The level and rate of change businesses are currently experiencing is set to develop even further in the coming months. Following announcements of potential further restrictions on a more regional basis, and the possibility of a short circuit break, leaders will need to exercise agility in order to react and adjust their operations successfully. Locations of buyers and suppliers, isolating staff members, and other elements will all have an impact on the decision-making process for leaders. To get the balance right, knowing your cash flow is crucial.
To continue focusing on a #BusinessForTomorrow, Hazlewoods business experts have addressed the key considerations leaders should account for with their cash flow now.
Latest cash flow considerations
Bringing staff back will be a difficult decision and one which will need much thought. Even with the announcement of the JSS, to follow on from the furlough scheme, there is still the question of whether the business can afford to bring back all or some staff, on a part-time or full-time basis. The short to medium term impact of tax deferrals on cashflow has lessened now that VAT payments can be spread over 11 months; however, the JSS will still require employers to contribute more for staff that will be unproductive with reduced working hours.
Although redundancies may provide an alternative to employers making use of the JSS scheme, businesses will need to be aware that redundancies can be expensive with significant cash outflow, and if demand for goods and services increases in the short to medium term, will replacing those employees be possible?
Reviewing forecasts and expected workload over the coming months will determine the level of staff required to help deliver the anticipated work. Hazlewoods business experts maintain that the importance of cash flow forecasting cannot be understated; it enables you to identify potential shortfalls at an early stage and adapt your operations to suit the situation.
It can help to work through a range of scenarios for your business, for example, with or without redundancies or variations on demand. This gives leaders the facts needed to make timely decisions, whilst bearing in mind the medium to long term outlook.
Hazlewoods Corporate Finance team produced two basic cash flow projection templates earlier in the year which are still available to download below. For our top tips on how to complete the cash flow templates, read our previous article below or get in touch with one of our advisers.
Times like this require leaders to inspire their workforce and lead from the front, and staff will look to those leaders for help and guidance. However, making sure the right decision is made for the business at the right time and handled in the correct manner is difficult and will require careful planning and consideration.
For more information on cash flow considerations for building a #BusinessForTomorrow or for help with our templates, please contact Scott Lawrence on email@example.com or 01242 680000.
13-week cash flow forecast
Once you have gathered all the relevant information, populate your cash forecast with your best-case and worst-case scenarios to establish what your cash shortfall will be in each and use this information as a basis on which to make a sensible application for loan finance. Best guess anything you are unsure about, as no forecast will be exact in these difficult times.
Depending on your business model, you may initially see a cash improvement as your debtors continue paying whilst your costs reduce. It will be crucial, however, to make sure you have enough cash remaining to allow for any sharp working capital expansion when the current trading restrictions relax.
It is important to note that everyone’s business model differs but, for most, the pinch points will come if and when business picks up again as your working capital will have been eroded. You will need to take into consideration the payments of items such as delayed VAT and corporation tax. Find out more here.
Our top tips for completing the cash flow forecast
You will need to establish, as best you can, what cash will be coming into the business. There will be a best-case and a worst-case scenario, so it is wise to do two forecasts and evaluate each.
Here are the steps you should take:
- Contact the accounts departments of all your major customers to find out what their current payment policy is and whether there are any plans or considerations that may change it in the future.
- Find out the dates of any payments they will be making and put these in your forecast.
- If a client has put all payments on hold, make a note of it and record how much they owe you. Evaluate the likely portion of bad debts.
- If you have any other normal cash inflows, for example, rent agreements, grants, interest etc. evaluate how stable these sources of income are.
- Consider all the government-backed assistance on offer to your industry and the likely timescales for accessing cash.
- If you have access to additional private equity funds, make sure you explore this option.
This is the area where you have most control, so make sure you thoroughly explore every avenue. You should have more than enough time if business is slow.
- Process any client orders that you will be able to invoice and for which you will receive payment.
- Ensure you know when goods have been received by a client and send a bill swiftly.
- Wherever possible, cancel the purchase orders of customers who are withholding payment.
- Only process new orders when the customer’s account is cleared.
- Only order whatever is necessary to hit the ground running when trading restrictions are lifted.
- Based on what you have found out from your customers, decide who can and should be paid and with whom you can negotiate a part payment or a delay.
- Inform your suppliers of your decisions so they can also plan accordingly.
- Try and protect the relationships you have with your key suppliers – i.e. the ones you need most and also the ones you know might be most vulnerable.
General cost of sales
- These should fall naturally in line with your revenue but cancel anything that is not essential.
- Consider ‘furlough’ options if there is no work to do and consult affected staff.
- Furlough salary payments still need to be made by the company, but the Government will reimburse the payment via the new coronavirus job retention scheme system. This could take longer than anticipated to organise so you might want to discuss with employees a delay of the normal salary payment date.
- Make sure your employees have information about mortgage holidays etc. so they can minimise their own expenditure during this period.
- Review all fixed costs and any planned capital expenditure to establish what can be put on hold and what must be paid.
- Discuss rent payments with your landlord. They may be unhelpful, but the Government has banned all evictions from commercial properties for the time being.
- Call any other lease/rental providers e.g. photocopiers to see if they would also be willing to give a payment holiday.
- Apply to your local authority to see if your industry qualifies for any of the business rates breaks promised by the Government.
- Contact your bank and apply for a loan payment holiday. The banks are being inundated with requests but be patient and keep trying.
- Restrict dividend payments to the bare minimum once directors have arranged mortgage holidays etc. with their own banks.
If you need help with your cash flow template or making decisions on what steps to take next, please get in touch.