Growing sales with the more challenging credits.


When equipment dealers get a tougher deal done for a customer it’s a pretty great thing. You’ve helped a customer in a challenging circumstance get the equipment they needed and built the road for a long-term relationship. But far too often, dealers pass on tougher deals because it’s too much work and they don’t have a consistent business lender that can deliver the goods.

That’s probably just silly.

Dealers have to be able to accommodate a wide variety of credit circumstances, not just the easy application only customers. So when a tougher credit with a story walks into the office & you need underwriting expertise … it’s time to seek an experienced “story credit” lender.

Here are 5 recommendations for success in that search:

  • Taking the work of a full documentation, tougher deal off your desk. Working these deals can take time. They can require more documentation and a deeper look at business issues. You need a real professional, transparent system that gets the job done while freeing you up to help the next customer.
  • Getting the story behind the application. To effectively underwrite and close challenged credits for dealers, the lender must make an investment in the story of your customer, before investing in the equipment of their business. The dedication to speak to the customer behind every opportunity is critical to success.
  • No 2nd class citizens. Just because a business owner has had a few credit challenges, doesn’t mean they should feel judged, put down, or in any way inferior. Most people and businesses have had a few bumps in the road, so freeing the owner of that derogatory feeling should be a staple of their customer service model.
  • Transitional Funding. A great challenged credit lender works to find a way to help today, but has a long-term focus that positions the customer for success tomorrow. Ideally(,) the lender can accommodate this customer‘s improving credit circumstance with improving rates & structures.  It should be all about a long-term relationship view.
  • Trust & Transparency. Dealers have to know that upon introducing their customer, their valued relationship will be protected, they will always know where things stand in the process and they can trust the lender to deliver results in a way that enhances the customer experience.

At SLS, we think tough deals shouldn’t be tough. In fact, we give dealers the opportunity to have access to a finance programs for challenging credit circumstances that accomplish all of the above. Working as an extension of your team to help work with the customer, we dig deep for the story and create a solution. We, of course underwrite and approve the easy ‘A/ B’ credit composite as well.  If you ever want to talk about how to grow sales through tougher deals with a story, give us a call.

Moving from negativity and uncertainty to possibility and prosperity in your business.


In an environment where the airwaves are poisoned with toxic reasons why you can’t grow your business, it makes us wonder: Is business growth consistently attainable in this climate? If it is…what tools can help you get there?

The long term failure of “more with less”

Eight years ago things were a mess. The great recession was hard on most. The negativity of that environment left companies feeling forced into doing more with less, “rightsizing”, and generally searching for an equilibrium point near the lowest common dominator of making just enough and making it at all. Today we move from omnibus negativity to patent uncertainty with the election, the noise about the candidates, the regulatory environment, taxes and global macroeconomic questions as the sound bites bombarding your business decision making. But there will always be noise. There will always be a reason or twelve to pull you back from bidding on that larger deal or expanding with the new product or service. Somehow the “more with less” efficiency models of our new normal have been rationalized to equate to responsible business operation. One problem, no great business story ever told aligns with the “more with less” strategy.

Reimagine growth, possibility and prosperity

Jim Cramer of CNBC said, “I’m tired of playing out what happens if this candidate wins or that candidate wins. The one universal truth of business is that great companies will do great things regardless of who pops out of the machine.” The point here is that the great businesses move forward—even when taking a step back. The financial crisis forced many of these companies to make hard decisions, but the greats reimagined growth and positioned themselves immediately for the new way forward. This involves being aware and realistic about what’s going on around them, but always keeping an eye on the horizon by defining new possibilities and planning for their achievement. In an environment where the average were avoiding all risk, they were actively planning to take on risk and try new things. Paul Pilzer, a renowned economist said, “Prosperity belongs to those who embrace the new things the fastest.” Way to go Paul.

Turn off the noise: a few tools to grow

Quit waiting for something great to happen or the volume of the noise to come down and start to make it happen. Identify where the growth opportunities are and start talking to people about making them a reality. The best tool of all is building a growth story for your company. Craft a short narrative of where you want to go and what you want to be—even if it is a little out of reach today—and put a plan together — A simple plan that doesn’t have to be rocket science — and start evangelizing. Get your employees, advisors and even your lenders excited about finding a way to help, and if they are not excited—find new ones.

Consider using other people’s money. Taking a chance on growth requires money almost every time. Your money is generally always the highest risk and most expensive form of business investment even compared to the highest lender interest rates. Financing is now, as much as it was when the Knights Templar invented banking, the most powerful tool to grow your enterprise. Tell that new great growth story to your lenders and be unafraid. Every no is a step toward an eventual success. Great lenders will offer a path forward even if they have to say no today.

Our goal at SLS is to help your business grow. Putting more revenue producing equipment in service is a great way to get there for business owners, and offering financing is an unmatched way to achieve growth for equipment manufacturers, dealers and distributors. Tell a great prosperity story. We can help you be the star of it.

Jim says he can get 5% interest rates from his bank. Poor Jim.


As a business owner of an equipment intensive company, Jim is always on the lookout for new equipment. He has relationships with every dealer in the area and when the time comes to purchase, he’s paid for the equipment in several ways. His father, who started the business, only paid cash. While Jim tried to keep that up for several years, it became hard to do as competition increased and prices fell.

He has used his bank many times for a loan, but things just aren’t as easy as they used to be. Jim remembers a time when he could talk to his loan officer and tell him about business opportunities then the loan officer could actually make an approval decision, funding in a day or two. But those were the good ‘ole days. Today it has taken as much as 60 days for the bank fund his equipment. And the paperwork needed…wow. Things have changed much, but considering his bank has changed names 7 times in the last 30 years, it’s somehow not surprising.

But today, Jim is in the market for $50,000 in new equipment. Soured on the whole financing process, he is going to look at new options. Recently introduced to a new equipment finance company one of his competitors uses, Jim applied. The approval process was fast and required much less documentation—even though business has been less than perfect lately. The payment looked wonderful…but the interest rate seemed high. A few points higher than what he thought he might get form the bank.

So Jim went back to the bank where they told him the rate would be around 5%, but they’d need twice as much paperwork, 30 days to approve the credit (IF they can approve the credit) and he remembered he’d experienced as much as 60 days after that to get the equipment funded. A few years ago, the bank even turned him down. Something about “exposure”? But…hey…he could save 2 or 3 percent on interest rate. Worth it, right?


You see Jim…like most small business owners…has been brainwashed. The quest for the lower interest rate has him losing as much as 90 days of revenue (and profit) producing equipment working for his company. The impact of that time period could be hundreds to thousands per month when the 2 or 3 percent he is looking to save could pale in comparison to the money he could be earning if the equipment were in service. And rate is just a part of financing. The equipment finance company offered a 7-year term. The bank is offering 5. The savings in cash flow would be huge to Jim. Also, the bank wanted 15% cash down and the equipment finance company just wanted the first payment up front. That’s another huge difference. Not having to put down big cash outlays when buying equipment would be really helpful to Jim. And then there’s the biggest thing: Did the bank actually approve Jim? What if he wasted all this time and opportunity…and he doesn’t get approved?

All this for 2 or 3 percentage points? Poor Jim.

Don’t take your eye off the ball and don’t allow yourself to be brainwashed. An experienced equipment financier can help guide through your options, preserving your cash, maximizing cash flow with fast approvals and funding at competitive interest rates. At SLS, we help people like Jim make smarter decisions every day with finance programs that keep things downright uncomplicated. Let’s talk.


There is a “person” in your phone that answers your questions. Amazon seems to read your mind when you land on their website. Some cars even parallel park for you. Often people think of companies like Google and Apple when they think of technology innovation, but in business, technology advances extend far beyond the mobile devices and websites. Commercial equipment in all categories offer gains in efficiencies, lower operating costs and even increased revenues. This has business stakeholders seeking ways to keep up…affordably.

But is the pace of technology really increasing? In a word…no. Research from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania both point to the fact that while it “feels like” technology advances are accelerating, they’re actually not. The pace of technology advancement has remained relatively constant in most areas for more than 100 years. And if the pace isn’t really increasing, business owners must develop a plan to be constantly evolving to adapt to new technologies.

As part of your company’s strategic planning, you should develop an asset plan. What are the critical assets, equipment, technology, etc., that power your business? How long should you plan on keeping each asset before upgrading, replacing or rebuilding based on your planned usage of each? From there, think “AFMD” – Acquire, Finance, Manage, Dispose, as the core elements of strategy to think about for each major technology your business depends on. It may take some real thought the first year, but by updating this approach every year, you have the beginnings of a long term plan to keep up with technology. Now, how to afford it?

The financial demands required to pace technology advances can feel daunting. Just when you feel like you’ve completed a major investment in technology for your company, it’s time to upgrade, trade-in, or replace. This leaves business owners with painful cash flow spikes and unpredictable operations. The life cycle management plan might help you predict when those cash flow spikes may occur…but who wants cash flow spikes? The “F” in the AFMD life cycle plan—finance–might carry the most weight toward your long term success. When executed well, financing can help you:

  • Reduce and even eliminate cash flow spikes
  • Acquire equipment and technology with affordable monthly expense
  • Just pay for what you use in an asset, instead of paying for all of it
  • Match expenses to revenues more easily
  • Reduce the hassle of end of life trade-in or disposal issues
  • Affordably stay on the cutting edge of technology

The pace of technology can be effectively managed. How you manage the life cycles can even become a durable competitive advantage for your company—it just takes a little effort. We can help. At SLS, we offer uncomplicated financing that allows you to get the most from your assets in the most affordable way. Do you need a plan? Let’s talk.


Bob needs $125,000 of your equipment. Now what?


Let me tell you a true story (with names changed to protect the innocent). Bob is in the market for about $125,000 in new commercial equipment. Part replacement for older equipment and part addition for some new business on the way, this package of equipment is pretty important to the company. Bob loves the industry leading brand. He takes of pride in being an equipment owner of this brand so he reaches out to his long time dealer relationship and Kim, the rep he works with at the dealer.

Kim, knowing Bob and his affinity for the industry leading brand of equipment she represents, chuckled a bit when she saw the brand of her equipment’s ballcap on the dashboard of Bob’s truck as he pulled into the parking lot. While a veteran salesperson, Kim was already counting the commission on this one. Kim’s conversation with Bob started with what equipment Bob had in mind. Bob, as such a fan of the brand, had an equipment package researched with options, bells and whistles and of course…pretty firm expectations of pricing. Kim snatched up the list and began pricing things out giving Bob a new branded keychain while he waited.

But when Kim quoted the price, Bob was stunned. The price of the equipment has risen nearly 20% over what he had researched. Kim explained about rising costs of materials and something about oil, but Bob’s hearing had shut down. Kim, seeing her commission check sliding away, offered a used equipment package, similar…but far from the same. And then, the phrase commercial equipment sales teams love…I’ll have to think about it. He told Kim he loved the brand, he just needed to “shore some things up”. Kim was still pretty confident. After all—Bob loved the brand.

On the way back to his office, Bob reached out to a respected competitor in shock over the price only to find out the competitor confirmed the experience. Bob took another look at his financial situation and figured he’d need to call his bank, but they said the process could take 3-6 weeks. So Bob hit Google. And 2 cigars later, he discovered one of the “other brands” was giving advice about how to handle growth in his industry. It sounded like they were describing his company. So he reached out to that dealer, just to confirm he didn’t want their brand.

The “other” dealer asked Bob what was going on with his business. They asked about how he acquired, maintained and disposed on similar assets. After having this conversation, the “other” dealer proposed an equipment package that was larger with value added services that met Bob’s needs in a unique way. Then the kicker. They said he could have it for only $1700 per month with no money down—that he could keep his cash and match his payment to his inflows of revenue. 2 meetings and 4 hours later…the deal was done.

When Kim heard the news and reached out to Bob, he explained that the “other” dealer created a solution not even his fandom of the industry leading brand could create. And when she asked him how much it cost, he simply said $1700 per month. She pointed out that was his finance payment and not the cost, but Bob said he wasn’t sure of the purchase price…and he’d have to look that up. Hmm.

Cautionary tale? Yep. Deeper knowledge of what someone does drives a custom solution that is marketed with a payment first and voila…done deal. And leading with a payment helps you control the sale. If you’d like to become that “other” dealer, give us a call…we can help. SLS makes commercial equipment financing uncomplicated for your customer with affordable, easy, monthly payments.

A better way to acquire equipment?


For most business owners, equipment acquisition happens in the break/fix moment. Recent research points to more than 60% of all small business owners replacing equipment only when they absolutely have to. But with the price of this equipment being so significant and the enormity of downtime expenses, is this the right approach?

The downside of waiting until you have to.

Running an asset “until the wheels fall off” or close might be a very expensive strategy. Maintenance expense can be a monster, but downtime is the real killer. Most business equipment is a source of revenue and the ones that aren’t are counted on for operating efficiency. Hours or days of downtime in these circumstances cost big bucks, not just in lost productivity, but in rental and other real dollar costs.

Understanding your equipment

If running equipment as long as conceivable is not an option, what is the right time to replace equipment? The answer depends on the equipment and how you use it. To avoid some of the real pitfalls of aged equipment and its downtime, you have to first look at each class of equipment you need and how you use it. For technology, the cycle may be 2 years and for some construction equipment it may be 15 years. But we’ve seen trucking companies that replace Tractors every 24 months and replace laptops every 3 years. It all really depends on the unique nature of your business.

A better way?

A Life Cycle Management approach to acquire, finance, manage and dispose of your commercial equipment just might be an attractive alternative for you. Working with a combination of your equipment sales partners and a strategic finance partner, you can actually develop a program—customized for your company—that provides the best way to acquire equipment affordably while maximizing uptime and staying on the cutting edge of technology.

At SLS, we help business owners acquire equipment with competitive finance programs and make things downright uncomplicated. We can help you avoid the expense and fire drill of the break/fix moment with an affordable approach to acquiring new equipment. If you would like learn more, contact us today.

Surprising tips for a great customer experience


In a highly competitive environment, how can equipment manufacturers, vendors and dealers ensure they are consistently delivering a superior service experience? Often customers are happy with the “front-end” part of the sale, but it’s the “back-end” processes of documentation, payment and financing that become challenging.

In a recent survey, 61% of recent purchasers of commercial equipment site the “deal closing” process as the worst part of the customer experience.

Could there be an opportunity for equipment sales teams to create differentiation in this overlooked part of the customer experience? We think so. Here are 5 tips to consider when developing your “back-end” value proposition:

  1. Don’t hide the process. In fact…do the opposite. Create a quick step by step written journey for the customer and make sure they have access to that information early in the sales process. Often customers become dissatisfied because they are surprised with certain information requirements at the last minute that delays or complicates the close. By establishing the process up front, you remove the mystery and prepare your customer for a smooth experience.
  2. Money Matters. Make sure they are prepared for the finance process. And not just the application process, but to total experience all the way to close. Ensuring that you bring up finance, payment and other money matters up front will save you migraines at the closing table.
  3. Word of mouth. Get testimonials of your smooth, successful transactions and focus on the customer experience, not just the value of the equipment. Hearing a customer speak of their experiences in the finance, documentation, insurance and other final stages helps new prospects feel confident in the buying experience…before they are ready to buy.
  4. Be straightforward and realistic. It’s easy to become excited when you are close to a sale and not want to say anything that might concern the customer. But having the courage to identify potential land mines in the process is important. More challenging credit might take a few more days to close. Upgrading insurance requirements may involve a few steps and take some time. Being proactive with these matters and setting realistic expectations actually creates a better customer experience. It’s the unforeseen surprises that hurt you.
  5. Understand the business that is buying. It is really important to understand who is buying, financing, paying, how many signatures, etc. up front. Asking this simple question can easily avoid troubles at the end.

At SLS, we think the finance part of your back-end process should feel very uncomplicated. And we help manufacturers, dealers and vendors grow sales through a wide variety of competitive equipment finance solutions. If you would like to see how a finance partner can help you differentiate with a smooth customer experience, contact us today.

A simple explanation of how business credit decisions are made


Most business owners have applied for a loan and faced rejection or an insufficient solution. Often they don’t know why they are being successful or unsuccessful in the endeavor to borrow money. While many make the process feel like rocket science, the fundamentals of commercial credit are actually quite simple. Lenders call it the five “C’s” of credit.


Admittedly, it’s hard to judge a person’s character you don’t know. That said, there are some key measures lenders evaluate that present the potential “character” of the business relationship. While there could be a number of items, the follow are the most common:

  • Pay history
  • Personal Credit
  • Tax History
  • Time in Business


How much can you borrow? What is your capacity to take on and repay debt? Capacity is simply where your lender calculates a number of important factors to answer these questions. These factors include:

  • Revenues
  • Earnings history
  • Cash flow
  • Leverage (think of it as debt to worth)


Often the easiest to understand…the equipment. If the lender is financing a new excavator that will have resale value for 20 years, that’s a good thing. If the lender is financing software, the finance options will be more limited. Secondary market value is very important to lenders when looking at the overall picture.


It’s easiest to think about this category as a description of how much investment you have in your company and the asset you are financing. If you have a significant investment in your company (especially as compared to how much debt you have) that’s typically viewed better than using everyone else’s money to fuel your business. Also, when acquiring equipment if you have equity (through trade or cash) in the new purchase that also add strength to the situation.


The general business environment makes a difference. Everyone remembers what the “Great Recession” did to some industries. Not pretty. Even if a company in those industries was strong in other areas, the general environment could negatively affect the situation to a degree.

Could interest rate be the least important factor in acquiring new equipment?


What’s the interest rate? It’s like buying a new lawn mower and asking who manufactured the spark plug. Don’t get us wrong, the mower doesn’t run without it so the importance is obvious, but are you really concerned with it? When acquiring new commercial equipment, interest rate is important…just not as important as many business owners make it.

Revenue growth

For many companies, each asset is revenue producing. Understanding the revenue impact each asset may bring is the single most important factor in evaluating a commercial equipment purchase. Whether bidding on bigger projects, hiring new staff, or a new focus driving additional sources of revenue, the opportunity cost of not having the asset working for your company often overwhelms any single part of the acquisition process.

Expense Reduction

Rental expense, downtime and maintenance costs create inconsistent cash flows, customer satisfaction issues and a generally challenging business model. Understanding the detail of the financial consequence your company is facing for each of these issues is critically important. Newer, more reliable equipment, in service improves consistency of cash flows and may lower overall expenses at a level far exceeding components of the finance structure.

Efficiency gains

In addition to downtime expenses, older assets often operate less efficiently. They may not possess the newest technology causing higher operating costs and a lower production rate. Employees that use less efficient equipment are often less satisfied with their job, leading to potentially high turnover costs and other management concerns. The real dollar expense of inefficiency is another factor that outweighs finance implications.

Payment over rate.

“How low can we go?” It can be easy to be seduced by interest rate. Obtaining a supremely low interest rate might feel like a badge of honor of sorts. In reality though, while a good thing, it’s somewhat like winning the award for being the tallest short person. The most important concept in finance is payment. That’s because the most important concept in your business is cash flow. Your bank may offer a great 6.5% rate, but the finance term is 48 months. An equipment finance company may offer 9%, but financed over 72 months. Lower payment frees you up to reinvest in your business…even monthly…in areas that provide a greater return on investment than investing precious cash flow in a depreciating asset.

At SLS, we help business owners with equipment finance that is downright uncomplicated. If you ever want to talk about how to position yourself for success with the acquisition of your equipment, give us a call.

Good Credit. Making money. Strong Business. Still turned down at the bank?


Most business owners find mystery in the process of acquiring financing for your business. One year everything goes smooth as silk. The next year the process feels cumbersome and difficult even though your good credit is still good. While the reasons for these wild swings in the experience of borrowing money are many, there is one that surprises most business owners when it’s too late: exposure limits

Most lenders have a somewhat mythical, unexplained level of debt they are willing to carry with your company. Even though you may be able to easily afford the additional debt as a company, the lender pushes back from the table because they are “full”. While this feels very odd to most business owners, there is a very rational explanation.

Most lenders are under increasing pressure from regulators and other sources ensure they can withstand the pressure of an economic downturn. If they over-invest, on a relative basis, with one company they may be taking too much risk from a portfolio management or regulatory perspective. Think of it as putting too many eggs in their basket. Because of this, they establish these “exposure limits” with any company so they don’t break any eggs. The problem is, most business owners only know of the exposure problems when the bank says “no more” and are not prepared for what to do next.

Knowing how lenders approach these issues, it is very important to diversify your sources of financing and not put all your eggs in the basket of any lender. You might use a bank for working capital, another bank for your real estate and another specialist lender for your equipment needs. But even within the equipment category, some businesses need such a volume of revenue producing equipment that diversifying a few sources even among the equipment lenders is important. Planning this diversification strategy can avoid times of capital constraint in economic uncertainty or “capping out” with an exposure limit.

Another option would be to work with a capital provider that offers multiple finance programs for commercial equipment. These lenders may have their own portfolio money, unique partnerships with funding sources and access to other specialty providers all in one phone call. A strong, experienced lender like this can help you with diversification and managing exposure without having to manage multiple relationships.

At SLS, we are an option that can help you manage diversification and exposure concerns for your business. With access to a wide variety of programs, our seasoned experts can help you plan for this strategy with competitive offerings while saving you a great deal of time and effort. If you would like to see how a finance partner can help you diversify your sources of lending, contact us today.

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