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Friday Q&A with Maria Ehlers: Travel Plan Turbulence

Each week, we’ll interview one of our experienced Finance Officers for a brief question and answer session about something interesting from the week, along with tips and tricks to make your finance process easier, and their unique perspective on the industries and customers we work with.

This week, we caught up with Maria Ehlers in our Portland office who narrowly avoided a travel disaster in a deal with a customer who was about to buy a plane ticket to pick up some equipment he wasn’t fully approved for yet.


Q: Thanks for doing another Friday Q&A with me, Maria! Do you have a recent customer in mind, similar to our last profile, that was a little more unique or challenging?

A: No problem! This one was not too difficult, as far as the customer was concerned this time. It almost went wrong, but it ended up being okay. With the PreQual, everything was fine, everything lined up. It was one of those easy ones, that started out pretty simply. Got approved with him in about a day or so, and then we were working on getting the docs and everything out, that’s when we started to run into a couple of things.

Q: What kicked things off?

A: One, was that we needed to put a GPS into the equipment, and the installer and the vendor took about a week to get that installed. Nobody could get it on the same schedule, and I was having a hard time getting into contact with anyone to get that update, so we were running into that. Also, the insurance agent ended up taking several days as well. Usually, that wouldn’t be an issue, because I am usually able to keep the customer in the loop with what is going on, and as long as they’re patient, and kind of forgiving with stuff like this, it makes it easy. The thing was, in the middle of us trying to get the installation done, the customer mentioned that he had travel plans to pick up the equipment that I had no idea about up until this point, and he was about to buy a plane ticket, which I ended up getting him to not do, thank goodness, which would have ended up being a mess. But, if he would have bought it without telling me beforehand, he would have been stuck where the equipment was, and wouldn’t be able to take it home, which would have been bad. But, he managed to tell me before it was too late, which was great, and we waited until the last second to buy that plane ticket and pick that up, so it ended up working out well for everyone, and he was really understanding of the situation, and ended up not being stuck in a city without the equipment that he needed. That was probably the most interesting thing that happened to me recently.

Q: So, as far as the actual program that he had PreQualified for, you said that his credit profile and everything else was pretty good?

A: Right. Let me see. I’m going to open up his file really quickly… It looks like he did have a more challenging credit profile than we were expecting.

Q: But, regardless, there wasn’t anything through the credit process that was that big of a deal?

A: No, no, it was one of those things where his credit came back lower than expected, but I was able to get him to understand, and we got him fit into a program that he was able to do. It looks like his credit score came back lower than anticipated, but it didn’t seem like an issue.

Q: So, as anyone reading this can see, even though things had worked out pretty well as far as the initial upfront processes, a lot of customers that are looking for financing need to keep in mind some of the other processes that will need to take place, since there are going to be various entities involved. Even if things go smoothly on the front end, they need to factor these other processes into their expected timelines because there can’t always be control over every single part of the deal.

A: Exactly, there are some things that we just have no control over, like the GPS installation. I can’t personally go install that myself. I was kind of at the whim of the people that were going to install it, and then on top of that, it’s the travel plans. it’s crucial to let us know upfront so that our customers are not stuck with this plane ticket that they bought without letting any one know, and then not doing what they are needing to do when they get there.

Q: Yeah, I have heard a couple instances of that recently, where they actually made the trip. They went out there when things weren’t finalized yet. Luckily, it wasn’t a plane ride away, but it was still multiple hours drive, and they hadn’t let anyone know ahead of time.

A: Exactly, yeah, I have had that happen to me, and it’s really really hard to tell someone that they can’t take home what they need to, so it was nice that he let me know that he had that scheduled for a certain day. After talking this over, we got everything done soon after, and he was able to pick up the equipment, no problem!

Next week we will check in with another finance officer in one of our offices. Stay up to date and learn more from our valuable resources at www.AmericanEFS.com/The-Bottom-Line