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Hidden Benefits of Customer Financing for Manufacturers

Written by Patrick Kuhn, Vice President - Credit Operations - Equipment Finance

I’m sure you’re aware of the school of thought around specialization — be the very best you can be at one specific thing. How successful was Michael Jordan at baseball, anyway? In fact, we preach this about First Business: we are not a bank for all businesses or all individuals. Many successful manufacturers narrow their focus, create a reputation, build a brand, invest in technology, and are very successful.

pkuhnHowever, there’s still room within that business model to consider lucrative opportunities, even if they might feel like a bit of a stretch. Specifically, we’ve helped manufacturers boost their profits significantly by helping them with the sales and financing side of the business. Recently, changes in tax rates, bonus depreciation, and leasing accounting standards make it a very good idea for many manufacturers to consider it.

Manufacturers often overlook the potential to differentiate themselves with their customers by remaining present in the financing process. The key is knowing each of your customer’s short- and long-term goals and tailoring the financing to them. Who would not like this level of service in any large transaction?

Represent Yourself & Your Customers

Say you make backhoes, and you have a potential buyer — a construction company. That company goes to a dealer to arrange pricing of the sale and goes to a bank to secure financing. The dealer and the bank actually work against your best interests as they each maximize their end. Staying in the game creates a favorable situation in which the dealer and the lender are working with you.

But playing a role in the financing process creates a better buying experience for the construction company with a financial package tailored to its unique needs.

Customer Financing

If you’re still not convinced, you can do your own research. Ask your customers whether or not they enjoy negotiating separately the terms of purchase with the supplier and the financial terms with the lender. You likely will get answers across the board: there’s no consensus about the smartest way to finance, primarily because each customer has a unique set of financial conditions and goals.

For example, if a family-owned company wants to sell within the next ten years, its financing desires are very different from one that is growing as fast as possible. When you get to each customer’s underlying financial needs, that information is crucial to helping you generate incremental sales and promoting loyalty. It’s highly unlikely that your competitors are trying to match the lifetime acquisition cost for a purchase with their prospective customer’s financial needs.

If this sounds intriguing, or if you already offer financing but are interested in other options, consider attending our panel discussion at Manufacturing First: “Fast-Track Your Company’s Growth with Customer Financing Strategies – A National Manufacturer Panel Discussion.” It could just hold the future to your earnings growth in 2019.

If you can’t make it, reach out to me to talk about how your specific company can benefit. And don’t forget that you’re also often a customer – you could be working with a manufacturer who could better represent your needs through customized financing solutions.

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