When looking to establish trade lines for your small business, there are some hard and fast rules you want to follow, especially if you are expecting those trade lines to eventually report future business transactions to D&B and other corporate credit bureaus. If you don't set them up correctly, you could be throwing good money after bad.
While it's easy enough to set up a new account with Quill, Uline or Grainger, if you don't know the base criteria for setting up those accounts, you may never see any benefit to the purchases if your payment history never makes it into your report. Other companies, such as Vistaprint, Office Depot and Pens.com, will report your transaction to the bureaus automatically, even if you only set up an online account and prepay when you make your purchase. But none of these trade lines are going to do you a lick of good if you don't create the account correctly in the first place, so here are: EIGHT QUICK NEW VENDOR TIPS to make sure you get the most bang for your business buck...
The first thing you want to do is make sure your D&B report has the correct name and physical location. Think of auto-reporting as a puzzle in which all the pieces have to fit perfectly into place. If your company's base data doesn't match what your new vendor has on file, the payment history may not get associated to your credit report.
Be sure to set up your online account as a commercial account. On some websites, you are given the option to choose between business and personal use, but others will just give you the option of adding a business name, EIN number, or DUNS number. Some eCommerce websites give you an option of applying a specific purchase order number to each individual order so they can differentiate between personal or commercial purchases.
You'll also want to make sure whatever purchases you make are business-related. Please don't order $50 in toilet paper or cleaning supplies if your business does not use toilet paper and cleaning supplies in its day-to-day operations. If you need those items, order them from a supplier who specializes in providing those items and not from an office supply retailer or an industrial supplier. If you are ordering a printer and happen to notice the vendor has toilet paper on sale, then yes, that would be a reasonable purchase.
Your payment should be made using a business bank account, debit, or credit card, so make sure that account also has your business name and address exactly as it appears in your D&B report. If your physical location is different than your billing address, there is a high probability the payment will not get associated to your credit file, and an even higher probability that your company will end up with two separate credit files, each at a different address. Never pay for business expenses using cash or a personal debit or credit card.
You should always have your business purchases shipped to the business address as it appears in your business credit file. If you are ordering and paying under one address and shipping to a different address, the transaction will usually not get applied to your account. Consistency matters across all platforms.
When placing your order, be sure all products or services relate only to this particular business. If you use your account and credit card to pay for your cousin's business cards, you may find your address and payment history being forever associated to your cousin's business.
Don't shy away from vendors who require prepayment on your first order. This is usually an indicator that the vendor cannot find your company or prior payment history in the credit bureau's database. Some vendors require purchase history in your file before they will establish net term accounts. If the vendor is requiring prepayment, make sure they are establishing a business account for you and applying your first transaction and payment to that account. This helps to document the purchase so it can get reported appropriately. Some prepaid purchases, such as those from Vistaprint, will get reported to the credit bureaus as net transactions and help to boost your viability score and credibility.
Be sure you meet the minimum requirements. While these suppliers report all commercial transactions to the bureaus, no bureau will place any payment history into the credit report that is less than $50 before tax and shipping is added. Some companies have minimums set at a higher range, such as Grainger, who only reports transactions of $125 or more, and even then only report on customers who have an account number associated to their file.
I hope this has helped to clarify some of those little details that could be standing in your path to success, but if you have any questions feel free to give me a call.