Considering a Veterinary Practice Loan? Know What Lenders Look For – Before You Apply
Applying for a loan is probably not at the top of anyone’s list of favorite things to do. Sometimes applying for a loan can feel like a very opaque process, and often times it may seem endless. When you consider a Veterinary practice loan, you may wonder how to make the process easier, and what you can do to best position yourself for approval.
Different lenders have different parameters for approval. Some lenders place more importance on some factors and less on others. While not all lenders are alike, there are certain common factors most banks consider. Understanding these factors can help you position yourself in the best way possible to multiple lenders.
Increase cash flow, eliminate credit card debt
Cash flow is one of the most important things a lender considers. The monthly expenditures reflected on your credit report – such as personal mortgages, car loans, credit card bills, and others – affect your cash flow. High monthly bills can negatively affect your cash flow, while lower monthly bills can positively affect your cash flow. Consider how much credit card debt you carry from month to month. If you pay your credit card balances down to zero every month, this does not negatively affect you; however, if you do carry a balance, this can negatively impact your cash flow. To best position yourself to be approved for a Veterinary loan, you’ll want to carry less than $25,000 in credit card balances from month to month.
Student and existing business loans come into play
Student loans may also affect your ability to obtain a Veterinary business loan. Many Veterinary lenders don’t consider the total amount of student loan debt outstanding as the deciding factor but will look at your total monthly payment. This is where you may consider Income-Based Repayment as an option to lower your monthly payments and improve your cash flow. Be sure to ask your lender about whether this may be necessary.
If you already own a Veterinary practice, lenders will consider the monthly payments on any business loans you have. Most Veterinary lenders will look for a global debt service coverage of at least 1.20x. This means that for every $1.00 of debt you owe – both business and personal monthly bills annualized – you have at least $1.20 to pay it with, from all your annualized income (income from either your salary, practice profit, distributions, guarantor, etc.) A great exercise before applying for a loan would be to calculate your current ratio beforehand so you can either pat yourself on the back, or make changes to increase your chances for an approval.
Liquidity is key
Another thing to consider is your current liquidity – the amount of cash reserves you have, outside of retirement savings. Conventional veterinary lenders typically like to see at least six to 12 months of reserves when they consider your loan request. This means you have enough cash set aside to cover your monthly bills for six months to a year. If you are a current practice owner considering a loan, a good rule of thumb is to have between 5% and 10% of the total loan amount in cash reserves. Again, every lender’s requirements are different, but having adequate cash reserves in place will put you in the best possible position with multiple lenders.
Conventional Veterinary specialty financing looks at collateral a little differently than SBA lending or non-specialty financing. Goodwill in an existing practice should suffice as collateral for Veterinary-specific lenders. Typically, they can lend up to 80-90% of total collections on a Veterinary practice without the need for additional collateral or a seller carry-back note. This amount will vary depending on the lender and the situation; keep this in mind if you have an existing practice and are planning to apply for a loan. When you’re considering a startup loan, you do not need to put your house, your spouse, or first-born child as collateral. Specialty Veterinary lenders will allow you to use the future potential of goodwill, as well as the equipment you purchase, as collateral for your startup loan.
Know before you borrow
As mentioned before, criteria for approving a loan may differ from bank to bank. This process may be arduous for the borrower, but know the criteria beforehand and you can best position yourself for practice financing. You can potentially alleviate the frustration of a loan decline before it happens. The good news is that rates are still at historic lows, and access to Veterinary-specific financing has never been easier. With this knowledge, you can prepare yourself for future success, for both the loan process and Veterinary practice ownership.