Frustrated with Calling the SBA

We know how frustrating it is to spend time and energy following up with the SBA on the status of Your EIDL loan or Reconsideration request!

We’re sharing our experiences from having worked on dozens of EIDL loans and our interactions with SBA Agents. We want to you to know you’re not alone in your frustration, but also to help you to understand how the system works.

1. WE LOVE SBA AGENTS! Every call we experience an SBA Agent who is very professional and eager to help business owners obtain the EIDL financing they need to survive this pandemic.

2. SBA Loan Officers are, to quote an SBA Agent, “Working 15 hour days” on loan requests and reconsideration requests.

3. Okay, once you understand the value of the intrepid SBA Agents and how enthusiastic and hard-working they are, let’s discuss the frustrations of follow up.

4. We did a video on “How To Speak With An SBA Agent” we recommend you watch that for tips on how to make your follow up call.

5. Next, know that SBA Agents don’t always have a complete picture on your loan status. Their system has notes about your file’s progress with “Codes.” We don’t know what those codes are, but let’s hypothesize that a typical code could be something like this: “9837: IRS Form received” or “9822: Email sent to Applicant”.

Trevor has seen coding like this in his previous career as a Mortgage Banker. It’s an efficient way for a system to track the progress of a file.We’ve spoken to a couple of Agents who told us they don’t know what some of the Codes mean when a file is in the Reconsideration system.

6. Apparently, the Reconsideration Team works like a “Black-Ops” enterprise. SBA Agents can’t speak with them and their Codes can’t be deciphered by the SBA Agent you call for a status.

7. Beware of general statements made by an SBA Agent such as “Reconsideration processing times are 5-6 weeks.” Another Agent told us that is not true; she’s seen Reconsiderations take substantially longer. She said the other Agent should never have made that statement. Moral of the story: Take anything an SBA Agent says on general matters with a grain of salt.

8. Don’t think you’re going to call and get very clear guidance. The SBA is STILL overwhelmed with the number of new and Reconsideration requests. There’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of confusion, and long waiting times.

9. Remain consistently vigilant, and always polite. Check in regularly on your file. You won’t always get a definitive answer, but once in a while you might discover the SBA sent you an email that you didn’t know they sent! We’ve seen that happen…the email was sitting in the client’s spam folder. Other times, no such email was received. Moving parts. Confusion. Not quite controlled chaos.

10. Patience is a virtue. We know you need this money to help you survive this pandemic. We know the SBA is working diligently. We also know that sometimes some folks in an organization (Bank, SBA, etc.) get a file and it sits there waiting its turn because that person in the organization is overwhelmed, confused, slow, or, maybe, just maybe, even lazy. Think of the real world and how folks work in your business; the SBA is no different.

Contact us with questions or maybe with some good news you’ve experience contrary to our unabashedly vocal disappointment.

Schedule a FREE 15 minute call to review any complications you’re having with your disaster loans.

Summarize your Finance Package

Summarizing your finance package can help to prioritize how your banker reviews your financing request.

We recently submitted a client’s financing request to one of the Lenders on our lending matrix.  Our Lender Rep. said, “Holy cow, you guys are on top of it with your summary. Not many brokers make it this easy to review the package.”

We made it easy because the client provided us with their financials. The financials were comprehensive. It’s a multi-million dollar corporation and we’re at the early stage of presenting to the lender. We want to show something that’s easily digestible. We want to ease  the process for the lender to give us a prompt review and tell us their interest in offering the financing.

Summarizing your financials is easy to do.  When you have a lot of line items that lead up to one type of deduction or one type of income source, simply summarize it. Drop it down to as few lines as possible so the lender can do a quick review and say,  “Okay, I see the picture here.”

The Lender doesn’t need to know the granular line-by-line details at this early stage; you want the Lender to give a fast review to gauge their interest. If the Lender expresses interest and offers a Letter of Intent for the financing, you can present the more detailed financials with your full loan application package.

For each client financing request, we write a summary statement. We present a one or two page statement describing some background on the business, the reason for their financing request, and, in bold, large font, the amount of our financing request.

Our presentation package for the initial Lender review is compact, yet complete.  The “first glimpse” by a Lender is sufficient to tell us if that particular Lender is the right fit for our client’s request, or if we need to locate a different Lender.

If you’d like a copy of our Documents Checklist, click HERE.

If you have questions on the best way to present your financing request to a Lender, email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz and we’ll be happy to provide advice.

3 Metrics to Watch

We find business credit financing solutions for business owners.  We also find that many business owners hold anxious trepidations about the concept of borrowing money.

Yet, the need does arise for working capital to continue to grow your business success story.

Whether the working capital need is unexpected–due to an unusually large order from a customer, a seasonal downturn in revenues, or a sudden opportunity for growth such as purchasing a competitor–or a planned requirement such as equipment purchase or investing in a new marketing plan, your business will need capital to grow.  Unless your profit margins or cashflow planning have created a massive pile of cash for just such a capital expenditure, you’ll need to go outside your company to find that money.

The alternate choice to credit financing is to bring in capital from other equity sources.

Refinance your personal home or leverage your retirement accounts and bring in the required capital.  Sell off valuable equipment, ideas, collectibles.  Bring in an equity partner.   We’ve pontificated at length about the last option…do you really want a partner who may wind up telling you “how to make the pizza?

There are many reasons why choosing equity sources for capital infusions are bad for you personally and professionally.

Yet, too often this is the path chosen: equity sources.   Business owners go down this path for several reasons: time-constraints to obtain the capital; anxiety around the idea of borrowing.

Credit financing to obtain working capital doesn’t have to frighten the heck out of you.  At Aurora Consulting, we understand the worries that come along with borrowing money: “What if there’s a downturn in my business and I cannot repay this loan?”

Especially after the global meltdown and subsequent recession of a dozen years ago, lingering fears and doubts remain laced through our economy and our economic thinking like clogged drainpipes during a sudden torrential downpour.  The water has to move, and move quickly, but the remnants of various and miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam are jamming up the pipes and the rainwater backs up causing all kinds of other problems.

The same is true of these lingering doubts about borrowing money.  Credit can be a good thing and nothing to be fearful of when approached sensibly and when the credit terms are incorporated into your business planning.

Still, these worries hang on.

We’ve come up with the concept of 3 important business metrics you can keep an eye on after you’ve borrowed that needed working capital.

Remaining vigilant on these metrics can help you avoid a sudden negative revenue issue which could lead to default on credit obligations.  While it may seem obvious to you that these are the metrics ANY business should constantly monitor for maintaining profitability and continuing growth, as with all advice and observations we provide from Aurora Consulting, our real-world experiences demonstrate these ideas are not so obvious to every business owner.

What is obvious is worry and anxiety.  Thus, our presentation of these not-so-revolutionary-ideas.

  1. Profit margins: pricing and expenses
  2. ROI: products/marketing plans/infrastructure/product development
  3. Customer Retention/Construction

Monitor these important metrics by maintaining your financial reporting to the most current and efficient methods.   We often see businesses with financial statements such as P&Ls and cashflow statements that are not up to date.

A balance sheet isn’t just for your CPA to use when you’re filing your tax return!

And the ever important marketing and business plans?  Wow, we are constantly shocked when we request these vital documents from our clients to include in a financing request package only to be told they don’t have one!

Creating and maintaining these financial reporting documents is incredibly easy with the sophisticated computer applications available, even for your smartphone!

Making the time to check  in with them is another thing altogether.  We sometimes feel as if our clients present us with financial statements and they haven’t reviewed them, recently, or ever.

That’s why we suggest you at the very least monitor these three important metrics on a constant and vigilant basis. WHY?

First, it’s good for the overall health of your business.
Second, you will find you can anticipate challenges and successes before they arise.
Third, you can plan for those challenges and successes well in advance and avoid nasty surprises and cashflow chokeholds.

Finally, and best of all, you can lower or maybe even eliminate altogether your anxiety and fears of credit financing capital to grow your business.

REACH OUT to us and ask us anything whether you agree or disagree. We would love to hear of the “fly by the seat of your pants” stories too!

You Want to Repair Your Credit

We want you to have peace of mind that, should you need to apply for business financing, you’ll be prepared to keep your business going through this or any unexpected crisis.

If you are considering business financing in the future, or simply want to know what to do and how to go about applying for business financing, Aurora Consulting offers a flat fee consultation to help navigate the bumpy road, the treacherous waters of financing.

We review all aspects of what’s required in a loan application including your credit report, financial statements, business plan and marketing plan. We review with you items in your credit report and what happens when you try to repair your credit.

Our consultation includes a credit report with real credit scores from Equifax and Experian.  These are the “Classic FICO” scores only available to financial services institutions.  These scores can be radically different from the scores available to consumers.

When we run the credit report, we assess any challenges that could affect your loan application in the future.  More importantly, we’ll give you the correct advice, based on decades of experience in lending and based on current experience working successfully with Lenders on business loan applications, to address any challenges on your credit report.

What makes us crazy is when a new prospective client says, “I’m holding off for now because I want to take care of my credit report.”

There is no way a business owner can know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable to a Bank for business financing.
We can, and we do know.

Worse, in our experience, more often than not, people take actions to “take care” of their credit that actually does not help them in the business loan process. Sometimes, what they think they’re doing to help, makes their credit worse!

4 things NOT to do with your credit report:

  1. Don’t pay off Collection or Charge Offs or Judgments. Many times these accounts don’t affect a loan approval depending on type of account and amount.  Plus paying these accounts off can lower your credit score dramatically.
  2. Don’t pay down credit card balances.  You may pay down the balance to a level that seems worthy, but actually could have a negative effect on your score.
  3. Don’t pay credit card balances to zero.  If an account has a zero balance, the credit scoring system has nothing to score!
  4. NEVER pay anyone to “repair” or “restore” your credit. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you’re paying for something you can do yourself. And the “guarantees” these companies offer often fail to materialize. Read this article for credit repair scams.

EMAIL NOW if you want to explore how your credit could impact your financing.

Download our EBOOK on how to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy. This information was curated after 30 years of reading thousands of credit reports.

Tough Questions from Lenders

The good news is that Banks and Lenders are opening up their coffers to provide business credit financing. The other news, that’s more anticipated than “bad,” is these Banks want business owners to answer some tough questions about preparedness for further pandemic-related challenges.

If you are applying for business financing—a loan or line of credit—that’s not Disaster Relief-related, here’s a sample from one of our Bankers on what to expect:

  • How has your business been impacted throughout the crisis?
  • How have you and your employees been affected? Your suppliers? Your customers?
  • What are your key priorities over the next 30/60/90 days?
  • How do you anticipate accomplishing these goals? What hurdles do you anticipate?

To achieve a successful response to your application, you should answer these questions with all appropriate gravitas and extreme detail.

  • The Bank wants to know that, should the pandemic-related lockdowns get tighter:
  • How have you planned to get through that?
  • Do you have cash reserves?
  • An employee-furlough action plan?
  • Do you have the ability to provide your services or products with a serious downturn in customer traffic (think early days of lockdown)?

Banks make loan decisions by assessing the risk on the credit profile of the Borrower. As with any aspect of a loan application, the COVID-19 pandemic has created another layer of risk for Banks. Your successful loan application will take that risk assessment into account as you prepare your application for submission by anticipating how to make a Bank/Lender get into a “comfort zone” about your ability to make payments on the loan as other challenges from the pandemic arise.

Reach out to discuss if your answers to these aforementioned questions would suffice. We are your advocate in the process.

Email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz.

Short-Term Solutions for Long-Term Goals

There are two scenarios that some business owners take when starting and maintaining their business.

First, no debt.  These businesses were started with savings and/or investments from the business owners.  These businesses fund daily and annual operations costs with money generated from the profits of the business.  These business owners most often do not like the concept of credit debt, or, worse, have a severe anxiety about the idea of borrowing money to run their business.

Second, belief in debt.  Using debt in the form of credit financing is a reliable source of capital for starting and running a business when the concept is applied with smart planning. These business owners understand that obtaining capital to start or grow a business from a bank loan or other financing source can be a great way to preserve existing profits and working capital, and also a viable option to find the money needed on a larger scale.

Pandemic Panic financing such as disaster relief loans, SBA economic injury disaster loans (EIDL) and paycheck protection program (PPP) loans due to the COVID-19 crisis is a type of credit financing that, in most all cases, could be a band-aid on a gaping wound.

Longer term financial considerations, as your business strives to come through the crisis and survive on the other side, it’s important to consider other types of credit financing to help you obtain the working capital you need.  We’re exploring many different options for our clients.  One of those options is Asset-Based Lending, specifically, .

This is an excellent option for a business with valuable and well-performing Accounts Receivable to obtain quick sources of working capital to assist through this crisis.  The Factor Financing Lender works hand in hand with you and your business team to create a system where your customers invoices are assigned to the Lender.

For a very reasonable cost, you can obtain immediate access to the cash value of that invoice practically as soon as you send it out to your customer.  This quick access to capital dramatically improves your Cash Flow situation, helping to make you stronger on a daily basis to survive and thrive through this crisis.

Factor Financing Lenders vary in their criteria for the types of businesses and types of receivables they prefer.  We’ve assembled a healthy matrix of different types of Factor Financing Lenders to provide you with an array of financing options for your business to help you through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curious? We are here to answer your questions about this type of financing. Email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz.

 

The Deal Closes When It Closes

Video Thumbnail with YouTube Logo that says "Have Patience with the Process"
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Trevor worked many years ago with a top producing loan officer at a mortgage Bank. This top-producer brought in a lot of business and Trevor was the new kid on the block climbing the ladder, building his business.

In his travels, Trevor met a local real estate attorney who could potentially refer business. Trevor had been working with that attorney on a home purchase transaction. The attorney said, “Oh, no, that’s where you work? I’ll never do business with your company because so-and-so is a nightmare and your company is a nightmare.”

That other top-producing loan officer had a terrible reputation. This loan officer had a bad habit of not responding to anybody’s phone calls inquiring asking, “What’s going on with the deal? When is it closing?”  He simply did not answer phone calls.

This was in the days before email, the days of beepers and telephones and he simply did not respond to anyone. The attorney told Trevor, “I beep this guy all the time, he never calls me back. I guess your company is just slow to get things done that’s why he doesn’t respond. Why should I expect you’d be any different?”

So when Trevor confronted his fellow loan officer about this complaint, his response was very laid back.  He said, “I have one philosophy. The deal closes when it closes.”

WOW. He made Trevor and the entire company look bad.

On the positive side of the story, he kind of wasn’t wrong because there is a process to getting a loan approved and closed. The fact that he was a terrible communicator is a different issue entirely; he never spent any time communicating to manage expectations.

We did a video on managing expectations, emphasizing follow up. Sometimes the timeline to close can really be a bit much, and especially with how many people are involved in the loan process.

We’re working now on a business acquisition deal, and the sellers were involved. They just could not get their head around what was needed, even after the loan was approved, and they knew the Lender was going to do this deal.

Their responses to requests for documents through the entire process were, “Why this? Why that?”  Week after week, all they did was push back. The Seller’s  attitude was constantly to fight the process.  Then, when they’d actually submit a document at 10 a.m. in the morning, they’d follow up by sending an email at 1:30 in the afternoon, “So when are we closing?”

This is not really understanding the loan process either.

So, to take that “top-producer-bad-communicator’s” phrase and reconfigure it,  “The deal closes when it closes.”

There is a real process to achieving the loan approval and getting to the closing. As  long as all parties are communicating and cooperating, it will close in a reasonable time, but it doesn’t mean it’s closing in 10 minutes.  Communication and cooperation, those are key elements.

For our part, we maintain clear communications. As often as this particular seller was impatient, we still kept a clear head and kept our communications positive, responded accordingly.  Ultimately, we got what we wanted from the seller in the way of documents we needed.

We did another video describing how the lender reviews everything. If you spend so much time asking, “Why?” And spending so

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much energy fighting the process when you could have gotten what was needed to expedite the process.

With this particular seller it was constantly “When are we closing?” and, “Where’s my money?”

We understand how financial professionals can get jaded. Someone like the former colleague in the industry can say to themselves, “Okay, I’m kind of exhausted with these calls.”  And they shut down because they know the deal will close when it closes.

People can get upset about the process, but when all is said and done, if there’s clear communication, you have to understand the process and you have to be patient.

The Lender Reviews Everything

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When you apply for financing and your tax returns and/or personal financial statement shows that you have interests in other businesses or property, the lender will want to review the financials on those other businesses.

When it comes down to it, the Lender has the right to ask for this information.

The question from our client is often, “Why is this germane to my financing request for my business?  That other business has nothing to do with the business I’m financing.”

While this may be true, remember that you’re asking the lender to assess the risk of lending money to you and to your business (the one on the application), and if there are negative aspects to your other businesses that affect the financial health of this business, the lender wants to assess that risk.

The good news is that you can control the narrative to an extent. Describe what the other business is via a summary statement and how it interacts with the business you are financing.  Especially with regards to debt.

There’s nothing wrong with full disclosure.  Get it out of the way upfront. Don’t wait for the Lender to ask for it.

Understand why the Lender wants that information instead of fighting the request.

The Lender has the right to ask these questions.  Pushing back is okay, as long as you do so in a gentle fashion.  In the end, it’s about achieving your goal of obtaining the financing you need to grow your business with the least muss and fuss as possible.

Contact with questions about the most important documents to have in order at all times. Solutions@AuroraConsulting.biz.

It Can Happen That Fast

We’re famous here at Aurora Consulting for the phrase, “Growth sneaks up on you!”  We’ve written a blog about it and have done a few videos where this notion comes into focus as the reason we are doing the video in the first place.

Even the best-prepared, most-organized, super-efficient Business Owner can find themselves with a new client who’s blowing up the revenue to extraordinary levels, or new orders for products and services that far exceed previous orders and expectations.

We like to say, “One Vehicle leads to 20 Vehicles.”
It can happen that fast.

We believe in your business success story.  You are putting in the effort every single day to grow your revenue and live the business life of your dreams.  That’s why we also believe that your financial services relationships today are so vital to your business growth tomorrow.

Begin with your Banker relationship.  It’s not enough that you know your Business Banker’s cell number; she has to answer it when you need her.   It’s not enough that she promises to get it done; RESULTS are the only thing worth talking about.   

Both these items are great metrics to help you understand if your Business Banker puts as much value in your relationship as you do.   If your Banker is meeting these basic standards, then you’re in good hands.  If not, then you should reconsider your banking relationships.

Along the lines of your relationships is thinking about future credit financing. We heartily recommend you invest some time at least once a year, if not more often, to sit down with your Business Banker and review your business’ financials.  You want to know if you are positioning yourself in the most favorable way possible to apply and be approved for credit financing when you need to grow from ONE vehicle to 20 vehicles.

Some Business Owners fear exposing their financials to their Banker.  Maybe the fear surrounds the Banker questioning the Bank’s commitment to your relationship.   We have found the opposite to be true for one reason.  

Your Banker’s commitment to you is driven by the motivation to maintain and grow your banking relationships with the Bank.  When we say relationships, we mean bank accounts.  Bankers are driven to grow depository relationships.  That’s their goal.  And once they have your business, they want to grow it and make sure you stay with them.

Reviewing your financials with your Banker can only further the Bank’s confidence in you and your business.  And it may provide you with cogent advice and knowledge that will help you prepare for that moment when you need 19 more vehicles.

At Aurora Consulting, we are Brokers. We work for you, not for the Bank.  And we know the tolerances that Lenders have for financing businesses on a growth trajectory.  

We understand the Underwriting guidelines and how your business financials fit into those “boxes” at different Banking institutions. We’re happy to review your financials too and prepare you for the eventuality you’ll need credit financing for more vehicles.

Email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz to chat more about how you can proactively position yourself for future financing.

3 Types of Financing for Your Commercial Property Purchase

There are three types of financing for the purchase of a Commercial property.  At Aurora Business Consulting, we act as your Broker for the first two types of financing to place your loan request with the right Lender.  In the third type of financing, Aurora Business Consulting works as a Fee-Consultant to assist in negotiating your financing package.

TRADITIONAL COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE

The tried and true traditional method of financing for a Commercial mortgage can be the most favorable for a Borrower regarding rates and terms.  This method of financing can also be the most challenging.

For a traditional commercial mortgage, the Lender will require a minimum down payment of 25%.  You should be prepared for a larger down payment once the loan is well along in the processing.  More on that below.

The Lender in this type of financing also requires more documentation from you, the Borrower, and from the property you are purchasing.  This documentation runs the gamut from Bank Statements to tax returns, and any business documents for the Borrower’s business the Lender deems necessary.  For the property, a detailed Income and Expense statement is required.  If the property is a rental property with residential tenants subject to local municipal housing agency regulations, the Lender will require the appropriate documentation from any and all housing agencies involved in regulating the residential rentals.

The “traditional” commercial Lender appraises the property based not on market value, but rather on a calculation unique to each Lender to determine the Lender’s exposure to risk based on the Net Operating Income for the property.  Net Operating Income (NOI) is calculated from Gross rental income and a detailed ledger of expenses.  This valuation method can often lead to a final appraisal value lower than the purchase price and market value of the property.  Traditional Lenders use this method as a way of reducing risk exposure.  Therefore, you’ll want to be prepared to make a larger down payment at closing due to the Lender’s appraisal potentially being less than the purchase price AND the Lender’s criteria of lending no more than 75% of the appraised value of the property.

When we at Aurora Business Consulting prequalify you for a purchase, we look to qualify you first and foremost under the traditional lending method.

NON-TRADITIONAL COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE

A vibrant market exists of Lenders willing to lend on commercial properties with criteria more flexible and liberal in the risk-tolerance than traditional Lenders.  Rates and terms with these Lenders are frequently higher than what a Borrower would pay with a traditional Lender.  But the opportunity to find financing in this arena is substantially improved due to the more flexible criteria.

Examples of the flexibility in the Non-Traditional Lending field include:

-Lower down payment requirements: as low as 10% down payment.

-Quick documentation/reduced documentation requirements: for example, a cash-flow analysis of a Borrower’s bank statements over 12 or 24 months as an alternative verification method from tax returns.

-Credit Scores. Non-Traditional Lenders can have a better appetite for lower credit scores.

Aurora Business Consulting created relationships with many Non-Traditional Lenders so as to always provide our clients with access to credit for their Commercial property purchases and financing.

SELLER FINANCING

Many purchasers of commercial properties often cannot qualify for loans, either through the Traditional or Non-Traditional lending channels.  The reasons for not qualifying are many and varied and may include the Borrower’s personal qualification criteria such as down payment, credit or income.  In other instances, the property being purchased may not qualify for Lender financing of any sort.

These purchasers can often negotiate with a property-Seller to “self-finance” a property purchase.  In this instance, the Seller holds a note from the Purchaser.  A mortgage is created and the appropriate lien is filed against the property.  The Purchaser/Borrower will make a down payment and then make monthly payments to the Seller, usually for a short term of anywhere from 3-7 years.  Typically the Purchaser/Borrower will then refinance that loan into either a Traditional or Non-Traditional mortgage after building sufficient qualifications.

Negotiating such a unique financing package can be complicated.  Aurora Business Consulting acts as a consultant to provide advice and guidance to Purchasers and Sellers in completing just such Seller take-back financing.

Contact us for more info on how you can get started with your commercial property purchase.