Covid Questions from Banks, Part I

Covid Questions from Banks, Part IWe are still watching deals happen during this unique year in our history. What we’ve begun to notice more and more is that banks are asking more questions. With an overall feeling of caution in the air, an industry already known for its caution in “normal” times has become even more cautious.

We wanted to share some of the questions banks are asking our clients as they pursue traditional financing.

Strategic Questions

How has the business been affected by Covid-19?
This doesn’t just concern finances, but the status of your lease, the state of your employees, and the general state of your industry (this includes general forecasting on the future). There will be more specific questions to follow, but this is an “executive summary” answer.

Did the business shut down? If so, for how long, and why?
Obviously, a bank will be happy to see a simple “No” here, but well-answered “Yes” and “Why” responses are also helpful.

Did the seller pivot and does the buyer have to change anything about the operations or model in the near future?
This is the asterisk that banks are going to put on your older financials. They want to know what things look like now that you’ve made adjustments (if you did) and what the buyer will have to do (if anything) in the months ahead.

Are there growth opportunities because of the crisis?
While there is much doom and gloom in some parts of the market, those in transportation and manufacturing have had banner years. Some pivots have also yielded great results for businesses.

PPP/EIDL Questions

Did the business receive a PPP loan or an EIDL loan?
This is fairly obvious and part of the financial snapshot of the company anyway.

Does the business expect the PPP loan to be forgiven?
Well, this is slightly more complicated as it’s not entirely in the hands of the seller. We’ve
written about this already, but we expect more clarity in the months ahead to assist sellers in answering this question.

Will the PPP loan be paid off by the seller prior to the sale of the company?
This hasn’t been a deal breaker, but if it’s a yes, it has seemed to have provided some comfort to the banks. Understandably, if a seller is hoping for loan forgiveness, they might choose to wait rather than pay off a loan that would have been forgiven, especially if it’s a large amount.

Supply Chain Questions

Has your production or supply chain been disrupted? Please explain in the context of pre-Covid vs. post-Covid.
One unexpected side effect of the sudden demand for Plexiglas is that it’s doubled and tripled in price. Businesses that you wouldn’t immediately think had anything to do with that material on a day-to-day basis are seeing the price of it go through the roof. There can be delays measured in weeks to obtain Plexiglas at the new price.

How does this affect margins?
In the Plexiglas example above, obviously without a severe (and understandable) change in price to the customer, margins are going to get chewed up. This will need to be explained across every product/service in your business.

Projections

The big question: What are your detailed projections for the next 2-3 years?
We’re seeing banks ask for forensic level detail here as we’ve never seen before: they want month by month breakdowns. We know that these are educated guesses at best, but this is what we’re seeing creep into diligence at this moment.

We don’t want to overwhelm you with all of the questions, so we’ll save more for a future article on this subject. In the meantime, if you don’t want to deal with the bank on your own, give us a call. We’re happy to help!

Understand the Benefits of a Quality Banking Relationship

Whether you’re building your business to sell one day or thinking about buying a business for the first time, you need to make sure you have a quality banking relationship established. 

Some people think of a bank as simply someplace they keep their money or where they go when they need something. In reality, banks offer much more. Unfortunately too many people often fail to take advantage of those benefits because they haven’t established a quality banking relationship. 

The Benefits of a Quality Banking Relationship

Apex Business Advisors BankingA Shared Goal

Contrary to popular belief, bankers are actually interested in your financial success. The better you do, the better they do. They want you to succeed and will do what they can to help you.

That might be sending you referrals or connecting you with strategic partners. It might be simply giving you helpful advice on a business decision.

Knowing Your Numbers

Apart from seeing basic financial statements like a P&L and Balance Sheet, bankers are used to seeing  sophisticated financial documents and using them to make strategic adjustments for profitability.

Beyond simply examining the present, they can help you forecast the future. Remember, this is something they do every day across all types of businesses. When was the last time you sat down with your banker to discuss your financial statements?

Insider Access

If you have a good relationship with your bank, and there are new products or services the bank will be offering, you might be the first to know. Keep in mind that your banker is going to be your advocate if and when you need something important. The most important measure they keep in mind in their business is trust… and that takes time to build.

Customer Service

Do you want some odd charge adjusted? Want better rates on a line of credit or on your savings account? Want a higher credit line?  All are possibilities when you have an active and regular banking relationship. Why? Because you’re more than just an account number and a balance.  

You’ll also feel more comfortable asking for help when you have an open communication line instead of just calling out of the blue or only when there’s “trouble.”

Where to start?

Start by scheduling a meeting with your banker and look to make it something regular. Ask what you can do to help them and have a list of things you need help with  They may not be able to help you with every single issue, but they may know someone who can.

If you don’t have a bank or banker you feel you can build a relationship with, give us a call. We can give you a few trusted ones we work with and you can pick one that makes the most sense for you and your business.

Choosing a Lender

SBA logoThe majority of acquisitions require some level of bank debt to facilitate the transaction and to greatly enhance returns for the buyer. In most cases, buyers want to use as much bank money as possible and utilize their own personal funds for working capital and for family needs.

Banks will generally require about a 20% down payment to consider lending on a transaction, and most banks will use the SBA guarantee program to cover the intangibles such as Goodwill. Without the SBA guarantee, banks would only be loaning on a percentage of hard assets, i.e., machinery, trucks, equipment, and real property.

Since the vast majority of businesses sell for much more than just the value of hard assets, a buyer will need to seek an SBA lender experienced in acquisition lending. There are many SBA lenders, but few who are proficient at financing business purchases.

We have witnessed buyers wasting lots of time (weeks and months) in an effort to meet with 5 or 6 banks.  Often, this results in endless promises and confusion, only to leave the buyer disappointed in the end. Loan Officers want deals, but they have to get them approved internally and most times the loan committees are more conservative and cautious than the loan officer. Apex has experience dealing with the various local and regional bankers and knowing what they are looking for in a deal. We are here to help.

To be very clear:  We do not work for the banks or get paid by the banks. Our relationship with banks involves knowing who is doing deals and assisting buyers and sellers with getting financing for a transaction. We try to find the path of least resistance because we know that time can kill deals.

Talk to your Apex Business Advisor to answer any of your questions regarding buying or selling a business.

Other Apex News:
Please join me in congratulating Apex’s Valerie Vaughn for obtaining her Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation!

Doug Hubler
President