There are two questions I ask my clients more than any others:
What was the last thing you purchased online?
What are you shopping for right now?
How they answer those questions is an invaluable tool in determining specific ways they can continue to build and boost their business credit capability, and sometimes... without even trying!
Believe it or not, most small business owners are leaving a lot on the table in terms of their vendors and suppliers, and it's usually because they think prepaid purchases can't impact their commercial credit scores and ratings. In reality, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Let's look at Edgar, one of my "Maintenance & Monitoring" clients. He initially became a client a couple of years ago after his dysfunctional D&B report cost him a high dollar contract. Now, his credit report is in awesome condition and he gets approved for just about every credit line he applies for.
From time to time, though, an inquiry will post to his D&B report that's outside the normal parameters that I'm used to seeing. Last month, an inquiry came through under "Retail hardware", so I asked him if he knew who that vendor might be. I track my client's inquiries because those usually represent companies who will be autoreporting payment history to D&B later - after he makes a purchase.
As it turns out, the only purchase Edgar had made (outside his normal vendors and suppliers) was an online account he created to purchase some drawer hardware online. When he told me the name of the supplier, I was surprised. While it was a company I'm familiar with, I didn't have them on my "potential autoreporter" list.
Sure enough, a new Net 30 payment appeared in Edgar's D&B report last Monday under "Ret hardware", which confirmed NOT ONLY that the supplier is an autoreporter, but also that even prepaid purchases made online get reported equally (and weigh as heavily on the scores) as other purchase made on invoiced Net 30 terms.
WHEN MAKING BUSINESS PURCHASES ONLINE:
Business Name: Be sure to use your business name EXACTLY as it appears in your D&B report, since many suppliers and creditors verify business information from new account set ups directly through the DNBi Risk Management system.
Contact Info: Address and phone number also needs to match the D&B report, even any abbreviations and punctuation.
Shipping Address: Most suppliers, even prepaid ones, don't like to ship to virtual offices, PO Boxes, or personal mail-drop locations due to increased potential for fraud. Remember, their ultimate goal is to make you a repeat customer, and potentially an invoiced customer, so they need to be able to verify your business is trustworthy and verifiable.
Billing address: Unless your D&B report shows a separate billing address, then the billing address on your bank and/or credit cards should match the physical address. If there is any discrepancy, the supplier may choose to err on the side of caution and keep your company as a "prepaid-only" customer.
Payment method: If you are using a personal bank account, debit or credit card when paying for your purchase, it is less likely to get added as a business transaction in the company's D&B report. Remember — D&B is capable of skirting normal Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements simply because they do not allow PERSONAL transactions into the BUSINESS credit report.
WATCH YOUR REPORT! If you see an inquiry come through a couple days after you make your first purchase, there is a high likelihood you will see a payment flow automatically into your report within 30 days. If you sign up for D&B's free CreditSignal service, you'll get alerted when inquiries post to your D&B file.
TRACK FUTURE PAYMENTS! If you saw the inquiry, watch for the payment. If it shows up, you can rest assured any new transactions with that supplier will be continuously re-reported, and it's those re-reports that help to boost your scores and make your business more creditworthy over time.
So the next time you find yourself making an online purchase or dealing with a supplier who is requiring prepayment, don't balk at the opportunity. Just take three additional minutes to create an account in your business name. You'll never know what a benefit it can be until you get surprised by the results!
As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance. Consultations are always free, and most issues are easily resolved right over the phone. 800-918-7505 (ext 2 reaches me directly)