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Six Cash Flow strategies to avoid a bleak mid-winter this Christmas

Advice from Nicki Kinton of Confident Cashflow, a company which provides complete credit management solutions for those in business.

The Christmas period is almost upon us. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and dispense peace and goodwill to all! It’s also one of the most dangerous times of the year to experience cashflow problems.

As well as being a good excuse for mince pies and mulled wine, Christmas is often a time of winding down and taking some time out. The retail sector excepted, many businesses either shut down or operate with a skeleton staff for much of December. On top of that, there are further absences due to seasonal illnesses and of course the party season.

We all experience a post-Christmas come down, often called the January blues. It’s not great to be adding to them with unpaid invoices and the worry of how you’re going to pay the bills in January. 

Here are six actions you can take to make sure you don’t step into 2020 with a turkey-sized hole in your business bank account.

1. Be prompt when sending your invoices during December

Don’t wait until the end of the week or month to send your invoices. Send them as soon as you’ve done the work or sent the goods. The sooner your customers have them the quicker they can process them.

Many businesses have specific payment run dates. They are likely to bring them forward during December. If you don’t get your invoice to them before the cut-off date for processing, you won’t get paid.

Be clear with your payment due dates and make it clear that ‘all you want for Christmas is to get paid on time’.

2. Follow up invoices to ensure receipt

A quick courtesy call lets you know they are being processed. Use this call to find out what your customer is doing over the Christmas period and when their payment runs will be.

Are they shutting down? Are key people – e.g. the person who raises the payments, or authorises them – taking any annual leave? Who will take care of things in their absence? Get dates, names and contact details.

If it looks like no-one will be in the office to pay your invoice when it’s due, broach the subject of early payment.

3. Suggest payment by BACS

If your customer usually pays you by cheque then suggest a BACS payment this time.

They can schedule it in advance. That way they don’t need to feel they are losing out by paying you early.

4. Chase payments before their due date

You need to put extra effort into chasing your debtors at this time of year. The closer you get to Christmas the more difficult it will be to get hold of the person who makes the payment.

Remember it’s your money, so don’t be afraid of reminding your customers you expect timely payment. Having regular contact will remind them you exist and need paying, and your invoice is more likely to get processed before Christmas.

5. Push back requests to delay payment

When chasing for payment you may get requests from some customers to extend payment terms until early January because it’s their year-end on 31st December. They want to boost their figures for their year-end accounts by keeping your money in their bank account. Unless there is something in it for you, such as an interest payment, then why should you sacrifice your cash to make them look better?

6. Pay your suppliers on time

If you have payments that are due over Christmas be sure to do as you’d be done by. Make sure you pay your suppliers on time. If this means paying them a bit earlier, see it as a Christmas goodwill gesture and an investment in your supplier relationships.

However, avoid committing to any new spending where possible until after Christmas, that way you won’t have more bills coming in before you’ve been paid what’s owed to you!

To find out more about Confident Cashflow visit https://confidentcashflow.com

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Bath

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

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