“We fill a void in the market,” says Bill Johnson, senior vice president of sales at United Capital Business Lending. “Over the past few years, lending has stratified. There are equipment lenders and SBA lenders for small operators, and lenders for borrowers with financing needs greater than $10 million dollars, but there’s been a void in pure cash flow lending, especially in the $500,000 to $10 million range.” That is where United Capital steps in.
“We are a multiunit, multiconcept, cash flow lender. United Capital is willing and able to finance a broad spectrum of needs, whether it’s a new store development, partner buy-outs, acquisitions, refinances, or remodels, we will do it all,” Johnson says.
United Capital focuses on lending to the quick-service and fast-casual markets, markets the company knows well. “Members of our team have been in this industry a long time,” Johnson says. “We like the niche, which has been pretty resilient compared to other segments of the restaurant industry. People still dine out, but they spend less.” They are dining out at quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, the markets United Capital finances.
United Capital uses a holistic approach to lending. “We look for multiple solutions for our borrowers. They may come to us for a specific need but after evaluating that immediate need, we end up helping them in a number of other ways. A lot of borrowers had to piecemeal financing over the past three years, so we are doing a lot of refinances,” Johnson says.
“Another big piece of our business is providing development lines for franchisees to open new stores in the future. They may have development agreements they have to fulfill, and we can provide them a forward commitment to lend in the future, something you haven’t seen in a long time in lending.”
United Capital gets back to basics with relationship lending. “We provide financing based on a borrower’s historic cash flow, so we are a true cash flow lender, a type of financing that has been significantly constrained over the last few years,” Johnson says. The company is backed by Bank United with more than $12 billion in assets. “In terms of capital, we have the benefit of having a strong and stable parent, which gives us a significant advantage over our competitors in our ability to deploy much-needed capital into the market.”
Surprisingly, one of United’s challenges is the perception that money is not available. “It is out there, it’s just more stratified than it used to be,” Johnson says, “and maybe more difficult to track down than it used to be. By starting with lenders who specialize in this type of financing versus the local bank, you increase your chances of finding financing you need.” United Capital also participates with Boefly.com, an internet−based clearinghouse for franchisees looking for capital. “My team is always checking out BoeFly.com looking for opportunities to help franchisees with their financing needs. It’s a great tool,” Johnson says.
“We don’t just want to do the deal today,” he says. “We want to grow with our borrowers. In the niche of the $500,000 to $10 million loan, we are one of a few national lenders that specialize in the quick-service/fast-casual markets, and we think we are in the right place at the right time, providing the much-needed capital to help our borrowers grow.”
For more information about United Capital Business Lending, visit www.unitedcapitalbusinesslending.com.
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