There are a number of very simple points to look at when considering cash flow, and whether the problems are internal or if you are having issues with banks being unhelpful, these steps could prove extremely useful in gaining you improved cash flow results, just by making minimal changes to your business, explains Simon Quinton Smith of Quinton Edwards.
Turn stock into cash
Look at your stock areas where you have too much of one item or areas where some of the stock is looking old – holding too much stock will tie up cash and increase storage and insurance costs. Consider reducing the price on slow moving stock and turn them into cash. Practising good stock control will keep stock at efficient levels.
Renegotiate payment terms with suppliers
This may be challenging as some suppliers could also be facing similar cash flow pressures. However, in times of high competition coupled with increasing cost pressures some suppliers may well be open to extending payment terms perhaps in return for signing up for longer term supply agreements or as a bargaining chip when looking to negotiate a price rise. The reverse may also work on the sales side – can you tie your customers in to shorter payment terms in return for a price freeze especially if realistically you have little prospect of passing on cost increases?
Making small changes to the timing of your invoices
Many businesses raise invoices in batches at the end of the month – take for example a large batch of invoices being raised on September 30, these invoices will be received and recorded by customers during the first week of October and will often be recorded in the ledger as October invoices. Assuming that your customers only make one payment run a month (as many still do), these September invoices are unlikely to be paid until the end of November, some 60 days on. Moving the invoice run to earlier to around the 20th of the month will often mean your customers recognise and post your invoices in the same month meaning there is a good chance you will get paid a full month earlier just by raising your invoices a week to 10 days earlier. This could have a significant positive impact on cash flows.
Annual payment on subscription type services
For subscription type services, consider whether your customers might be willing to pay either annually or quarterly in advance rather than monthly. You may need to offer a small discount to achieve this but may be able to achieve significant cash flow advantages with the added bonus of tying in your customers for longer periods.
Think about reducing staff overtime and controlling overheads. Make your business more environmentally friendly as this may reduce costs such as power and water bills and minimise wastage.
The effect of VAT
This can be very significant and the timing of both the sales and purchases around the VAT quarter end can have a marked effect on the VAT payment and the resulting cash flow. In other words, look carefully at VAT inputs and outputs and flex them so that your VAT payment is reduced.
Improve your financial skills or get expert advice
Improving your management and financial skills can help you improve your cash flow so consider attending a workshop to improve your business knowledge. You can also seek advice from a professional who can assess your individual situation.
To conclude, we understand that commercial circumstances will vary and cash flow consideration must never override commercial sense. Nevertheless, in many circumstances, a little more thought and planning can go a long way and have a marked positive effect on cash flow without otherwise interfering with or damaging the business.