Stop Being A Sub-Broker

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The post below is the opinion of John Tucker of 1st Capital Loans

stopIn an industry with increasing competitive forces putting downward pressures on offer pricing, while simultaneously driving up demand for particular marketing channels (like SEO and quality data) which increases marketing costs, we are seeing massive downward pressures on profits. With this phenomenon occurring, you would have to wonder why in the world would anyone continually operate as a sub-broker today (willingly)? Are there any particular benefits to this, or is it just flat out non-sense? I wanted to explore this topic head on as we wrap up The Year Of The Broker.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE TIME, IT MAKES LITERALLY NO SENSE

There are times when I believe being a sub-broker makes some level of sense, but in my opinion those times (looking at our industry specifically) are very rare and most of the time being a sub-broker makes literally no sense based on the setup. The usual setup for a sub-broker is the same as a broker, which means you are going to be required to go out and spend money on marketing or other forms of lead generation to attract applicants.

Once you get those applications, you would forward them to the brokerage house so they can “close” the deal. A lot of sub-brokers believe this is some sort of grandiose deal, allowing them to as they say “free up time” to do other things. But this line of thinking makes literally no sense, because you have already done 98% of the work, which in our industry is just the consistent generation of high quality leads. Once you have done that and are doing that consistently, emailing the package over to a funder and chasing paperwork is the easiest part.

Why would you take only 25% – 50% of the commission structured on a deal, as well as most likely lose your ongoing renewal compensation, when you can instead take 100% of the commission, control your renewal portfolio and make renewal compensation going forward, which is the lifeblood of our industry?

LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES

Sub-brokers need to stop falling for the lies of larger brokerage houses which include the following:

“We are closers, you aren’t a closer, so let us handle it!”

This is rubbish. In our industry we don’t close, we are match-makers. The merchant comes to us looking for working capital, we pre-qualify their current standing and recommend a potential solution. If the merchant disagrees with the potential solution and we have nothing else that would work, the discussion ends. If the merchant agrees to the estimates and the product overview, we collect an application package to submit it to the funder that we believe can do an appropriately-priced deal. As long as we can get approval inline with expectations, everything moves forward on its own accord.

“We have access to special underwriting, platforms and pricing that you don’t have access to!”

More rubbish. When lenders get an A-paper deal, they give you A-paper quotes. When they get a B/C-paper deal, you get B/C-paper quotes. Look to establish a good relationship with a funder/lender. Let them know upfront that you are a small office so a smaller amount of volume will be coming through you. As long as you don’t have a high default rate, you will have access to the same systems, underwriters, base pricing, and innovative products of the funder/lender that the larger brokerage House has.

“We have access to special industry knowledge that you don’t have access to!”

More rubbish. With sources like deBanked and other popular forums, the industry has been exposed. Everything you need to know, learn and be trained on has been covered. Also the assortment of direct funder and lender blogs/websites, media publications, and all of the like covering the industry, there’s no special industry knowledge that you can’t go out and attain on your own.

YOU MIGHT NOT EVEN GET PAID

Being a sub-broker might put you in a position of not even getting paid on new deal revenue as promised, as the large (or more experienced) brokerage is fully aware of your inability to truly challenge them legally or professionally.

  • Sue If You Want, It Won’t Make A Difference: You can sue the broker for the $5,000 or so that they didn’t pay you on a couple new deals in Small Claims Court. But even though you can obtain a judgment, collecting on that judgment will be nearly impossible.
  • Complain Online If You Want, It Won’t Make A Difference: You can also choose to damage their reputation online through posting various negative reviews, but do you think they will care? Go on the RipOffReport all you want, the largest merchant processing ISOs are all over those reports and that doesn’t do anything to stop their growth. The organizations getting these negative reviews will just say, “we serve thousands of clients and when you are as large as us, you are bound to have unhappy customers.” And that’s exactly what the brokerage house will say to their prospective merchants who bring up these negative review listings that you made.

BUT DOES BEING A SUB-BROKER “SOMETIMES” MAKE SENSE?

On very rare occasions do I believe being a sub-broker makes sense, and it includes if there’s some sort of initial training period and if the larger brokerage has significant marketing competitive advantages.

Training

So if you have zero experience, can’t spell Merchant Cash Advance, and believe you could benefit from a 6 month period with an established broker to show you the ropes, then being a sub-broker for a short period of time could make sense. However, I still believe that with the industry being exposed the way it is, you can train yourself and have to deal with insane non-compete agreements.

Marketing Competitive Advantages

So as a small shop, your marketing budget might be limited to $1k a month, whereas the larger brokerage is spending $20k a month and in a perfect world, might give you a deal where you can work with them without being required to generate your own leads.

They’ll claim to supply everything in terms of your dialer and warm leads, with funder networks already established. So all you have to do is come in, sit down, pick up the telephone, and sell all day to the warm leads coming in from their $20k in marketing. You don’t have to do any cold-calling. So you might be getting 50 leads a week that you convert to 12 applications, which you then convert to 4 new deals. If the average funding is $30k, then that’s $120k in funding with let’s say an average 6% commission that you would split 50/50 (3%/3%), giving you $3,600 per week which is $14,400 per month.

But we don’t live in a perfect world, now do we? Do you honestly believe the structure will be established as promoted? Such as more and more of the 50 leads you receive per week turn into mainly start-ups that don’t qualify for anything. Or, most weeks you don’t receive any warm leads at all, and are required to call UCCs, aged leads, or random listings out of the Yellow Pages, which are all horrible marketing mediums.

EITHER YOU GET IN ALL OF THE WAY, OR MAYBE YOU SHOULD GET OUT

If you are going to be in this industry, then properly set up your office, marketing plan, business plan, funder network and work your own deals. Get 100% of commission structured on new deals and control your renewal portfolio (the lifeblood of our business). If you are going to operate as a sub-broker, for the most part you are going to get a raw deal as we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world full of inefficiencies, “rah-rah” sales motivational speeches, and promises that don’t get kept.

Last modified: December 10, 2015
John TuckerJohn Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in Accounting, Business Management and Journalism. Tucker has nearly 9 years of professional experience in Commercial Finance and B2B Sales. Connect with Tucker on LinkedIn by clicking (here), or contact Tucker at Tucker@1stCapitalLoans.com or at 586-480-2140.

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