Who is Really Getting a Merchant Cash Advance?
You’ve seen ads like it before: “Get up to $250,000 for your small business today!”
For the local corner deli, that kind of cash may seem too good to pass up. There’s just one catch, many Merchant Cash Advance(MCA) providers cap funding approvals at somewhere in the range of 125% of a business’s monthly credit card processing volume. That means a deli processing $10,000 would be eligible for up to $12,500. ‘Mom and pop’ shops are often left wondering if anyone could ever really get $250,000 or if that figure is just a deceptive marketing gimmick.
The Merchant Cash Advance Resource would like business owners to know that $250,000 is not only possible, but deals of this size and larger are made often. The typical recipients are retail chains and restaurant franchises, but any business generating enough volume in credit/debit card sales is eligible. If there was any doubt about the popularity or legitimacy of the MCA financial product, take a look at some franchise names that have used it:
- Burger King
- Domino’s Pizza
- Dunkin Donuts
- Taco Bell
- Meineke Car Care
- Aamco Transmissions
- Curves Fitness
This data was confirmed by researching UCC filings on AdvanceMe, Strategic Funding Source, Merchant Cash and Capital, First Funds, and Business Financial Services.
Every funding provider is not created equal. Some of the oldest players such as AdvanceMe, Merchant Cash and Capital, and Strategic Funding Source are capitalized well enough to do deals up to $1,000,000. Other firms specifically seek out larger businesses such as Bankcard Funding in Long Island, New York. According to a representative there, their average funded deal is $100,000. Others have a comfort range of $5,000 to $75,000 but will bring in outside investors if they need to go beyond that.
Merchant Cash Advance is not just for smaller businesses, nor is it a last resort source of capital. It is an established alternative to bank lending that offers incredibly flexible repayment terms. Despite the benefits, a MCA still has a reputation for being expensive. While we don’t dispute that, we do recognize the need for it. Unlike SBA loans which can carry default guarantees up to 90%, MCA’s are completely backed by private investors. There are no billions of dollars to fall back on, government backed guarantees, or bailouts when things turn ugly.
Over the past few years, some MCA firms simply weren’t able to generate enough profit and closed as a result. In the case of Global Swift Funding(GSF), a MCA provider that dissolved back in 2009, the return on investment simply did not prepare them for the loss they would realize from a very important client.
John Gantes, formerly one of the richest Men in Orange County, California owned 110 restaurants throughout the western part of the U.S. As the economy turned sour, he reportedly started loading up on Merchant Cash Advance funding for each location. In the end GSF cried foul, but they could not sustain operations further.
There is risk on both sides of the equation. A MCA is not for businesses on the fritz, but rather is a tool to acquire inventory, new locations, upgrade equipment, get through a slow season, and grow. While much hype surrounds the minimal paperwork requirements for MCA, businesses seeking in excess of $100,000 should expect a more intensive underwriting process.
“Have detailed financial statements handy and expect some scrutiny of the Balance Sheet,” was advice offered by one underwriter. “We’re going to want to make sure you are using these funds for the right reasons.”
And yet the MCA industry stands by their mantra of making capital accessible to all. With funding amounts reportedly as low as $1,000, and more than 21,000 individual advances made in 2010 alone, there is really no better time for a small business owner to apply.
The funds are there but it’s important to set your own expectations of how much you can access. The corner deli should be able to put $12,500 to good use. Our experience shows that positive sales activity will probably make the funding provider more comfortable to extend a larger amount to you down the road. I think we’d all like to get $250,000 today but in the absence of government backed guarantees, a tumultuous economy, and jittery investors, you’ll need to get your foot in the door first and work your way up.
-The Merchant Cash Advance Resource
Images Copyright (c) of 123RF Stock PhotosLast modified: February 21, 2013
Sean Murray is the President and Chief Editor of deBanked and the founder of the Broker Fair Conference. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter. You can view all future deBanked events here.