Business Loans & Other Financing Options For Wholesale Distribution Companies
Wholesale distributors play a critical role in the retail supply chain. It is crucial for a wholesale distributing business to be a well-oiled machine: storing manufacturers’ products, then shipping them as needed to retailers, which then sell these products to customers. If the wholesale distributor fails in its critical tasks, retailers won’t have the products they need, leading to many unhappy customers.
Like it is for other businesses, one of the most important resources for the success of a wholesale distribution company is capital. Heavy equipment, warehouse space, and inventory requirements are just a few of the big expenses these companies face. Incoming cash flows certainly help fund day-to-day operations, but what happens when more capital is needed than is readily available in your checking account?
If you’re running short on funds, a business loan can help. Before signing the dotted line for a loan, read on to explore the different types of financing available to you, which options are best for your situation, and how to kick-off the application process.
|Financing Need||Best Loan Type||Recommended Lender|
|Purchasing Equipment||Equipment Financing||Lendio|
|Business Expansion||SBA Loan||SmartBiz|
|Purchasing Inventory||Line Of Credit||Kabbage|
|Cash Shortages||Invoice Financing||BlueVine|
|Emergency Funding||Business Credit Card||Chase Ink Business Unlimited|
Table of Contents
- Why Take Out A Loan For A Wholesale Distribution Business?
- Purchasing Equipment
- Business Expansion
- Purchasing Inventory
- Cash Shortages
- Emergency Funding
- The Best Loan Options For Starting A Distribution Business
- What To Consider When Choosing A Lender
- What You’ll Need To Apply For A Wholesale Distribution Loan
- Final Thoughts
Why Take Out A Loan For A Wholesale Distribution Business?
If you’re in the wholesale distribution business, you may be familiar with situations where you’re running a little short on cash. Whether your business is booming and you need to expand your facilities or your bank account is too low to purchase inventory for a seasonal uptick, there will be times when you need extra money.
With a business loan, you’ll receive the money you need right away with the benefit of being able to pay it back over time. Since there are many different types of loans, the type you choose should be based on the unique financial needs of your business.
As a wholesale distribution company, your business is reliant upon heavy equipment. From forklifts and pallet jacks that are used in your warehouse to delivery vehicles, software, and mailing systems, your business requires equipment to be efficient. Unfortunately, this equipment doesn’t come cheap.
Whether you’re updating your equipment or adding new equipment as part of your expansion, make these large purchases more affordable for your business by applying for equipment financing.
Equipment financing is a type of funding that is used for the purchase of equipment. Instead of paying the full cost up front, you’ll pay a smaller down payment — typically 10% to 20% of the equipment’s cost — and be able to put the equipment into use immediately. You’ll make payments on a scheduled basis to your lender on the balance of the loan. Interest is also charged by the lender for providing the service. The equipment purchased with loan proceeds is the collateral for this type of financing.
There are two main types of equipment financing to consider: equipment loans and equipment leases. With an equipment loan, you’ll make a down payment, followed by regularly scheduled payments. At the end of the repayment term, you take ownership of the equipment. At this time, the equipment is yours to keep, sell, or trade. You own it free and clear.
With an equipment lease, you may also pay a down payment, although it’s typically lower than the down payment required with an equipment loan. You’ll make regular payments for the duration of the lease, which is typically around 2 years. Once your lease is over, you return the equipment and upgrade with a new lease, or you may have the option to pay a lump sum to take ownership of the equipment. While you’re essentially “renting” the equipment, a lease may be a consideration if you want a lower down payment or if you upgrade your equipment frequently.
Credit and revenue requirements vary by lender, but borrowers with solid credit histories and strong businesses qualify for the lowest rates, best terms, and lower down payments.
Recommended Option: Lendio
Lendio isn’t a direct lender. This loan aggregator allows you to submit just one application to connect with multiple lenders, so you can shop for a loan more efficiently. Through Lendio, you’ll find the most affordable equipment loan for your situation.
Lendio offers access to equipment loans from $5,000 to $5 million. Loan terms are spread out over 1 to 5 years, with interest rates as low as 7.5% for the most qualified borrowers.
To qualify, you must be in business for at least 1 year, have a minimum annual revenue of $50,000, and a personal credit score of at least 650. If your credit score doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, you may qualify based on your cash flow and revenue over the last 3 to 6 months.
Expansion is a good sign — it means that your business is growing. The drawback, however, is that expanding your business takes money, and you may be stalling because you don’t have the funds. When your business is ready to grow, follow the lead of other smart business owners by applying for a Small Business Administration loan.
The Small Business Administration, or SBA, has loan programs to provide affordable, flexible financing for businesses that encounter difficulties when applying for loans from traditional lenders.
Small business loans that can be used for many many business purchases, such as working capital, business expansion, and equipment, inventory, and real estate purchasing.
Small loans, with a maximum of $50,000, which can be used for working capital, inventory, equipment, or other business projects.
Large loans used to acquire fixed assets such as real estate or equipment. 504 Loans are offered in partnership with Community Development Companies (CDCs) and banks.
Loans used to rebuild or maintain business following a disaster.
SBA loans are backed by the government in amounts up to 85%, so there’s less risk for lenders and higher rates of approval when compared to bank or credit union loans.
There are several programs offered by the SBA. One of the most popular is the 7(a) program. SBA 7(a) loans can be used for almost any business purpose, from real estate purchases to working capital. With a 7(a) loan, you receive up to $5 million with repayment terms up to 25 years. Interest rates are set by the SBA, so these loans are extremely competitive and affordable. SBA 7(a) loans are available through SBA-approved lenders known as intermediaries.
When you’re expanding your business, 7(a) loan funds can be used to purchase land or real estate, pay for improvements in your facilities, or purchase equipment. High borrowing amounts, low interest rates, and flexible usage make 7(a) loans a popular choice among business owners.
For business expansion, another SBA loan to consider is the CDC/504 loan. Through this program, up to 40% of your project costs are funded by an SBA-approved Certified Development Company. A traditional lender provides 50% of the project costs, while you’re responsible for the remaining 10%.
Recommended Option: SmartBiz
If you’re familiar with SBA loans, you’ve probably heard that the application process is difficult and time-consuming. If the process is intimidating to you, SmartBiz has made it easier for business owners to receive the capital they need.
SmartBiz offers SBA commercial real estate loans for $500,000 to $5 million for qualified borrowers. The interest rate is set at the base rate plus up to 2.75%. As of November 2018, rates are between 6.75% and 8%. Repayment terms are available up to 25 years.
With a commercial real estate loan, you can refinance your commercial mortgage, purchase the property you’re currently occupying, or buy a new commercial property.
SmartBiz also offers working capital and debt refinancing loans between $30,000 and $350,000 with rates between 8% and 9%. Repayment terms for these loans are 10 to 25 years. Loans can be used to purchase equipment, hire new employees, or for other business expansion plans.
To qualify for SBA working capital loans, a minimum credit score of 650 is required. Commercial real estate loans require a credit score of at least 660. The time in business requirement is at least 2 years. No bankruptcies or foreclosures within the last 3 years, open tax liens, and outstanding collections should appear on your credit report.
Anyone who has been delinquent or defaulted on a government loan in the past is not eligible to receive an SBA loan. If real estate is being purchased, the property must be at least 51% owner-occupied. Your business must also be considered a “small business” as defined by the SBA. Depending on the amount of the loan and your credit history, collateral may be required.
Your retailers depend on you to ship the inventory they need for their brick-and-mortar and online shops. If you don’t have the inventory in stock, you can’t make your shipments. If you don’t make your shipments, you lose business and the revenue that comes with it.
It’s not uncommon to face financial burdens that make purchasing inventory more difficult. A seasonal increase in orders that brings higher expenses, an unexpected emergency, or another situation could prevent you from purchasing needed inventory. Fortunately, there’s a solution: a line of credit that can help you through these tough financial times.
Lines Of Credit
A line of credit works like a credit card. However, instead of using a card to make purchases, you make draws from your line of credit. With every draw, the money is sent directly to your checking account. These funds can be used for any business expense, including the purchase of inventory.
A line of credit is a flexible financing option. Instead of receiving a lump sum for a specific amount, your lender will provide you with a credit limit. You can make multiple draws as needed up to this credit limit. You only pay fees or interest on the portion of the credit that has been used. Most lenders initiate transfers immediately, so you can have funds as soon as the next business day.
Rates, repayment terms, and credit limits vary. With most lenders, a solid credit score yields the best interest rates and terms. If you have a low personal credit score, there are lenders that evaluate the performance of your business to approve your line of credit and set your credit limit.
Recommended Option: Kabbage
Kabbage provides lines of credit up to $250,000. Depending on the amount borrowed, repayment terms are set at 6 or 12 months. Kabbage charges a monthly fee with rates between 1.5% and 10% on the borrowed portion of funds. If you pay your balance off early, you’ll save money on monthly fees.
To qualify, you must be in business for at least one year. Revenue requirements are as follows: $50,000 in annual revenue or $4,200 in monthly revenues for each of the last three months. When you apply for a line of credit, you’ll link your business accounts — including PayPal, QuickBooks, eBay, and your business checking — so that the lender can assess the health of your business and issue your approval and credit limit. There are no personal credit requirements to qualify.
The application process takes fewer than 10 minutes, and you can be approved immediately. When making draws, transfers are immediate and you can receive your funds as soon as the next business day. However, Kabbage also offers the Kabbage card, which gives you instant access to the funding you need. When using your Kabbage card, a new loan will be taken out with the same rates and terms as traditional draws.
Cash shortages happen in any business. In the distribution industry, there are a number of reasons this can occur, including slow-paying customers. It’s not uncommon to have unpaid invoices that have impacted your incoming cash flow. If you’re facing this problem and waiting for payments is affecting your operations, why not use invoice financing to help fill in the gaps?
Invoice financing is available for B2B business (like distributors) that are suffering from unpaid invoices and need money immediately to cover business expenses.
The invoices serve as the collateral, and with many lenders, you don’t need a high personal credit score to receive a loan. Instead, the lender will consider the quality and quantity of your unpaid invoices. Your invoices should be of a sufficient amount to cover any fees or interest associated with a loan, and your invoices must be for customers who are likely to pay.
Invoice factoring is one type of invoice financing. The lender pays a portion of the unpaid invoice directly to you. After the lender collects payment from your customer, you’ll receive the remaining balance after fees and interest have been taken out.
With invoice discounting, you’ll receive most of the balance up front. After you collect payment from your customers, you’ll repay the loan along with interest and fees to the lender.
|Invoice Financing||Invoice Factoring|
Uses invoices as collateral for a line of credit
Sell invoices for immediate cash
You are granted a credit facility based on the value of your unpaid invoices, and can draw from your available funds at any time
Factor gives you an advance when the invoice is sent and sends you the rest once the customer pays (minus a factoring fee)
You are responsible for collecting invoice payments
Factor is responsible for collecting invoice payments
Recommended Option: BlueVine
BlueVine is a lender that provides invoice factoring lines up to $5 million. The factoring fees for receiving the line of credit start at 0.25% per week. BlueVine pays 85% to 90% of your invoice amount up front, and pays the remainder, minus fees, after the invoice is paid.
To qualify, you must have a minimum personal credit score of 530 and a time in business of at least 3 months. You must be a B2B business with qualifying invoices and at least $100,000 in annual revenue. The application process takes about 10 minutes, and you can be approved for financing as quickly as 24 hours after applying.
Emergencies happen, and often, these emergencies come with unexpected expenses. When these emergencies occur, time is of the essence. A flexible form of financing, like a business credit card, can help you get over these financial hurdles and even reward you for responsible borrowing.
Business Credit Cards
A business credit card is a great resource to have if an emergency arises. Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you can put it into use immediately. You won’t need additional approval to use your card, and you won’t have to wait on money transfers.
Once you’re approved for a business credit card, your lender will set a credit limit. You can make multiple purchases as needed up to this credit limit, so you can cover your emergency, purchase supplies and inventory, or tackle other business expenses. The borrowed portion of funds will incur interest based on the rate assigned by the lender. The sooner you pay down or pay off your balance, the more affordable this financing becomes. As you pay down your balance, funds become available to use again.
With a solid credit history, you’ll receive lower interest rates and a higher credit limit. There are options available for high-risk borrowers with low credit scores, including secured cards, which require a deposit and can help build credit.
Some of the best business credit cards have rewards programs. With every purchase, you’ll receive points to redeem for perks or cash back offers as a reward for responsible use.
Recommended Option: Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Chase Ink Business Unlimited Annual Fee: $0 Purchase APR: 15.49% - 21.49%, Variable
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
15.49% - 21.49%, Variable
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card is targeted at borrowers with good to excellent credit. This card comes with no annual fee and an introductory APR of 0% for the first 12 months. After the introductory period, the Chase Ink Business Unlimited has variable APR of 15.24% to 21.24%.
In addition to competitive rates, the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card gives 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The card also has a bonus offer of $500 cash back after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account.
If you don’t qualify for the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card due to your credit score, check out other business credit card options for fair credit and bad credit.
The Best Loan Options For Starting A Distribution Business
If you’re an established business with proof of solid performance, getting a business loan isn’t difficult. However, what if your financial needs are different? What do you do when you need money to get your business started?
Getting a loan to start a distribution business can be a challenge. After all, traditional lenders like banks and credit unions want to work with established, low-risk businesses. Because your business is non-existent or very new, you haven’t yet proven yourself to these lenders. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of options. You may just have to get a little more creative and dig a little deeper to find a lender that will work with your situation.
In addition to the SBA loans we’ve already discussed, the SBA has a Microloans program that’s suitable for new businesses and startups.
|SBA 504 Loans|
$500 - $50,000
Up to 6 years
6.5% - 13%
Possible fees from the loan issuer
Guarantee required from anybody who owns at least 20% of the business
Collateral normally required, but depends on the lender
SBA-approved nonprofit lenders can provide up to $50,000, although the typical loan is around $13,000. Loan proceeds can be used to purchase inventory, supplies, fixtures, furniture, or equipment. Funds can also be used as working capital. Rates can’t exceed the limits set by the SBA and are generally between 8% and 13%. Borrower requirements include a credit score in the high 600s and qualifying as a small business based on the SBA’s definition.
If you don’t qualify for an SBA Microloan, other nonprofit organizations have microloan programs available. Credit requirements, maximum borrowing amounts, rates, and terms vary by lender. In addition to microloans, many nonprofits offer additional resources for new business owners, including training, classes, and mentorships. Looking for a microlender? Check out the options below.
|Lender||Max. Borrowing Amount||Rates||Req. Credit Score||Next Steps|
9.4% – 99.7% APR
2.9% - 18.72% factor rate
Starts at 9% factor rate
Another financing option to cover startup expenses is a personal loan. If you have a high credit score, you may be able to obtain a personal loan with low rates that can be used to fund your business. Approval for a personal loan will be based on your personal credit score and history, as well as your personal income. The following lenders offer reasonable rates for personal loans that can be used for business:
|Lender||Borrowing Amount||Term||Min. Credit Score||Next Steps|
|$1K-$50K||3 or 5 years||8.16%-27.99%||620||Apply Now|
|$2K-$35K||3 or 5 years||6.95%-35.99% APR||640||Apply Now|
|$1K-$40K||3 or 5 years||5.32%-30.99%||640||Check Rate|
You can also jump online and look into peer-to-peer lending options and crowdfunding. Peer-to-peer loans are often easier to qualify for than traditional bank loans, while crowdfunding allows you to use a platform to raise money from investors.
Finally, loans from a friend or family member could be an option that works for you. Make sure that any loan agreement is on paper and signed by all parties involved. Be careful to treat the loan just as you would any other by paying it back on time as scheduled.
What To Consider When Choosing A Lender
In order to receive a loan, you have to choose a lender that is willing to work with you. In the past, most business loans were obtained from a bank, credit union, or another traditional lender. Today, there are more options than ever thanks to online lending.
The good news is that with so many lenders, it’s easy to find at least one willing to work with you – even if you have credit challenges, a short time in business, low annual revenues, or other factors that would disqualify you from traditional loans. The bad news is that finding the right lender can be overwhelming. With so many choices, which is best for you? To narrow down the lender pool, ask yourself these key questions to find the best loan for your financial situation.
How Will I Use The Loan?
This should be an easy question to answer. Why do you need a loan? Did an emergency expense pop up out of the blue? Have you been planning an expansion for the last 6 months and you’re ready to take action? By knowing how you plan to use the loan, you’ll be able to select the loan product best for that situation and can narrow down your selection of lenders.
Let’s say you want to expand your business and need a commercial real estate loan. In this case, lenders that offer short-term loans or lines of credit with low limits wouldn’t be the right choice. Instead, you’d want to find lenders that offer long-term loans with low interest rates, like SBA loans.
How Much Money Do I Need?
You should never apply for a loan without an idea of how much you need and how much you can afford to borrow. Taking money just because a lender offers it is can lead to unnecessary debt that can negatively impact your business. Instead, run some calculations and borrow only what you truly need.
Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to use the loan, take the time to figure out what amount would cover that financial need. Going back to the commercial real estate example, you could begin looking at properties online comparable to what you’d like to purchase to get an idea of the market values in your area. If your loan is going to be used to purchase equipment, shop around, get bids and quotes, and have an idea of the total cost of your purchase.
Not only will this help you prevent unnecessary debt, but it can also help whittle down the number of lenders you’re considering. If your loan needs are $500,000, a lender that has maximum borrowing limits of $100,000 can be crossed off of your list.
Do I Meet All Borrower Requirements?
Before you apply for a loan, make yourself familiar with the lender’s borrowing requirements. Time in business, annual revenue, and credit scores are factors considered by most lenders. If you don’t meet the requirements of the lender, you won’t qualify for a loan.
Most lenders perform a soft credit pull when prequalifying you for a loan. A hard credit pull — the kind that shows up on your credit report — is performed further along in the process for most financial products. However, some lenders do perform a hard pull once you hit “Submit” on your application. Avoid an unnecessary inquiry by ensuring that you meet all credit requirements. Before you apply, make sure to check your free credit score online.
Remember, there are many financing options available to business owners, regardless of credit score, time in business, or revenues. Take the time to find the loans that you’re qualified to receive.
Does The Lender Offer Rates & Terms That Work For My Business?
When you select your lender, you want to work with one that will offer you the best rates and terms for your particular situation. A short-term loan that’s funded almost immediately may seem appealing, but a high overall cost of borrowing could put a burden on your business. If you have a solid credit score and a healthy business profile, you should be able to shop around to find rates and terms that are most affordable for you.
If you have credit challenges, there are options available for you. However, there are some drawbacks to these high-risk financial products, like high interest rates and fees or daily payment requirements. If you don’t need the money immediately, you can take steps to boost your credit score so you can apply for a more affordable loan in the future.
What You’ll Need To Apply For A Wholesale Distribution Loan
You’ve decided what type of loan best fits your needs, and you’ve calculated how much you need and can afford. You’ve selected a lender. Now, it’s time to begin the application process. Before you start, there are a few key items the lender will require to approve and fund your loan.
For all loans, you’ll be required to provide basic information about yourself and your business. This includes the name of your business, contact information, your social security number, and your federal tax ID. For some loans, such as business credit cards, this may be the only information you need.
For other loan options, you’ll be required to submit documentation. This documentation will allow the lender to see how your business is performing and if you’ll be able to afford a loan. Documentation requirements vary by lender, but commonly requested documents include:
- Business & Personal Credit Reports/Score
- Business & Personal Bank Statements
- Business & Personal Tax Returns
- Profit & Loss Statements
- Balance Sheets
- Income Statements
- Business Licenses
If you’re a new business, you may be required to submit the resumes of all business owners, a detailed business plan, and financial projections. If your loan requires collateral, you’ll submit information about the collateral you’re putting up to back the loan. If no collateral is required, you may still be required to sign a personal guarantee or agree to a blanket lien before receiving your loan. Learn more about business loan requirements.
Application, underwriting, approval, and funding times vary based on the type of loan you’re trying to receive. SBA loans take at least several weeks, while lines of credit and business credit cards may be approved on the spot. During the application process, your lender may need to speak with you to ask questions about information and documentation you’ve submitted or to request additional information. Make sure your lender has current contact information on file and that you make yourself available for calls or emails as needed to continue moving through the loan process.
Running a distribution business takes organization, hard work, and capital. As a business owner, it’s your job to bring these things to the table, but it’s understandable when money becomes an issue. A business loan can be an excellent resource to keep operations running smoothly or to grow your business provided you do your planning, shop around for the best rates, and understand what your business can afford.