A NOTE FROM OUR MANAGING DIRECTOR
Four weeks in and 2016 is well underway! Hopefully you managed to enjoy a bit of R&R.
A new year signals a fresh start. And the signs are good with business confidence remaining above the 5-year average according to Roy Morgan Research.
But the hard facts remain – only three in four small business start-ups survive their first year, and there were over 1,000 business-related bankruptcies in the December 2015 quarter alone.
China’s economic slowdown is also having a direct impact on trade credit risk in Australia, according to new research from Atradius. Nearly 23% of the value of foreign past-due business-to-business invoices remained unpaid 90 days after the due date, an increase of over 6% from last year’s rate.
A recent survey of small businesses by research company Bstar has revealed that although 92% of business owners are feeling optimistic, the number one thing that keeps them ‘up at night’ is cash flow.
With big names like Dick Smith and Laura Ashley collapsing over recent weeks, cash flow and debt is top of mind for many Australian businesses right now.
Don’t lose sleep over cash flow woes – we’re here to help! With our expertise and tailored advice, you’ll be able to minimise your exposure to risk, plug the debt leaks, and maximise your cash flow.
You might have noticed that we made a big effort in 2015 with our communications with you, and as we move into 2016 we want to make sure we’re giving you what you want, when you want it. If you’ve got two minutes to spare, I’d appreciate your views in our communications survey.
Yours in business success,
IDEAL INVOICING – TIPS FOR MAXIMISING YOUR CHANCE OF FULL, ON-TIME PAYMENT.
In business, nothing’s more annoying than an invoice that is incorrect, incomplete, incomprehensible, or missing in action. Here are our top tips to maximise your chance receiving of full, on-time payment of your invoices in 2016:
- Hold up your end of the deal! Deliver whatever goods or services have been agreed to, and do it well! Happy customers are more likely to pay on time.
- Get it correct! Double-check all elements. Is the invoice going to the correct customer? It is correctly itemised? Does it include everything your client will need to claim GST credits? Does it add up correctly? Are your payment terms and methods clearly displayed?
- The early bird catches the worm! As soon as work is completed as agreed, aim to issue your invoice before the end of the next business day. If you’ve done a great job, your client will remember this when your invoice arrives and the favour will be returned in form of prompt payment. If you leave it two weeks to issue your invoice, this could cause cash-flow woes for your client and your invoice might end up further down your clients’ payment queue.
- Appearance is everything! Is your invoice visually appealing or does it look confusing, unprofessional, and messy? How you invoice says a lot about how you conduct your business. Use your accounting software to create a professional-looking invoice. Always avoid hand-written invoices. Cluttering up your invoice with marketing messages is not a good look, so only include the essentials.
- Snail mail or email? Email is efficient, but it may not be everyone’s preferred method. Ask your client what works best for them. Many businesses prefer a paper-based invoice for record-keeping and processing purposes, plus it keeps their inbox free. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a large organisation, a snail mail invoice may well get lost or sent to the wrong department. Sounds simple, but the delivery method is important to get right.
- Preferred payment pathways. Direct credit, credit card, PayPal, cheque, Pay at Post, BPay… there are so many payment options available. The more options you are able to provide will make life easier for your client as they can choose the one that best suits them.
- But I want to speak to someone! If your client wants to query an invoice, or is unable to pay in full or on time, what would you expect them to do? Contact you, right? So ensure your contact details are front and centre on your invoice.
Could your invoices do with a ‘check up’? Contact us to schedule some time for a review where we’ll identify issues, highlight process weaknesses, and develop a series of recommendations.
USE IT OR LOSE IT!
Almost 7,000 people had a personal insolvency event (bankruptcy, debt agreements or personal insolvency agreement) in the December 2015 quarter alone, which is the third consecutive rise in a quarter.
Queensland accounted for most of the national rise in personal insolvencies in the December quarter 2015 and debt agreements in the Northern Territory in the same quarter are the highest on record.
In their recent report on corporate insolvencies ASIC has revealed that the highest rate of insolvencies occur in business / personal services, construction, accommodation / food, and retail trade industries. And 97% of unsecured creditors get back less than 11 cents in the dollar!
With figures like these, it’s a timely reminder to ensure you are using all of the available procedural and legal protections available to your business. We’re talking about solid credit application forms, terms and conditions, but most importantly, some kind of security (for example, a guarantee or the Personal Property Securities Register) to secure your position.
Don’t let your business become a statistic! We can help review your debt prevention plan to reduce your exposure to risk.
IS YOUR TEAM TOWING THE LINE?
Your team is only as strong as the weakest link, which is why employee engagement and professional development strategies are not an ‘optional extra’ for smart businesses in 2016.
Does your team have the skills required to maximise your financial position and minimise debt or are they just ‘going through the motions’?
Professional development does come at a cost to your business, so why not make an investment in a training package that your team will enjoy and that your company will benefit from?
In-house training for your accounts receivable team is just one of the debt prevention services available to our customers.
We can tailor packages to suit your team’s size, your industry type and level of experience. Part-day or full day training packages are available now, at your office or ours. Contact us for more information.
FROM OUR LEGAL EAGLES: DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE DOING BUSINESS WITH?
Before you enter into an agreement with a new customer or client, it pays to ask yourself: do you know who really know who you’re dealing with?
Because it may well be that if things go sour, the person you wish to enforce the agreement against is not the person you can enforce the agreement against (or it’s not clear who the correct person is).
This uncertainty can significantly add to the costs of collecting outstanding debts. In some instances, this can mean that you have no recourse against a debtor and the debt is written off.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent this from happening:
- Get to know who you’re doing business with. Have your new customers enter their details into a new customer form or credit application. If the customer is a company or trust, ensure that they provide the details of the directors and the name of the trustee. Consider whether a personal guarantee is appropriate in the circumstances.
- Regularly review your current customer details. Have a system in place where contact is made with your existing customers to check in to see if they have changed structures and if so insist on a new agreement.
- Consult an experienced and licensed commercial debt collection agency like Optimum Recoveries to review your current documents and avoid issues in the future if you are faced with the prospect of having to commence action against a debtor.
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