Launching a business during a pandemic requires some creative thinking.
Michael Barney has been part of the automotive business for 25 years, so when an industry colleague was laid off due to COVID-19 and had an idea about launching an automotive quality assurance staffing company while small businesses were closing left and right, Barney was more than a bit skeptical that it could work.
“Once he approached me and said ‘what would you think about starting this business?’ the first thing I said was, ‘I think you’re nuts,’” Barney said.
Barney and his business partner lacked the capital to get their company off the ground – and they didn’t want to go in debt with a bank loan – so they looked for other solutions.
A broker friend suggested the idea of working with an invoice factoring company and put him in touch with Sky Business Credit. It didn’t take Barney long to come around to the idea of working with Sky President Gail Reints.
“The first conversation sold me on her,” Barney said. “Everything about Gail is upfront and transparent. You couldn’t get a straight answer from other companies.
“Gail said you’ll find cheaper (alternatives), but if you stick with me, this is how it will work. The relationship was supportive. We gambled with Sky Business Credit, and right out of the gate we’ve experienced nothing but the best customer service.”
What’s impressed Barney the most about Sky Business Credit’s approach is their drive to truly be a partner with their clients. Barney calls Sky “an extension of our team.”
Sky Business Credit’s rates aren’t flat, so the longer it takes an invoice to be paid from a client’s customer, the larger that invoice fee is. But Reints and her team do everything they can to get invoices paid faster, meaning their clients save money.
“They don’t have to be as efficient as they are,” Barney said of Sky. “They would make more money in fees if they were less efficient, but they are a partner acting in our best interest. They’ve brought ways of saving us money to our attention. They’ve found creative ways to help us fund situations no one else would have. They’re absolutely amazing.”
A common concern for businesses like Barney’s is the factoring company they’re working with reaching out to the client’s customers about their unpaid invoices and potentially alienating the relationship between client and customer. That hasn’t been a problem in working with Sky.
“Sky has always been successful in this approach,” Barney said. “I’ve been able to screen communications (with our customers) until they’re comfortable. Sky is very collaborative and makes sure they’re speaking with our voice and not just their own.
“We always have the final say about how something is handled.”
As the pandemic continues and supply chain disruptions and shortages look like they could be problems for the foreseeable future, Barney’s business is feeling the effects. Parts that are coming in from overseas often can’t get to their port, and there’s a shortage of dock workers and truck drivers for those that do arrive.
There will be more challenges as Barney’s company deals with issues like these, but he’s set his business up to grow faster and manage unpredictabilities in the supply chain thanks to Sky Business Credit’s creative cash-flow solutions.
“The culture starts at the top (with Sky),” Barney said. “I get the same comfort no matter who I work with.
“Working with them has been the single best decision that we’ve made as an organization since we’ve been in business.”