18.07.2019

Managing Cashflow

Chasing late payments on invoices is one of the toughest and most awkward tasks for a small business owner. It is never easy asking for money. But this is business and it is only fair that you get paid for the work you have done.

One of the most commonly asked topics we get from Members is how do I keep on top of our cashflow?

The last resort is to issue a Letter of Demand which is the final step before engaging a debt collection agency or commencing legal proceedings through VCAT. To avoid having to use a Letter of Demand here are some top tips on keeping on top of your cashflow from the outset.

MAKE PAYMENT TERMS CLEAR FROM THE START

Set very clear payment guidelines for clients upfront, both verbally and contractually.

Ensure that your client knows your payment terms and conditions before you commence the project. The best way is to step them through the process with the contract in front of you and get their nod as you explain the process.

The BDAV Engagement agreement covers the following regarding payment of fees: –  Basis of payment fees – lump sum; hourly rate; percentage of construction cost or a combination  of the three –  fees due at each stage of the project – invoicing and receiving payments in installments is a great way to ensure cashflow

–  period of submission of accounts

–  period for payment of accounts

–  interest rate on overdue accounts

–  accounting fee on overdue accounts

–  disbursements

Being upfront, open and transparent is key to avoiding payment issues down the track.

AVOID SURPRISE INVOICES

Being transparent about all service costs extends to variations on a project. Avoid sending clients invoices they are not expecting. Speak to them before sending that ‘surprise’ invoice.

 

SPREAD OUT PAYMENTS

Rather than insisting on full payment upfront, spread payments over a reasonable time span. This will help to ensure regular cash flow and clients are less likely to default on payment mid-project if terms are more manageable and clearly defined.

 

FIND A GREAT ACCOUNTANT

Hire an experienced accountant who can pick up the phone on your behalf, talk openly with a client in a polite, professional manner, and get the bill paid.

Your accountant should be watching cash flow figures closely and ensure debts don’t build up.

CHASE EARLY, NOT LATER

Avoid debts occurring in the first place by following up early. Adhere to your own terms and conditions set in your contract and send invoices out in a timely manner. As soon as a payment becomes overdue, make sure you commence follow up procedures. This could include:

  1. Once the payment is overdue phone or email the client to ask if they are happy with the services. Remind them that payment is due and has not been received. Ask them when they will be paying you and keep a record of the conversation or email.
  2. When the client has not paid as per the terms and conditions agreed upon, give them a second phone call or email to let them know that you have not received payment. Remember to be nice, they may have forgotten or paid into the wrong bank account.
  3. In the event that all attempts to contact them have failed, consider sending a Letter of Demand. This should be done as a last resort, as it can damage your relationship with the client.
  4. If you have still not been paid, then you should consider using a debt collecting agency to collect the outstanding money from your client; or alternatively commence legal proceedings through VCAT.

BDAV have added a Letter of Demand template to the Practice Notes section of the Member only section of the website.

Members are welcome to use this template or alternatively BDAV’s preferred lawyers Sinclair + May can tailor a specific response at a discounted member rate.

Contact details Sinclair & May

Ph: 03 9111 5660

Web: www.sinclairmay.com.au