Posts tagged ‘Endeavour’

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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Please see below a message sent from the Executive Director of Charity Services on 23rd October 2009 about the importance of meeting deadlines despite the current postal disruption.

GH_logo_notag compressedAt George Hay we endeavour to file as much as possible online to the Commission, Companies House and H M Revenue & Customs and have done for many years.  We believe this provides a better quality service to our clients as well as mitigating costs by reducing resources.

Dear Sir

Online Service and Postal Disruption

I am contacting to you as a professional advisor of charities.  In light of the postal strike the Commission is reminding all our key customers of the services that can now be carried out on line and to strongly encourage you to use e-mail when contacting us.

The Commission has conducted research which indicates that approximately one-quarter of all its ‘hard copy’ post emanates from a professional adviser. In the majority of instances this post could have been sent to us by e-mail or through our website. We have to arrange for letters and documents to be scanned and this inevitably increases our administration costs and causes delay.

The Commission has been growing its online services in recent years and there has been an increasing uptake by our customers who value the swift service this can guarantee. The following services are offered online as an alternative to submitting hard copy:

  •  Filing of Annual Returns;
  • Filing of accounts and Trustee Annual Reports;
  • Registering changes to the composition of a trustee body;
  • Applying for registration online. It currently takes an average of 12 days to register a charity over the internet, with the same process via postal applications taking around twice as long on average.
  • Online publications. The online versions of our publications are the most current whereas some hard copy may not have been recently revised.

Using the Commission’s online services speeds processes up for our customers, and even where the enquiry does not relate to an online service we are generally able to act upon an e-mail more quickly than with ‘hard copy’. We can reply to most e-mail enquiries inside 5 days. This means that you can provide a quicker service to your clients.

Finally the Commission also offers template forms for a variety of actions your clients might take. These include amending their governing document; applying for authority to pay trustees; vesting land in the Official Custodian and dissolving a charity. Because the information requested is standardised we can consider applications on these forms more quickly than when they are contained in a letter alone.

The following link will take you to the landing page where these forms are housed:

If you have documentation to send the Commission, you can attach this to your e-mail and send to the Commission at:

I hope that this information is of help to you

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely  

David Locke

Executive Director of Charity Services

Charity Commission for England and Wales

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.