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Finance Your Way to Stability & Growth

15 Oct, 2008 By: Fred Carollo imageSource

Finance Your Way to Stability & Growth

Cucco likes to pick up the phone and call his dealership’s finance partner,
knowing he’ll speak to a real person and get a deal done and paid for, all in
about 24 hours time. Cucco is president of Impact Networking, LLC, a
multi-faceted print management firm with eight locations in and around Chicago.
And his confidence in making such a call stems from five years of experience
with the same equipment leasing and finance company.

 “Most dealers see their leasing company as an adversary, but I see them as a
partner,” says Cucco. “Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.”

What Impact Networking does is offer customers in three states a broad range
of products and services in six different image-related areas. From creative
services, such as web site design, to document management services that include
scanning, archiving and reorganizing docs, Impact Networking specializes in
providing its clients with state-of-the-art imaging technology and expertise.
The company has grown in nine years from a humble start-up dealership to a
Midwestern dynamo that is on track to do between $35 and $40 million in business
in 2008.

Customers in Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois use Impact as a one-stop shop,
not only to provide imaging equipment and services, but also to network
telecommunications and digital office equipment together, wrapping the entire
system around a customer’s strategic services. “We’re not talking about selling
a copier,” says Cucco, “we’re talking about providing a complete program in
which each component works seamlessly with the others.”

Cash Mgmt

At a time when many dealerships are struggling to keep pace with 2007
revenues, Impact is doing a lot more than breaking even with revenues increasing
by a whopping 40% every year since the company opened its doors in 1999. One
factor is Impact’s close relationship with its finance company.  Says Cucco,
“The number-one thing they do for us is to provide cash flow quickly.” He took
time at the start of the relationship to explain in detail his company’s
operations, goals, products & services, and day-to-day cash flow needs, wanting
to understand what his finance company needed so as to sustain a mutually
effective partnership.

“Now we know the people there, and we know what they can and can’t do for us,
because they tell us,” says Cucco. When it comes to your operations, a good
finance company should understand your business and your customer’s needs to
help you sell more.  They should offer finance programs to your customers that
are flexible and tailored to their particular business needs.

Enhanced Customer Service

When your reps tells a customer that his equipment will be funded &
delivered on Monday, you need to ensure your financing arm will pay you just as
quickly. Cash flow stability depends on being paid quickly for the goods you

By the same token, if a financing problem or question arises, you should also
be able to reach your finance company and receive an immediate response. But
this can only happen when the employees of your finance firm are empowered to
make decisions that result in solutions today, not tomorrow or next week. In the
event a customer transaction encounters difficulties, you should have confidence
that your finance partner is as committed to getting the deal done as you are,
and will work as long as necessary to complete it at the terms agreed to. “This
is important in this competitive market,” notes Cucco, “as the faster you can
get back to the customer, the better off you are.”

Cucco is right, because turnaround within 24 hours, from a transaction’s
start to its finish, makes for satisfied customers. And satisfied customers tell
others about their positive experience, generating more business for you. The
upshot: If it takes you days to get a credit decision or your money, find
another finance firm.

Your finance firm should also be able to provide flexible customer sales
promotions and private-label programs that build your brand, not theirs. And it
should notify you when one of your customers requests a lease buyout or
termination. This gives you the opportunity to reach out and be the first in
line for a potential sale.

A good partner should be attentive to your changing needs as a dealer and act
quickly to fulfill them. Do you want to offer customers cost-per-page financing?
Your partner should be able to provide it. Do you need an Internet portal to
facilitate online financing? Your finance company may have one your company can
use as its own to help manage business and collaborate with your customers. Do
you want your clients to be able to lease software? Ask your finance firm. If
they’re listening, they may have solutions available or in the works.

Flexibility in Finance Programs

Your finance partner should be able to adjust certain terms in your
customer’s program or switch them to another program if their business needs
change. Upgrading a loan to a lease, for example, may lower your customer’s
monthly payments on some or all of their equipment. In addition to lower
payments, leases can include provisions for replacing or upgrading specific
equipment on a regular basis to keep your customer’s company abreast of
technology. Your finance partner should be able to provide either a master lease
or individual leases for all of the equipment in your customer’s locations. By
discussing your customer’s business plan with your finance company, you may
uncover numerous opportunities for affordable financing that you didn’t know

Finding a Good Finance Company

But how do you find a finance partner willing to work with you closely
enough to truly understand your needs and present innovative solutions?  Many
finance companies specialize in lending and leasing to various industries, and
the print and imaging business is one. Frank Cucco’s finance firm, for example,
specializes in helping imaging firms and is an active participant in the
industry. Just as Impact Networking sponsors educational events for its
customers/prospects, its finance firm sponsors an annual conference for printing
and imaging companies. National dealers attend and share best practices on
cost-per-page, automation, expansion into new services and products, etc.

To choose a finance partner, start by interviewing several firms and get to
know their representatives. Explain how your company operates, its mission and
goals, and the specific financing needs you have now and expect to have in the
future.  Are you interested only in providing customer financing? Do you plan to
grow by opening additional locations, by acquiring other dealerships, or both?
By preparing a finance company for your firm’s business retention and growth,
you help its experts understand how to help you best!

Fred Carollo is General Manager, Office Equipment and Technology, at U.S.
Express Leasing, Inc., Parsippany, N.J., a Tygris Commercial Finance Company.


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