Sales turnover and net profits may follow a rollercoaster pattern familiar to most business but when the cash flow dries up the game is over. Urgent attention to the management of working capital can provide every business with the cash resources to
exploit its potential Most businesses will experience periods of lower sales and times when losses may be incurred as expenses exceed sales income. The situation is recoverable by producing higher sales and reducing costs and expenses. A business that runs out of cash resources is dead in the water. Debtors and sales income management
The objective is to obtain payment from customers as fast as possible improving cash flow and minimising the risk of bad debts and not being paid at all. Payment terms offered to customers should be clearly stated and fixed as standard accounting figures according to the amount of funding the business is prepared to offer its clients. Because that is exactly what credit terms to customers is, free cash funding in exchange for eventual sales income.
Consideration should be given to using a cash discount system to encourage sales invoices to be paid faster. In some businesses it would be appropriate to obtain up front deposits and scheduled payments. Review this practise to obtain a greater proportion of payments faster to improve liquidity.
New customers should be subjected to a strict credit check. All new customers where credit check details are not available should be invoiced by the accounting function on a pro forma basis. Any businesses who fail to meet the highest credit score
required should remain on a pro forma invoice basis.
The credit control function needs consideration from the first step of issuing customers with a sales invoice, producing customer statements of the debt owed and a set procedure of credit control letters and telephone follow ups that actually
achieve the end result of getting the cash in. An essential process in the credit control procedure would be to ensure the accountant or bookkeeper always issues sales invoices and customer statements promptly.
Incorporate into the terms of trade a set of rules to invoke interest payments for late payment and late payment debt recovery costs. In the UK the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 sets out the statutory rights of business
to claim interest and costs.