Posts tagged ‘Debts’

Now, I’m not particularly interested in politics, but the state of the economy and the property market is something that I just can not ignore.

Is it just me, or does George Osbourne’s grasp of economics worry you too?

In this Telegraph article  he is quoted as saying that 95% mortgages are not “weapons of mass destruction” despite warnings from RICS that they could create another housing bubble and he believes that large home loans are part of a “healthy market” and “aspiration society.”

Real Estate=Big MoneyHow does he think the 2007/8 crash happened?

When Maggie gave us the opportunity to be home owners, do you think she envisaged British people being up to their eyeballs in debt?

Simple?

There are two very obvious problems with big mortgages

  1. If you stretch yourself to the maximum to afford a loan at a time when interest rates are at historically low levels what do you do when interest rates rise, as rise they must, sooner or later?
  2.  What do you do when the house in which you have 5% equity drops in value by 10%?

The answer in each case is default on the loan and hand the keys back, and we all know who will end up paying the costs of these bad bank debts!

Responsibility?

So who should take responsibility for promoting  this “so what” attitude to debt?

The first time buyers who are being allowed to take on such a huge financial burden?  The lenders? The Government?

Personally

Frankly as the owner of several buy-to-let properties I am revelling in the shortage of properties caused by the recession, profiting from the low interest rates and the chance of another “bubble” is very exciting!

But I am sure I am in the minority with this rather selfish outlook.  What’s your view?  Has the Chancellor got it all wrong? Will his strategy help the country to recover from its economic crisis?

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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Everyone in business has heard the term “Cash is King” and understands the importance of cash flow, but when in the day to day ‘busy-ness’ of business it is easy to take your ‘eye off the ball’.

So in these difficult times, if you find yourself in a position where cash flow becomes a matter of urgency rather than a procedural chore, what can you do to turn things around?

Here are my top five quick fixes, each one worthy of a post of its own.

1. Debt Collection

Focusing on getting paid for what you have provided is an obvious place to start. 

Don’t allow customers to improve their cash flow at your cost and don’t get lazy when it comes to implementing rigid credit control procedures. Many ledger clerks are instructed by their managers not to issue payment until a debt has been chased both in writing and verbally, so don’t cut corners or get caught off guard. 

If you are uncomfortable with this discipline or you have accepted that this is not your skill set, outsource it.  I recommend Ken Brown from Direct Route for everything from collecting a single difficult debt to completely managing your sales ledger. 

Also, be sure to focus on servicing customers that do stick to your payment terms.  Don’t forget my previous advice about allowing “he who shouts loudest…” to distract you from those that are key to your success.

2. Improve terms and conditions of sale

Meet with each of your valued customers without delay and renegotiate terms.  By prioritising their needs and building confidence in your business relationship, agreements regarding quick payment, or even payment on delivery can be made. 

If need be, offer an early payment discount to encourage quick settlement.  Often the reduction in margin, is substantailly less than the cost of finance such as overdrafts or the deminished goodwill from not meeting debts as they fall due.

Don’t forget that it costs a lot more to attract and service new business than it does to obtain more business from your current clients.


3.  Get your bank manager onside

Having up to date management accounts, a clearly defined business plan that demonstrates that the current difficulties are short term and building an open, honest business relationship with your bank manager will no doubt create flexibility. 

Once they have built confidence in you as a business owner, they will at short notice be able to offer solutions and support.  Involve your accountant in this process.

4.  Manage suppliers

This aspect is often not given enough attention.  In the same way that you manage customers, prioritise, negotiate and treat your suppliers with respect. 

Being honest with them and honouring any payment arrangements you have agreed with them will keep your integrity and prevent suppliers from ‘digging their heels in’.

Also, if you hold stock, review your processes and speak to your suppliers about delivery times etcetera, they may be able to help you to manage a ‘just in time’ system by offering you a priority service. 

5.  Increase profitability

Certainly not the easiest or quickest approach and one where you might want to seek support from your accountant or a business coach.

Looking at overheads is an obvious point, but how about reviewing historic data to identify which products/services in your sales mix generate the biggest contribution and assign time and effort in pushing these.  Perhaps redirect your marketing budget and reward your team for selling these items or finding innovative ways to deliver these at lower costs.

As well as focusing on your most profitable products/services, take time to identify your most profitable clients

Budgeting can take time, but often some ‘quick wins’ can be discovered by carrying out these accounting exercises.  They can also drive long term process and cash flow improvements. 


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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