Financial Help for Owner Operators

Over the road truck operator-owners are small businessmen just like anyone who runs a small store or service provider. Occasionally, money is scarce, which merits a need to seek financial assistance. Although people generally advise against borrowing money to pay creditors, it can be good business sense to borrow money to make more money. An owner-operator can pursue various avenues, with varying amounts of risk and reward. When seeking financial assistance, however, always remember to have everything in writing. Financials, projections, obligations and receivables are required.

Any business needing cash will probably need to put up collateral for the loan. Of course, the owner-operator has a readily available piece of collateral: the truck. Don’t be too hasty, however, to sign away the truck unless the potential for reward using the financial assistance is almost guaranteed. Without the truck, there is no more business. Also, be hesitant to put up a personal guarantee because this will involve all the assets the owner-operator possesses. It’s a very delicate balance between risk and reward to assign collateral to any loan type.

A quick source for needed money is factoring. Quite simply, the owner-operator sells any receivables to a third party at a reduced rate. The rate is negotiable, but expect it to be significant. The buyer can’t make money if paying too much for your outstanding invoices. Factoring is good because it can raise quick cash to buy diesel fuel or new tires to make a cross-country run that will make the year. The risk is selling an account balance to what is essentially a stranger. Your customer will get bills and requests for payment from someone unknown. You get the money, but you may lose a customer.

A quote loan is a loan on an accepted quote to do business. Farmer’s and merchant banks are great places to seek this type of loan. These types of banks do the loans constantly with farmers: loan against the future sale of the harvest. You’ll be requesting a loan against the future payment of a completed load. Don’t expect a loan for the full amount, but possibly between 25 and 30 percent and a fair interest rate. The loan comes due with the invoice. The loan is due whether the invoice is paid or not.

Leaseback is the same concept as refinancing your house: You get a lease against your truck, the leasing company pays you the difference for the value of the vehicle and you pay over time. The advantage is you can deduct the lease payment from your taxes as an expense, a low interest rate and payment over time. The disadvantage is the leaseback will only be for the market value of the truck less any liens. If the truck is paid for, you might get a decent amount. If it is not paid for, and the existing loan value is high, you might not get back your application fee.