returns. Before sitting down with your accountant or tax advisor, here are some of the things to take into consideration that will help you get the most out of your 2015 tax filing.

Preparing Ahead

Part of your truck driver training should have included the importance of keeping detailed records of all the expenses you incurred over the course of the year. By keeping track of how your money is being spent, you’ll be able to more accurately determine exactly what and how much you can deduct. Keeping receipts and other documentation in one place, such as in a folder or on a spreadsheet is recommended.

What’s New for 2015?

In some instances, new tax laws are implemented that specifically impact truck driving professionals. For 2015, Section 179 of the tax law has been expanded to include a few major deductions that were not previously available. For instance, starting with this year’s tax filing, you can now depreciate any truck you own over a three year period for tax savings purposes.

Additionally, if you purchased your truck in 2015, you can now deduct the actual amount you paid during the year, even if was financed.

What Else Can You Deduct?

Beyond equipment, there are also a number of other deductions that are available to trucking professionals. If you are an owner operator, many of the supplies necessary to run your business can be counted as deductions on your taxes. Some examples of these types of deductions include, but are not limited to:

  • Internet and cell phone costs
  • DOT required physical exam
  • Drug tests
  • Load board subscriber fees
  • Postage fees (mailing invoices, bills of lading, etc.)
  • Subscriptions to trucking publications
  • Cleaning products for your truck

For a full list of available deductions, click here.

What Can’t You Deduct?

Just as it’s important to understand what deductions are available to you, it’s equally important to avoid taking deductions on things that are not allowed. If you’re not careful, your return could be flagged for a costly and time consuming audit. For instance, if you are a company truck driver and your company reimburses you for any of the things listed above, you are not allowed to deduct them on your own taxes.

Additional expenses that are not considered tax deductible include:

  • Home phone
  • Personal vacations
  • Tolls
  • Everyday clothing (not your uniform)

As with anything else relating to finance and taxes, it is always advisable to consult with a professional such as an accountant or tax advisor. It’s particularly beneficial to work with someone who has experience filing taxes for clients in the trucking industry.

For more trucker tips or to find out how trucking factoring could work for your business, contact us today. Or, connect with us socially on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Staffing Trends

5 Staffing Trends for 2016

As a successful staffing professional, you’re probably in the process of setting your goals and objectives for the coming year. In doing so, it’s important to consider the trends that are expected to occur over the next 12 months. This will help you to better align your own business strategies with what the industry is projected to experience in the near future. With that said, here are some of the biggest predictions to date:

Trend #1: Temporary staffing will see a significant spike.

A recent forecast conducted by CareerBuilder indicated that 47% of employers are planning to hire temporary or contract workers over the coming months. This is in line with many expert opinions that the freelance economy will continue to disrupt the workforce.

Trend #2: Mobility will become even more of a priority.

According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 9 out of 10 job seekers use their mobile devices to search for work. That’s 89% of the candidate pool, and based on past statistics, it’s a number that is projected to continue rising. What this means for staffing professionals is that recruiting strategies must focus on marketing to the mobile market.

Trend #3: The blended workforce model will become more prominent.

With technology like cloud computing and real-time video conferencing, more and more organizations are embracing the concept of the blended workforce. That is, a combination of in-house, contract and remote employees. Look for this more flexible model to become even more prominent over the coming months.

Trend #4: Fresh, new talent will be entering the workforce.

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to make its exit out of the workforce and into retirement, a younger demographic of skilled workers will be taking their place. It’s no surprise then that employers expect to hire 11% more new college graduates in 2016. Of course, adjustments and changes will need to be made to accommodate the unique needs, desires and strengths of this younger group, which leads to the final trend.

Trend #5: Recruiting and retention strategies will need to evolve.

With the Millennial generation poised to take over the workforce by the year 2020, adjustments will have to be made at businesses across every industry. This is particularly true for the recruiting and retention process. Organizations and staffing professionals will need to develop new and better ways to attract, recruit and retain top talent.

By staying apprised of staffing news and knowing what trends to watch for ahead of time, you can better plan and hone your own strategies to position your business for increased success over the coming months.

For additional staffing and recruiting resources, such as how accounts receivable factoring can improve your company’s bottom line, contact us today.

Small Business, Recruiting Talent

Recruiting Top Talent without the Perks of Big Business

As a small business, you face many challenges, particularly when it comes to competing with larger organizations. One area where this can be especially impactful is in the area of staffing. Simply put, it can be difficult to attract and recruit top talent when compared with some of the big name companies that are also hiring. The good news is there are some creative things you can do to improve your chances of landing qualified employees, regardless of the size or prominence of your brand.

Leverage Current Talent

Chances are you’ve already assembled a crew of highly skilled, hard working professionals who are dedicated to helping your business succeed. Why not tap into that valuable resource as a way to locate future talent? Provide incentives for employee referrals, and you may be surprised at the positive response you receive.

Focus on Culture and Benefits

One of the greatest features of small businesses that their larger counterparts typically lack is familiarity. In fact, the atmosphere of many small businesses is often described as more of a close-knit family, something that big name players simply cannot successfully achieve. Smaller companies also have the option of offering more flexibility. Playing on these strengths can help you catch the eye of quality candidates.
Highlight Learning and Growth Opportunities – With larger organizations, open positions are typically pretty cut and dry. Because small businesses have fewer employees, those who are on the team are often required to wear many hats. This can provide the benefit of more variety in day to day duties and also present opportunity to learn, grow and expand one’s career.

Be Honest

Remember that when you’re marketing your small business to potential employees, it’s important that you remain open and honest about who you are and what your company brings to the table. Don’t try to pretend you’re something that you’re not in an effort to compete with bigger organizations. Trust that there is a pool of qualified candidates who will be excited to work with you and will jump at the chance to grow with and contribute to your company’s success.
For more staffing tips and recruiting resources, check out our other blog posts.

Government Contract, Government Contractor

How Relationships Can Help You Win a Government Contract

Winning a government contract involves a lot more than simply drafting up a great proposal. It’s the relationships that you develop with the right people along the way that will ultimately bring you the success you’re after. To get you pointed in the right direction, here are a few practical tips for how to get government contracts through effective relationship building.

Making the Right Connections

When it comes to going after government contracts for bid, making connections with the right resources is essential, especially if you’re a small business. Teaming up with fellow contractors is a great way to build credibility and proficiency while improving your chances of winning bids. Locating and connecting with these quality individuals, however, will require a little prep work on your part.

First, focus on getting involved. Networking plays a big role in the government contract world, and this can be done a number of ways. Participating in events, such as government conferences, and joining local business groups can help you locate others who might also be interested in government contracting. Additionally, connecting with various resources via social media can help you establish yourself and get your foot in the door.

When looking for fellow professionals with whom to team up, start by working on smaller projects together first. This will help you determine whether the relationship is a good fit.

Participating in a Mentorship

A great way to learn the ins and outs of how to get government contracts is to connect with someone who is already experienced in the field. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a mentor protégé program which is designed specifically to help small business owners understand the government contracting process. There are several requirements in order to become a protégé, but being able to participate in a mentorship will make it well worth your time and efforts.

A mentor can provide guidance and advice on everything from the various types of government contracts to best practices for writing proposals, and even how certain strategies, such as invoice factoring, can help improve your cash flow. Partnering with an established mentor can also help you build credibility.

Government Provided Resources

To make the process of contracting a little bit easier, the government has put together a number of resources which are available through procurement center representatives and commercial market representatives. Procurement center reps help potential contractors to better understand the process and are available to assist with other concerns that may arise in the interim.

Commercial market representatives provide assistance with various parts of the process, such as obtaining subcontracts and reviewing prime contractors. They also handle the training on the subcontracting assistance program.

A Step in the Right Direction

The field of government contracting is highly competitive. The one thing you can do to differentiate yourself and strengthen your chances of being successful is to focus on developing relationships with the right people. Doing so effectively will help you establish yourself as a trusted player in the contracting realm.

Triumph Business Capital is a respected resource in the government contracting industry. For more information on our government contract factoring services, or to learn more about whether factoring would be a good fit for you, give us a call. We’re here to help.

Freight Broker, TMS, Freight Broker Software

How to Find the Right Transportation Management System (TMS)

The most important freight broker software system that anyone in the freight brokerage industry needs is a Transportation Management System (or TMS for short). A quality TMS can help you match the right carriers with the appropriate loads, route those loads most effectively and streamline other critical organizational needs you have. Unfortunately, not all Transportation Management Systems are created equal. Here are some criteria to keep in mind when researching which product is right for you.

Stability – The first thing you want to look for in a TMS is how stable its developer/provider is. Even if you’ve heard of the company before, getting recommendations and checking references is highly recommended. You should also verify the financial stability of the company you’re considering. This may require work upfront, but worth it to avoid having the TMS company you chose go belly up after you’ve implemented it in your freight brokerage.

Compatibility – Regardless of how stable a TMS company happens to be, it’s also important to ensure that it’s compatible with the needs of your freight brokerage operation. For instance, a big-name company might meet the stability challenge, but their product might be way too complicated for the needs of a small brokerage. Conduct a needs assessment prior to comparing products so you’ll know which TMS would make the most sense for your firm.

Service Levels – Many software developers are super hands-on and attentive during the sales process only to disappear without a trace once the product has been purchased and implemented. You’ll want to look for a company that offers proven service and support after the sale. Ask as many questions as possible during the selection process, such as whether they offer training and convenient support hours. Also, ask for and check references.

Carrier Relationships – The purpose of adopting a Transportation Management System is to make your life easier. One significant way in particular your TMS can accomplish this goal is by organizing your carrier relationships. A quality software system will allow you to manage your carrier contracts as well as keep track of important contract details. It can even help you identify which carrier is best for each load and calculate cost so you’ll know better how much to charge.

Shipment Tracking – Finally, though equally important, a great TMS should allow you to track your freight brokerage shipments in real-time, right down to the tiniest detail about in-transit items. This will allow you to keep your customers more informed and therefore more satisfied. Ultimately, the most effective system will provide visibility into truckload, less-than-truckload (LTL) and parcel shipping details.

Choosing the right software product is important, particularly in terms of maximizing your freight broker leads and shipments. Knowing ahead of time what factors will truly make the difference can help ensure you end up with the TMS product that’s perfect for your needs.

For additional freight broker tips, including how to leverage freight broker factoring to improve your brokerage firm’s cash flow, give us a call today or check out our other blog posts here.

Government Contractors, Government

Doing Business With the Federal Government: An Overview – Part 2

Sandra Walls is President and CEO of AIL Logistics Solutions, a multimillion-dollar, Memphis-based, service-disabled veteran-, woman- and minority-owned company that provides diverse logistics and technical support solutions to government and commercial clients. A retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, Ms. Walls joined the company after serving 22 years on active duty as a logistics officer, managing supply and fuels accounts while making military history everywhere she commanded. She offers a real-world perspective on government contracting based on leveraging her military experience and built on doing what it takes to excel.
In Part 2 of this series, Ms. Wall addresses specific contracting processes and challenges.

Q: What are some misconceptions that many have about government contracting and doing business with the government as a whole?
The most common one I get from people is, “I hear the government does not pay you.” That has never been my experience. Ever. I don’t know who these people are dealing with, because under the “Prompt Payment Act” within the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the federal government is mandated to pay contractors in 30 days. If they are late paying you, they have to pay interest. So it’s in their best interest to pay you on time. They may be late for whatever reason, but that has not been my experience. Some of this is just flat-out fear, because some folks see all of the technical requirements, all of the paperwork, just a large bureaucracy, and they don’t want to deal with it – they’re afraid of it. I tell them don’t be afraid of it. Just go through one or two, and you’ll find that it’s going to become easier.

Q: What challenges are involved in responding to a solicitation?
Initially, the paperwork requirements may be frightening, but once you get into it and understand all the different sections, you get used to it and it’s not as hard. Certain parts of a solicitation never change. For instance, you have to declare your socio-economic certifications, whether you’re woman-owned, minority, service-disabled veteran, in a HUB zone, all of the above. Those are blocks that you check, and some of it is automated and online, so a contracting officer can look up that information or you can submit it with your proposal. The biggest challenge is responding to the technical piece, normally in Section C – the Statement of Work. That’s where you have to really “answer the mail” – tell them how you’re going to go about doing the job. What processes are you going to put into place to make the system work, or how will you improve their processes or enhance their bottom line. Whatever they ask you to do or provide, do it. If you don’t provide the information requested, you may get kicked out.

Q: Do you have a proposal writing team to handle that work? If so, do you recommend that approach?
We’re not large enough to have that kind of dedicated proposal writing team. Depending on the size of the contract, you can find people who make a living putting together proposals, but, in my experience, it’s an expensive undertaking for a small business. As we’ve evolved, we’ve applied that concept internally. We may assign a proposal manager to be responsible for the proposal, to capture the data from different possible areas and then consolidate it into a document that everyone reviews and plays a part in preparing. Also, now that I have a dedicated person on the government side of the business, he’s helping to pull together proposals and he loves to do it, so that’s brought a lot of value as we’ve grown. And, there are some agencies, like SCORE through the Small Business Administration, that will provide support, but they don’t write the proposal for you. They can provide some guidelines, help direct you, but for the most part, you have to wing it. You learn from experience.

Q: Unless you win a contract, how do you know if your proposals are on-target?
One of the cool things with federal contracts is something I haven’t seen on the commercial side: Contract officers are required by law to give you a debrief, offering feedback on how you did. Some things they are not privy to tell you. But their assessment can help you do better in terms of improving the quality of your proposals and help you better prepare for the next one.

Q: How difficult is to obtain security clearance for contracts that have security requirements?
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires a DD Form 254 to be incorporated in every classified contract. It specifies the security requirements and the classification guidance necessary for the contractor (or a subcontractor) to perform on a classified contract. So, under the contract, the contractor has to roll down a DD Form 254, and you can submit credentials for your clearance if you don’t already have a facility clearance or the appropriate clearance for that contract. What I’m finding now – unlike before – is that a lot of government agencies will want you to already have a clearance. You can get it as a subcontractor, if you come under a prime contractor who can roll down the DD 254 requirements, and you can start the process to get the clearance. But, if you don’t have a contract, you’re not going to get the clearance.

Q: How factoring can strengthen your government business:

Systematically, a 30-day mandate may, in practice, extend the payment cycle to 45-plus days. Consider the process of creating invoices internally; submitting them through various government systems, such as Wide Area Work Flow; the approval process; and EFT payment delays. Companies that seek government business need the ability to scale up and down with contract availability, which is why receivables factoring works so well for contractors. It supports ample cash flow that aligns with the accrued timing of your expenses.

Talk to our government contracting experts to learn how Triumph can support your contracting efforts.

Trucking, Owner Operator

How to be a Successful Trucking Owner-Operator in 2016

The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of what you want to achieve and what it will take to reach your goals. We wish you great success as an owner-operator in 2016, and offer some practical do’s and don’ts as you rev up for the road ahead.

DON’T: Blame shippers or brokers for your rate, lane or anything else that isn’t working in your world. Rates and loads are driven by fuel costs, supply and demand, among other factors in the trucking industry. Too many drivers and owner-operators mistakenly believe that simply having a number of years of experience in trucking will be enough to be a highly profitable business owner. It takes good business skills, understanding of the trucking industry and logistics, keeping an eye on trends, and smart choices of brokers. If you find a broker or who is honest and certified by the TIA (important!), you have probably found a good broker.

DO: Familiarize yourself with how the industry works and what is currently happening. Use that knowledge to your advantage, and to set realistic expectations. Keep tabs on fuel pricing, supply and demand trends, and other influencers so you are well-informed in discussions with your broker and/or shippers about why you deserve the rate you do, going rates for specific lanes, etc. Be able look at your business and see what causes downturns and what helps conditions improve. You can further enhance key relationships in 2016 through your professionalism: treat everyone well and communicate effectively.

DON’T: Rely on salespeople for an accurate assessment of a truck’s fuel mileage. Their agenda is selling you the truck, and they will say or do what it takes. It’s in their best interests to convince you that a given truck delivers the best fuel mileage so they get the sale and their commission. The truck may get that MPG some of the time, but don’t count on it to be what you get all of the time. Also, don’t buy into the idea that you’ll get better mileage hauling light weights with a high-horsepower engine than with a smaller one. Fuel efficiency will vary based on the engine, load and conditions throughout the year.

DO: Become a fuel-efficient truck driver. Fuel economy plays a huge role in your success as an owner-operator. A single mile to the gallon in fuel economy can make or tank your bottom line. You may have heard other drivers say that you can’t make money if you’re driving just 60 mph, because you’re driving fewer miles each day. But driving 55-60 versus having idle time and driving 70 mph will make a dramatic difference, saving you thousands of dollars in fuel efficiency. At a fuel cost of $3.00 per gallon, let’s assume Driver 1 averages 70 mph for 10,000 miles, and gets 5.0 mpg. Driver 2 averages 60 mph for 10,000 miles, and gets 5.5 mph. At the end of the year, Driver 1 has shelled out $72,000 for fuel while Driver 2 has spent just $65,000, leaving $7,000 more in his pocket.

DON’T: Mistake your gross revenue for profits you can pocket. As an owner-operator, you have a number of expenses that come out of that revenue – fuel, permits, vehicle maintenance, truck payments, insurance, health care and insurance, other operating costs, taxes … Also, don’t assume that your truck warranty will cover all of your maintenance expenses or neglect repairs. It will cost you far less in time, money and headaches to get your rig into the shop when you have downtime than having it towed and out of commission because you got complacent or sidetracked. If you don’t sufficiently plan for the costs of operating your truck and business, you’re going to have a rough ride.

DO: Make sure you understand the costs of operating a truck and trailer and stay prepared financially. Basically, revenue per mile minus cost per mile equals gross revenue. Subtract taxes from that figure and you have your net profit. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has a great article to help you calculate your fixed and variable costs per mile, which will help you determine how much money in profit you can make. Basic business accounting and book keeping skills are also very important to see success as an owner-operator. You can even take some online classes from the road to get the fundamentals. Of course, the other way to keep more money in your pocket is to control spending. If you need something, research and buy wisely. For “wants,” think long and hard about whether the immediate gratification will interfere in reaching your longer-term goals.

DON’T: Buy a slick, tricked-out, chromed-to-the-gills truck that will ultimately cost you more money in the long run. Focus on what’s best for your business instead of getting distracted by something shiny on the lot or at truck shows. It’s all about getting from point A to point B and having the most appropriate tool for making money in your business. Don’t treat it like a toy or feel compelled to buy more engine than you really need, because it’s just going to suck down more fuel.

DO: Buy a truck that is reliable. Matt Douthit, the voice of experience behind truck driver career site CDL 101, suggests purchasing a lightly used truck – target about 200,000 miles on the odometer. That way, someone else has taken the big depreciation hit, and all the little kinks are already worked out. You can also pull the Electronic Control Module (ECM) report to see how it’s performed, operating issues and actual fuel efficiency. If you go the used route, check out the warranty carefully. You can’t afford to get stuck with a lemon. Whether buying new or used, absolutely do your homework. If you’re purchasing a new one, see what the various diesel engine manufacturers say about fuel mileage, and ask owner-operators with similar trucks and engines about their experiences. Bottom line, you need a truck you can trust for reliability and longevity with good fuel efficiency and few repairs.

DON’T: Believe that work will always be there, and live and budget as if your costs and revenues will never change. Just because we will always need trucks to haul our goods across the country doesn’t mean we will always have work. You can’t view the road through rose-colored glasses and budget solely based on the best of times. The economy ebbs and flows, and so do our businesses. That’s why it’s important to look at yearlong averages and stand out from the pack.

DO: Work hard, do your job well, make smart decisions and build solid relationships with others who can help you in your career. Networking can connect you to the inside track on the best loads offered by multiple brokers and shippers. It’s also important to find and work your niche – a distinct segment of a market what makes you different from the big guys, gives you a profitable edge and keeps you busy.

For example, if you have a trailer used for hauling something unusual, or requiring special handling or specific permits, you improve your opportunity to make more money. Consider doing something that most people can’t; a business model based on lower freight volumes than will sustain a large company; and odd or niche freight, which pay much more than general freight. What can you focus on that most trucking companies do not do? This will help you better brand and market yourself because you will stand out in a small market, then you can build the business by building your reputation for honesty and reliability.

Staffing agency, Working woman

Growing a Staffing Agency with Invoice Factoring

Ask any CEO what the main challenges of their business are and in the top five will likely be attracting and retaining top talent for their business. Being able to provide your clients’ access to top talent in their industry can set your staffing agency apart from others. Even if “top” talent is for a warehouse or clerical office work, the bottom line is you need to be able to meet your obligations as a staffing company to your employees – and the main one of these obligations is being able to make payroll without fail.

Reliably making payroll is one of the biggest challenges of running a staffing agency. You may not get paid in 30-60 days, but your employees need to be paid every 7-15 days. With today’s margins being more compressed by competition, it’s likely you don’t have a big stack of cash lying around to help you wait those 30-60 days for your customers to pay! So how do you retain top talent, maintain your margins and run your business well? Payroll funding through invoice factoring may be the answer.

With invoice factoring, you no longer have to wait 30-60 days to be paid. A factoring company, like Triumph Business Capital, will purchase your accounts receivables less a small percentage so you can get your cash quickly to make payroll. By using Triumph to bridge that 30-60 day gap, you can confidently grow your business as much as possible, knowing that payroll needs will be met.

Triumph also provides back office solutions such as checking credit on new customers and helping you collect your invoices. Triumph has over 10 years of experience in helping clients with their invoices. Add to this that we’re part of a regulated bank and a public company (NASDAQ: TBK) and you can rest assured your account will be in good, professional hands.

Don’t confuse invoice factoring with a loan. It’s scalable to your business. It grows with you…and almost as important, it shrinks with you too. Think about it: if you take on a loan to service a large account and that account then goes away, you still owe the money on that loan. With invoice factoring, because it’s all based on your invoices, it grows and contracts with you, leaving no debt behind hanging around your business’ neck.

Computer, work, coffee

How to Keep Your Freight Brokerage on Target with Invoice Factoring

The freight broker life can be a stressful life. You spend your days as a middle man working with shippers and carriers to get loads from point A to point B. Stress really sets in when it’s time for your carriers to be paid, but the shipper hasn’t paid you; because, let’s be honest, to retain quality carriers, you need to be able to pay them fast and consistently.

Sure, you can pre-pay your carriers, but you would need to have a lot of cash on hand. This option is hard for most freight brokers, because not many have that kind of capital lying around. Not to mention the strain that pre-paying carrier puts on your cash flow!

There is another solution to keeping your freight brokerage rolling – invoice factoring.

With freight broker invoice factoring, you sell your invoices to a factoring company for a small percentage, allowing you (and your carriers) to get your money fast. This solution keeps your quality carriers loyal to running loads for you. This kind of solution really can set you apart from the thousands of other brokerages out there.

With freight broker factoring, you can grow your business at your pace, and your financing will grow with you. Invoice factoring is a scalable financing option. Factoring isn’t like a loan that can overwhelm you with a heavy payment during a slow month. Also, there is no pre-determined limit on how much you can factor. You are only limited by the number of invoices you have to sell.

It’s also much more than just quick money to you and your carriers. Established invoice factoring companies, like Triumph Business Capital, provide a back office for their clients. Calling your shippers to chase down payments no longer has to be on your to-do list, because collection calls and services are included with your factoring relationship with Triumph.

Building credibility among carriers can also be a long road to haul when you are a broker trying to grow your business. Triumph Business Capital offers you a way to build your credibility while using their factoring services. When you factor with Triumph, you will automatically earn a green check mark on the DAT load boards, showing every carrier on the load board that you are financially stable and partnered with the industry leader in invoice factoring.

Freight broker factoring can be the key to an efficient freight brokerage, allowing you to pay quality carriers consistently and quickly.

To learn more about the freight brokerage industry, visit us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Phone Interview

Now You Can Conduct the Perfect Phone Interview: Well, Hello, Hire!

When they’re done right, phone interviews can save time by pre-screening candidates and provide information you won’t find in any resume. Done poorly, they can be awkward, impersonal, and ultimately ineffective as a screening tool. These 10 Tips will help you become a more effective interviewer, and narrow down candidates before face-to-face interviews:

1. Be Prepared.

You wouldn’t go to a job interview without learning a little about the company — so don’t conduct a phone interview without familiarizing yourself with the candidate’s background. Before your call, block out some time to review the candidate’s resume, LinkedIn profile, and any other relevant information.

2. Be curious.

If you work at a staffing agency, chances are you’ve seen a lot of resumes. Make the resume review process more interesting by cultivating curiosity about the person you’re interviewing. As you review the profile, jot down any questions you have.

3. Choose a quiet place.

More and more, people are conducting business outside of the office, and there’s no reason why you can’t do your interview offsite — just make sure the location you choose is quiet, and has good connectivity. Loud coffee grinders, barking dogs and poor reception can be distracting.

4. Stay focused.

Ever had a phone conversation with someone who is reading an email or browsing the Internet at the same time? It’s about as frustrating as a dinner date with someone who’s glued to their phone. Resist the urge to check email, read status updates or conduct other business during an interview.

5. Be brief.

Phone interviews are meant to be more efficient than face-to-face interviews, so try to limit your call to no more than 30 to 45 minutes. We’ve heard this referred to as the 5/20/5 rule: spend about five minutes introducing yourself and the company you represent, and describing the position. Then, spend about 20 minutes interviewing. Use the last five minutes of the call to answer questions from the candidate, and communicate next steps.

6. Ask thoughtful questions.

You already have the candidate’s resume — so ask questions that dig a little deeper. For example, ask about short-term and long-term career goals. Ask about financial and personal goals, too. The answers may provide practical information (the client is open to relocating to another city), financial insights (they need upward mobility to be happy) or clues about cultural fit (they want a better work/life balance). Questions like, “What career accomplishment are you most proud of?” and “What qualities are most important to you when seeking a new position?” provoke more thoughtful answers than, “What did you do at your last job?”

7. Ask about likes and dislikes.

Everyone likes to talk about strengths. No one likes to admit weaknesses. A good way to get around the classic interview question, while still getting the information you want, is to ask candidates what professional tasks they like and dislike most. People usually enjoy doing things they are best at, and dislike tasks where they feel less competent. If your candidate dislikes a task that’s a major part of the prospective job, you’ll know it’s not a good fit.

8. Listen more than you talk.

It’s good to be forthcoming and answer relevant questions. However, be sure to keep the focus on the candidate, and do more listening than speaking. The good thing about this approach is that you can relax and worry less about what you’re going to say. After all, the interview is not about you: it’s about them.

9. Take notes.

Staffing companies conduct countless interviews, and it would be unreasonable to expect you to remember every detail you discussed. Instead, take notes during your call. This way, you can share the information you learned with other people involved in hiring decisions.

10. Say thanks.

Thank the candidate for their time, and let them know you’ll follow up.

Staffing companies bridge the gap between job seekers and employers, and when you prepare well for your a phone interviews, you’ll create a more favorable first impression for both parties. At Triumph Business Capital, we’re committed to helping staffing companies like yours succeed. Need help with funding or capital expenses? Call us any time.

Government, Washington

Doing Business With the Federal Government: Interview with Sandra Walls

Sandra Walls is President and CEO of AIL Logistics Solutions, a multimillion-dollar, Memphis-based, service-disabled veteran-, woman- and minority-owned company that provides diverse logistics and technical support solutions to government and commercial clients. A retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, Ms. Walls joined the company after serving 22 years on active duty as a logistics officer, managing supply and fuels accounts while making military history everywhere she commanded. She offers a real-world perspective on government contracting based on leveraging her military experience and built on doing what it takes to excel.

Q: What propelled you into the government-contracting world?
It was a carryover of my military experience; I was in the Air Force for 22 years. I’ve worked in a contracting agency. And my goal in developing my business was to take what I learned on active duty and continue providing those services in a for-profit capacity. Our company was first established by a group of military veterans with the intent of supporting and providing organic support capabilities to the Department of Defense (DOD), primarily in the fuels arena. Our plan from the beginning was to engage in federal business, primarily with the DOD. The business has continued to evolve, although we have diversified and are doing commercial business as well.

Q: How difficult is it to become a government contractor?
It’s actually easy to become a government contractor. You register your business by first obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet number and then entering your business information into SAM.gov, the primary database for vendors doing business with the federal government. That’s a piece of cake. The challenge, as in the commercial world, is doing all of the things required to operate and market your business. The government process can be a little bit longer, and it’s very, very intensive. But once you get started, and you get to understand the process, it becomes easier.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering orienting their business toward earning government contracts?
There are pros and cons. On the government side, there are some benefits. For example, when others were having problems during the recession, and most of my business was with the federal government, my contracts did not go away. The worst case is when we do go through budget issues and they still don’t make decisions, but rarely have I had any of my contracts impacted dramatically.

There are other things they do well. When larger companies offer a request for proposal, some are less detailed in specifying what they want to see. For example, government contracts will specify the minimum items expected in a response to their RFP. They also provide their criteria on which they’ll evaluate you. If you miss all that, then it’s bad on you, because they’re telling you upfront what their expectations are. In the commercial world, they may not do that. So oftentimes, when bidding as a small business, people may get thrown out because they don’t have that level of depth and experience in understanding how to write an effective, winning proposal.

However, on the commercial side, I don’t have to deal with the tons and tons of paperwork. I don’t have to wait months for an answer on whether or not I will bid. I don’t find it a challenge waiting on budget decisions to know when I will make an offer. It’s not as painstaking a process.

Q: Do companies that work with the government have a pretty even balance between government contract and other work, or do a majority focus on one area or the other?
Based on the companies I’ve dealt with and met, there’s not a lot of diversity. They’re either all commercial or all federal. On the federal side, there are some programs based on designations such as 8(a) certified small-business, woman-owned, veteran-owned, disabled-veteran owned, minority-owned, Native American-owned, etc. The government must set aside a certain percentage of contracts for businesses with these designations. 8(a) is a wonderful nine-year business development program – I graduated from it last year. It’s another opportunity to grow your business.

But oftentimes, a lot of business owners get into that space and don’t venture outside it. They don’t diversify into the commercial side, so when they graduate from the program, they’re not prepared to compete in the outside world. Some are not following through on its guidance or recommendations, because the program is really structured to support your transition from reliance on 8(a) sole-source contracts. It encourages you to compete in different environments and to diversify your business in both federal and commercial markets. And there’s a plan you should submit nearly every year to address how you’re going to do that.

Q. What types of contracts are most important to your business?
Most of my business is now coming from the commercial side, whereas before more of my business was coming from the federal. I’ve got both sides that I’m working at the same time, and I now have one person who does the government contracting and another who works the commercial contracts.

Q: What are your thoughts on prime contracts? Are they worth pursuing?
They’re worth it. Being a prime contractor is good in that you’re the train driver. I prefer to grow and to be respected as a prime contractor – to stand on my own, to be able to do what I have to do. As you build your experience and your past performance, you’re better positioned to go out on your own, rather than depending on someone else to get you in the game. I’m not against being a subcontractor at all, as long as the money is there, and I’m allowed to do my job. Regardless of whether I’m a prime or a subcontractor, I focus on making sure I’m serving my client and giving them the quality of support and service that they deserve.

Q: What is the value of being a subcontractor versus a prime contractor?
It depends on where you are and the nature of the work you’re doing, but I think it’s always a good idea to try to do some subcontract work. It helps you learn what’s involved, and it’s important to diversify your business. There are definite advantages to being a sub. Work to build a relationship with a prime contractor so that wherever they go, they take you with them. I know a woman in Texas who has grown her business just by being a subcontractor. She’s operating in the $50-$60 million range by forging those relationships.

Part of our strategic goals has been to team with people in reciprocal relationships, where I can be a subcontractor to them, and they can be a subcontractor to me. Large businesses typically cannot bid on a small contract unless they’re in a joint venture/protégé relationship. It pays to position yourself with a company where you can have that reciprocal relationship. That’s ideal.

Also, when you meet a prime contractor, like a large company that’s willing to make you part of their team, make sure you don’t get boxed in. If they see you as a supplier of only one kind of product or service, you’ll end up a one-time player. They should have the confidence in your skill set and your ability to do the work to keep you in their bids.

Q: What challenges are involved in responding to a solicitation?
Initially, the paperwork requirements may be frightening, but once you get into it and understand all the different sections, you get used to it and it’s not as hard. Certain parts of a solicitation never change. For instance, you have to declare your socio-economic certifications, whether you’re woman-owned, minority, service-disabled veteran, in a HUB zone, all of the above. Those are blocks that you check, and some of it is automated and online, so a contracting officer can look up that information or you can submit it with your proposal.

The biggest challenge is responding to the technical piece, normally in Section C – the Statement of Work. That’s where you have to really “answer the mail” – tell them how you’re going to go about doing the job, what processes are you going to put into place to make the system work, or how will you improve their processes or enhance their bottom line. Whatever they ask you to do or provide, do it. If you don’t provide the information requested, you may get kicked out of the running.

Q: Do you have a proposal writing team to handle that work? If so, do you recommend that approach?
We’re not large enough to have that kind of dedicated proposal writing team. Depending on the size of the contract, you can find people who make a living putting together proposals, but in my experience, it’s an expensive undertaking for a small business. As we’ve evolved, we’ve applied that concept internally. We may assign a proposal manager to be responsible for the proposal, to capture the data from different possible areas and then consolidate it into a document that everyone reviews and plays a part in preparing. Now that I have a dedicated person on the government side of the business, he’s helping to pull together proposals and he loves to do it, so that’s brought a lot of value as we’ve grown. And, there are some agencies, like SCORE through the Small Business Administration, that will provide support, but they don’t write the proposal for you. They can provide some guidelines, help direct you, but for the most part, you have to wing it. You learn from experience.

Q: Unless you win a contract, how do you know if your proposals are on-target?
One of the cool things with federal contracts is something I haven’t seen on the commercial side: Contract officers are required by law to give you a debrief, offering feedback on how you did. Some things they are not privy to tell you. But their assessment can help you do better in terms of improving the quality of your proposals and help you better prepare for the next one.

Q: How difficult is to obtain security clearance for contracts that have security requirements?
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires a DD Form 254 to be incorporated in every classified contract. It specifies the security requirements and the classification guidance necessary for the contractor (or a subcontractor) to perform on a classified contract.

So, under the contract, the contractor has to roll down a DD Form 254, and you can submit credentials for your clearance if you don’t already have a facility clearance or the appropriate clearance for that contract. What I’m finding now – unlike before – is that a lot of government agencies will want you to already have a clearance. You can get it as a subcontractor, if you come under a prime contractor who can roll down the DD 254 requirements, and you can start the process to get the clearance. But, if you don’t have a contract, you’re not going to get the clearance.

Freight Broker and Trucker Relationship

Break the Ice With Your Carriers: 3 Relationship-Building Tips for Freight Brokers

Even in the age of social media, there’s no substitute for real relationships.
With today’s online load boards, social media networks, and nationwide WiFi, it’s possible for a freight broker to schedule a load without ever coming face-to-face with the carrier. You might not even have to pick up the phone. However, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean that you should.

The most successful brokers build their businesses the old-fashioned way: by creating and maintaining relationships with people they trust. Getting to know carriers is good for both parties. You’ll gain the confidence of working with someone you can count on. And they’ll feel better about working for you, which may translate to more favorable rates. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use technology. Load boards can be incredibly helpful in forming contacts and finding carriers for hard-to-fill needs. Still, nothing beats a real network of reliable people. Here are three tips to help build carrier relationships:

1. Listen to Your Carriers.

Listening is key to any relationship — whether you’re asking your spouse about their day, or asking a carrier about their last load. Start new business calls by asking questions, and listening to the answer. Ask carriers which lanes they prefer, and what weights they typically haul. Are there any routes they would they like to run, but aren’t currently hauling? Maybe you can help fill a deadhead section in their route, or contact them when you have a load near their home. Carriers will appreciate the fact that you asked, even if you can’t accommodate them immediately.

After a load has been delivered, follow through by asking your carrier whether everything went smoothly. If there were problems, address them quickly. And, if the carrier liked the lane, perhaps you could make it a recurring route.

Beyond business, show carriers you care by remembering personal details. You might consider creating a list of carriers with notes on each one, and referring to it when you call. A conversation that begins with, “Hi, Bob. How are the kids? You enjoying that Texas heat?” seems a lot more personal than “Are you available Wednesday for a load coming out of Fort Worth?”

2. Build Trust and Loyalty

Now that you’ve noted preferences, contact your preferred carriers first when matching opportunities become available. This shows loyalty. And, if your carrier isn’t available, they may refer you to another trustworthy carrier, filling the need and expanding your network.

Loyalty improves relationships — and it may save you money. For example, it may be tempting to choose cheaper carriers to raise profits, but if service is poor, you may end up losing business in the long run.

You can also build loyalty by reaching out to carriers throughout the year — not just when you have business for them. Many companies send cards or small tokens of appreciation to customers — such as a tin of popcorn or cookies — during the holiday season. For a more personal touch, note carriers’ birthdays, and send cards. It’s an inexpensive gesture, but it can go a long way.

3. Be Transparent.

If you make promises to a carrier, be sure you can keep them. If rates change, tell your carriers why. And, if you are considering using another carrier because of pricing, let your preferred carrier know. He or she may be able to work with you. Sometimes communicating the reason for a rate change, such as the season, supply and demand, location, fuel cost or miles, can help a carrier understand your point of view and avoid an awkward conversation.

Building relationships with carriers takes time, but it’s worth the effort. Of course, carriers also value relationships with brokers who pay quickly and reliably. If you need assistance with capital funding, contact Triumph Business Capital. We look forward to forming a mutually beneficial business relationship with you.

Winter Weather, Road, Mountains

Winter Trucking Tips: Don’t Let Jack Frost Ruin Your Run!

The weather outside is frightful, but these winter trucking tips should make your drive a little more delightful.

First, preparing for your drive starts before you even get on the road with a pre-trip inspection. You should already be completing a pre-trip inspection, but with winter road conditions, it’s recommended that you check your vehicle more often. Remember that this inspection includes tires, wiper blades, fluids and lights. If one of these parts doesn’t work properly, it is a bigger problem in winter weather.

Imagine a tire going out in the snow or your lights not being seen because of all the grime from the road covering them. Also, keeping at least half a tank of fuel in your truck is important. The more fuel you have in your tank, the less condensation builds in your fuel tank.

After your pre inspection you will want to have items packed in case of the worst:

• Proper clothing (layers, gloves, rain gear, and a coat)
• Flashlight
• Blanket
• Extra food and water
• Bag of sand
• Windshield washer fluid
• Windshield scraper
• Jumper cables
• Tire chains and/or traction mats
• Reflective vest
• Bungees
• Cam Lock T-handles
• Kneeling pad
• Anti-gel
• Emergency flares

Now it’s time to plan your trip. When determining your route, take note of truck stops and weather patterns, so you take the safest route possible. If you typically drive the same lane, start taking note of these stops in the spring and summer before winter weather appears. To get up to date information on the weather through your phone, you can download the Weather Bug app. It has a radar that can keep you updated on winter weather ahead.

When you head out on the road, watch your speed. Wherever you are going isn’t as important as your life or others. You will have more time to react if something happens, which also means you need to watch your spacing. Keep a good following distance so you can respond to whatever may happen on the road.

Brake and accelerate lightly. Whatever is out on the road can become an even bigger issue if you are stopping and accelerating at high speeds. This is especially important because black ice can exist out on the road. One clue to black ice is noticing that the spray from tires on vehicles in front of you has stopped.

Be extra careful in the mountains, because weather can change rapidly. Obey all signs, especially in the mountains so you can be as safe as possible.

As truckers, you know how to drive in this weather, but one thing to be concerned about that you can’t control is the other drivers out on the road. Even though you can’t control how they drive, you can control how you drive around them. Drive defensively. Keep your distance in case you need to react quickly and have a heightened sense of awareness.

Lastly, if you find yourself stranded on the road, stay in your truck. Grab the blanket and coat you packed and stay moving to keep warm. Keep your exhaust pipe clear of snow and crack a downwind window for ventilation. Also, you should run your engine for about 10-15 minutes per hour.

If you find yourself on the road in bad weather conditions, don’t be afraid to get off the road. Use your best judgement, because your life is the most precious cargo you are carrying.

For more Trucking Tips, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Protect, Cyber Security

How the Real Grinch Stole Christmas: Keeping Cyber Criminals Away from Your Business

I love a classic Christmas movie, and one of my favorites is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch lives high on a mountaintop away from all the villagers of Who-ville. To ruin their Christmas, he decides to sneak into town while they are all celebrating Christmas to steal all of their gifts. In the end, the Grinch’s heart grows seeing that the lack of gifts didn’t impact the villagers’ Christmas cheer.

However, we wouldn’t be so lucky with the real Grinches of the holidays, cyber criminals.

Like the Grinch, cyber criminals love to attack when we are distracted by the cheer and excitement of the holidays. With consumers looking for the best deals for the holiday season, cybercriminals see billions of dollars’ worth of possibilities. According to comScore’s quarterly State of Retail report, in the third quarter of 2015, Americans spent $69.7 billion online. If a cyber-thief infiltrated your systems, your small business could be down for days or weeks. You could experience a loss of customers and much more.

Here are the top scams of the season so your small business can be prepared against the real grinches:

  1. Phishing Emails

    Amazon is the top e-commerce site in the world, and cyber thieves are using this to their advantage. They are sending phishing emails to Amazon users that claim some accounts have been hacked. The email starts with “Important Notice” and asks that you “verify” your account by providing your personal information. By providing your sensitive information, you are giving them a gateway into your pocketbook. With the excitement surrounding the Star Wars premiere this month, cyber criminals are using the opening as an opportunity to target fans. Through phishing emails, cyber thieves are tricking fans into entering to win free movie tickets. With both of these phishing email schemes, it’s important to remember to think before you click.

  2. Shipping notifications

    With more people going online for their shopping needs, cyber criminals are taking advantage of a typical transaction. They are using fake shipping notifications to gain access and install malware on your system. Before you click on the tracking number, ask yourself have you ordered something recently that matches this shipping notification? If not, don’t click on the link in the email.

  3. Charities

    The holiday season is the time many choose to give back to their communities and to charities. Before your small business makes a donation to a charity, do your research. Many cyber thieves create fake charities to receive the donations of those desiring to give back.

  4. Free gift offers

    You’ve seen it before; you’re scrolling through social media or a website, and you see an offer for a free gift if you just “click here.” Don’t click. That click could help install malware on your device. Also be aware of those letters in the mail that will send you a $500 check in exchange for your personal information.

  5. Tech Support

    The tech support scam is becoming increasingly popular, and it can be detrimental to your small business. During the attack, someone will call you out of the blue acting as tech support. If you weren’t expecting a call from tech support or don’t recognize the company they represent, hang up. Here are some helpful tips to remember when it comes to tech support:

  • Don’t allow a third party who calls you out of the blue to control your computer.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID in this situation. Criminals can spoof the ID, allowing you to think they are from a legitimate company
  • Don’t rely on searches to find a helpful tech company. Scammers place ads and have high search rankings so you can fall into their trap. Use the software packaging to find the best number to
  • reach the company.
  • Don’t give your credit card information to a tech support person.
  • Never give someone your password over the phone.

Just like the Grinch swooped in without notice and took all of Who-ville’s belongings, cyber criminals can infiltrate your small business when you least expect it. The last thing you need as a small business owner is a cyber-attack during the most wonderful time of the year. Be aware of grinches this holiday season.

Trucking, Trucks Lined Up

Is Your MC Number Going Away?

MC numbers. MX numbers. FF numbers. Soon, they’ll all be gone. In the near future, all interstate motor carriers will need just one number to complete the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) registration process. Read on to find out why the change is happening, who is affected, how to maintain compliance, and when to take action.

Why the change?

The current carrier registration process is complex, involving different numbers and processes for different carrier types — and many carriers still submit paper forms. It can be time-consuming to track individual carriers using disparate systems, and the government wants to phase out inefficient paper processes.

The FMCSA’S new Unified Registration System (URS) will streamline and simplify things, merging multiple systems, numbers and forms into a single, electronic online process. Once it launches, all carriers will be identified solely by their USDOT (Department of Transportation) number. This simple approach will make it easier to obtain operation authority and maintain compliance. It will also save an estimated $9 million for the FMCSA and the trucking industry, over the next decade.

Who is affected?

All interstate motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, IEPs, HMSP applicants/holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities under FMCSA jurisdiction will need to comply.

What action must I take — and when?

  • Carriers Currently Registered with the FMCSA:
    If you already have an MC USDOT, or FF number, you don’t have to do anything yet. The change is so big and sweeping, the FMCSA is rolling it out in phases — and currently registered entities are not required to make any changes until September 30, 2016. Continue using the current agency forms and processes to apply for additional registration authority, make administrative filings, and update your registration.
  • Special Entity Requirements:
    If you’re a private HAZMAT or exempt for-hire carrier, you must provide proof of financial responsibility beginning December 31, 2016. In addition, you must have BOC-3 filings in place beginning December 31, 2016. New applicants will begin providing this information September 30, 2016.
  • New Carriers:
    New registration applicants will be required to use the URS online registration application sooner — beginning December 12, 2015. Because it will take some time to transition from the old system to the new one, only new applicants will be able to use the online URS at this time.

Where do I go to get my number?

Online. Once the URS is in effect, paper forms will no longer be accepted. However, we can’t give you the url yet — it’s not ready. The FMCSA recently published an extension to their original deadline for the website launch, citing the need to implement multiple provisions.

Dates to remember: Biennial updates

Once you begin using the URS, you will be required to update your information biennially (every other year). So, how do you know which year and month to do so? The answer lies in your USDOT number itself. Here are the guidelines:

  • If the next-to-last digit in your USDOT number is odd, you must update your information in the odd-numbered calendar year.
  • If the next-to-last digit in your USDOT number is even, update your information in the even-
    numbered calendar year.
  • To determine the month in which you must update, look at the last digit of your USDOT number.
    “1” means January, “2” means February, “3” means March, and so on. Oh, and “0” means October. We know what you’re thinking. What about November and December? Those are double-digit months. Well, don’t worry — there will be no updates in those months.
  • Special exclusions: If you change your name, address, or form of business, you must update your information within 30 days of the change.

We know — it’s a pain in the bumper. But if you don’t complete the biennial update, your USDOT number will be deactivated.

The URS may seem confusing, but once it launches, we’ll be on the road to a more efficient, simpler process (To learn more, visit the FMCSA website.) At Triumph Business Capital, we’re committed to serving truckers. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date with the latest in the industry!

Great Ideas, Lightbulb

Does Your Next Great Idea Already Exist?

What’s worth more — your money or your time? If you’re considering filing a patent on your newest invention, you could be spending a lot of both. However, conducting a thorough patent search as early as possible could save you time and money in the long run. We recommend contacting a patent attorney before you make a formal application; but professional services can be expensive. With a little time (and a lot less money), you can do a preliminary search on your own. Here’s how:

  1. Figure out what type of patent you need.

    This first step is fairly easy. There are three categories. Choose the one that best describes your invention:
    Utility: Any invention with a useful application. For example, a new type of wireless communication technology, building construction material, or waterproof fabric.
    Plant: This category describes any new plant species, such as a hybrid orchid or seedless tomato.
    Design: These types of patents are for decorative products, such as a Texas-shaped waffle maker.

  2. Research keywords that describe your invention.

    Here’s where things get tricky. In order to search for similar patents, you need to identify words or phrases that describe your invention. If you don’t select the right keywords, you could be falsely led to believe that your product is unique — when, in fact, someone else may have already thought of it. So, start brainstorming by considering the following:
    What is it?
    What does it do?
    What materials is it made of?
    How is it used?
    Who does it serve?
    Write down any keywords that come to mind.

  3. Find the applicable classes and sub classes.

    Visit United States Patent and Trademark, and you’ll see an alphabetical list. Use this list to search all of your keywords. For example, if you invented a type of lamp, click “L.” When you see your keyword, i.e. “lamp,” note the numbers next to the keyword, separated by a “/” symbol. The first number indicates the class. The second number is the subclass. Write these numbers down, then click each page to view additional additional relevant classes or subclasses. Note these, too. If you’re not sure what a subclass entails, click “Show Definition View” to learn more.

  4. Search Patents and Patent Applications.

    Go to patft.uspto.gov to access the Patent Full Text and Application Full Text databases. This step will show you similar patents and patent applications. Review the results, and make sure other inventions don’t look too much like your idea.

  5. Next, check the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC).

    This newer system will eventually replace the United States Patent Classification (USPC). So, it can be helpful to identify the CPC classification number that corresponds to the USPC numbers that are on your list. To do this, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office, choose USPC as your classification system, and click on “Statistical Mapping from USPC to CPC” in the “Select Content” field. Once you identify the relevant CPC numbers, you will need to go back to Step 4, and search patents under these numbers as well.

  6. Almost there — now, check with the Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) library.

    If you do discover a very similar invention, it’s unlikely that your patent will be granted. This can be disappointing — but not nearly as disappointing as it would be if you had paid an attorney to do this search for you. Assuming you did not find something similar, we recommend one last step before you call your lawyer: visit a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) library for a final check. Most states have at least one PTRC. You can search for your nearest center online, make an appointment, and go from there.

You can find a more detailed version of the information in this article here. If you’re able to file a successful patent, we congratulate you — and we want to hear about it! Triumph Business Capital specializes in helping small businesses get the capital they need to fund big ideas. Our invoice factoring services can turn your unpaid invoices into cash, so you don’t have to waste time or money waiting to collect on your accounts. Let us know how we can help.

Become a government contractor

Should I Become a Government Contractor?

Last year, the U.S. government shelled out $447.6 billion in contract spending. Want a piece of that action? Becoming a government contractor definitely has its benefits, but if you’re thinking about taking the plunge into performing government work, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons first.

Pros of Becoming a Government Contractor:

Compensation
In general, government contractors can expect to be paid more than government workers doing the same job. However, since contractors are not government employees, you won’t get the generous benefits for which full-time government workers are eligible. If you own a small business and you’re considering applying for a government contract, you can expect to receive fair market compensation or better — but you will be competing with other vendors who submit bids for the job.

Fortunately, you can find out exactly how much the government has paid for similar jobs in the past by searching the Federal Procurement Data System. (Unlike private sector customers, the government shares its spending history. After all, it’s funded by taxpayers — so they figure you have a right to know how much you spent.)

Flexibility
If you like the idea of working for the world’s largest employer, but don’t want to be employed by the government full-time, contracting can be a great way to go. You do have to abide by the terms of your government contract. However, once the work is over, you can choose to end your business relationship with the government if you decide it’s not for you. Or, you may wish to court the business of a different government agency. The flexibility of government contracting, compared to full-time government employment, lets you test the waters of performing government work, with relatively little risk.

Free Resources
The government wants to work with small businesses — and you’ll find a bevy of online resources available to help you navigate the process of government contracting. For starters, try the Federal Business Opportunities website, the Government Contracting Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and http://www.fedbizopps.gov.

Opportunities for Special Designation Businesses
Are you a Woman-Owned Small Businesses, Small Disadvantaged Business, or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses? These are just a few of the special designations that can qualify you for preferred consideration when applying for government contract work. Learn more by visiting the website for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Excellent Payment History
The government has a high credit rating, and a solid history of paying its bills. For small businesses, this is a big benefit, providing reliable cash flow.

Cons of Becoming a Government Contractor:

Slow Payment
While the government is a reliable customer, it can be a bit slow to pay. Fortunately, companies like Triumph Business Capital can help with cash flow while you’re waiting for payments to arrive. We specialize in providing invoice factoring for government contractors, and can get you paid up-front, which can help with interim expenses.

Rules and Regulations
It’s no secret: government contracting involves a lot of rules. When you become a government contractor, you will be asked to abide by precise specifications when responding to the Request for Proposal (RFP) — but that’s just the beginning. If you’re approved for the government contract, you may have to submit to government-approved accounting systems, purchasing methods, project management tools, and more. It can be helpful to evaluate the costs of complying with these regulations, weighed against the benefits of financial gain, before applying for any government contract.

Auditing
Your financial records may be audited at any time by the government — but becoming a government contractor may expose you to even more scrutiny. Be sure your ducks are in a row, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

No Stability
As with any contract work, government contractors can be fired at any time. Because of this, being a government contractor does not imply the same stability often associated with being a government employee. However, if you are able to fulfill the terms of your contact to the government’s satisfaction, it’s unlikely that you will be let go before its completion.

Triumph Business Capital provides a range of services for government contractors. If you decide that government contracting is a good fit, let us know how we can help.

Freight Broker Authority

How to Earn a Freight Broker Authority

Good pay. Control over your hours and benefits. Less time behind the wheel — and more time with your family. There are many reasons to become a freight broker, especially if you have a history of working in the trucking industry. According to payscale.com, freight broker salaries can range from $30,015 – $72,756, and a majority of brokers report being highly satisfied with their jobs. If all this sounds good to you, we’ve got good news: applying for freight broker authority may be easier than you think. Here’s how:

  1. First, apply for your USDOT (Department of Transportation) number.

    You’re going to need it on a lot of other applications, so it will speed things up if you get it ahead of time.

  2. Next, register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

    You’ll need to fill out the OP-1 Application for Motor Property Carrier and Broker Authority, to receive your MC number or FF number. There is a $300 filing fee that must be submitted, along with your application. You can file in one of three ways:
    Online: You must have a credit card to process your online application. However, this method is faster than others.
    By Mail: You can complete and print your OP-1 form and mail it to the address on the form, along with payment. This method doesn’t require a credit card, but it is a bit slower.
    By Phone: You can request the form by calling 1-800-832-5660. It will be mailed to you, and you can then complete it and return it by mail. This option is good for people who don’t have Internet access, and/or aren’t comfortable using the Internet. However, it’s also the slowest method. It can take up to four weeks to process your application by mail.

  3. Obtain a Surety Bond and apply for proof with the FMCSA.

    Freight brokers are trusted by both shippers and carriers — so it’s essential that you’re properly insured. This protects you and your customers. In the event that a shipper is unable to pay for a shipment, the freight broker is responsible for paying the cost. And, if you’re unable to pay, your Freight Broker Bond (BMC-84) will act as insurance, covering the expense. To apply for a bond, you’ll need to submit an application to a reputable insurance firm, which will conduct a background check and credit check. The cost to obtain surety bonds for freight brokers may range from $1,800 and $10,000 a year, for $75,000 of coverage. Once you receive coverage, your insurance provider will need to provide proof of that coverage to the FMCSA.

  4. Designate a Process Agent.

    Within 90 days of receiving your MC or FF number, you will be required to designate a process agent for any state in which you will do business. This will be someone who represents your company and can receive documents in the event of legal action.

  5. Receive your License.

    Step 5 is the easy one — and it’s also the most exciting. It’s a great day when you receive your License of Operating Authority. This means that you can begin doing business as a freight broker. Welcome to the world of Logistics. We wish you a safe and successful journey.

Want to learn more about being a freight broker? You’ll find lots of information on the Triumph Business Capital blog. We can also help you access capital funding to grow your new business, through our invoice factoring services. Want to learn more? Give us a call.

Small Business Tips

Cyber Security Tips for Your Small Business

If someone were to ask me what app I use most on my phone, it would have to be my banking app. I am constantly checking my account. Some might find this obsessive, but I was a victim of a data breach a year or so ago, and I am not going to let that happen again. In 2013, Target was a victim of a cyber theft and ended up owing $67 million to financial institutions for the costs incurred. In 2014, Michaels stores experienced a data breach that impacted around 2.6 million cards. You may think because you are a small business that hackers aren’t interested in your network, but think again.

Because small businesses don’t have the defensive structure that larger businesses have, cyber criminals see them as easy targets. Think about it: How much do you rely on the internet for your day-to-day operations? If someone were to get into your network, how much would it cost you to be out of business for a day, week or even months before you get the issue resolved? Here are some numbers the National Cyber Security Alliance tabulated about small business online security:

  • 45% of small business owners do not provide Internet safety training to their employees
  • 77% don’t have a formal written Internet security policy for employees
  • 52% have a plan or strategic approach in place for keeping their business cyber secure

First, determine what areas you are most at risk for a cyber-attack, and then you can be proactive so if you become a target, you have a line of defense.

But how are the cyber thieves getting into my small business?

Spam Email

Yes, the thorn in the side of every email inbox, spam mail. It seems like no matter how many filters you place on your email, spam still gets through. By opening spam email, you are putting your company at risk for viruses and malware.

Use common sense when opening your email. Were you expecting something from the sender? Before clicking on links or opening attachments, did you expect to receive these files or links?

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks can impact you or your customers by trying to obtain your personal data, like Social Security numbers or other financial information.

Cyber criminals can do this through fraudulent emails that trick customers by sending emails that look like they are from a reputable company or even your company. Then, the email takes the individual to a website to enter their personal information.

Cyber thieves can also send an email that installs a keystroke program on the receiver’s computer. They are then able to obtain the information that user’s type on their computer.

Lastly, they can take over the web address of a company, and then take them to a fake site where they enter in personal information.

How can you protect your small business?

  • Keep your systems up to date- If your computer and other systems have the latest software and are up to date, then your risk is greatly decreased. With many software programs, an automatic update option is available. This will help you stay current without putting more on your plate.
  • Scan, scan, scan- It never hurts to scan your system to see what has been downloaded to your computer. You may never know what a site has placed on your computer when you visit it.
  • Monitor yourself- Google your business. Google your name. This gives you insight into who might be trying to imitate you to obtain customer personal information. Another way to prevent these types of attacks is purchasing domain names similar to yours, including common misspellings. Limit the ways cyber criminals can imitate you to your customers and the marketplace. Max’s Sporting Goods store sells sporting equipment to teams and individuals. Because of the nature of his business, he has access to personal information of his customers, and could be a target of cybercrime. To watch out for potential threats, he should Google the name of his business “Max’s Sporting Goods” frequently to see if sites come up that are imitating his business. If his website is at maxssportinggoods.com, he might also consider buying the .biz and .net counterparts and misspellings of his current domain name (example: maxssportingods.com) to prevent someone from imitating him in the first place.
  • Report attacks- If you do find that a cyber-attack has occurred, report it. You wouldn’t let a burglary go unreported, would you? You can report cyber-attacks at Stay Safe Online powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

As your company’s activities increasingly move online, your risk becomes greater for a cyber-attack. Before you become a Target or Michaels, play it safe and create a cyber security plan for your business. Murphy’s Law applies to cyber-attacks; the more prepared you are, the less likely you will be a victim of an attack.

Recruiting Strategies

What to Look For When Hiring a COO

Part 2 of an interview with Stanton Williams, a growth-driving president/CEO with two decades in the financial services industry and co-founder of a mobile app/social media technology venture. In this article, he discusses the role of a company’s chief operating officer and the importance of identifying the right person for this critical leadership position.

Q: You previously explained that the two most important leaders in organizations are a Visionary/Trailblazer and an Architect/Integrator. The Visionary is typically the CEO and/or founder, while the Architect/Integrator is the COO. How would you describe the qualities and leadership style of this key leader?

SW: Clearly, visionaries and integrators have different strengths. Architects/integrators are assertive, take-charge people. They’re analytical thinkers who require factual information. They want and need to solve problems quickly and want to get projects completed. Although they often don’t communicate to others what they are doing, when they do communicate, their style is no-nonsense: blunt, authoritative, factual.

How does the COO need to balance the CEO?

SW: You have to have someone detail-oriented who can keep up with the visionary who’s out there making things happening, or who will even take the foot off the gas sometimes. There tends to be a healthy tension between the two. They have to essentially leave each other alone, but they have to be on the same page. I’m a visionary. The success I’ve had in my career has been when I’ve had a really strong operator off whom I could bounce ideas. I almost always get a different perspective that I value. I don’t want a “yes” person. I want someone strong enough and smart enough to be my balance. I take this person’s perspective into account before making decisions.

Q: How do you identify the right individual for that role?

SW: I’m actually in the process of buying a company. I’m buying it because I know I can help grow it and because the current president is an excellent operator. I’ll be the CEO and she will be my COO. Her skills and strengths represent those needed for a leader in this role to excel:

  • Business acumen – While she is good at what she does, she is also very aware of the business environment, which enables her to avoid the trap of complacency.
  • Honesty – Honesty is the first ingredient for effective relationship building. She is absolutely authentic and honest, which has enabled her to win the trust of team members.
  • Creating an inspired corporate culture – Team members believe they are working for a cause greater than themselves.
  • Continual innovation and adaptability – This has positioned the company to compete head-to-head with industry leaders.

Just as important, she and I have a shared vision for the company and our daily focuses are complementary.

Q. On the flip side, what mistakes have you seen in companies when hiring a COO?

SW: I’ve seen companies go astray in multiple ways – not properly vetting candidates, being too narrow in who or what they consider, or not fully grasping how well a candidate fits with the culture. Some key mistakes include:

  • Failing to do adequate reference checks, including verifying academic credentials. You would be surprised how many times candidates falsify their academic achievements.
  • Limiting candidates to only those with direct industry experience. Excellent COOs bring deep experience, much of which is transferable across industries. The best COOs are able to work with existing experienced staff to form a strategy with the benefit of an outsider’s perspective.
  • Failure to consider a fractional COO. In some situations a top-tier COO, whose talents can be harnessed for a fraction of a full-time salary, can be an excellent alternative to a full-time hire.

Q: When seeking a COO, how much do the requirements depend on the organization?

SW: Finding the right COO depends on the company, the culture and the team. You can find an individual with extraordinary skills, but if they mix like oil and water with the other leaders, it’s not going to work. It’s imperative to clearly understand the candidates’ vision for the company culture – and make sure that vision is an excellent match for where the company wants to be. The COO will have a great deal of influence on the company culture. That means a great candidate will put the company on the path to foster the desired culture, but the wrong candidate can have a devastating impact. Also, if the talent coming in doesn’t do a good job quickly gaining the respect of the team, it’s not going to be a good hire. Recruiters need to ask questions about the culture and the people to find the right candidate.

Stanton Williams

A CEO’s Perspective on Executive Staffing: Interview with Stanton Williams

Stanton Williams is a growth-focused president/CEO with extensive experience driving results in a fun, accountable culture. He recently acquired and became CEO of V-Rooms, a 10-year-old company that enables the secure sharing of sensitive business documents. Prior to that, he was a cofounding partner of Reach 1-2-1 Mobile, a mobile app and social media technology venture. Previously, he rose to president of SourceCorp Professional Services. Under his leadership, it vaulted from $3.9 to $14.8 million in revenue and into the nation’s largest single-source provider of federal tax saving solutions for partner accounting firms.

Mr. Williams recently shared his insights and perspective on key leadership roles within companies and how they affect staffing. This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

Q: What two types of people are most important to a company’s success?

SW: My leadership experience has taught me that organizations that grow must have key leadership strengths, and these strengths almost always consist of two strong complementary leaders. Gino Wickman, in his book Rocket Fuel, argues that organizations that see explosive growth have two key types of leaders working closely together to drive that growth – Visionaries and Integrators. I’m a huge fan of the book because it details the way my teams have driven companies to success.

Q. How would you describe each leader? What are their roles and talents?

SW: The Visionary is typically the spiritual leader of the company. These people are out front: They’re growth-driven, low on detail, highly results-oriented leaders, and often their companies’ rainmakers. They may also be called trailblazers. These individuals are idea generators who see the big picture and envision the future, wrapped up in the mentality of a hunter. Visionaries/trailblazers are their organizations’ entrepreneurial spark plugs: They’re the source of passion and inspiration. They’re the cheerleaders and champions who develop the big ideas and create the company vision. They develop the breakthroughs and solve the tough problems. Visionaries close the big deals while continually learning and researching.

The Architect, or Integrator, is the organization’s glue, holding the people, processes, systems, priorities and strategy of the company together. He or she is the visionary’s right hand and more detail-oriented. Wickman explains that, “The Integrator is a person who has the unique ability to harmoniously integrate the major functions of the business, run the organization, and manage the day-to-day issues that arise.” Architects/integrators are strong leaders and managers – decisive, good at planning and organizing, solving problems, adaptable and focused on achieving goals. They’ve also got the people skills to understand and evaluate others, so they’re effective in developing and coaching their teams, keeping them cohesive and managing conflicts. Yet, they’re also forward-looking and conceptual thinkers. Like visionaries, architects are continuous learners.

Q: Do most organizations have both?

SW: Some organizations have one of the two leaders; few have both. It’s rare to find organizations growing quickly without both because each of these strong profiles brings unique and critically important strengths to their organization. True Visionaries and Integrators each represent only 3% of the population – they’re very hard to find. Finding Visionaries and Integrators with specific industry experience may be even harder.

Q: How do they complement each other?
SW: Without an Integrator to turn a vision into reality, a Visionary is far less likely to succeed long-term and realize the company’s ultimate goals. Likewise, with no Visionary, an Integrator can’t rise to his or her full potential. When these two people share their natural talents and innate skill sets, they have the power to reach new heights for virtually any company or organization. Working together they push each other, support each other and appropriately challenge each other so that the organization grows in a way that is controlled but that is far faster than their peers.

How do Visionaries and Integrators need to interact?

SW: The Visionary and the Integrator are both very strong personalities and must be intentional about respecting each other. The Visionary tends to get the glory and the integrator tends to be in the background. The integrator is also most likely labeled as a pessimist because the Visionary believes that any and everything can be accomplished – and quickly.

Q. Can you share an example from your own experience?

SW: I was promoted to president of a professional services company in 2001. I enjoyed substantial success in my career to that point by driving sales for the company. I believed that the role of president meant that I had to assume roles that didn’t necessarily play to my strengths as a visionary, an idea generator. Our team also needed strengths in people, processes, systems and conflict management. While I worked very hard to be everything our team needed, I didn’t fool my team or myself when I worked to excel in areas that were not my strengths.

Tom had been with our company for a number of years and had shown himself to be loyal, detail-oriented, ambitious and passionate in his area. He had my respect and the respect of our team. I knew my strengths and I knew our team needed leadership that I believed Tom would provide. It was a theoretical risk but far less of a risk than not making the move to promote Tom to COO of our company.

Leaders earn a title and a role based on stepping up and assuming duties well before being anointed with the title. Tom earned his promotion by demonstrating the kinds of leadership and skills the role required – well before he was given the title. His appointment to COO set me free to drive sales and to strategize with him about other offerings we could add. It was a great working relationship that enabled our company to grow; I was the visionary and Tom was the integrator. We strengthened each other while advancing our team members’ careers.

Freight Factoring

The State of Freight Brokerage Industry in 2015

High pay. Growing demand. Stable industry. It’s a good time to be a freight broker. Here’s what the industry looks like today.

If you’re considering becoming a freight broker — or wondering if you’ve made the right choice — we’ve got good news for you. Despite recent setbacks, the industry is currently doing quite well. In this blog, we’ll look at the benefits of being a freight broker, the state of the industry, and the reasons why we’ve arrived where we are today.

Low Supply. Growing Demand.

Just a couple of years ago, a great number of freight brokers were forced to go out of business, creating a gap in supply. Why? In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) increased the bond requirement for freight brokers from $10,000 to $75,000. Many brokers simply couldn’t afford it.

Originally put in place in the 1930s, the freight broker bond requirement was designed to protect shippers who do business with brokers. The bond guarantees that freight brokers will pay carriers, and will not use unethical business practices. The required amount had remained at $10,000 since the 1970s — so the large increase was a shock for many brokers. Bond price is dependent on a broker’s credit score, so those with credit problems and a lack of financial resources were pushed out of the industry. This caused a drop in supply, and a growing demand for the brokers who remained.

Improved Credibility. Reliable Stability.

New bond requirements mean the freight brokers who are still in business have better credit scores, and more stable operations. They also have a lot less competition. This has led to improved job security for brokers, and better security for shippers. As a result, the industry is enjoying a more stable and trustworthy reputation.

Better Credit Means Lower Bond Costs.

Because today’s operating brokers have higher credits cores and stronger financial resources, bond prices are beginning to go down. This makes it less expensive for new brokers to enter the business.

High Salaries. Strong Future.

Freight brokering is a lucrative industry, with U.S. salaries typically ranging from $30,000 to $80,000. New brokers will start out making less, but experienced brokers can make upwards of $90,000. This salary range puts brokers well above the national median income of $32,140 or even the average household income of $53,657. High salaries continue to attract new brokers to the field.

Growing Industry. Bright Future.

The freight brokerage industry has grown 15% since the beginning of 2014, but the market still needs more brokers. Freight brokers play an important role in helping shippers and carriers. Now that we’re seeing better credit, higher salaries and less competition, brokers may experience even greater success in the future.

For freight brokers to be successful, they need excellent credit and strong financial resources. Triumph Business Capital can help. Our Invoice Factoring services help brokers collect payment for completed work, so they can pay truckers faster. This results in better credit, easy access to capital, and improved collections processes.

Trucker Health

The Push to Help You “Keep On Trucking”

The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 years — but for truckers, it’s only around 60. While job risks like traffic accidents are partly to blame, the trucking lifestyle may be the bigger culprit. Here’s what truckers are doing to change the statistics, and create longer, healthier lives.

Why is it so hard for truckers to stay healthy?

Long hours sitting behind the wheel. Lack of access to healthy food choices. Limited time for exercise. It’s easy to see why staying healthy is a challenge for truck drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, truckers have the highest obesity prevalence of any occupation. They also have a 50% higher risk of developing diabetes compared to the general population, according to a 2009 study. However, an industry-wide shift toward healthier lifestyles is beginning to change all that.

Who’s driving the push for better health?

Rising healthcare and insurance costs, an aging workforce, and the desire to improve one’s own health are all contributing factors to the growing concern — and as the industry rallies around the problem, we’re seeing a lot of promising new solutions. Transportation companies, health insurance providers, healthcare companies, and individual truckers are all doing their part to create a healthier future for truckers. Here’s how:

  • Employers and Transportation Companies
    In the corporate world, “workplace wellness” has been a growing trend — but it’s been slower to reach the trucking industry. Drivers travel across the country daily, making it difficult to access workout facilities, participate in fitness classes, or assemble for office meetings about healthcare. Instead, employers are trying new methods to reach a mobile workforce, including online fitness programs, conference calls with health coaches, and mobile applications to track diet and exercise. For example, Prime Inc., a trucking operation with thousands of drivers, hired a trucker-turned-fitness guru to create and implement a health program for its fleet.
  • Healthcare Providers and Insurance Companies
    Keeping truckers healthy is good for everyone on the road. A driver with more energy is less likely to become drowsy — which may prevent accidents. Healthcare providers and insurance companies are reaching out to truckers with websites, online video channels, and other resources aimed at improving health. For example, The Healthy Trucking Association dispenses health advice, articles, and recipes on its website, along with insurance information.
  • Transportation Industry
    Financial providers and others in the industry are also chipping in to improve trucker health. The healthytrucker website features health, lifestyle and money blogs. Meanwhile, the online video network CFF Nation hosts fitness-themed shows for truckers, including cooking shows and exercise programs with moves you can do inside or outside of your truck.

Individual Truckers

Of course, the only way to truly improve truckers’ health is if truckers themselves get involved — and not surprisingly, truckers are the biggest drivers in the trend. Here are some of the ways they’re incorporating health into life on the road:

  • 15-minute “exercise breaks”
    Truckers are using breaks to get in quick, high-intensity exercise. A workout can be as simple as
    jogging around the truck stop, lifting weights, or doing jumping jacks. If you can work in two or three short exercise sessions a day, you’ll boost your metabolism.
  • Healthy choices on the road
    Fast food options are limited, but with a little education, drivers can make better choices. For example, a six-inch sub with double meat provides more protein and fewer carbs than a foot-long. Drivers can skip buns on burgers, sub salads for fries, and go easy on the dressing.
  • Kitchen-in-the-cab
    Some drivers are creating kitchens in their cabs, with portable mini-fridges and basic cooking facilities designed for the road. They’re stocking up on healthy ingredients and produce at grocery stores, and making their own nutritious meals instead of settling for fast food.

Truckers are fighting the statistics — and it may result in longer and happier lives. For more Trucking Tips, give us a follow on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.

Invoice Factoring Staff

Analysis of the Staffing Industry: Growth & Looking Forward

Economists say post-recession growth is sluggish — but the staffing industry is doing great. Read on to learn how staffing growth compares to the overall economy, which sectors are growing fastest, and what to expect in 2016.

Long Recession. Slow Recovery.
Unemployment is down. Job growth is up. So, why are economists complaining? According to a September report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment has increased by an average of 198,000 jobs per month so far in 2015. It sounds like good news — but compared to last year, when employers added an average of 260,000 jobs per month, the growth is not as impressive. And when you consider the big picture, it’s clear we still have a lot of catching up to do.

It has taken nearly five years to recover jobs lost during the18 months of the Great Recession. During that time, which began in the first quarter of 2008 and ended mid-2009, real gross domestic product (GDP) dropped in five out of six quarters. Overall, the GDP lost 4.3%, making this recession worse than any since the end of WWII. The Great Recession also lasted longer than the 10 prior post-war recessions, which lasted an average of 10 months each. Pair a lengthy recession with a poky recovery, and the result is a slow-growth economy. Since the recovery began in June of 2009, the GDP has shown an average of 2.2 percent annually. It’s good — just not great.

Better-than-Average Growth for the Staffing Industry
Compared to the overall economy, the staffing industry is growing quickly. A new industry forecast by Staffing Industry Analysts predicts industry revenue to reach a record $142.4 billion next year. The industry is projected to grow by 7% this year and 6% in 2016. So, why is staffing doing so well?

For starters, many businesses restructured operations at the beginning of the recession, downsizing staff to offset lower profits. However, as corporate profit rebounded and business confidence increased, the industry began to recover. To reduce risk, more companies began making smaller commitments to staff, using temporary employees instead of permanent full-time employees, and relying on staffing companies to support growth. The trend continues to have a positive effect on the industry.

Healthcare Jobs Boosted by Affordable Care Act
The largest growth is in the healthcare sector, which has reached 17% for 2015. Part of this growth is due to higher bill rates, as a result the Affordable Care Act. In the period from late 2013 until now, we have seen the largest expansion in insurance coverage since the decade following the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. As more individuals are able to access care, healthcare spending has increased, and hospital job growth is surging. This is excellent news for staffing companies — especially those that specialize in healthcare.

Are you ready to grow?
As the economy continues to recover, staffing companies are well positioned to meet growing job needs. However, it’s important to proactively plan so that you may respond quickly. Implementing scalable processes and outsourcing back-office tasks can help.

When it comes to scaling up, access to working capital is a common challenge. If you need cash to cover payroll and “staff up” for large assignments, you may wish to consider invoice factoring. This financial tool is a good one to have if your clients pay reliably, but not as quickly as you might like. Invoice factoring companies like Triumph Business Capital pay cash for your unpaid invoices, and take over collections. This not only provides you with capital — it also reduces the burden of collection from your back-office.

How Long will the Recovery Last?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Great Recession, it’s that we can’t always predict what will happen next. However, analysts are concerned that since the current expansion has lasted longer than pervious ones, it may be coming to a close soon. Most are now predicting that 2016 will see a decline.

Only time will tell how long the recovery will last — so it makes sense to take advantage of today’s good fortune while you can. If your staffing company needs assistance with working capital, give us a call today!

Government Contractors

Tips to Writing a Flawless Government Proposal

Thousands of rules and regulations. Hundreds of line items and questions. One blank sheet of paper. If you’re dreading the process of writing a government proposal, read on. These quick tips will help you get started writing the best government proposal possible — and they maybe even help you get the job.

Keep it Short and Simple (KISS).

What’s more daunting than writing a detailed, multi-page government proposal? Reading dozens of responses, and choosing the best one. The government purchasers who will be scoring your proposal don’t want to read a long, boring document any more than you want to write one. So, get to the point quickly, and get the reader’s attention so that your proposal stands out from the rest.

Read the Request for Proposal (RFP). Then, read it again.

One challenge of responding to government RFPs is making sure you adhere to all the details. Because missing items may disqualify you, it’s important to read the RFP carefully and use it as a guide to craft your proposal. To ensure all requests are met, we recommend reading the RFP again after you write your first draft, and double-checking that you have answered each item.

Don’t just write a proposal. Tell a story.

Proposals are boring — but a story? Now, that’s interesting. Once you understand what the government agency is looking for, it can be helpful to think of your response as a story about how your company can help meet the agency’s goals. And, just like when you were assigned to write a story in school, that means answering the “5 Ws”: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

Who?
The star of this story isn’t you, but your customer. When writing your proposal, think about how it benefits them, taking the focus off of you and placing it on their needs. Most people (and companies) are more interested in talking about themselves than they are in hearing about others, so this approach can be highly effective. An added benefit? Focusing on others can take the pressure off of you.

What?
What does your customer need, and how can you help provide it? Think about the problem, and explain how your company can provide the best solution.

When?
Timelines are critical when working with the government — so be sure to pay careful attention to deadlines and objectives. Can your company provide added value by exceeding deadline requests and delivering more quickly? If so, be sure to highlight these capabilities.

Where?
Does your company’s location position you well to provide the requested service? Will logistics play an important factor? Are your facilities compliant with government requirements? These are all important points to consider.

Why?
In order to rise above the rest, your proposal needs to capture the attention of your target audience, and show how you bring more value than competitors. Be sure to point out what makes you different (and better) than the competition. (HINT: You may want to include “why” statements at the beginning and end of your proposal.)

And How?
Once you’ve addressed the 5 Whys, explain how you will fulfill the proposal. Include descriptions of your processes and best practices, and how they add value.

The End.
A good story ties up loose ends neatly, and wraps things up on a positive note. Summarize your proposal in a sentence or two, and thank the evaluator for their time and consideration.

On that note, we’ll close this blog by thanking you for reading it — and, of course, wishing you luck as you write your government proposal.

Freight Broker Training

Fear and Loathing in Freight Brokering

Hunter S. Thomson wrote, “Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.” What he did not specify is HOW to get your blood racing. If you know Mr. Thomson and his work (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” among others) you know he probably meant something illegal! However in business, getting your blood racing can be good and bad. Few industries can get your blood racing like being a Transportation Intermediary – or a freight broker.
Freight brokers inhabit a unique space in the overall transportation market. Brokers voluntarily insert themselves between shippers who want their freight delivered 100% on time, every time without a single error or loss, and trucking companies who most of the time do a good job, but who have to deal with the real world of stolen trailers, bad weather, road construction, flaky drivers and Acts of God. This is a recipe for “getting your blood racing”.

The First Year
First year brokers face a lot of challenges, depending on where you come from and your background. It should be much easier if you’ve been in the trucking or brokering world before, since you’ll have an understanding of everything a broker does – either way, being a broker is challenging and can be rewarding. What’s the old saying: “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.” I know…it seems like everyone IS doing it, so here are some tips that might make it easier.

  1. As a first year broker, very few carriers are going to want to haul for you because you have no published credit and you’re new. Make sure you have trucking companies already lined up BEFORE you get into the business – you cannot move freight without them – and moving freight is ultimately what it’s all about!
  2. Shippers are going to be hesitant to work with you because…you guessed it…you’re new. You have no history of either being able to deliver freight on time and reliably. From a liability standpoint, shippers are paranoid about giving loads to someone that is unknown.
  3. Insurance will be relatively easy to obtain. Paying for it is more challenging. You can certainly write a check for your first year’s premium, but most people cannot afford that. In that case, you’ll have to deal with making a large (20%-30%) down payment and then qualifying to make 10-12 additional payments. If you’re personal credit is bad, this may a problem. There are some programs, like with Triumph Insurance, where you can pay 12 equal payments and forget about that big down payment.
  4. You need software! Trying to do this all on a spreadsheet is possible for a “baby” broker, but even having 10-15 loads in transit at once will quickly overwhelm even the most organized of people – thus it’s better to have a software program figured out (there are lots…some are even free for the first couple of users!).
  5. Financing – once you’ve hauled a load and issued the invoice…then what? The carrier is screaming that you need to pay them, and you’ve still not been paid by your customer. What now? You need a factoring company that specializes in factoring freight brokers. Do your homework on this – having a factoring company that knows and specializes in freight brokers can make or break your business – and can make life much easier.
    Shameless Plug: Triumph Business Capital has a broker program that has one of the most important features I can think of: When you sign up with Triumph, you can automatically offer your carriers “quick pay” AND, maybe more valuable than anything, you get a “Green Check Mark” on the TransCore/DAT freight load board. What does this mean? It means carriers will haul for you BECAUSE you’ve been approved for factoring with Triumph and have that green check mark on the load board.

OK – so this last one may seem a little self-serving since I work for Triumph Business Capital. I’m guilty of that – but even if you don’t use Triumph, there are still 5-10 other factoring companies out there that have special programs for freight brokers. The main feature is this:
Any factor that knows what they are doing in the freight broker market pays the carrier on behalf of the broker. Do not play the float – it will eventually catch up to you and quickly sink the ship.

Past the First Year
Once you’re past the first year as a freight broker, congratulate yourself – most brokers don’t survive this long or they give up in frustration.
The long-term survival of a freight broker is obvious: You need a consistent flow of freight to move or you’re out of business. I’m not being biased because I’m in sales too – dispatching and operations is critically important to being a freight broker. But let’s face it – you can have the most efficient, technologically advanced dispatch and driver management process anywhere in North America, but if you’re not moving loads, it does not matter. Another old saying is, “nothing happens until someone sells something.” That was probably said by a salesman looking to keep his job, but it’s essentially true – the sale of a service or product is the first step in the delivery process. You may be excellent at managing drivers and all the details of dispatching, delivery, financing and office management – but if you’re not good at sales, find someone who is and pay them to make sure you have a consistent flow of new business coming in the door. If you ARE good at sales, then the opposite is true – pay someone to do all the technical stuff and you FOCUS on sales. Do what you do best and pay someone well to do the stuff you do not like to do or are not good at.

Margin preservation is the other monster challenge. If you’ve been moving loads for the same customer for 18 months and a new traffic manager comes along, that person may not know you as well as the outgoing traffic manager and suddenly you’re under the microscope. Also, corporate America is always grinding on all their vendors for lower rates, better terms, etc. Be READY for this, have a plan in place to deal with this WHEN it happens, not IF it happens. The larger your customer is, the more likely it is to happen. Make sure you keep statistics that you can use to make your argument to keep the pricing in place. These are all things you do anyway, but keep good records and written policies for each one that you can show your customer when it comes time for a review:

On time performance statistics;
Claims history (or mainly, lack of claim history!);
Carrier qualification process;
Documentation process and storage;
Financial stability;

This will also help your sales process when talking to new customers – show them how organized and sensitive you are to their concerns: On time, 100% delivery, low liability, organized, stable. Notice I’ve not listed PRICE…show them the value of your organization first and then talk price.

One more area new Freight Brokers should give some attention. Shippers are more and more concerned with the liability of using a broker to move freight. There have been some high profile cases in which large freight brokers were sued for millions of dollars because one of the carriers they hired to move a load was a bad risk and a fatality crash occurred. Be sure you are operating as a broker and not treating your carriers like company drivers. Lastly, above all, do your due diligence on all carriers you use.

Being a transportation broker in many ways is about curing a shipper’s pain of having to deal with hundreds of carriers or drivers delivering loads all over the place. Address that pain – solve the shipper’s problem. If you do that, your margins may actually increase as well as your longevity!

Factoring Companies

How to Successfully Obtain 8(a) Certification

Thanks to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program, economically and socially disadvantaged business owners can land new opportunities to participate in America’s mainstream economic engine. Success in obtaining 8(a) certification can propel the growth of eligible small businesses through lucrative opportunities in the federal marketplace.

8(a) eligibility guidelines

It’s certainly well worth the time and investment to achieve certification. To be considered, your business must meet stringent requirements and demonstrate that one or more of the people who own it are socially and economically disadvantaged.

  • Disadvantaged individuals must own at least 51 percent or more of the firm.
  • They must be an American citizen, by birth or naturalization.
  • They must have direct ownership of the business, which cannot be owned through another firm trust (with the exception of certain living trusts).
  • The principal owners must demonstrate good character.
  • The full-time managers must meet the SBA requirement for disadvantage, by proving both social disadvantage and economic disadvantage.
  • The firm must be a small business.
  • The small business must have the potential to be successful.

The following individuals are presumed socially disadvantaged (called “presumed groups”):

  • Asian Pacific Americans
  • Black Americans
  • Subcontinent Asian American
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans

However, other individuals who are not members of one of the presumed groups may be found eligible and admitted into the program on a case-by-case basis.

How to apply

Your application requires numerous supporting documents. Contact your local SBA office or resource provider to get free help with your application package. The SBA also offers online training to assist you. Here are key steps to complete the application process:

  1. Take a look at the SBA online course Pre 8(a) Business Development Program Module 1 – Setting Expectations to verify if the 8(a) program is right for you and your small business.
  2. Obtain official copies of all current and state-approved governing documents such as licenses, permits and articles.
  3. Be sure to get a free DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet either online or by calling 1.866.705.5711.
  4. Set up a free IRS Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  5. Establish a business profile in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM).
  6. Get a free SBA General Login System user ID.
  7. Begin the free 8(a) online application.

How 8(a) grows your small business

After your small business becomes certified, you’ll find a wealth of resources available. These include specialized business training, assistance with marketing, as well as executive-level development. Other resources that you may qualify for include SBA-guaranteed loans and bonding assistance. In addition, sole-source contracts (not to exceed $4 million for services and goods and $6.5 million for manufacturing) are available.

Mentors give back through the 8(a) protégé program

Wouldn’t it be helpful to have someone to show you the ropes to achieve success in your own right? Well, the 8(a) Business Development (8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program) does just that. Successful firms offer various forms of assistance and support to small businesses. As a result of this mentoring partnership, your small business can be more competitive and more successful while boosting our nation’s economic engine.

Monitoring businesses to help them succeed

SBA district offices keep tabs on your business to help ensure you are meeting your goals. They also measure progress in the following areas:

  • Systemic evaluations
  • Annual reviews
  • Business planning

Collaborating for 8(a) success

Once you get your feet wet landing a federal contract, you may want to team up with other 8(a) certified firms to go after larger contracts that are beyond the capacity of your firm. That’s what’s so great about completing the 8(a) certification program and being approved for federal contracts. The sky is the limit! Want to learn more? Tap into our social media resources for more government contracting guidance for your small business:

Follow our government contracting tips on Twitter
Find our government contracting suggestions on Facebook
Check out our contracting posts on Google Plus

Business Services

Local Businesses – How to Make Yourself Visible on Google

Before new customers arrive at your front counter to check out, there’s a high probability they will first turn to their mobile devices and do a local search. Out of every three customers, at least one of them performs local searches prior to shopping. Google statistics show a compelling 73 percent of all online searches are for local information.

Eighty-five percent of small business owners say they want customers to find them on local search directories and apps. But sadly, only half of these local small business owners actually get around to updating their online information. In order to gain the strategic advantage over other brick and mortar retail competitors, take action with these proven search engine optimization and Google Local search strategies.

Create a Google My Business account

Google now offers a new way for customers to find your store online: Google My Business. Set up your page and list your address, website and hours of operation. By completing this information, your company will show up on a map when people do a search for your business. It’s a great tool for casting a wide net, because Google My Business puts your business info on Search, Maps and Google+ so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using. If you need help, Google explains how to create a Google My Business page to support local search. Enter as much data as you can because more content improves search results.

Use keywords and location

Appropriate keywords that describe your business should be used when setting up your Google page and on your website. For example, if you own a marketing agency, list that in your description because Google will match what people enter in the search bar to your profile. Also, be sure type your location in title tags and in other content, so your business will match on searches in your area.

Embrace reviews

Ninety-two percent of customers say third-party reviews are more trustworthy compared to advertising. Having a large number of reviews improves your store’s search ranking. Encourage your customers who have had a good experience to use Google for their reviews.

Develop your website

Where can customers learn about your store’s products and or business services? What about customer reviews or sales?

The answer: your store’s website.

All of your marketing efforts center on your company’s website, which should be optimized with the right keywords. It’s an essential part of your Google rankings. Start your keyword list by doing a search on Google and Bing for words your customers use, but don’t hit “Enter.” Study the list of words displayed. Repeat this process to develop a solid list of keywords for your blog, About Us page and other pages so they show up in a Google Local search. And don’t neglect to update these regularly.

Make your site mobile-friendly

Since just about everyone uses a smartphone for local searches and shopping, it matters to Google that websites are mobile-friendly. The following tips increase the chances for prospective customers to do business with your store if your mobile-friendly website:

  • Loads fast
  • Has a lot of whitespace
  • Includes buttons and links that are finger-sized
  • Fits to their mobile device’s screen

Fill out local search directory listings

While completing a local listing takes a lot of time, it’s worth it to get more traffic into your store. To rank well with search engines and to get the most from local search engine optimization, thoroughly complete the listing. According to a study by the Local Search Association/Burke Inc., here’s what people want to know about a local business when they do a search:

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • General proximity to location
  • Hours of operation
  • Company name
  • Website URL
  • Prices
  • General product or service info

Sweet success on social media

Depending on which social media sites your customers use, set up a Facebook, a Twitter or other social media account and share stories about your store’s products, services, special events and sales. This is one of the most important local search tips to get more customers into your store. Link social media profiles to your website to generate high online search results. Keep your social media channels updated by building an editorial calendar to determine when to post promotional events and new product information.

Dedicate someone to monitor your social media channels to ensure fast response to customer concerns. Not only will you serve the customers you already have, your store may gain new ones. A first-class local search and social media campaign enables your store to continue enjoying the sweet sounds of new and returning customers checking out their purchases.

Smart Hiring Tips

How to Make it Through Your First Year as an Owner-Operator

So you’ve decided to leap from employed trucker to becoming an owner-operator.

There are definite advantages to having your own authority and being your own boss: setting your own schedule; choosing loads and lanes that suit you; leaving company politics, rules and dispatcher favoritism in your rearview mirror. But where much freedom is given, much responsibility is required. Following these tips from others’ been-there-hauled-that experience will improve your chances for success in your first year on your own.

Set realistic expectations.

Even though becoming an owner-operator offers the opportunity to make more money, take off the rose-colored sunglasses. In your first year, expect to lay out a lot of cash for working capital, out-of-pocket expenses, insurance, meals, oil changes, repairs and many other expenses. Do a lot of research to get an accurate handle on both expected income and expenses.

Live within your means.

Your spending habits and money management will drive your success as an owner-operator. It’s good to set ambitious goals, but you can’t spend anticipating future growth. Budget based on yearlong averages, not the best of times. Buy or lease a truck you can afford, and set aside money for insurance, repairs and maintenance – even for a brand-spanking new one with a warranty.

Choose your truck wisely.

Spec it to squeeze out every penny of profit. Align the engine with the loads you expect to haul. Whether buying new or used, do your homework. Consider the truck’s fuel economy and its age (including mileage, warranty and amenities) for the money. Research fuel economy with the diesel engine manufacturers. Get real-world input from other owner-operators with similar trucks and engines. Also focus on reliability and longevity as well as maintenance requirements and overall performance.

Credit matters.

Avoid the common mistake of becoming an independent trucker with bad credit or excessive personal debts. Minimize your credit-card debt. Maintaining good credit supports your ability to keep rolling and access necessary capital for equipment, fuel cards, and investment in your business.

Set aside money for downtime and emergencies.

Plan for a rainy day by setting aside a little bit each week “just in case.” Work can dry up. You could get sick. Costs and revenue fluctuate. Build up your emergency fund – a good 3-6 months of living expenses – to tide you over in case you experience a real financial emergency, you can’t work, or you need ready access to cash. Even new rigs break, and downtime can be devastating.

Pay for professional expertise.

Consult with professionals on accounting and legal issues to set up the most appropriate business structure for your trucking business, keep proper records, plan for taxes and address various legal issues. You’ll also need a responsive and knowledgeable business banking contact. Seek out reputable professionals who can advise you properly for your specific circumstances.

Keep yourself healthy.

If you’re going to be on the road for long periods of time, your body and mind need to be in good health. If you have downtime because of health issues, you aren’t making money. If you’ve got health issues, plan for getting medical attention even while on the road. Also keep in mind that being a long-haul trucker is tough on relationships and family, stresses that can affect your physical health. Make sure you’ve got a decent health insurance policy and be prepared to pay for travel coverage.

Continue to learn.

You may be new to the industry or you may have been leased on to a company for years, but to stay one step ahead of your competition, continue to learn. Connect with industry leaders and learn from them. Those connections can help grow your business in the future, too. Don’t ever become complacent with your knowledge. You’ll also need to continue your professional training. If you plan properly, you can do this while on the road without taking hours away from your home time.

Think like a business owner.

Trucking is a business and your truck is your tool. It takes an intense work ethic and hard, smart work to be successful. In the beginning, after becoming an owner-operator, you’ll need to drive 70 hours a week and spend extra hours behind the scenes to keep the business running. You have to be prepared if something happens to your truck or you need more money for fuel. Those are now your responsibilities, not someone else’s. And, when evaluating loads, strike the right balance between home time and having enough cash coming in.

Go into carrier relationships with eyes wide open.

Know what you’re getting into before you sign – from the business sector you’re getting into to specific carriers. Rates, costs, customers, safety records, internal relationships all affect your operation. Focus on building long-term relationships with good customers.

Be prepared.

Even if you weren’t a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you need to be prepared for whatever happens in your business. If your brokers or shippers pay slowly, you may want to consider factoring through Triumph Business Capital. Freight bill factoring helps you manage your cash flow so you get paid fast without incurring debt. Also look to Triumph for a free trial of DAT Load Boards to search for credit-approved loads.

Payroll Pitfalls

How to Hire the Right People

As a staffing agency recruiter, you’ve been rewarded with revenue and loyalty from great hires – and felt the fallout from bad ones. According to the Harvard Business Review, bad hiring choices result in 80 percent of employee turnover. No wonder companies today are being more cautious. And, it makes sense to take a smarter approach to the hiring process. The goal is to hire the right person for the job – deliver maximum value for your clients and reinforce the positive impact you and your company make on their business.

Create a plan for hiring success

For you to fulfill your clients’ or the hiring manager’s requirements, there needs to be a clear plan detailing the qualities the contractor or hire must have with an emphasis on measurable results. It should factor in the company’s business goals and be tailored to the characteristics and skills the new hire must have to dovetail with the firm, says David Snyder, author of How to Hire a Champion (Career Press, 2008). Beyond job-specific skills and experience required, work with your client to address and evaluate the following factors in this process:

  • The company’s culture
  • The role of self-motivation
  • Skills
  • Soft skills such as leadership and communication
  • Past history
  • Intangibles beyond skills

Practice the Law of Three

Brian Tracy, chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, advocates a concept called the Law of Three because it has a high success rate based on feedback from business owners and executives. It works like this:

  1. Interview a minimum of three job seekers.
  2. Interview your favorite candidate three times.
  3. Interview the No. 1 candidate in three different locations.
  4. Allow three other people in the organization to interview the top candidate.
  5. Contact a minimum of three references from the job seeker.
  6. Ask the references for the names of others to ensure you go three deep.

Business owners’ smart hiring tips

It’s always a good idea to listen to and to learn from others. It saves a lot of time, trouble and money. Consider the hiring advice of business owners and executives from across a variety of industries relative to job hopefuls:

  • If they don’t share the company’s values and sense of humor, don’t hire them.
  • Find out what they are passionate about and determine if it’s your company.
  • Listen to what they say and learn whether they are a good fit.
  • Determine whether they are creative problem-solvers.
  • Give them an assignment to test their skills.
  • Assess their attitude.
  • Only hire people who walk fast because they have little time to waste.
  • Find out what their work ethic is.
  • Focus on what they offer now and what they can provide as they grow.
  • Check their work samples.
  • Evaluate whether they have a sense of urgency to meet deadlines.
  • Treat them like valued collaborators who are smart, capable and know what they bring to the equation, not lowly applicants who have to prove they are worthy of and willing to grovel for a precious job.

Carefully review past performance

How do you find out whether the job seeker has the skills needed to do a great job? By carefully interviewing to get a strong grasp of past history, results, and successes and failures. Make sure the candidate’s skills – hard and soft – are an excellent match for the job.

Hiring smart is your responsibility

With all of the personality and emotional intelligence tools available, it’s a good idea to learn as much about job seekers during the interviewing process as possible. Take the time to do your homework and plan for a successful hire by creating a dynamic, inclusive and comprehensive hiring process. Identify whether candidates are smart, personal, and a fit for the culture. Ultimately, selecting the right people to join your or your client’s organization is critical for long-term success, motivation and self-esteem. Slow down the process to ensure smart hires.

Transportation Intermediaries Association, TIA, freight brokers

Benefits of Joining the TIA

Freight brokers and other transportation intermediaries, commonly known as third-party logistics companies (3PLs), play a key role in domestic and international commerce. You may not be aware that there’s an organization specifically dedicated to advancing your interests by marshaling that collective power: the Transportation Intermediaries Association.

The premier organization for 3PL professionals doing business in North America, the TIA serves as the voice of this $157 billion-plus industry, representing 1,400 member companies. Small, family-owned businesses comprise 70 percent of TIA members, who serve tens of thousands of shippers every day and adhere to a strict code of professional conduct. Globally, TIA serves as the U.S. member of the International Federation of Freight Forwarder Associations (FIATA).

The TIA provides resources, education, information, advocacy and connections to establish, maintain and expand ethical, profitable and growing businesses in service to their customers.

What’s in it for you as a member?

Benefit from the TIA’s activities, resources, education, advocacy and connections on your behalf:

  • Lobbying to protect your business from harmful regulation and a strong voice for this important industry within Congress, the Administration, states, courts, shippers, carriers, and international organizations
  • Education, research and networking aimed at improving your current operations, enabling you to expand into new disciplines, and equipping your business with a competitive advantage
  • Member-only benefits, discounts, services and products to enhance your business while delivering a strong return on your investment
  • Upholding the highest ethical standards within the professional 3PL industry
  • Promoting preference for TIA members by shippers and carriers

Advancing and protecting your business

As a member, you save on registration for TIA programs and events, such as the annual Capital Ideas Conference & Exhibition and the Intermodal EXPO, offering networking, dialogue and education. You’ll also boost your visibility with a listing in the TIA Online logistics services directory and Buyers’ Guide.

Protect yourself and your business with access to the TIA Watchdog reporting system, which allows TIA members to alert each other to fraudulent operators within the industry. Use it to avoid the headaches of unauthorized re-brokering of shipments, no-shows and no-calls, cancellations after loads are accepted, theft or unjustified losses of freight, and other reportable issues.

Broker-focused education and career development

Take advantage of TIA’s practical, targeted, hands-on educational programs to carve out a competitive edge, keep abreast of technology changes and stay up-to-date on regulatory matters impacting the industry. Its training resources and industry research are also designed to help you excel in running your independent business:

  • Training opportunities span a wide spectrum of courses tailored to your needs. These include courses for new brokers, Marketing Transportation Brokerage Services, Introduction to Intermodal Transportation, Ethics in Transportation Brokerage and Temperature Control Transport, among others.
  • Career development opportunities for members include the industry’s only professional certification program for individual transportation brokers. The Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) Program incorporates home study and exam components, enabling you to pursue certification on your own timetable.
  • Actionable research materials equip you with tools and metrics to support your career in the third-party logistics arena. TIA products include the comprehensive 3PL Market Report on trends and practices, the Compensation Report, offering salary guidance, and the New-Broker Kit, chock-full of tools to get freight brokerage careers off to a great start.
  • Additional educational resources include free monthly webinars addressing such critical topics as cash management, regulatory changes and insurance; informational videos; and subscriptions to the TIA Logistics Weekly and the monthly Logistics Journal, publications not available to nonmembers.

Advocating for your interests

TIA Advocacy efforts promote the interests of freight brokers on important issues and legislation through research, developing and communicating policy, and educating and lobbying lawmakers. Key TIA advocacy issues focus on broker regulation, cargo security initiatives that strengthen our nation’s global supply chain and national security, and fighting industry fraud. Other issues of concern include government compliance, safety and accountability programs; national standards for hiring motor carriers; insurance requirements; hazardous materials transportation; and TIA’s veterans’ initiative.

If your principal business is arranging transportation of freight as a third party, joining the TIA is an invaluable way to work smarter, access best practices and extend your network.

DAT Solutions

How to Choose the Right Fuel Card

What could you do with $1,080 extra per year, per truck in your fleet? You could be saving this much or more just by using the right discount fuel card. With so many fuel card options available, it can be hard to know how to choose the right one. In this blog, we’ll explain the difference between a discount fuel card and a credit card, and share the top features to compare when you’re shopping for savings.

Choosing the Right Card Type

Credit Cards

Many fleet owners buy fuel with credit cards because they’re quick, convenient, and they’re accepted everywhere. But no matter where your drivers are fueling up, if they’re using a credit card, you’re overpaying. The diesel price posted at truck stops is actually the cash price. When you pay by credit card, the cost is usually five cents more per gallon, or higher. Multiply that by 1,500 gallons per month (a typical amount of fuel consumed by an average tractor-trailer), and it comes out to $90.00 per month, or $1,080 per year. Even worse, if you don’t pay off your credit card each month, you’ll pay interest fees, too.

Discount Fuel Cards

Unlike credit cards, discount fuel cards are cash-based, so they qualify for the lower cash price posted at the pump. But that’s not the only way discount fuel cards help you save money. You’ll also get discounted pricing negotiated by the card provider, beyond the cash price. When multiplied by the gallon, and by the truck, these discounts add up to huge savings.

Comparing Fuel Card Benefits:

Discount fuel cards offer much more than savings, and not all cards are created equal. Here are some of the top benefits (and drawbacks) to look for when comparing providers:

Rebates
Fuel is one of biggest expenses in operating a fleet, accounting for up to a third of business costs. Ask your card provider how many cents per gallon you’ll save when you use their card, and find out whether you must meet a certain fuel threshold to qualify.

Reporting Features
Many fuel discount cards provide detailed reporting tools to analyze spending and assist with fuel tax reporting. The level of detail provided depends on the card, so be sure to ask what you’re getting. For example, can you track mileage and expenses per vehicle, and per driver?

Control Features
If you want to ensure your team is using cards appropriately, ask about control features. You may wish to limit purchase types, amounts, or the number of times a card is used daily.

Card Acceptance
Some fuel cards are limited to certain geographic areas, or specific fuel providers. Be sure the card you choose will be convenient for you and your fleet to use.

Cash Advance Capabilities
Can you use the card to withdraw cash from an ATM, transfer money, and make balance inquiries? Cash advance capabilities can be an attractive feature in fuel cards, but not all providers offer them. If yours does you should beware, most of the capabilities come with a transaction fee that can also add up overtime.

Service
The people behind the card can be as important as the benefits provided. Find out if there is a 24-hour line for customer support, and try calling. It can be helpful to know whether a live person answers, and how long it takes to get through.

Trust
This is your money we’re talking about, so make sure you’re dealing with a provider you trust.
How is the company rated by the BBB? Are they financially sound? Do they have a good reputation? Do you trust them? Interview each card provider, and ask for referrals.

It pays to shop around, so be sure to do your homework. If you decide a fuel card is right for your fleet, you may want to consider Triumph Business Capital’s discount fuel card program, which is accepted at over 11,000 locations nationwide. Ask Blaine Waugh, for more information.

Tax Tips for Truckers

15 Fun Facts About the U.S. Trucking Industry

You can probably recite a slew of metrics about your own operations, but you may not be aware of the role trucking plays in the U.S. economy or the extent of its reach. Here are 15 interesting tidbits about the industry you live and breathe:

  • Charles Freuhauf invented the first tractor-trailer over one hundred years ago in 1914 when a customer wanted a vehicle that could haul a boat.
  • The trucking industry is expected to generate $1.3 trillion in revenue in 2015.
  • One out of every 14 jobs in the United States is created or directly affected by the trucking industry.
  • A typical U.S. commercial truck driver logs 105,000 miles per year.
  • The combined mileage of all trucks making deliveries in the country is nearly 5 billion miles per year.
  • Approximately 15.7 million trucks are currently in use in the U.S. If you lined up all of those trucks end-to-end, they would reach the moon!
  • About two-thirds of all domestic freight transported in the United States is carried by truck.
  • Over-the-road truck engines are designed to travel more than one million miles before being retired, whereas car engines are expected to go just 200,000 miles.
  • The average big rig carries 80,000 pounds of freight at one time. That’s 40 tons of goods and products.
  • The U.S. trucking industry consumes about 50 billion gallons of gasoline every year. This equates to nearly 13 percent of the country’s total fuel consumption.
  • In 2009, the average over-the-road truck driver made $35,000. In 2013, that figure was $55,000, a $20,000 jump in income in just seven years.
  • Trucks need 40 percent more time to stop than cars.
  • The types of goods most commonly transported via truck are food, clothing, furniture and electrical machinery.
  • Over the last 19 years, the exhaust emissions of heavy trucks and off-road equipment have plummeted more than 95 percent.
  • It would take 60 of today’s clean-diesel trucks to generate the exhaust emissions of one truck from 1988.

While these facts are fun to know, it pays to know about the many resources available to help your business thrive. For starters, look to Triumph for invoice factoring. By purchasing your outstanding invoices, you can get your cash faster without sweating slow payments or taking on debt. In addition to helping you manage your cash flow, Triumph also supports your business with services such as online credit checks, fuel discounts and advances, insurance, free trial on DAT load boards, which includes an automatic credit check on shippers and brokers, and other benefits previously reserved for larger companies. Rely on Triumph to minimize the headaches and risks of operating your fleet.

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Freight Broker

Six Questions You Should Ask Your Freight Broker

Even though a freight broker is entrusting your trucks and drivers with their customers’ shipments, you’re on the hook if they’re not trustworthy, financially strong or a performance-focused operator. Here are the top six questions to ask before you take on a job with a new freight brokerage.

Is the freight broker financially stable and able to pay its carriers?

Perform a credit check to find out if they are profitable and how quickly they pay vendors. Are there any liens, lawsuits or legal judgments against them? If you turn up financial problems, keep your distance. Better to build an ongoing relationship with a brokerage that has been growing steadily in revenues, staff, technology and capabilities over the years. In a 2014 survey by Penske Logistics, chief executives of third-party logistics companies predicted the 3PL industry would grow 6.5% per year over the next three years and that their own businesses would grow by more than 10% at the same time. If their results are underperforming industry expectations, that’s a red flag.

Is the broker properly licensed and bonded?

Do they have a federal property broker license issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and broker authority? Do they have a freight broker bond? A $75,000 surety bond is required by law for all brokers, providing protection for carriers in the event that a broker fails to pay freight charges. Check out the FMCSA’s searchable database to see if a freight broker is properly licensed and bonded.

How does it treat its carriers?

Do they establish and maintain mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with their carriers? How quickly do they pay trucking companies after a load is delivered? Do they pay on time and strive to eliminate costly deadhead miles? Partnerships built on trust and over time, where brokers and truckers work closely together, are most valuable. They help anticipate customer freight needs and boost shipper satisfaction, leading to more profitable, ongoing business.

Do they carry contingent cargo insurance?

Even though your trucks physically would be handling the freight, not the broker, contingent cargo insurance protects the shipper if a shipment is lost, stolen or damaged in transit. If you cannot or do not fully pay the claim loss, the broker’s insurance kicks in, providing backup. It is preferable to work with freight brokers who have this insurance.

How long has the brokerage been operating?

For the first one or two years, companies focus on survival. If it’s been around for a decade or longer, that’s a strong indicator that the business is solid. If it’s a startup with hardly any history, or a lot of customer complaints, steer clear. A good track record and thriving business are good signs that they execute well, and consequently are stable and successful. Unfortunately, the freight industry has seen its share of fly-by-night operators who pay their carriers late – or not at all. Save yourself the heartburn and research the brokerage online to learn about the company’s longevity, a measure of its experience and expertise.

Are communications clear, comprehensive and in writing?

Good communication on the front end and throughout the process avoids surprises and problems later on. You should get instructions in writing, as well as document details on loads you pick up and deliver. Relying on phone calls to get instructions, match loads to your capacity and prove that loads were picked up and delivered is not enough. And, before you do business, make sure you have a written contract with the broker.

Factor in ready cash with freight bill factoring

With Triumph’s freight factoring, see your cash faster to take care of business needs without taking on debt or making loan payments. We take the stress and work out of getting paid by freight brokers and shippers by purchasing your outstanding invoices and getting you paid faster. Put our team of savvy credit and collection professionals to work for you. Benefit from added resources and experience in operations and technology. Avoid bad debt and slow-pay headaches – be ready to take on new opportunities.

Payroll Pitfalls

8 Common Payroll Pitfalls Facing Staffing Agencies

Making sure that employees’ paychecks are correct and on time – every time – goes a long way in keeping them satisfied. If your staffing agency fails to pay employees correctly, watch out for poor performance and low morale. And that’s just the beginning.

At least 33 percent of businesses make payroll mistakes, according to the IRS. And, almost 40 percent of small businesses face an average IRS penalty of $845 a year. Errors such as failing to pay the correct amount of state and federal taxes or not documenting payroll records will place your staffing agency in hot water. Tack on potential litigation or other legal matters such as labor court actions and your business is in even bigger trouble.

Here are the eight most common payroll problems:

  • Becoming a victim of payroll fraud
  • Relying on a single person to handle payroll
  • Missing deadlines
  • Failing to save payroll documents
  • Forgetting to record paper checks
  • Setting up payroll incorrectly
  • Running payroll too late
  • Miscalculating overtime

Steps to prevent payroll-related headaches

Improve your payroll processes to avoid problems with these tips:

  • Split payroll assignments among different employees thereby minimizing the chance of payroll fraud happening. If only one person is running your company’s payroll system, it’s much easier for fraudulent activities to take place and harder to spot.
  • Divide responsibilities for timekeeping, updating employee information, payroll authorization, and reconciling payroll among multiple department team members. This keeps the entire workload from falling on one person and limits opportunities for fraud.
  • Maintain a regularly updated payroll calendar that lists all federal, state, county and municipal tax deposits and filing deadlines for the current year and the upcoming one.
  • Keep your payroll records for a minimum of the last three years, but find out what your state requires by contacting the state labor office. Generally, your company is required to hold on to the following records: I-9s, W-4s, timesheets, and payroll files (tax forms, pay stubs, etc.).
  • Make sure to record all information regarding paper checks given to employees right away. Immediate documentation will keep your books balanced and your tax deposits current. Failing to record a paper check is a costly mistake.
  • Withhold the correct amount of taxes from employees’ paychecks to ensure your payroll is set up correctly. If you don’t have the know-how, hire an accountant who has experience in this arena or consider using a payroll service. If you choose to do it yourself, tap online information from federal, state and local government websites.
  • Use a payroll service and avoid having a late payroll. Otherwise, you may end up paying a lot more than you expected because of fines.
  • Look up the rules for paying overtime by contacting the Department of Labor and use its overtime calculator to determine the correct overtime compensation.

Ready for terminations?

Not only are employee terminations – whether via firing, layoff or resignation – challenging to deal with, they also require special preparation. Final paychecks must be issued immediately or you risk being sued for failing to comply with labor laws. Plan ahead for these events by ensuring payroll team members are trained in these matters, and capable of logging into the payroll system and quickly processing the paycheck or payment.

With proper planning …

Ever heard the saying “Proper planning prevents poor performance?” Well, take it to heart when it comes to your company’s payroll deadline. Here’s wishing your staffing agency a smooth payroll experience.

Invoice Factoring

20 Key Questions to Ask Candidates’ References

As a staffing agency recruiter, you understand the fallout that can result from an inadequate reference check when vetting job candidates. Not taking the time to do a thorough reference check, or asking the wrong questions can cost your firm in lost business, contracts and goodwill. In fact, a 2013 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 27 percent of employers lost more than $50,000 because of a single bad hire. Not only are bad hires expensive, they are demoralizing. You can improve these practices for better-informed hiring decisions by asking each candidate’s references the right questions. Close the door on low performers or problematic workers before they even get the job.

Some sobering statistics:

  • Fifty-three percent of résumés and job applications are loaded with inaccurate information, according to The Society of Human Resource Managers, ADP and Accu-Screen, Inc., who directed a 2012 survey.
  • A poll of 18,000 job seekers found that nearly 10 percent said they lie – a lot – on their résumés.

How to plan for a successful reference check

A more robust reference check can help your staffing agency learn whether a candidate is a good fit for the job. During the interview process, get consent from the candidate to contact their references in order to ask about their employment history. Advise job seekers that you intend to talk to their former managers and ask for at least three work-related references. Create a questionnaire before calling references to ensure each is asked the same set of questions.

Here is a helpful list of questions time-tested by employer and agency recruiters to elicit a more accurate, multidimensional view of a candidate’s performance and interactions on the job. Clearly, not all questions are relevant for every candidate and references may have limited time, so select the most relevant, high-priority questions for your questionnaire. You may also have others specific to the position or role to add.

20 questions to help you dig deeper with references:

1. What was the candidate’s job title and work duties, and when did the candidate work for your company?
2. Were you the candidate’s manager or did you have a different role?
3. Do you know what’s on the applicant’s current résumé about your company?
4. May I share with you what the résumé says the candidate accomplished at your organization?
5. Who does the person get along best with: subordinates, co-workers or superiors?
6. Is there any reason you would hesitate to place the candidate in a position of trust involving a lot of money, small children or vulnerable adults?
7. What’s the best way to create an environment of success for (candidate’s name)?
8. Was there ever a time that it became necessary to discipline the applicant? If so, why?
9. What responsibilities did the candidate have at your organization?
10. What was the applicant’s work performance like?
11. How would you describe the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?
12. Is the candidate a hard worker?
13. Was he/she punctual?
14. What was the candidate’s attendance record?
15. Why did the applicant leave your company?
16. If you could rehire the applicant today, would you? Why or why not?
17. What are the results of this candidate’s last performance review?
18. How often did (candidate) get a raise? Bonuses? Perks? Incentives?
19. Do you have any other comments or advice about this person?
20. Is there anyone else I should speak to about this applicant before making a decision?

Thorough candidate research enhances your reputation and opportunities

With today’s online career portals, the Internet and social media, it’s even more important to know how to hire smart. In his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, management consultant Jim Collins says “… every minute devoted to putting the proper person in the proper slot is worth weeks of time later.”

Staffing Trends

Seven Staffing Industry Trends to Track and Tap in 2015

The good news halfway through 2015: Unemployment is relatively low and staffing needs remain robust. But competition for top talent – individuals with coveted skills and capabilities – has ramped up too. This requires employers and staffing firms alike to bring their “A” game; maintain an appealing, dynamic presence using candidates’ preferred media; and be inventive. Here are seven top trends shaping the industry today:

Engaging, interactive employer brands make a critical difference

Nine in 10 job candidates consider an employer’s brand highly influential in choosing whether to apply. And, in today’s social network-savvy, video-obsessed environment, candidates and employees increasingly expect a seamless, interactive, multichannel, multidimensional brand experience. Addressing these expectations, and creatively leveraging video and social platforms, can positively impact your recruiting, onboarding, training, recognition, employee communications and performance management efforts.

Accelerated emphasis on a blended workforce

Continuing the trend from the last several years, companies increasingly seek the flexibility, cost savings and reduced liability of a blended workforce model. In this scenario, they maintain a cadre of traditional, direct-hire employees coupled with a corps of contractors that is sized and tailored to address evolving business needs.

A focus on aptitude, cultural alignment and personality

According to LinkedIn’s 2015 survey of U.S. staffing trends, aptitude and attitude relative to the job will trump traditional hiring criteria, such as specific qualifications. Clearly, company culture can be a huge competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent. Organizations must shift to emphasize a candidate’s capacity to do the job, approach, personality and cultural fit – and invest in equipping workers with the qualifications and skills to succeed on the job. Doing so will position companies to boost their talent pool and enhance their culture. What’s more, many candidates know that skills gaps limit their employment opportunities – and look to staffing firms to help close those gaps.

Candidates and clients want to interact on-the-go via mobile devices

Seven in 10 staffing firm candidates have job-searched on a mobile site. With smartphones ubiquitous and usage of mobile devices spiraling ever higher, so are expectations that candidates can search, apply and engage on the spot from any device. Not only is a mobile-optimized website imperative for candidates, you need to ensure all of your client-facing systems are easy to use on mobile devices. Two-thirds of clients communicate via text with contacts at their staffing or recruiting firm; 44 percent review applicants forwarded by their firm on their mobile device.

Pumping up the talent pool through vibrant, engaged communities

The impetus today is on active, ongoing, thoughtful recruitment that captures and sustains candidates’ attention. Building a robust talent pipeline requires continually identifying and engaging talented workers, regardless of whether they’re active or passive candidates. Workforce planning means maintaining an easy-to-find, branded talent network – database of prequalified candidates who can be contacted and called in to interview in a snap. This reservoir should include past applicants, current and former employees, and other community members who help employers and staffing firms find the talent they seek. On a related note …

Boomerang rehires point to gold in your talent pool

“Boomerang” rehires have proven to be some of the lowest-risk, highest quality hires, and there is an abundant talent pool to tap. The explosion of social media and professional networking on LinkedIn have made finding and keeping tabs on desirable former employees much easier. Boomerang rehires are predicted to reach 15 percent of all hires at major firms in 2015, thanks to their speed, low cost, and higher quality of hire.

Online profiles begin to challenge résumés

Busy, employed candidates who may not be actively job-hunting likely do not have the incentive or time to update their résumés with more recent accomplishments, skills, responsibilities, etc. If they can’t become a candidate for an opening without updating and submitting their résumé, they can disappear into the ether. Better to accept readily accessible, more current LinkedIn profiles for referred candidates, and at least the initial application for regular job openings.

Benefit from these trends – and our financial resources for staffing companies

Our invoice factoring services convert your billings into immediate cash flow, ensuring that you make payroll right on time, week in and week out. In addition to this advantageous approach to accounts receivable financing, Triumph offers valuable resources to support your firm in supplying human resources. These include an expanding suite of financial services, including community banking, insurance and equipment finance. Also tap our credit, collections and document management solutions.

Keep up with more Staffing Trends by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

Staffing Agency

6 Reasons Staffing Agencies Fail

There are about 17,000 staffing and recruiting companies in the U.S., according to the American Staffing Association (ASA) — but not all of those agencies will succeed. The ASA recently reported that staffing industry growth is outpacing overall economic and employment growth, even though labor force participation is at the lowest level in decades. That means serious competition for staffing agencies. If you want to know more about how to run a successful staffing agency given the current economic climate, it can be helpful to look at the top reasons why staffing agencies fail. Look out for these six common mistakes to increase your chances of success:

1. Hiring the wrong people

It seems simple enough — find the right person for the job, and your job as a staffer is done. However, if matching candidates to positions was that simple, no one would hire a staffing agency in the first place. While no staffer can be expected to achieve 100% retention rates, if you place the wrong person too many times, you may be the one visiting a staffing agency. These quick staffing tips can help:

  • e-Verify Applicants.

    Hiring someone who is not legally qualified to work in the U.S. is one of the biggest mistakes a staffing agency can make. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest mistakes to avoid. Simply download Form I-9 from the U.S. Customs and Immigration website, complete required fields, and verify the documents requested from potential employees. With the new e-Verify system, it’s even faster to ensure a legal workforce.

  • Find the right fit.

    You already know you should listen to what an employer wants, search for candidates that match, perform background checks, and call references. So, if you’re still hiring the wrong people, you may need to refine your recruitment process to learn how to hire top talent. Go beyond the basic job requirements, and look for other factors in making a successful hire, like ensuring a candidate’s personality fits well within the corporate culture, seeing that financial expectations are in line with the salary, and checking that career goals are a good fit for the position. You may also try casting a wider net to get more applicants in the beginning, and narrowing down your search later, so that you’re not tempted to present a candidate who isn’t a top contender. Including keywords in your job posts, and using creativity to attract the type of candidate you want can also be helpful.

2. Not making payroll on time

Your employees are your business’s lifeline — and they deserve to get paid on time. Unfortunately, you may have to wait 45 to 60 days for your clients to pay. Some staffing agencies don’t realize they are expected to pay the difference out of pocket, until they receive funds from their clients. Invoice factoring companies like Triumph can help you access working capital to bridge this gap. Beyond getting funding, you’ll also need to set up a payroll system to ensure employees are paid on a regular basis, calculate overtime, vacation and holiday pay, and remit taxes to government agencies. If this is outside your realm of expertise, consider hiring a payroll administrator or outsourcing payroll.

3. Falling behind on laws and regulations

Taxes. Sexual harassment. Workplace safety. Laws and regulations governing the staffing industry change all the time, and it can be difficult to keep up. Many agencies fail because they don’t follow legal requirements. However, a lack of knowledge is no excuse for lack of compliance with the law. The ASA website can be a great place to begin educating yourself on staffing laws and regulations in your state. Be sure you understand the basics, and then seek out legal counsel to ensure you’re operating in full compliance. An attorney can provide invaluable legal advice and draft Employment Agreements, Termination and Layoff Clauses, Disciplinary Policies, Health & Safety Policies, Workplace Violence and Harassment Policies, Service Agreements and more.

4. Not securing insurance

Staffing insurance is one of those things you may not know you need until you need it — only then, it may be too late. If staffing ethics aren’t enough to compel you to get insurance coverage, a potential client might. Many customers will want to know that you have sufficient insurance to cover damages for which your employees might be responsible. While it can be expensive to obtain coverage, it can be even more costly if you don’t. Speak to a reputable insurance company or broker who understands the staffing industry, and ask for recommendations on the type of coverage you need.

5. Not being transparent

When it comes to keeping your clients happy — and staying in business — honesty is always the best policy. It can be tempting to tell potential employers that you have fast access to a certain type of worker when in fact, you don’t, but resist the urge to stretch the truth. You’ll only set up unrealistic expectations that you’re unable to fulfill. Be transparent in your business dealings and don’t overpromise. Instead, tell the truth about what type of worker you can provide and how long it will take. Then, if you are able to deliver more than promised, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. (And that’s a much better type of surprised.)

6. Not verifying references

It’s awkward. It’s time-consuming. It requires an actual phone call rather than a text or e-mail. But verifying references is one of the most important things you can do as a staffing agency. You’d be shocked to learn how many people give false references — and how many candidates assume you’ll never call them. Not verifying references can cause staffing agencies to place candidates who are not qualified for positions — which can result in the agency’s downfall, and far worse. Always check references, and you may prevent the worst. And at best? You might just learn something about a candidate that their resume could never have told you — like that they are honest, reliable and kind, or that they seem professional at first, but never show up to work on time.

Staffing agencies are in the business of helping people and companies succeed — and when you avoid common mistakes and abide by staffing ethics, your chances of success are greater, too. If you need assistance securing working capital for payroll, insurance, or other staffing agency expenses, contact my friend, Blaine Waugh, at Triumph Business Capital.

Business Tips

Keep Your Business Hip With these Tips

I’m an accidental entrepreneur. Thirty years I was a project manager in the marketing department of a North American specialty retailer, managing the production and distribution of signage and seasonal displays, and writing and overseeing merchandising guides, direct mail pieces, special event and other promotional materials for our 700-plus stores. After seven years of the retail marketing drill, coming up on another high-pressure Christmas shopping season, I was burned out. I told my boss that I just couldn’t do it anymore. She said, “Why don’t you go into business for yourself, and we’ll be your first client?”

I didn’t set out to be business owner; in my mid-20s I had no burning desire to be master of my own professional destiny. And, I certainly didn’t look down the road 30 years and expect to be considered a senior-level hired gun writing strategic content and crafting promotional communications. Or a professional who would be sought out by other solopreneurs as a mentor or sounding board. But that’s what happened.

Developing a memorable brand and professional image

When I founded my freelance copywriting business, the principal of one of our creative agencies was amazingly generous in designing an impressive logo and brand identity package for me, which helped create an immediate professional brand that would appeal to fellow creatives, ad agencies and corporate clients.

Over the years, what clients have always asked me to do for them is “punch up” their communications. Naturally a little “punchy” by nature, I turned that idea into a tagline and enduring theme and personal branding that continues to serve me well.

What I’ve learned is terminology and technologies emerge and evolve at warp speed. Yet, many of the essential principles and qualities needed to survive – and thrive – as a business owner stay the same. Here are some key takeaways from my own experience – things I’ve done well, and a few things I wish I’d done better (not saying which!):

15 tips to keep your business hip for the long haul:

  • The Golden Rule endures – treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Be open – to new ideas, new people, new experiences, new ways of doing things, new projects.
  • Keep learning – by reading, by attending educational programs and conferences, by taking classes, by listening to others.
  • What you learn in one industry or situation can be applied to another.
  • Get it right the first time.
  • Be flexible and agile – willing to stretch and able to adapt to changing conditions and a fast-moving world.
  • Make sure your communications are polished –Don’t let spelling, grammar or punctuation errors undermine your professionalism or credibility by conveying sloppiness or lack of attention to detail.
  • Be conscientious and consistent to earn people’s trust. Your reputation and income are at stake.
  • Get up to speed quickly.
  • Play well with others.
  • Participate in and contribute to industry organizations – They provide abundant opportunities to learn about your business and industry, gain new skills, meet prospective clients or colleagues who can help or refer you, and make wonderful friends. Similarly, volunteering with nonprofit organizations is indispensable for gaining visibility, and demonstrating skills and competence.
  • You never know who can help you, and you can meet future clients or valuable contacts anywhere – at the gym, playing sports, walking your dog, taking an art class, etc.
  • Bring in the pros to take care of legal, financial, technical, marketing or other professional skills you don’t possess.
  • And even though it’s work, have fun in the process!
Business Factoring

How & When to Say “NO” in Business

In my first year as a business owner, I made the same salary as when I was working for someone else. The second year, I doubled it. Once you get past the leap of believing you can make it on your own, the next big hurdle — having too much work — can take you by surprise. If you find yourself missing deadlines, missing sleep, or wondering how to manage your workload, you may suffer from an affliction that plagues many entrepreneurs: the inability to say “no.” We’re naturally optimistic, and want to do it all. But saying “no” to the good may allow you to say “yes” to the great. Here’s how to know when to say “no,” and how to say it nicely:

When to Say “No”

  • Not enough time, or not enough money.
    Advertising clients are notorious for making three demands: We want the work to be good, fast, and cheap. The classic response has become an industry joke: Pick two. It’s hard to do good work without enough time, and when the budget is unrealistic, you can’t win. Just say, “No.”
  • No money.
    Free or “Spec” work, as it’s euphemistically called, may be required to compete for larger jobs or build your reputation. You may also be asked to do “pro-bono” work for a nonprofit that you support. But can you afford to work for free? For me, the answer is, “No way, José.” I have a baby and a preschooler, and I work full time. I have to pay for childcare every hour that I am on the clock, and after work, I can’t even go to the bathroom without someone barging in. Free time? What’s that?
  • The working hours don’t work.
    Before I had kids, I used to get up at 4:00 a.m. for work, and 60-hour weeks were the norm. Now? My baby wakes me up every 2 hours in the night, and I don’t do evenings or weekends anymore. Even if you don’t have children, you may dislike it when work encroaches on your boundaries or threatens your work/life balance. Set clear boundaries, and communicate them early, so clients know when you’re available. (I put my office hours in my email signature.)
  • It’s not a good match.
    Work agreements should be mutually beneficial, so turn down opportunities that aren’t. Whether the work doesn’t fit your core expertise, you don’t have the resources to complete it, or you have a bad vibe, listen to your instincts. I once turned down a job to promote a medical product that had not been proven safe, and I had no regrets. Another time, I said “yes” to a client about whom I had a bad feeling (See item 1), and the job was a nightmare.

HOW to say, “No”

It’s one thing to decide you’re going to turn down a job. It’s quite another to deliver the bad news. Here are a few tips for saying “no” without damaging relationships:

  • Respond quickly and politely.
    Responding in a timely manner shows respect, and allows the potential client to seek other options. Thank the requestor and reject the offer, not the person. For example, you might say, “I can’t take on your project at this time, but please consider me for future requests,” or “I’m not focusing on x right now, but if you need assistance with y, let me know.”
  • Briefly explain why you can’t accommodate the request.
    If you don’t, the requestor may take your rejection personally. Honesty and brevity are key. You might explain that you are not accepting new work until next month, or say, “My expertise is more about x, so I am not the best choice for y.”
  • Offer alternatives.
    No one likes to be left empty-handed. If you can suggest referrals, you’ll be helping two people out.

You only have so many hours in the day (24, to be exact). Make sure you’re focusing on the best opportunities to grow your business, and don’t lose time on the others. If you need help with working capital to grow your business, ask for Blaine Waugh at Triumph Business Capital.

Invoice Factoring

Build Your Network and Watch Your Small Business Grow

When I was building my business, I volunteered as programs chair on the board of a women’s technology nonprofit organization. I used my connections to help plan the first six months of programs for the following year and also coordinated logistics such as booking the restaurants for our meetings. I also asked some of my friends to reach out to their connections to help us get quality speakers who were willing to speak to our group at no cost.

Because of my broad network and connections, I fulfilled my program-planning obligations in just three months, much faster than expected. My fellow board members expressed their appreciation by referring new business. Volunteering proved to be a great way to give back, gain exposure and drive revenues.

Whether you are a veteran small business owner or getting ready to launch a startup with a couple of college friends, networking is essential to the success of your business. Building solid connections with the right people will improve your business if you invest the time. And, by demonstrating your expertise and professionalism, others will think of you when they have a business need or someone asks them for a referral.

Be strategic, set goals

Prior to beginning a networking campaign, take the time to create strategies and goals. Are you looking to increase sales of a new product or service? Do you want to be introduced to the presidents of companies whose industry you are researching? Determine in advance what networking success looks like to ensure the time you invest in planning pays off.

Key steps to develop and nurture your network:

  • Think of your network as social capital. In reality, social capital can strengthen your company and generate new business.
  • Identify who can benefit your business by evaluating their expertise.
  • Seek out colleagues who are well-networked and contact them when your business needs help.
  • Engage with your satisfied clients, whether they are current or past. They are more likely to provide repeat sales and/or referrals because they know and trust the value of your products and services.
  • Conduct research in advance of a networking meeting by finding areas of shared interest when talking to other attendees.
  • Talk less and listen more when establishing a business connection. Use open-ended questions such as Who? What? When? And listen to the answers.
  • Create a great first impression. If you drop the ball in this area, it can take up to 200 times the effort to repair the damage.
  • Take advantage of LinkedIn’s Groups and Company Pages features to research target contacts and prospects.
  • Recognize that having a large number of connections on LinkedIn does not always generate the results you are seeking. Instead, do all you can to establish a win-win networking relationship with your connections.
  • Organize your follow-up efforts to ensure you don’t miss keeping in touch with certain connections, even if you don’t see an immediate benefit.

Skip the sales pitch

When you’re in the process of building your network, don’t make the mistake of trying to sell too early. Asking for anything while the relationship is in its infancy is counterproductive. Instead, focus on how you can help your network. This approach allows your network to grow naturally and when you need help, you’ll know the right person to reach out to.

Make the most of networking at events and conferences

Attend conferences that allow you to make new connections. Introduce yourself to the keynote speaker and exchange contact information. Then connect on LinkedIn and follow up with a note highlighting the main points gained from the presentation. Develop some personal stories and be ready to share them at events. This ensures people get to know you better and remember you.

Aim high

Remember, networking is about forging relationships with interesting people. While you may have a lot in common with some of them, there may be others that you do not. Don’t overlook an opportunity to make a new friend. Appreciate the value of face-to-face interactions.

Small Business Factoring

Top 10 Free Online Resources to Market Your Business

If you have $41,000 to spend on marketing, you can stop reading this article. That’s the average salary for a Social Media Specialist, according to payscale.com — and while it may not sound like much, it’s a lot for most small business owners. Fortunately, there are a number of free online marketing tools you can start using now. In this blog, I’ll tell you about some of the best marketing tools available to small businesses. Most are easy to understand, and only require a little time and ambition to implement. Many even include analytical tools that can tell you how effective they are. At a cost of free, you’re guaranteed to get a great return on investment — so give these tools a try:

  1. Twitter Lists

    Having a Twitter account is a lot like having a gym membership. It’s only effective if you use it. Fortunately, getting more value from your Twitter account is no sweat. Twitter Lists is a simple tool that can help you improve interaction with customers, track competitors, and even get a little free PR. This built-in Twitter feature lets you create lists of users to follow, so you can monitor their tweets and connect with them on a regular basis. Create customer lists to respond to inquiries, resolve complaints and share promotions. Check out competitors’ social media strategies. Or, follow journalists, reporters and bloggers who may report on your company’s news. Learn how to use lists here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/76460-using-twitter-lists.

  2. Followerwonk

    Want to create a Twitter list, but don’t know who to add? Followerwonk can help. This tool analyzes Twitter data to identify relevant users, and helps you tailor content to their interests. Simply enter a keyword into its search window — like your business name, location, or industry type — and Followerwonk will find Twitter profiles that contain your keywords. You can then add them to your lists. One of my favorite things about Followerwonk is the “Track Followers” tool, which displays daily new followers and lost followers in user-friendly graphs that track changes over time. This way, you can which posts won followers (or lost their interest). https://followerwonk.com/bio

  3. Buzzsumo

    One of the best ways to attract and engage customers is to create relevant content. And if that content is shared? Even better. Buzzmodo is a content marketing tool that can help you research trending topics and show you which stories, blogs and articles are being shared most often, for any given topic. Use it to quickly see what is resonating and why — and apply those insights to your own content. You can get ideas on the formats, length, and headline types that work, and share links to the most popular content. Read more here: http://buzzsumo.com/

  4. Answer the Public

    Want to know what your customers are thinking? Answer the Public can help you. If you’ve ever typed a question into a Google search, such as, “How do I get rid of fruit flies?” you may have noticed a list of suggested questions below your search window. (It turns out people also want to do away with fleas, flies and Facebook — good luck with that one.) Google generates these questions based on the most common searches. Answer the Public works in a similar way, but it’s a better tool for businesses. Simply enter a word or phrase relevant to your industry, customers, product or service, and you’ll see a visual web of questions most commonly searched. Try it: http://answerthepublic.com/

  5. Shortstack

    Social media campaigns like contests, special events and giveaways can help introduce your brand to a larger audience, and boost engagement with current customers — but getting started can be daunting. Shortstack is a self-service platform that lets you build social campaigns, promote events, host giveaways and voting contests, and offer coupons and discounts through social media. Shortstack offers a range of plans with monthly fees, but their base-level plan is free. Find out more here: http://www.shortstack.com/

  6. Google Analytics

    This free tool from Google gives you insights into how visitors find and use your website, so you can learn how to keep them coming back. You can see how many people visited your site and when, measure how long they stayed, track sales and conversions, and more. Google Analytics also tells you a lot about customer behavior, like whether they visited your site from their computer, iPad or iPhone, and how they found you. When you know more about what your customers are looking for, it’s easier to tailor your content for maximum lead generation and a better user experience. Learn how to use Google Analytics here: http://www.google.com/analytics/

  7. Canva

    Eye-catching graphics are powerful, and can be some of the best marketing tools for your business. If you don’t have the budget for a full-time graphics team, you may want to try Canva, a free small business marketing resource that lets you be your own graphic designer. Canva is a user-friendly graphics creation tool you can use to design flyers, invitations, newsletters, Facebook covers, presentations, business cards, and more. Start designing: https://www.canva.com/about

  8. Google Alerts

    If you’ve read the news lately, you know that a single customer can quickly cause irreparable damage to a company’s reputation. (Anyone want to take the kids to Martha’s Diner?) Google Alerts is a free notification system that can help keep you informed when someone mentions your company name (or any word or phrase you enter) online, so you can react fast. Simply sign up for alerts, enter the words or phrases that interest you, and you’ll be among the first to know when anyone posts content that contains the terms you specify. Learn more here: https://www.google.com/alerts

  9. HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

    Want a little free publicity? If you can’t hire a PR person, HARO may be the next best thing. Created to connect journalists with relevant expert sources, HARO distributes more than 50,000 journalist queries to its membership base each year. News agencies like Fox, ABC and the AP use HARO to find experts who can help them with topics about which they are reporting. Then, HARO’s membership base can reach out to reporters directly, capitalizing on opportunities to tell their brands’ stories. Sign up for this free service here: http://www.helpareporter.com/

  10. Bitly

    Short URLs work better — and with Bitly, you can shorten any URL for free just by placing it in the website’s search window and clicking “Shorten.” But that’s not all this little service does. You can also use bitly to create branded links, optimize your link performance, and capture rich, secure, first-party data that can help you drive engagement. Here’s the link: http://bitly.com/

Nothing feels better than saving money — except, maybe making more money. This collection of free tools can help you do both. Meanwhile, if you need a few more tools to help your business grow (like access to working capital) contact my friend, Blaine Waugh, at Triumph Business Capital.

Factoring Contractors

Government Contracting–Rules You Need to Know

Want to learn all the rules of government contracting? How much time do you have?

If you’re looking for a quick list of rules for bidding on a government job, I’ve got good news and bad news. Let’s start with the good: if you’re a small business, the government wants to make things easier on you. They have set aside funds for small businesses, hired representatives to help you, and even simplified the approval process for small business government contracting. The bad news? The basic rulebook for government contracting is still over a thousand pages long. Plus, separate agencies may have their own addendums. Add the sea of “helpful resources for government contracting” available online, and it can be hard to know where to start.

While we can’t cover all the rules in this blog, we will list a few of the most important ones, along with a few links and resources to point you in the right direction, and help cut through the clutter.

1. The FAR

First things first: read the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), otherwise known as “The Bible” of government contracting. This is the thousand-page document I was telling you about, and it contains all the rules governing the government purchasing process. Except the agency-specific supplements, which can also be thousands of pages long. Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

What? You’re busy? OK then, try these Quick Tips first:

  • Ask the Agency.
    If you don’t have time to read every line right now, you can ask the specific agency issuing the request for proposal (RFP) you’re interested in to let you know which sections apply to the contract. Also, ask if there is a separate agency acquisition supplement you need to review.
  • P.S.
    Some agencies, like the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), are not bound by the FAR, and have their own acquisition guidelines. That’s one more reason to ask which rules to review.
  • Hit the Highlights.
    The most important parts of the FAR for small business are Part 19, Small Business Programs, and Part 52, which overviews the standard terms and conditions for government contracts. Read these first.

2. The Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) exists to help small businesses in America grow — and that includes helping you understand the FAR and other rules governing government contracting. Their website is packed with useful information, but deciding what to read first can be overwhelming. Below are a few shortcuts to some of their top resources, to help you learn the rules faster:

  • Rules for Getting Started
    To be a government contractor, you’ll need to get Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number, register your business with the System of Award Management (SAM), find the correct North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, and more. We could list all the rules, but the SBA has already done that for you in this quick, user-friendly online article.
  • Free Online Courses
    The SBA has created free online training for small businesses like yours. Here’s a link to their course listing on government contracting for small businesses. From understanding the FAR to learning eligibility requirements for special business designations, these courses make following the rules a lot easier.
  • Federal Contracts: Overview of Responsibilities
    This article provides an overview of some of the terms and conditions unique to federal contracts. (Hint: it’s less than a thousand pages.)

3. Rules (and Benefits) for Small Business Programs

If your business qualifies, you may be able to apply for certification in one of these small business programs, which can provide advantages in securing government work. Learn the rules, and find out how to get certified, at sba.gov:

  • Small Business (SB)
  • Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
  • Small Disadvantaged Business 8(A) Certified [8(A)]
  • Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZONE)
  • Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)
  • Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SD-VOSB)

4. Quick Tips for Small Business Government Contracting

Triumph Business Capital can be a great resource for helping your small business get the funding you need to secure government contracting work. Call and ask for Blaine Waugh if you have any questions — and check out these social sites for more tips:

Twitter
Facebook
Google Plus

Government Contractor Financing

10 Most Frequently Asked Government Contracting Questions

You’ve got to spend money to make money — and the U.S. government does both. Literally. As the world’s largest purchaser, the government spends billions every year. However, the only thing it makes is money. That means the government relies on private businesses, large and small, for almost everything else. Curious about government contracting yet? If you want to learn more, read on. We’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about government contracting, especially for small businesses.

1. Is my business too small to work with the government?

No — as a matter of fact, the government is required to work with small businesses. Based on Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) guidelines, contracts under $150,000 are automatically set aside for small businesses. As long as the government can get enough competitive bids from qualified companies, every effort will be made to award these contracts to small businesses.

2. Does the government buy the types of products or services I offer?

Probably — as the world’s largest purchaser, the government buys all kinds of goods and services. However, the only way to know for sure is to ask (or look online.) You’ll save a lot of time if you learn how to market your business to the right government agencies. A quick way to find out is to perform a keyword search of the databases that list current and recent government procurements, and identify which agencies purchase the products or services you offer most often. Try these resources:

3. Where can I find new opportunities for government contract work?

Contract requirements and awards for bids greater than $25,000 are posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website, at http://www.fedbizopps.gov.

4. What is an RFQ?

The acronym RFQ stands for “request for quote.” It may also be written as RFP, or “request for proposal.” As applied to government contracting, the RFQ is a document that outlines a government agency’s specific requirements and criteria from vendors who wish to present offers. Be sure to read the RFQ carefully, and respond completely and accurately to every requested item. Skipping details can disqualify you in government contracting.

5. Do I have to register with the government in order to win a contract? How do I apply?

Yes. There are several steps involved in becoming a government contractor, but as long as you follow them accurately, it’s not a difficult process. For a shortcut in learning the basics of becoming a small business government contractor, visit the Small Business Administration’s Getting Started page, which includes detailed information and instructions.

6. Do I qualify for special designations, such as a Woman-Owned Small Business?

There are a number of designations that can help small businesses succeed, including Woman-Owned Small Businesses, Small Disadvantaged Businesses, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses. Find out more about each of these designations here.

7. Are there resources available to help me learn more about government contracting?

Yes. In fact, there are so many, it’s tough to list them all. Here are the most useful ones we’ve found:

8. Is there someone I can talk to help me sort through all of this information?

One of the best resources for small businesses to learn more about government contracting is the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, or OSDBU. Securing government contracts for small business is their job, so feel free to contact them with any questions.

9. How long will I have to wait to get paid?

Most government agencies require 30 days or longer to submit payment. Ask the agency with whom you’re working for more specific information.

10. How can I bridge the gap between paying for employees or resources, and receiving payment from the government?

If you need additional funding to cover payroll, insurance, or other expenses, contact Blaine Waugh, at Triumph Business Capital.

Get more quick tips on how to win government contracts through these social sites:

Twitter
Facebook
Google Plus

Win a Government Contract

How to Bid for a Government Contract … and WIN

It should come as no surprise that the U.S. Government is our nation’s biggest purchaser of goods and services. What is impressive is that 23 percent of that spending, amounting to $115 billion, is set aside specifically for small businesses. So, what does it take to bid on government contracts and win your share of business?

How to Bid for Projects

Step 1 – Get prepped and qualified

  • Ensure your business qualifies as a small business for government contracting purposes. Refer to the U.S. Small Business Administration website for size requirements by industry.
  • If you haven’t already done so, register online with the IRS for an employer identification number. There’s no cost and you’ll receive your EIN immediately.
  • Register online with Dun and Bradstreet for a free, immediate DUNS number. This unique business identification number is required to bid on federal contracts.
  • You will also need to obtain the classification codes for the product(s) or service(s) you offer. Find Federal Supply Codes, known as NAICS codes, online. Department of Defense Product Service Codes can be found here.
  • Once you have your codes, register your company with the System for Award Management (SAM), so it can compete for government contracts.

Step 2 – Get on agency bidding lists

Locate the agency that offers the government contracts you seek and ask to be added to its bidders’ list. Some federal, state or local agencies may require you to prequalify and provide your business profile information. At the local level, it may just take a phone call or a letter asking to be added to the proposal list.

Step 3 – Obtain applicable certifications

Minority, veteran, disadvantaged or women-owned enterprises can receive extra points during the bid review. However, government agencies typically require certification for such a business designation. Your business can obtain this certification through the Small Business Administration, your state’s business offices, or tribal and local governments.

Step 4 – Attend bid meetings

Once you’re on its proposal list and a contract comes up for bid, the agency sends out an announcement about the proposal. Sometimes it requires that businesses attend an initial meeting before they are eligible to bid on the contract, allowing you to ask questions and clarify any issues about the proposal or process. Afterwards, if your business is qualified, it will receive a request for proposal (RFP).

Step 5 – Submit your bid based on the Request for Proposal

Respond to each requirement outlined in the IFB in your bid. Also make sure it is clear and spotlights the advantages of working with your company.

Step 6 – Bid Review

Government agencies award contracts based upon a review and scoring of the proposals submitted weighted as identified in the RFP. You may also have to participate in an oral interview to answer questions posed by the panel.

Step 7 – Contract Award

After final review and scoring, the government agency awards the contract based on its internal criteria. A company that offers experience, stability and the best prices is the most likely candidate to win the contract. Be aware that government contracts are known for slow start-ups and lengthy payment processes, so be prepared for those.

How to win government contracts:

Here are some tried-and-true tips from successful small-business contractors:

Dip your toe in first – start small.

Bid on projects worth as little as $3,000 just to get your foot in the door.

Begin by subcontracting.

Identify larger prime contractors and offer to provide services to them.

Prepare to invest – and be persistent

Winning a government contract takes more prep work than you may think. And, you may have to bid on multiple projects before you land a contract.

Investigate earmarks

Determine if your business qualifies as a subcontracting area reserved for a specific percentage of the government’s annual spending. These earmarks include:

  • Veteran-owned small businesses – 7%
  • Women-owned and/or disadvantaged small businesses – 5%
  • Companies operating in economically distressed HUBZones – 5%

Cultivate one-to-one relationships with people who can help

There are many opportunities to meet with federal officers who make the contract decisions. Make it a priority to build relationships with government procurement officers and liaisons from the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) who will lobby on your behalf.

Combine forces

Another great way to get a jumpstart is to bid for contracts as part of a team – another great reason to forge partnerships with other small contractors.

Getting a Government Contract

The Secret to Getting the Right Government Contract

$100 billion is on the table. Will you take it? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the government awards nearly $100 billion in contracts to small businesses every year. However, all government contracts are not created equal. Some contracts may not pay enough to be worth your while, or they may have unrealistic deadlines. Others are set aside for specific business types, for which you may not qualify. If you want to learn more about how to get the right government contract — read on. These secrets will help make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.

1. Grow your network.

Government purchasing agents are people, too — and they are more likely to do business with someone they know and trust. If the request for proposal (RFP) you’re answering includes a pre-bid conference, be sure to attend and ask questions. Introduce yourself to key individuals, such as procurement officers, technical experts, and even the competition. Even if you don’t get the job, an introduction today might lead to a referral or collaboration tomorrow. You can also attend government and industry-sponsored trade shows and conferences, where you can learn more tips about how to become a government contractor, and form relationships that could change the trajectory of your small business.

2. Learn to say no.

The U.S. government posts 19,000 Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) jobs each year, according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) — so don’t stress if you don’t meet the qualifications for an individual contract. Here are a few opportunities to avoid:

  • Contracts outside your realm of expertise: If the job doesn’t match your services, or your size, just say no. (Or, consider partnering with a competitor for larger jobs.)
  • Jobs with unrealistic deadlines: No matter how bad you want the contract, don’t accept it if you can’t deliver results on time. Doing so will jeopardize future government employment opportunities.
  • Bids that aren’t in line with your vision: Government contracts require a significant commitment. Make sure it’s worth the investment.

3. Market Your Small Business to the Right Agencies.

Focus your efforts on the government agencies that buy the types of services you offer. For example, if you are a paving company, market your services to the Department of Transportation. If you’re in healthcare, consider the Department of Health and Human Services. Not sure which agency makes the most sense for your line of work? Visit the Federal Business Opportunities website and click the “Agencies” tab for a searchable, alphabetical listing of agencies. (Hint: you can enter keywords and see which agencies match.) Once you identify two or three agencies that align with your expertise, market your services to those agencies directly.

4. Remember the details.

When it comes to the government, it’s their way or no deal on the highway contract. Government contracting work is known for its very specific and strict bid format requirements, so be sure to read the RFP carefully, and follow all required processes, deadlines and formats. A good rule of thumb is to read the RFP once, before you submit your proposal, noting any important timelines or requirements in a checklist. Then, read it again just before submitting, checking that requirements are met. If you have questions, or you aren’t sure whether you qualify, just ask.

As the world’s largest buyer, the U.S. government can open new doors for your small business. However, you may need access to working capital to pay employees, vendors and subcontractors while you’re waiting for government payments to arrive. Talk to Blaine Waugh at Triumph Business Capital — they specialize in funding small business government contractors.

Freight Brokers

5 Steps to Starting Your Own Freight Brokerage

Make more money. Be your own boss. Spend less time on the road, and more time with your family. There are many reasons why you may want to start your own freight brokerage, and the payoff can be huge. However, according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. If you want to go the distance in the trucking industry, follow these 5 steps to start your own freight brokerage the right way, so you can make it in the long haul.

1) Get experience.

One of the best ways to learn how to operate your own business effectively is to work in someone else’s for a while. Whether you spend time as a shipper, carrier, agent, or in another capacity, your experience in the field will help you understand the business, and build your network.

2) Create a business plan.

When you put your goals on paper, you’re more likely to achieve them, so take the time to create a detailed business plan. Include your financial goals, mission and vision, and unique market position. Then, describe your action plan for achieving your objectives. Include strategic aspects, like how you will find carriers and shippers, and what special value you bring to both parties, as well as financial details, including rates you will pay carriers, your commission, a budget for expenses, and your projected profitability after paying business costs. This part of your plan is especially important if you intend to apply for funding from a bank. If you need help writing a business plan, there are many online resources available, such as this one from the Small Business Administration.

3) Take care of legal issues.

There are a number of legal requirements by which freight brokers must abide. Here are the most important ones:

  • Apply for operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You’ll need to file an application (form OP-1), pay a $300 filing fee, and arrange for a surety bond or trust fund in the amount of $75,000. You can obtain these bonds using your own resources or a bonding company.
  • Obtain insurance coverage. Obtain liability insurance, and secure bonding in the amount required for your location.
  • Complete the Unified Carrier Registration and pay an annual fee, currently $76 per year.
  • Abide by state and local requirements. Check with your state and local government for any other requirements to establish and operate a business in your state.
  • Follow recordkeeping requirements.
    Freight brokers must keep accurate records of each transaction for three years, and make records available to all parties. Records must include:
    Shipper’s name and address
    Carrier’s name, address, and registration/USDOT number
    Bill of lading/freight bill number
    Freight brokering rates and the name of the person who paid for the brokering service
    Other non-brokerage services you performed, how much you were paid, and the person who settled the obligation
    Freight charges you collected and the date the motor carrier was paid

4) Get finances and banking relationships in place.

Create a business banking account, and establish a relationship with a commercial banker. Invoice factoring companies like Triumph Business Capital can also help you access working capital.

5) Open your office and get started.

Whether you’re establishing a home office, or setting up a commercial space, you’ll need a phone, desk or other workspace, filing system, and computer. Now is also the time to start marketing your company, if you haven’t already. You can create a website, purchase ads in industry publications or websites, and use direct mail to advertise to potential clients.
Triumph Business Capital specializes in helping freight brokerages succeed, so let them know if they can help with working capital for your new business. And, be sure to check out these social media sites for freight brokerage tips:

Twitter
Facebook
Google Plus

Invoice Advance

Freight Broker Bond Renewal Deadline is Looming

The October 1 deadline for renewing your annual freight broker’s bond and license is fast approaching. Unfortunately, despite the shock and industry opposition following the increase from $10,000 to $75,000 in 2013, there is no point to putting off this expenditure in hopes that it will drop significantly. Instead, here are some tips for easing your bond renewal headaches and cost – even if you don’t have stellar credit – and avoiding any lapse in coverage.

1) Get ‘er done sooner rather than later

First and foremost, your BMC-84 bond renewal is typically due 30 days before your current policy expires. While it’s human nature to wait till the last minute, the flood of freight brokerage policy renewals around October 1 can put your bond at risk of not being renewed in time. (Don’t flaunt the two-month grace period ending December 1.) You can’t legally broker trucking freight without a current license, so save yourself the aggravation and risk of losing business over a missed deadline. Get going on your bond renewal now and make sure you pay the invoice by the due date.

2) Judiciously explore opportunities to save money

An early start gives you more time to compare bond renewal offers and secure the most favorable policy. Costs will vary from year to year depending on your credit score, potential credit issues, years of professional experience, and the strength and liquidity of your financial statements. If you think you’re overpaying for your freight brokerage bonds and are unhappy with your service, another surety agent and/or bond agency may offer more aggressive rates or be able to negotiate a better deal on your behalf.

3) Don’t be pennywise and pound-foolish

Shopping multiple agencies on price can actually jeopardize your credit score and cost you more by generating multiple hard credit inquiries. Instead, identify a solid surety agency that has access to the best bonding markets and will only do a soft pull on your personal credit. What’s more, in the event of a claim, you need a knowledgeable, experienced bond agent who will act as your advocate. For your money, you want an agency that will fight for your interests, maintain the flow of information, and help you get the potential claim resolved with minimal disruption.

4) What to expect in freight broker bond premiums

  • Applicants with solid credit should expect to pay annual premiums that range from 1 to 4 percent of the $75,000 bond.
  • Applicants with credit scores of 650 or below may see their rates go up to a range of 5 to 15 percent.
  • In rare cases of poor credit, the bonding company may charge premiums as high as 20 percent or require collateral in order to issue the bond.

5) Yes, you can still secure a bond with bad credit

Despite what you may think, you’re likely to get a freight broker bond regardless of your credit score – unless you’re currently in open bankruptcy or you’ve been late with a child-support payment. It will just cost more. Some of the factors that will drive up premiums are the presence of tax liens, a past bankruptcy or civil judgments, among others.

6) Take steps to improve your credit

The better your personal credit score and history, the lower the risk surety agencies perceive in bonding your business and the lower your premiums. That’s why it pays to clean up any lingering negative items in your credit history before you start the bond renewal process.

7) Put your best financial foot forward

In addition to your credit history, surety agencies also look at your profitability and years of freight brokerage experience as indicators of financial strength and stability. Even if you’re a relative newbie, if your business is well-operated and making good money, present your financials in the most advantageous way to showcase a low-risk, stable, trustworthy business.

8) Be wise when selecting your surety bond agency

Look for agencies that work with a larger number of surety companies – but only those that are A-rated and T-listed. Why? The more likely they can match you with the best bonding option and provide a low rate that actually provides adequate security if there’s a claim on your bond. Get what you pay for in peace of mind.

Marketing for Freight Brokers

Fierce Digital Marketing for Freight Brokers

The loads you broker to carriers may travel for days over the road, but the impressions conveyed by your brokerage via digital channels can be more immediate and impactful. That’s why it pays to invest in engaging with your customers online. Tap the power of web-based, social and mobile marketing tools, such as social media, blogs and social advertising, to build your business and stay top of mind.

A digital marketing strategy can support prospects in researching the purchase decision, ease pressure on your sales department, shorten the sales cycle, and even help prequalify prospective customers. Acquisition, retention and upselling can also be streamlined with a great cross-channel digital marketing strategy.

Educate, engage and impress

For starters, use your website to educate prospective and current customers alike. Provide information that is valuable to your audience, then share and promote that content through your own website and the most relevant social media sites or platforms. Rather than scatter shooting, figure out the top two or three social networks your customers, partners and referral sources use and establish an online presence there. It’s not about accumulating thousands of likes or followers; it’s about capturing their interest and conveying that your people are knowledgeable, professional, approachable and capable.

Some key pointers for making positive impressions online:

  • Establish goals for your social media marketing efforts and how you will measure results.
  • Identify a team member who has the time and familiarity with content marketing and your chosen platforms to consistently maintain your online efforts.
  • Allocate the time and resources to feed the beast – to develop and publish a steady stream of content. This can include trend reports, blog posts, videos, comments on other articles or posts, photographs, infographics, etc. Focus on creating original content, which you can supplement with content from other sites if you secure permission and attribute it properly to the original source.
  • Ensure your own website is ready for its close-up. Is site content updated, polished and professional? Are page links and contact forms working properly? Can it handle a boost in traffic?
  • Engagement is a two-way conversation. Solicit input; respond promptly to comments and questions; offer content that prompts your community to talk about it and share with others.
  • Get real. Don’t expect a modest investment in social media efforts to propel your sales into the stratosphere or make you an online media darling. However, interactions can reveal more about what it’s like to deal with your company.
  • Be prepared for customers who use social platforms to complain about your company. If it happens, turn that lemon into lemonade. Social media can be a powerful vehicle for showcasing great customer service in real time. So make sure you respond quickly, acknowledge the customer’s concern, and resolve it in a caring, efficient manner.

Online can equal on-the-go

Also consider that digital marketing connects you to your increasingly mobile market. Today, an estimated 91 percent of U.S. adults have their mobile devices close to them and within reach at all times. It’s not just about online consumer purchasing. Today, more business people are using their mobile devices to conduct business and research providers – and they may be on social platforms at any time of day or night.

To reap the rewards of digital marketing, make sure you have a solid cross-channel strategy and a compelling, clearly defined value proposition that differentiates your services. Your social marketing needs to be integrated with traditional media and response channels. You’ll also need to be willing to try new approaches and to continuously improve on your efforts by compiling, reviewing and acting on analytics.

Factoring Contract

3 Tips to Find Quality Carriers

It’s every freight broker’s worst nightmare: You finally landed the big account you wanted, and you’ve been awarded a contract to serve as freight broker. If you can keep your client happy, you could see your business grow by double. But on the day their first load arrives, you get a call from your client — and they’re not happy. The driver was late, his service was terrible, and worst of all, the freight was damaged. Now, you won’t get paid the full amount for the load, and the shipper has cancelled your contract. Why did this happen? And, more importantly, how can you keep it from happening again?

If you’re a startup broker or a smaller broker, finding quality carriers can be a struggle — but it doesn’t have to be. You can protect your reputation and your bottom line by learning a few simple tips:

1. Get Connected.

One of the easiest ways to build your carrier database is to ask other freight brokers for referrals. Even if you don’t know any other brokers, you can start networking by joining an industry organization, such as the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA). TIA is a freight broker membership community that can be a great source for building relationships, accessing resources, and getting educated on important topics in third party logistics.

Members of TIA can access a Freight Broker Directory to find qualified drivers, and take advantage of the organization’s widely used TIA Watchdog feature. Think of it as the Angie’s List of the trucking world: it allows TIA members to inform one another about fraudulent operators. Users can report unauthorized re-brokering of shipments, no-shows, cancellations, theft, unjustified loss of freight, and other issues.

2. Get what you pay for.

If you needed a life-saving operation to remove a brain tumor, you wouldn’t go to an unlicensed, back-alley surgeon and ask for their best rate. You’d want the best doctor money could buy (assuming you’re insured.) Why? Because the more experienced and credentialed the doctor, the higher fee he or she can demand. While truck driving isn’t brain surgery, the same idea holds true: experienced drivers charge more. Generally speaking, low-paying loads attract low-quality drivers, and high-paying loads attract high-quality drivers. Be sure to understand the going rate for loads that are similar to yours, and offer a rate that is in line with the market.

You can get an idea of what other brokers are paying — and search for quality drivers — on reputable load boards, such as DAT Solutions. While load boards like these aren’t free, the freight matching services they provide may pay for themselves. You can use these services to post your loads immediately, and find safe trucks and reliable carriers fast. According to DAT’s website, their load board is searched by carriers an average of 303,000 times per day, increasing the likelihood that you’ll find the best match for your load quickly.

While it is possible to get a low quality driver from what seems to be a high quality carrier company, many load boards include tools that can help you minimize risk. Look for one that verifies carrier credentials and provides independent, third party information on carriers’ operating authority, insurance, and CSA safety scores. You can also read reviews to see what other brokers have to say about prospective carriers.

3. Get quality drivers by being a quality broker.

One of the best ways to attract a reliable, responsible carrier is to be a reliable, responsible broker. That means treating truckers the way you would like to be treated, and conducting your business in an ethical manner. If you pay carriers on time, communicate respectfully, and follow through on your commitments, they are more likely to do their best work, and even refer others to you. If, on the other hand, you don’t treat carriers well, word will get around. Truckers talk — and you want to be sure that they’re saying good things about your business.

It’s also important to understand the rules and regulations of the trucking industry, including Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. These rules establish maximum hourly driving limits, required rest breaks, and sleep requirements for drivers. They are essential to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and other vehicles on the road — and it’s against the law for drivers to violate these rules. When truckers are assigned loads with unrealistic delivery deadlines, they are placed in a tough position that can compromise safety for everyone on the road. Be sure to set realistic expectations for your clients, and never ask a driver to stay on the road longer than HOS regulations allow.

Finally, show that you’re a reliable broker by never double-brokering carriers. Not to be confused with co-brokering, double brokering is illegal and takes place when a carrier (who may also own a freight brokerage) accepts a load from a freight broker under the guise that he will transport the load, but then brokers it off to another carrier. Be transparent in all of your dealings. You’ll avoid legal battles, and show carriers and shippers that you’re a trustworthy partner.

Quality carriers are attracted by fair brokers who pay well, and pay reliably. If you need assistance to working capital that can help you pay drivers faster (even when you’re waiting for payment yourself), contact Blaine Waugh, at Triumph Business Capital. He can provide you with a few more resources to help you become a more successful freight broker.

Invoice Factoring Company

To Sign or Not to Sign – This is THE Question

When did signatures become so important?

If you were back in the year 1473 (Islamic calendar 877-878, Hebrew calendar 5233-5234), you would find it hard to find a writing implement to use, and it would probably be even harder to find actual paper on which to sign. We take these things for granted today, but back then, paper and pen were luxury items that only the rich and powerful had any use for.

Today we take signatures for granted – we sign credit card receipts, we sign for packages, we sign (repeatedly) when we buy a car, and we sign electronically when we buy things online. Have you ever stopped to think “what am I actually signing?” Have you ever actually read your credit card receipt? It says that you are bound by the terms and conditions of your credit card contract – and if you’ve ever taken the time to read that document, I think you’d be surprised what was in there!

The message here is: read before you sign. Understand before you sign.

You would never sign a document that said you promise to pay back $100,000 without knowing…

  • How long do I have to pay it back?
  • How much is it going to cost (interest, fees)?
  • Can the money be used for anything I want?
  • What are the penalties if I don’t pay it back?
  • What do I have to put up as collateral?

If you are browsing the internet and there is a form to fill out, make sure you pay close attention to that form and if there are any disclaimers on there. If there are NOT, then the factor cannot bind you to anything since nothing has been defined.

However if you see something that says “By clicking “submit” you agree to our standard terms and conditions”, you might want to know what the standard terms and conditions are before clicking the “submit” button! Maybe it’s no big deal and it’s OK, but maybe not!

What if by agreeing to the “standard terms and conditions” you’re agreeing to that factor filing a lien on all of your company’s assets as collateral for a loan you’ve not yet even received? You think I’m kidding….I’m not.

The moral of this is: know what you are signing. Do not commit you or your business to something unless you understand what it is and are 100% sure you want to move forward with what you are signing.

Truck Driver Shortage

How to Hire Drivers– and Keep Them During the Truck Driver Shortage

For today’s generation, trucking doesn’t seem to hold much appeal. Long hours on the road, time spent away from family, and mediocre pay is leading to increasingly high turnover rates and driver shortages. In fact, according to the American Trucking Association, the industry needs 30,000 more drivers to meet current demands. If you’re a fleet owner, you’re probably well aware of the truck driver shortage. And, you may even be looking for truck driver resources to attract new talent. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled some of the best tips for finding truck drivers and reducing driver turnover. Read on to learn how to improve recruitment, training and retention for your fleet.

1. Accelerate recruitment.

With so much competition for drivers, it can be challenging to recruit high quality candidates. However, by rethinking recruitment and appealing to new pools of talent, you can be on the road to hiring new truckers a lot faster. Here’s how:

  • Use social media.
    The trucking industry has historically recruited through TV and print ads, but today’s drivers are online. Make sure your company has a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and use these sites to post positions and interact with drivers. Most are free to use, but offer paid advertising that can help with finding truck drivers more efficiently.
  • Make your website work harder.
    Search engine optimization can go a long way toward attracting long-haul drivers. Create a “Careers” page on your website for posting jobs and accepting resumes, and be sure to include keywords that drivers might search — such as “trucking jobs,” “truck driver resources,” etc. You may also want to add a blog to your site, and post articles with keywords, to keep content fresh.
  • Use driver job boards, lead boards and aggregator sites.
    Websites like DAT Solutions cater to the trucking industry, and can make finding truck drivers easier. Post your job in more than one spot for maximum visibility.
  • Recruit military drivers.
    Military truck drivers can bring a high level of integrity to your organization — and their training is second to none. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program helps veterans and military spouses find worthwhile employment, and offers a nationwide hiring fair as well as online resources.

2. Drive Quality with Better Onboarding and Training.

Despite the truck driver shortage, you shouldn’t have to accept an employee that doesn’t meet your quality requirements. A strong onboarding process for qualifying and training new employees can lead to better performance on the job, and improved satisfaction. It can also reduce driver turnover, which can be costly.

  • Conduct background checks and screenings.
    Head off turnover early by conducting thorough background check and screenings, including moving violations, driving while under the influence, and Compliance Safety Accountability records. Ask for recommendations from previous employers, too — and take the extra time to call them. A little due diligence now could save you time and money later.
  • Create a formal orientation program.
    If your company doesn’t have a formal orientation and training program, create one. Include training in all the skills needed to complete the job, and discuss your expectations and any special job requirements.
  • Ask for employees’ input.
    Conduct a post-training interview to ask new hires how they feel about the job so far, and answer any questions that may have.

3. Create an environment where drivers feel respected and valued.

Build a retention program to ensure truckers know what is expected of them, show them that their opinions are valued, and prove that management is willing to do what it takes to keep them there. Here’s what some of the most successful fleet owners are doing to attract and retain the best talent.

  • Raise pay and benefits.
    Higher salaries and benefits are big draws in any industry — and trucking is no exception. Check industry standards to see what competitors are offering, and make sure your salaries are in line. Also, consider adding health and wellness benefits.
  • Create a better work/life balance.
    Spending days and weeks away from home causes stress for truckers and their families. Consider altering schedules to allow drivers to return home more often.
  • Make the job easier with new technology.
    Automated logs make record keeping less taxing. Rear-facing cameras help truckers navigate blind spots. Automatic transmissions can make trucks easier to drive. Ask your fleet what features they would like to see, and consider investing in technology to improve job satisfaction.
  • Create a career path.
    Truckers don’t just want jobs — they want meaningful careers. If you can provide carriers with opportunities for advancement, transitioning from on-the-road to behind-the-desk, you may see your driver turnover problem turn around.
  • Conduct employee surveys.
    The best way to know what employees want is to ask them. Distribute surveys to ask employees if they are satisfied with their jobs, and find out what you can do to make the work experience better.

In the end, truckers want the same things every employee wants: a promising career, good pay and benefits, and a positive work environment. Even in a truck driver shortage, offering these benefits can help you attract better quality candidates. While you’re growing your work force, Triumph Business Capital can help you access working capital to grow your business — and ensure your new employees are paid on time. Ask Blaine Waugh for more information.

Non-Recourse Factoring

What is Non-Recourse Factoring?

You’re a small business owner and you need financing. The first stop is your local bank where you get the sympathetic shake of the head from the loan officer. “Sorry, we can’t help with a loan but how about a checking account?” A checking account isn’t going to cut it when you need cash for your business.

You have bills to pay. What now?

There’s invoice factoring, an option that puts money in your pocket fast—often the same day. With factoring, you sell unpaid invoices to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital, which pays you the amount you’re owed on the invoice less a small fee, and then is responsible for collecting from your customer.

But what if your customer doesn’t pay?

There are two basic types of factoring: recourse and non-recourse. Recourse factoring is kind of like a loan in that if your customer doesn’t pay the invoice, you owe the money on that invoice back to the factor.

With non-recourse factoring, the factor evaluates the credit risk of your customer and agrees to take the loss if the customer can’t pay the invoice for credit reasons.

What Non-Recourse Factoring Doesnt Cover

The “for credit reasons” phrase is important.

Most non-recourse factoring contracts have a clause that says you are responsible when the customer refuses to pay an invoice because of a “dispute of any kind, regardless of validity.” When a customer says your delivery was late and is only going to pay 50% of the invoice, or holds up payment because there’s a document missing, these are not credit-related issues. The factor is probably going to ask you for its money back.

What Non-Recourse Factoring Does Cover

Let’s talk about what non-recourse factoring does cover.

If, during a collection call, your customer says something like, “We simply do not have the money to pay these invoices right now,” you’re protected. If your customer’s business fails or files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the factor will be the one standing in line at the bankruptcy hearing, hoping to get paid. After all, it bought the invoice based on the creditworthiness of your customer.

Non-Recourse Factoring Gives You Control

As you can see, there’s a theme here.

With non-recourse, if a factoring service agrees to buy an invoice and the customer can’t pay it for credit-related reasons, you’re covered. But if the customer won’t pay due to your performance, you’re not covered. That’s not such a bad thing because you don’t want a third party handling discrepancies with a customer anyway. You probably worked hard to earn that business and if something threatens the relationship, it should be up to you to address it.

An experienced factor knows how to evaluate credit risk in your specific line of work. If you find that your factor is routinely asking you to pay money back (a “chargeback”) on invoices that you thought were non-recourse, get specific. Ask for details. Is it related to something that can be tied back to you and the performance of your business? Or is there some other reason the factor can’t collect?

Non-recourse factoring is a common and convenient way to turn something of value—your invoices—into the cash you need. Not all factoring agreements are the same so it’s important to read the contract and ask questions when you have them. If it’s confusing or you’re not getting answers, then maybe it’s time to look at someone else to factor your invoices.

Truckers Insurance

Why Is My Insurance So Expensive?

When most people go to buy trucking insurance, they expect the obvious questions:

How many trucks do you own? Where is your company domiciled? What commodities do you haul?  What is your travel radius?  Insurance companies use this information to formulate your premium.  But, what else goes into rating a commercial trucking policy?  What other factors are driving your rates?

The answer is….there are several other factors companies use when considering a risk.  Some examples are:

  • Loss Frequency and Severity
  • Safety Management Scores
  • Out-of-Service Percentages
  • Growth Plans
  • Coverages or lack there of
  • Multiple MC Numbers
  • Sharing of Units

Who knew so much went into formulating your insurance premium?  Now you are wondering how to keep your cost down.  Here are some hints that may help you do just that:

  1. Know who you are hiring.  We suggest that part of your hiring process should include obtaining a motor vehicle report on all drivers prior to making an offer of employment.    Drivers can obtain a copy of their MVR from the local Department of Motor Vehicles.  There are also many services out there that will run MVRs for you as well.
  2. Electronic Logs. These logs not only keep drivers within DOT guidelines, they also alert you when the device has been disconnected.
  3. Safety Management Meetings. Regular safety meetings will promote safe driving habits, the importance of vehicle maintenance, and most importantly open communication.  The benefit will be less accidents and violations to contend with and lower insurance premiums.
  4. Growth Plans. While growth is exciting, rapid growth could harm your business.  Rapid growth is sometimes frowned upon by the insurance companies.  Plan to grow methodically, be selective in who you hire, what commodities you will haul and even the age of the equipment you purchase or lease on.
  5. Talk to Your Commercial Insurance Agent. An agent who focuses on the trucking insurance industry is more likely to understand your needs.  Tell them about your operation and ask questions.  You are your own best source of information.  Your licensed agent can help you to make the right decisions regarding you insurance needs.

We hope this information is helpful to you.   Maybe this information has raised some questions.  Our licensed agents at Triumph Insurance Group will be glad to help you with whatever questions you may have!  Check out the website at http://www.triumphinsurance.com or call at 800-411-7542 and our agents can get started on a quote for you!

Invoice Factoring

Trucking is the Fastest Growing Small Business Industry

As the economy grows, one industry is standing out as the fastest growing small business industry—trucking. According to a recent article from Triumph Bancorp, parent company to Triumph Business Capital, the trucking industry has seen a 25 percent uptick in sales over the last year, indicating large growth.

The American Trucking Association reported that the transportation industry has generated more than $700 billion in revenue for the first time since 2014. With this increase in sales and the current driver shortage, trucking companies will see more opportunities for their small business.

As a trucking company owner, are you taking advantage of the opportunities out there?

If your business is growing faster than your ability to cover expenses, you can convert your accounts receivable into cash with Triumph Business Capital. Through our experienced team and partnerships, we can provide trucking business owners with the resources they need to keep their company growing.

Invoice Factoring Service

Which is better — invoice factoring or a loan?

If you’re having trouble getting approved for a loan, you’re not alone. According to the 2014 Small Business Survey, 44 percent of firms who applied for loans failed to receive any credit. The biggest reasons? Low credit scores, insufficient collateral, and/or weak business performance. In recent years, it’s become more and more difficult for small businesses to access working capital from traditional funding sources.

Fortunately, a loan is only one of many possible solutions. In this article, we’ll compare business loans to invoice factoring, a little-known alternative funding source that could help your business reduce risk, and possibly even pay less than you might for a traditional business loan. If your business is in need of funding, but has a low credit score or limited collateral, you’ll want to check this out.

 

Fast Approval. Fast Cash.

Unlike loans, which have extensive application requirements and long approval periods the application process for invoice factoring is simple and quick. In most cases, you can receive your funds in as little as 24 hours.

 

Low Cost. No Interest.

Depending on your interest rate, payment terms, and the amount of your loan, the long-term cost of a loan could be much greater than the amount you intend to borrow. You’ll pay interest over the life of the loan, so carefully examine your amortization documents before signing on the dotted line. In some cases, you may pay as much as double the loan amount.

In contrast, with invoice factoring, you make no interest payments and no monthly payments, because the funds are not a loan. Rather, they are a sale of your accounts receivables (invoices) for work that your business has already completed.

 

Less Risk. Less Stress.

Risk is inherent in any loan. If your business does well, and you manage your profits responsibly, repaying your business loan may be no problem. However, if business is slow, or if you encounter unexpected financial hurdles, you may be unable to pay your loan, risking late fees, fines, and even insolvency. With invoice factoring, the risk is much lower, because you are not receiving a loan. The money you receive is yours — you are just getting it sooner.

Unlike a loan, which requires regular payments, the funds you receive through invoice factoring will be repaid when your client pays their invoice. If you choose recourse factoring, you will ultimately be liable to repay the funds if your client does not pay their invoice — but this risk can be mitigated with careful credit checks. In addition, many small businesses and entrepreneurs may choose non-recourse factoring, which releases them from liability in the event their clients do not pay the invoice. However, this type of invoice factoring is more costly to obtain. Learn more about the two types of invoice factoring here.

 

Simple. Repeatable.

While it is possible to get multiple business loans, your approval for each loan will depend on your credit history, which includes your debt-to-income ratio. This means that once you get one loan, it may be harder to get an additional loan until you pay off the first. Because invoice factoring does not involve a loan, but is instead based on your accounts receivable, you can use invoice factoring again and again. As long as you meet the invoice factoring company’s requirements, and your invoices are reliably paid in full, invoice factoring can become an integral part of your business’s long-term plan for growth.

 

If your business needs access to working capital fast, without the risk, which sometimes doesn’t come with traditional loans, ask us how Triumph Business Capital can help.

 

Factoring

Invoice Factoring vs. Merchant Cash Advance

Which do you need in your corner?

Back in high school and all of my college years, I was an amateur boxer with a real passion for the sport. Boxers function on muscle memory, which is why professionals like Manny Pacquiao are able to throw over a thousand punches in a single match. But the one thing you never get used to, is getting hit. Let’s face it, getting hit HURTS, and the punches that hurt the worst are the ones you never see coming.

Right around the time I stopped boxing, I started my first company. I soon realized that having the right capital for merchandise and other expenses was incredibly important. I also realized that owning a business means you’re constantly hit with countless direct mail offers advertising small business cash advances and high-risk loans. The ads promise quick access to cash, with approval in minutes, and funding in days — but are these small business loans really as good as they seem?

Most businesses need access to funding at some time or another, but all funding sources are not created equal. In order to get the working capital you need, while avoiding high fees and reducing risk, it’s important to understand the pros and the cons of any business funding source. In this article, we’ll explore what a merchant card advance is, its pros and cons, and how it compares to invoice factoring.

What is a merchant cash advance?

A merchant cash advance, also known as a merchant card advance or “MCA”, is an alternative financing source that provides businesses with a lump sum of cash by purchasing a set amount of their future sales. Businesses pay back the loan in monthly installments, which are deducted as a set percentage of credit card and debit card sales, until the cash advance is paid in full. This form of cash advance is typically associated with incredibly high interest rates and should be avoided if at all possible.

How does merchant cash advance compare to invoice factoring?

Like a merchant cash advance, invoice factoring is an alternative funding source that offers businesses fast cash, without the strict credit approval requirements of traditional loans. However, there are some key differences that may make invoice factoring a better choice for your business.

Faster Access to Cash

Merchant cash advances and invoice factoring are both alternatives to traditional financing. Each involves a simple, quick application process with minimum credit requirements, making it easier and faster for small businesses to get approved — but while merchant card advances may seem like an equal option to invoice factoring, there are several “catches” that may leave you financially K.O.’d in the long run.

Lower Risk

First of all, merchant cash advancements typically involve more risk than invoice factoring. A merchant card advance charges you based on your “projected” sales, while invoice factoring companies purchase your existing invoices (also called, “accounts receivable financing”). Since merchant cash advance payments are solely based on a prediction, rather than an actual dollar amount, this means that if your future sales don’t meet your projections, you could end up making massive payments, with a much higher interest rate (usually significantly more than invoice factoring). The larger problem could be that the payments continue for a period beyond your revenue generation – Similar to getting punched in the face over and over again, month after month (trust me, not fun).

The Golden Rule of Finance

Simply put, the best financing structures have terms which match the useful life of the assets being financed. It makes poor sense to finance a house for 36 months or a car for 30 years. If your cash needs are for working capital, consider the benefits of a financial solution that matches the need.

Lower Overall Cost

Unlike merchant cash advance providers, who not only charge you the amount of the payment, but a crippling, sky-high interest rate, most invoice factoring companies solely charge a small percentage of the invoice total.

Additional Back Office Services

Because invoice factoring companies purchase your unpaid invoices and proceed to collect payment from your vendor directly, you may also benefit from the back-office services these suppliers provide, including billing and collections.

 

Before you consider taking out a merchant cash advance, be aware of the short and long term repercussions. If you’re in a high-needs situation, their unsavory (and borderline usury) interest rates may seem worth it, but keep in mind that anything that looks “too good to be true,” usually is. It pays to have the right company in your corner, and if you’re interested in exploring your invoice factoring options, talk to Blaine Waugh at Triumph Business Capital. He’ll help coach you through the right solution for your business and won’t make you run laps or do sit-ups (unless you want him to)!

 

 

Business Capital

The Payroll Problem

Spend less time stressing about making payroll, and more time working on your business.

In February of 2012, when I was eight months pregnant, my husband’s employer filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. We lost our health insurance (even though we had been paying the premiums), and my husband’s bonuses and vacation pay (even though he had worked plenty of overtime). To make matters worse, he and his coworkers did not get paid for the last two weeks before the company folded. Now, more than three years and one more child later, we’re doing fine — but things were pretty shaky for a while.

Most employees don’t think twice about getting paid on time — until the checks stop coming. The problem of “making payroll” is more widespread than you might think. Just over 900,000 bankruptcies were filed in 2014, and about 800,000 are predicted for 2015, according to creditslips.com. Truth told, all across the U.S., business owners and payroll managers are sweating making payroll each month. Many major businesses, including Radio Shack, Wet Seal, and SkyMall, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year already.

While the major corporations are the ones that make the news, payroll concerns can be even more worrisome for small businesses and startups. All businesses are required by law to pay employees in a timely manner, yet their customers may wait 30, 60, or even 90 days before paying invoices. This gap between receiving payment for completed work and making payments to employees can leave small businesses cash-poor in the short-term, with the potential to push them over the edge of insolvency.

In today’s challenging economic climate, payroll concerns have become an almost inevitable part of doing business. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. For companies with verifiable invoices for completed work, who are simply waiting for payment, there’s a simple solution to the payroll problem. It’s called invoice factoring.

What is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice Factoring is the sale of a company’s invoices to a factoring company, which pays the invoice immediately, minus a small percentage for its services. The invoice factoring company then takes over collections for the invoice. The business client gets cash fast, which can be used to make payroll. And, the factoring company gets paid when the client pays the bill.

How can Invoice Factoring Solve Payroll Problems?

  • Protect Personal Funds

    When business owners can’t make payroll, they often turn to personal funds, including savings accounts, friends and family, or even retirement accounts. To avoid lawsuits, IRS problems, bankruptcy and worse, most companies will use any means necessary to ensure employees are paid on time. With invoice factoring, you don’t have to resort to drastic measures.

  • Avoid Taking on Additional Debt

    Business loans are another option for business owners. However, loans must be repaid, with interest. Further complicating the matter, many small business owners and entrepreneurs do not have the capital or credit history to qualify for loans. Unlike a loan, invoice factoring involves the sale of invoices. That means no drawn-out approvals, no interest payments, and no additional debt as long as the invoice is paid.

  • Prevent Layoffs

    The last thing any employer in a growing business wants to do is lay off employees — especially when new opportunities are coming into the shop. Instead of letting employees go when you need them most, just to make payroll, invoice factoring enables you to keep all hands on deck, and pay them on time.

  • Reduce Expenses

    In a recent article published on inc.com, Donald Todrin, founder of the Northhampton, MA-based Second Wind Consultants, recommends raising cash by requesting a reduced payment from clients, in exchange for wiring the money immediately. He suggests accepting as much as a 50 percent hit on outstanding receivables, in order to cover your payroll. Of course, for savvy businesses that partner with an invoice factoring company, the cost of immediate cash is much, much less. Triumph Business Capital only charges a small percentage of your invoice in exchange for immediate payment.

  • Take Care of Your Employees.

    It’s not just about avoiding lawsuits, federal and state tax liabilities, and IRS penalties. And it’s not even just about keeping your business afloat. Whether you manage payroll for a small business or large company, paying your employees on time is just the right thing to do.

As an employer myself, I take the responsibility of paying my employees in a timely manner very seriously — especially since I know what it’s like when an employer drops the ball. If your business is struggling with making payroll, invoice factoring may be the right solution to help you bridge the gap between collecting payment and writing checks to employees. If you want to learn more, contact my friend, Blaine Waugh, at Triumph Business Capital

 

Truck Factoring

Recession-Proofing Your Business with Invoice Factoring

My first cousin, James is a long-haul trucker based out of Pennsylvania, and every time he comes through my hometown of Dallas, I meet him at a Denny’s and offer to buy him breakfast. He never says no. It’s not just because James likes his grits (and he does like his grits). James has four young kids and a wife waiting for him at home, and he could use a free meal. And me? I pretty much think truckers deserve it. After all, most American families couldn’t eat breakfast or dinner, for that matter, without the fresh goods truckers deliver each day. Yet, freight haulers don’t always know when their next load is coming in, or when they’ll get paid.

James has shared with me how stressful it is for his family when work slows down; and it may take weeks or months to pick back up again. But in the meantime, bills are coming due, and cash flow is dwindling. And, even though he may have hauled plenty of loads to pay the bills, he might not get paid for 30 days or more. Any small business owner can relate to the problem of having more month than money. That’s why I was pretty interested when I heard about invoice factoring, an alternative funding source that’s quite common in the trucking industry, but which can be used for just about any business that meets the invoice factoring company’s qualifications.

Freight brokers, independent truckers, staffing agencies, and government contractors are just a few of the business types that can benefit from this unique funding model. Here’s how it works:

What is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice factoring is the sale of your business’s accounts receivable (invoices) to an invoice factoring company. When you engage in accounts receivable financing, you receive immediate payment of approved invoices from the invoice factoring company, in exchange for a small percentage of each invoice. The factoring company then collects payment from your client.

How can Invoice Factoring help your business get through difficult times?

  • Access Working Capital from a Trusted Source

    During the recent recession, as mortgage lenders, banks and other financial institutions folded, invoice factoring survived, and even grew in strength. Because the invoice factoring industry is fueled by accounts receivable instead of loans, its foundation is stable. This type of financing has been around for hundreds of years, but it gained credibility after the recession. Triumph Business Capital is an invoice factoring company with over a decade of experience. Now that it is part of the Triumph Bancorp Group, it has the bedrock financial stability to provide its customers with even greater flexibility and capacity.

  • Pay Expenses in a Timely Manner

    With invoice factoring, you don’t have to wait for your clients to pay their bills in order to pay your vendors and employees, order equipment, and cover other business expenses. Invoice factoring companies like Triumph will pay your unpaid invoices in as little as 24 hours, so you can get the working capital you need, and get back to doing business.

  • Eliminate Collection Concerns

    When you process all your invoices with an invoice factoring company, you can end late-payment worries, and turn over the collections process to them. Triumph provides free credit checks for all your clients, and they offer both recourse and non-recourse invoice factoring for approved clients. This service ensures you will not be held liable if your customers do not pay their bills.

  • Avoid Late Fees

    If you are late paying your vendors or contractors, you may end up paying
    additional late fees and penalties. Worse yet, you may find it hard to obtain the services your business needs in the future. Invoice factoring companies only charge a small percentage of each invoice in order to provide you with immediate payment. During slow business periods or tough economic times, this may be less than the amount you might pay in late fees and penalties, if you are unable to pay your bills.

  • Get Cash Fast

    Sure, you could turn to a bank for a small business loan. But, banks charge high interest rates — and it can take weeks to get approved, if you are approved at all. With invoice factoring, approval is quick and easy. In most cases, you can get paid for your invoices in 24 hours.

  • Survive Tough Times Without Making Them Worse.

    In slow economic periods, the last thing a growing business needs is to incur more debt. Invoice factoring allows you to get the capital you need, without taking on a loan. The money is already yours — you are just getting it faster.

Financial difficulties come and go — but if you’re reading this article, chances are, you are already working to overcome your current business challenges. Next time you need a stopgap to cover upcoming expenses, you may want to consider invoice factoring. You can contact Triumph Business Capital if you’d like to learn more. And, next time you see a trucker, tell them “Thanks for breakfast.” They’ll know what you mean.

 

Factoring Company

How Invoice Factoring can Improve Cash Flow Forecasting

When I tell people that I’m self-employed and I work from home, I know what they’re thinking. “Work from home? Yeah, right. She probably spends her day scanning Facebook, taking naps and doing laundry.” That is so ridiculous. I don’t do laundry. Kidding — but it is frustrating when people don’t take you seriously just because you’re self-employed. If anything, those of us who work for ourselves are even more disciplined about setting hours, staying focused, and accomplishing our goals. After all, if we slack off and don’t complete our work for the day, we’re the ones who pay the price: not getting paid.

I work hard to meet customer deadlines, and perform work reliably — but even if I do my job perfectly, I can’t always predict when I will be paid. Many of my customers submit their jobs with P.O.s, and pay their invoices on Net 30 or Net 60 payment terms. That means that, even though I complete a job in April, I may not get paid until May or June. Add to that the fact that I don’t always know in advance what jobs are going to be coming in makes planning for the future a bit of a challenge. If you own your own business, or get paid on a contract basis, you feel my pain: while you’re waiting to get paid, your bills keep coming in. And, if you want to stay in business, you need to plan ahead.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered two powerful business tools that not only help me plan for upcoming expenses like taxes, salaries, and insurance — they can even help me get paid faster: cash flow forecasting and invoice factoring. In this article, we’ll discuss what these tools are, why they are important, and how they can help you better manage business income and expenses.

What is Cash Flow Forecasting, and why is it important?

As any business owner knows, the best-paying client isn’t always the fastest-paying client. However, waiting too long for payment can cause cash flow problems that make it difficult to pay debts, including payroll. Add unexpected expenses to the equation, and your company can quickly become insolvent.

Cash flow forecasting is method of predicting your company’s future financial position based on anticipated accounts receivable and expenses. You can use cash flow forecasting to determine your financial position at any given time — and to effectively prepare for upcoming costs.

Accurate cash flow forecasting can ensure that your business is prepared to pay its expected expenses, as well as those that may be less predictable. Some expenses — such as utility bills, insurance, and payroll, are generally the same each month. Other costs, such as unexpected repairs or a lawsuit, may take you by surprise. While cash flow forecasting can’t prepare you for every financial scenario, it can help you be better prepared for potential shortfalls.

Invoice Factoring

How Can Invoice Factoring Affect Your Credit Score?

“Sir,” I said, “I drive a paid-off Honda Accord. I pay all my bills on time. And my house will be paid off in three months. How could I be more credit-worthy?”

At 34 years old, I applied for a loan to purchase an investment property with 25% down, for a real estate business I started, and was surprised when the underwriter balked.

“You’re self-employed,” he said. “You still have a high debt-to-income ratio,” he added. “Send me your last two years’ tax returns, and your mortgage statement, and your first-born child’s Social Security Number,” he said.

Actually, he told me that I was going to need so much paperwork, he was going to have to back a truck up to my house to pick it up. In the end, I got approved for the loan — but not until I’d turned over a mountain of forms and waited many, many days.

Now, I think about building credit differently. I think before applying for loans or credit cards, and I also remember to pay bills and vendors on time. (Who knew those little late fees could result in dings on your credit report?)

I learned that credibility is currency — both figuratively and literally. For small businesses owners like me, as well as new businesses and entrepreneurs, working to improve your credit, and getting access to funds, can be a challenge. And, it pays to have more than a few tricks in your book when it comes to building credit.

One solution I recently learned about is called invoice factoring. This alternative funding source can help businesses access the funds they need fast, with minimum credit requirements, because it’s not a loan. As a result, you can get working capital without harming your credit. In fact, when you partner with a factoring company to factor your accounts receivable, you can build credibility with vendors, employers and contract workers, and improve your business’s credit rating. Here’s how it works:

  • Improve Business Credit With a Flawless Payment History

    Many businesses don’t pay their bills until they receive payment from their clients. While this approach sounds less risky, because it does not involve a loan, it can land business owners in hot water when debts go unpaid, leading to late fees, litigation, and dings on your credit report that can lower your credit score. When you partner with an invoice factoring company like Triumph Business Capital, you can receive payment for your outstanding invoices in as little as 24 hours, instead of waiting 30 days or more. This solution enables you to pay your bills on time, every time, without taking out a business loan.

  • Improve Credibility with Vendors and Contractors

    Paying bills on time doesn’t just improve your credit. It also improves your
    credibility. If you don’t pay your bills on time, vendors and contractors may stop extending credit or services to your business, in favor of clients who pay on time. At the least, clients in good standing will be given preference over your account. And at worst, vendors will eventually cease doing business with you completely. When you factor your invoices, cash flow delays will become a thing of the past, enabling you to pay vendors and creditors quickly, and improve business relationships.

  • Access Working Capital Without Affecting Your Credit Score

    Invoice factoring enables you to get cash for your business sooner, without incurring debt, or negatively impacting your credit score. In contrast, if you obtain a small business loan or other loan-based funding source, the debt will impact your credit score, as well as your debt-to-income ratio, which can make it harder to get approved for a loan.

When loans are repaid in full and on time, they can improve your credit— but if you are late on loan payments, or if you default on a loan, your credit score will drop dramatically. Invoice factoring is a sale instead of a loan, so it doesn’t affect your credit in this way. As long as your client pays their invoice, or your accounts are otherwise settled, your credit will not be affected.

 

It takes time to build successful business relationships and establish a trustworthy reputation — both of which are critical parts to any company’s growth. With invoice factoring, you can grow your business without hurting your credit. If you’d like to learn more, meet my friend, Blaine Waugh at Triumph Business Capital.