Business credit is credit in the name of your business only. It is separate from your personal credit and is only reflected on your business credit report. It’s important for all businesses in any industry, regardless of the types of products or services they offer. That includes trucking drivers.
How can trucking drivers establish business credit? Why do they need to do so? What benefits does business credit offer to truckers?
If you own your own trucking business, you need business credit. In fact, every business owner needs business credit to fund their business, not just truck drivers.
First, business credit helps protect the owner’s personal credit. When truckers fund a business with personal credit, they can end up sabotaging their ability to buy a home, vehicle, or anything else.
There are other benefits to business credit as well. It can bridge gaps when cash is low so you do not have to stop providing services to customers.
It provides the capital needed to grow and thrive. Even better, it can do all of this while reducing the need for a personal guarantee. Often, strong business credit can even help get lower rates and better terms on business loans.
Lenders look at business credit reports from business credit agencies to help determine the creditworthiness of the business itself, apart from the owner. So, if personal credit isn’t great, lenders that rely on business credit reports may still be able to offer funding services.
Establishing Business Credit for Trucking Drivers
Business credit is not like personal credit. Personal credit builds passively on its own. In contrast, you have to intentionally establish business credit. The first step you have to take to establish business credit is to build a Fundable™ Foundation.
That means you set your small business up to be separate from you as the owner. To do that, you need (among other things):
- Separate contact information
- An EIN
- To incorporate as a separate business entity
- A separate business bank account
- A professional business website and business email address with the same URL
- Proper licensing
This is just the beginning of what it takes to establish business credit. However, none of it will work if you do not take these first steps toward building a foundation that sets your business apart as a separate entity from you as the owner.
What do these things have to do with a trucking company’s business credit file and separating business credit from personal credit? How do they affect the ability of a small business to get funding, or Fundability™?
There are at least 125 factors that affect Fundability™. Some of them you can control, and some of them you cannot.
Business credit is a part of overall Fundability™, as is the foundation. But, you cannot get business credit without a Fundable™ Foundation, and that is one thing that is definitely under your control.
Establish Business Credit: Business Address Phone Number Matters
It’s hard to imagine that something as seemingly minor as a business address can affect your ability to get business credit. Yet, as part of a Fundable Foundation, it definitely can.
The business address has to be a physical address where mail can be delivered. A PO Box or UPS box will not work. A virtual address is an option, but it is possible a lender will not accept it. In our experience, most do, but they do not have to.
With a virtual address, you will receive mail and packages at a dedicated physical business address. Some even offer dedicated phone and fax numbers and receptionist services. A few include part-time use of fully furnished offices and meeting rooms if needed.
Your business phone number needs to be toll free. It should also be listed in the 411 directory.
Establish Business Credit: Business Name and EIN
Like any established or new business, a trucking business name matters. It has to do with risk. Trucking is considered a risky business. When you consider a business name, try to keep things that indicate that it is a trucking business out of the name.There is no harm in naming it “Billy’s Business” rather than “Billy’s Trucking Business.”
Consistency is another issue when it comes to the business name. It has to be the same on all documents. If your incorporation papers show the name with an ampersand and the loan application has the name with the word “and” instead, it can cause denial.
Inconsistency of any kind, no matter how small, triggers a red flag for possible fraud. Most lenders will just deny rather than take the time to investigate.
Also, trucking industry professionals will need an EIN for their business credit file. It’s a number for your company similar to an individual’s Social Security Number. Get one fast, easy, and free from the IRS website.
Use this number when applying for business credit of any kind. Whether vendor credit, credit lines, or loan applications. You may still have to provide your Social Security Number in some cases for identification purposes.
However, they should not use it for credit purposes. It’s a fraud precaution only. Your EIN is what will identify your company as a separate entity and allow lenders to check your business credit score.
Even With Trucking Drivers Business Entity Matters
For establishing business credit, a truck driving company cannot be a sole proprietorship or partnership. The best business entity is either a corporation or a limited liability company.
Whether you choose a corporation or limited liability company is a choice to make with the advice of your tax preparer or attorney. It will depend on your needs for liability protection and budget. Either one works for Fundability and credit building.
A limited liability company is the most budget friendly, but a corporation offers the most protection.
A Separate Company Bank Account is Vital to Establish Business Credit
A separate business checking account helps separate business expenses so there is no commingling of funds. Your business banking history is important to future success in getting bigger business loans.
The date you open your business bank account is important because, the longer your business banking history, the better your borrowing capacity is.
Having a high account balance is imperative in attaining an excellent Bank Rating. And a good Bank Rating is imperative for loan approval down the road.
Try to maintain a bank balance of $10,000 or more for a 5 Bank Rating. You are likely to be approved for loans eventually.
In addition, some vendors that do not even check credit reports will not extend net terms if you do not have a business bank account. Since, as you will see, vendor credit is the key to establishing credit, this is huge.
Professional Business Website, Email Address, and Licensing
Of course, suppliers want to be sure the trucking service they choose is the best for them. The easiest way for them to do that these days is to search online. But, this is only one reason why a professional website is important for trucking drivers.
Even when lending within the trucking industry, lenders will search a company online before deciding to lend money. If they do not see a website for your business, or find one but it is poorly made and unprofessional, it reflects poorly on the company as a whole.
As a small business owner, it is your responsibility to contact the State, County, and City Government offices to see whether there are any necessary licenses and permits to operate your trucking company. This includes your commercial driver’s license.
Your company filings must be listed correctly at the state, county, and city levels. Plus your Internal Revenue Service filings must have correct listings.
NAICS Codes and D-U-N-S Number
These codes are a large part of how they will judge any trucking business. The IRS website is also where you choose NAICS codes. These codes are for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data on the US economy.
Per the NAICS, the 484230 code covers Specialized Freight (except Used Goods) Trucking, Long-Distance. The 484110 code covers General Freight Trucking, Local.
Neither 484230 nor 484110 is listed on the NAICS list of high risk and cash-intensive businesses. However, that list is from 2014 and does not appear to have been updated. It makes sense to err on the side of caution.
Ensure your company is listed with Dun and Bradstreet. If it isn’t, then get a D-U-N-S Number. This number kicks off the process of developing your business credit profile with them.
Your D-U-N-S number will also play an important role in enabling your company to borrow without a personal guarantee. You can get your D-U-N-S number for free on the D&B website.
Check out Credit Suite for the lowest-price monitoring of your company PAYDEX, as well as your Equifax report and Experian business credit report and more. We can save you 90%!
After Building a Fundable Foundation, What Else Does a Trucking Business Need for Establishing Business Credit?
A company in the trucking industry needs to establish business credit and build a good business credit history. This is the only way to ensure you have the business credit you need to access funding to pay drivers, purchase equipment, extend services and more. The first step is vendor credit.
The key is finding vendors that will extend net terms on invoices to your company without a credit check, and that will report payments on those invoices to the business credit reporting agencies. This can be hard to do because these “starter vendors” do not advertise themselves as such.
Credit Suite helps trucking drivers build credit by guiding them toward suppliers that we know both extend net payment terms without established credit history and report payment.
This allows a company to establish business credit and build a business credit profile with positive payment history. As you make business purchases for these suppliers using the credit, and make on-time payments, your business credit score gets stronger.
Use Business Credit and Use it Responsibly
Remember, you must be sure those invoices get paid on time. Businesses that do not use their credit by not making any purchase from these vendors, and those that do not pay on time, do not do themselves any favors.
After you have established your business credit score, you can apply for more vendor credit from more suppliers or service providers and even business credit cards.
A small business credit card allows trucking drivers more flexibility when it comes to managing expenses and cash. Business purchases can be made from suppliers as needed, and paid for after the cash is received.
For example, you can pay for the fuel to make a haul on credit, and pay it off when your client pays you.
You can often issue a business credit card to multiple trucking drivers. Some business credit card companies even allow you to set limits for individual drivers. This helps trucking businesses better manage expenses and spending.
Financing Options for Truckers
There are a number of options when it comes to financing for truckers. Of course banks are an option. After you establish credit for your business, you can apply for SBA loans and more. However, even with strong business credit these are not always the best options for trucking drivers.
Credit Line Hybrid
Truckers do have other options. For example, the Credit Suite Credit Line Hybrid is a great option, whether you have established business credit or not.You do need either a personal credit score of 700, or a credit partner with a good credit score. With that, truckers can qualify for up to $150,000 in funding with the potential for a 0% introductory interest rate for the first few months.
Equipment financing is another good option in the trucking industry. This is when you use a loan or lease to purchase or borrow hard assets for your business. In this case, that probably means trucks. However, this is a financing option you can use to buy or lease any physical asset.
One big advantage is, you will pay predictable amounts every month, thereby making budgeting a lot easier. You can even build business credit on a program like this.
Also, equipment makes great collateral. As a result, the lender probably won’t want any other collateral, and interest rates should stay on the lower end from that of other options trucking drivers may use.
Often, you’ll put down less money than you would if you were buying the equipment. You might be able to negotiate flexible terms. Plus, it’s easy for truckers to upgrade equipment once the lease ends.
Yet, there are disadvantages to equipment financing for trucking drivers as well. Your down payment can be large. Good personal credit is often a must in order to qualify. If your financed equipment becomes outdated in the future, your business will be stuck with it until the end of the lease for loan.
Often, leases can end up costing more than buying. When the lease ends, you’ll need a new lease or will have to make some other arrangement. In contrast, buying a piece of equipment means it’s yours to keep or to sell.
Fundbox is great for short-term lending for truckers. Basically, you borrow on a line of credit to be repaid every week for up to 12 weeks. Pay is made via automated deductions from your company bank account.
Business Credit Can Be Affected By Personal Credit
It’s important to note, personal credit can have an affect on your business credit reports. For example, both the Experian business credit report and FICO SBSS use personal credit in their calculation for your business credit score.
It’s also important to realize that when you apply for small business loans and credit lines from traditional lenders, they are going to take your personal credit into account.
However, if you have strong business credit, it will only help you. It will allow them to lean less heavily on personal creditworthiness and more on the creditworthiness of the small business.
So, while business credit can protect your personal credit score, the reverse is not always true. If you needed another reason to work to keep your personal credit strong long into the future, there you go. Good credit scores are a benefit all around.
Credit Suite’s goal is to help every small business, including truckers, get the funding they need. From business credit cards to lines of credit and beyond, we are here to help. We walk trucking drivers step-by-step through the process of building a Fundable Foundation.
After that, we guide you toward the vendors that will work best for your business every step of the way. One of the biggest benefits of our services is that our vendors are fully vetted.
We know they report, and we know what they require from businesses, including truckers, to qualify for credit. Companies never have to wonder if a vendor is reporting or when they qualify to apply for more credit.
Credit Suite meets truckers where they are and walks them through the entire business credit building process. Of course, it’s possible to build business credit on your own.
However, if you choose to do so, it is strictly trial and error trying to find the vendor accounts you qualify for and that will report.
It can take forever, and you may be getting nowhere and not even know it. That’s the true benefit of our service, for truckers and any other type of business. We save you time, and since time is money, our services also save you money.
Trucking Drivers Need Business Credit: Start Now
Whether you’re a business with one truck driver or multiple drivers, we can help you build credit for your company in the most efficient way possible.
This will allow you to access the funding you need to pay drivers, hire a new driver, offer more benefits to drivers, and even purchase new equipment or buildings. You will be able to offer trucking services to your clients at the best prices possible for years to come.
Our services set truckers up to get the money you need to grow and thrive far into the future. For more information, contact us for a free business financing assessment. It’s time to take the first step.