Back to Life and Across the Finish Line
“Beaujo’s has gone dark on us again.”
It was a familiar update at the weekly pipeline review meeting.
“What happened? We know this kiosk rollout was their top strategic priority this year!”
“Once the corporate portion of the project crossed $3 million, it got stalled by the CFO. The investment exceeded their CapEx budget this year. He called all of his bank relationships and even tried equipment lenders, but no one will finance kiosks. Plus, there is the franchisee problem. Corporate is making franchisees buy their own kiosks, but the franchisees are pushing back at the costs. They need a monthly payment plan to make the kiosk investment viable.”
“So this project is dead until, somehow, these guys can get financing.”
Bring the Opportunity Back to Life
Financing is table stakes. In 2015, more than 78% of businesses used non-credit-card financing when acquiring technology and equipment. By 2020, total U.S. investment in equipment and software is expected to reach $1.8 Trillion, of which $1.24 Trillion will be financed. Providers across the self-service technology spectrum—digital signage, kiosks, automated retail, robotics, etc.—are recognizing the benefits of having a finance option available to help customers solve the problem of affordability and cash management.
The 50% upfront-50% paid-on-delivery model is getting increasing resistance in this era of low interest rates, strong competition, tax optimization, and the need for operational and financial agility. There are still hundreds of solutions providers who are failing to include financing in their overall solutions. And many that do, are only offering it to customers who ask.
How Financing Works
There are several reasons why traditional lenders avoid funding self-service technology projects. The solutions are highly custom, there’s no clear aftermarket for the solution components (from the lender’s perspective), and the equipment is relatively mobile. Hence, lenders consider these projects to be non-secured, high-risk endeavors.
However, many of your customers have strong cash flows and good credit. In most cases, they have the financial strength to secure financing in the form of a loan or lease for their self-service and automation investments. As a result, they can shift a large upfront capital expenditure to a lower monthly payment over several years. This approach often makes their solution more affordable in the immediate term and also takes risk out of the business case for their project.
When to Introduce Financing
Waiting to introduce financing until you’re “closing the deal” could be a wasted opportunity as the customer may have already adopted the mindset that the project is not affordable for them. This becomes an additional hurdle to overcome for what was otherwise a worthwhile project for the customer and an attractive sale for the solution provider.
Introduce finance options as soon as possible to give customers more time to consider the viability of the overall investment, rather than what they had originally budgeted. This can often result in the buyer expanding the scope of the solution, meaning a bigger sale for you.
Promotions and Bundles
Many customers consider financing to be a complicated process, so being able to offer a simple financing option will help put customers at ease. The customer is already exploring a complex solution that may include hardware, software, installation, services, maintenance, connectivity, security, warranty, insurance, and other features. By shifting your customer’s payment to a financed monthly payment, they can consolidate all of their one-time and ongoing costs into a single monthly payment that is much easier to comprehend and manage.
Chances are you aren’t—and don’t want to be—in the business of providing finance. You’ll need to identify a financing partner who can fit into your solution and sales process. Such a partner should understand financing from your customer’s point of view, and help your sales team use it effectively as a sales tool. You can also work with your financing partner to design custom, promotional financing programs that will differentiate your offering from your competitors.
What is Available?
There are banks and finance companies that will offer lease or loan-to-own programs with multiple term options. All projects and customers are unique, so you’ll want to engage with these lenders in advance to understand what they can finance—types of customers and equipment, sizes of projects, etc.
About the Author
Impresa provides financing exclusively to the digital signage, kiosk, automated retail and self-service technology market. Its financing enables customers to overcome the significant upfront cost hurdle by bundling all project costs into a predictable monthly OpEx cost. It covers the full spectrum of deal sizes ($4,000-$15M+) and credit profiles (low to high risk) to meet its clients’ diverse range of financing needs. Impresa works with its solution provider partners to create custom promotional financing programs. It’s online and automated application and underwriting process drives a faster, simpler and easier financing experience.