Saturday, March 29, 2008
Merchant Cash Advance Agent Shakeout
I am seeing a new trend in the merchant cash advance marketplace, namely merchant cash advance ISOs, agents, resellers, etc. closing their doors. This is no surprise to me as we saw a huge influx of subprime mortgage brokers entering our space. I estimate there were upwards of 100 phone rooms of converted subprime mortgage brokers trying to sell the merchant cash advance product thinking it was a way to make a quick buck. Those that took the strategy that selling a merchant funding will take time and learned from the lessons of the subprime mortgage meltdown are those that are still standing and potentially will be successful. There is another train of thought that is inevitable to fail - those that thought they can sell business cash advances with minimal capital expenditure, meaning hiring unqualified salespeople using inexpensive marketing techniques such as voice broadcasting (with these providers giving the same data to 100s of phone rooms) to dial hundreds of thousands of businessses an hour with a prerecorded message. (Merchants around the country are getting 3 - 5 prerecorded calls a day). The challenge is the quality of anyone that is going to press '2' on their phone for money tends to be "lower hanging fruit" and lower quality deals. With the recent credit crunch and many merchant cash advance funding companies tightening up, some merchant cash advance agents were seeing approval rates as low as 15%-20%. There is no way they can survive and stay in business with that kind of approval rate. You did see some undisciplined merchant cash advance providers willing to get aggressive with many of these phone rooms about 3 - 6 months ago, but that has now gone away as these providers have learned their lesson with high default rates from these low quality deals. Offering a business cash advance product as your main product as I've said over and over again takes time, anyone looking to make a quick buck, they are in the wrong industry. Those that are well capitalized and run first class, professional sales organizations rather than a "boiler room" will be here for the long run.