Posts tagged ‘Profitability’

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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If not, you are probably not making the most of your best clients by allowing the less important, or less profit making clients distract you.

So honestly, how well do you know the profile of your client portfolio?  

Have you ever stopped the frenetic daily routine for a moment to sit back and think about who your clients are?  Why you work with them? What contribution they make to the profitability of your business?

Sometimes it can be very interesting to do just that. You might be surprised by what you find out and you may even be disappointed.

Many businesses are so busy going about their business that they don’t find the time to think about their customers, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask:

  • 3D Character and Question MarkHow many clients do we have?
  • What does each client give us?
  • What do we give to them?
  • How much of a contribution does each client make towards the bottom line?
  • Are we maximizing the opportunities from each client?
  • Are we over servicing any clients to the detriment of others?
  • If we changed the mix of our clients could we make more money?

He who shouts loudest…

It’s often the case that the clients who shout the loudest or are the most needy are those that are draining a business of its precious resources which could better be used elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s difficult to face up to this because when you do find out, you then have a decision to make – do you disengage from them or is there an opportunity to turn them into a worthwhile client through conversation and negotiation around what you do for them and for how much.


If you haven’t reviewed your clients for a while I would recommend getting some help to do this by a professional that is qualified to analyse your business and come up with some suggestions as what your options are. It may cost you a bit of money in fees to do this but it could be a very worthwhile exercise and it may change the way that you do business in future. 

Doing this yourself can be time consuming and emotionally draining, after all, we all have clients that we prefer, but are they really the best clients for your business?

Related post from my fabulous Twitterbuddy and blogger extraordinaire, Jim Connolly : How to attract better clients

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.