We understand that it’s hard enough to build and maintain a business, without having to fund your clients business too!
Corp & Comm deal with many small business owners who are effectively providing interest free loans, in the form of late payments. So we’re often asked:-
“What late payment interest can I add onto a debt ?”…
“Do I need to mention costs in my terms ?”…
“Are there other fees or penalties I can apply ?”
Here is our advice
You are entitled to add costs and interest on any legitimate business to business debt.
Irrespective of whether your terms and conditions state that you can or indeed will. Government legislation allows you to add three basic additional costs :
Late payment compensation – Set at £40, £70 or £100 depending on the value of the debt.
Late payment interest – Calculated at 8% above the current Base Rate.
Reasonable debt recovery costs – Usually around 10% of the total debt value.
Terms & Conditions
We always advise that your terms and conditions should make reference to your entitlement to add allowable costs to any legitimate, unpaid account. However you must ensure that these costs are reasonable and not excessive.
As a result, we advise you use the above guidelines as your basis to additional costs. You may well feel that you should be adding more but the challenge is that the more excessive your demands become, the less likely you are to be paid.
A simple addition to your terms along the lines of…. ‘Whenever there is a payment delay upon a legitimate invoice and our agreed payment terms are exceeded, we reserve the right to charge all allowable late payment costs, as per Government legislation, found within the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Interest Act.
If you have additional questions or would like help with recovering late payments please get in touch.
Politics!! – It affects business whether we like it or not.
Many have tried to turn a blind eye (and ear) away from the ‘B word’ or Brexit!
However, there are some key considerations to remember when it comes to supply and the subsequent credit management.
In various industries there is talk of contingency measures being taken, to mitigate potential supply problems from March. One of the measures being banded about is ‘stockpiling’.
Typically, this will have a greater impact on the supply of goods but service industries may experience issues too. For example if paper prices increase, this would have a bearing on printers, training companies e.t.c. having a domino effect.
Now there may be some whom will live with the mantra… ‘make hay whilst the suns shines’ but we must all be aware of the risks that increased stockholding could bring and have contingency plans:
You’ve carefully vetted and checked your customers and have determined a credit limit that both you, ‘the Supplier’ and the client, ‘the Buyer’ are comfortable with. Should the Buyer suddenly exceed this limit, without the guarantee of a pending order to fund the increased spend, are they going to be able to clear the larger supply invoice ?
So the Buyer has a warehouse full of stock ‘just in case’ but a larger stockholding is not a pre-cursor of larger revenue. In fact, it could lead to quite the opposite. Should there not be an increased demand for items, the Buyer may be forced to sell at a lesser price, which leads to lesser revenues, a squeeze on their cash-flow and decisions as to which Suppliers to pay.
Finally let’s not forget the possible issues the Supplier may face with stockholding. The costs to any Supplier in fulfilling a larger Buyer’s order obviously increase. The question any supplier should ask is… can I afford to invest in fulfilling this new order and if so, how can I mitigate the exposure and risk of the costs for same ?
There are a few key principals as to how to mitigate invoice exposure and risk, we’ve covered them previously in both our past articles and on our various website blogs such as ‘The Ten Commandments’
If you want to know more, then contact our team today.
Let’s make no bones about it, the next few months are a period of uncertainty for all of us.
Brexit is finally happening! Judging by the noises coming out of parliament, the deal is not going to be to everybody’s taste.
The High Street is in a state of disrepair, both physically and metaphorically. A recent ……. survey claimed that inner city retail outlets were closing at a rate of 14 a day !
Now more than ever is the time for you to know who you are dealing with. Also just as importantly who they are dealing with ?
On face value, you may not have a direct dealing with an import or export company, or indeed that of a High Street retailer but it is imperative that you start to trace the business path.
Christmas gives everybody a great opportunity to speak with your customers. Whilst you are speaking to them to wish them well for the festive season, ask them the questions that will give you the information you need to make some measured judgements.
“I know a little bit about your business but please tell me briefly, who are your major customers,
what type of clients are you looking to attract and are there any particular industries ?”
“We were having a discussion here the other day about whether Brexit will affect us, do you think it
will affect your business in any way ?”
“What’s your thoughts on the current state of the retail industry, do you think it will
have any bearing on businesses like your and ours ?”
You’re trying to ascertain whether at some point in the future, your customers will be affected by the uncertainty to come.
Will Brexit impact their costs or margins ?
Will the reduction in High Street trade reduce their revenues and cash flow ?
Remember, 8 times out of 10, a debtor is only a debtor by circumstance. Something has impacted upon their money chain. A major customer has gone bust or a supplier is delaying goods for sale. This impacts on their revenue and cash flow. Often your customer has no other choice than to pass this pain further down the money chain. Including delaying payments to their creditors whilst they resolve things.
The more informed you are about your client’s exposure and risks, the more able you are to identify changes in trading patterns and payment schedules. This will then enable you to react faster, when taking actions to ensure your cash flow is not the one that is affected.
Christmas may well be the season of good will but it must also be the season of good practice.
We are here to help. So if you would like to get our advice or use our services please get in touch>>>
Halloween… a time for ghouls and ghosts, tricks or treats, but also due diligence.
Oh no…more late payments
We all dress up pretending to be other, often ‘un-worldly people’. The aim being to remain unknown, to scare or maybe trick the unsuspecting and hopefully to escape with a bag of loot. All in the name of fun of course.
If you consider this in a business context, it’s not so fun, especially when you consider the real aim is to trick you out of your hard earned money!
It may sound harsh even far fetched but we all know that there are companies out there who don’t need Halloween season as an excuse to try to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
Remember in most cases October’s invoicing is Christmas’s cash flow.
Doing all that you can now to ensure that your customers are true and valid, will go some way to ensuring that the invoices you raise this month have a chance of being paid in the future.
What action can I take?
Check up on the liquidity of both your new customers and also your bigger value customers.
Check that the account details you hold are correct and that you’re billing the correct company.
Check that there aren’t any pending insolvencies raised against the customer.
Check that the people running the company, are who they say they are.
How do I do that?
Use these FREE web-links to aid in your investigations :
As you know, our mantra is… ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure’… so being forewarned is forearmed.
In this season of pranks and high jinks, no matter how tempting it may seem to chase that quick buck, that big invoice, it is imperative your do your diligence first.
Don’t get fooled into accepting a trick, concentrate your time on receiving those treats !
Are you owed money?
Why spend valuable time chasing for payment when we can do it for you? Submit details of owed invoices quickly and easilyonline, or simply give us a call 01535 654 594. On occasion you can even add our fee and interest to the total amount we aim to collect.
Regular readers to our newsletters, blogs and social media will know that we’re championing insolvency regulation and law changes.
The goal is to prevent reckless company directors from evading all liabilities, with such ease when their companies enter insolvency.
The process of closing a business and then ‘phoenixing’ a new company from the flames, free of debt needs to stop. It is the scourge of all small businesses.
We’re campaigning with the Government’s Small Business Commissioner Paul Uppalfor changes in both law and legislation. Reckless directors must remain responsible and be held accountable for their actions.
We reported last month discussions we’d had with the Commissioner’s office about what changes needed to be implemented. This directly led to meetings both with the business regulatory bodies i.e. Companies House and in the annals of power in Parliament.
Notably the Government said it wants to stop the practice known as ‘phoenixing’. Plus it stated that for the first time, directors dissolving companies to dodge debts will face misconduct investigations.
Change is starting to be noticed. Indeed Stuart Firth, President of the Insolvency and Trade Body R3 stated… “The Government’s announcement that it will look to disqualify directors of such companies, is an important part of ensuring that directors are less likely to walk away from their responsibilities”.
Now we’re not stating that we’re directly responsible for these steps but we’ll happily take some credit where necessary.
We’ll continue to converse with the Commissioner’s office and the next stop is conversations with The Insolvency Service, to discuss how we can put these plans and ideals into general practice.
Large company failures…. They make the news on an almost weekly basis.
Big high street brands such as Toys R Us and House of Fraser have suffered high profile insolvencies this year and others like Debenhams and Marks & Spencer have been forced into an aggressive program of store closures.
In fact The Centre for Retail Research confirms that 41 high street names have entered insolvency so far in 2018… and it won’t end there.
Now we realise that not everybody deals directly with these big high street brands but the likelihood is the chain of supply will work it’s way to your clients and suppliers in some way and will they be forced to pass on their pain to some degree ?
The question is, what can you do to avoid being a victim in these trying times.
The answer is simple, keep doing your diligence.
Regular readers will know that we often speak about employing good checking processes and systems into your credit control procedures. In these trying times, let’s quickly revisit them.
1.Conduct REGULAR credit checks on your client and suppliers.
Check for any adverse profit warnings, reduced credit scores and credit limits. All of these are indicators that the reference agencies and regulators are concerned.
2. Reference Companies House and other business databases.
Check your existing and new information with the databases. Have new businesses been set up by the same directors ? Does this point to an imminent change in the business ?
3. Do your diligence on the internet.
The internet is a great source of news and notices. If there are rumblings of troubles and insolvencies on the horizon, it’s better to be forewarned so you can act first, not last.
Now we’re not saying that by you conducting the correct diligence, the rate of company insolvencies will fall, far from it.
What we are saying is that in these days of companies closing, entering insolvency and then ‘pheonix-ing’ from the flames overnight into another business, you are better forewarned.
For 2018 has definitely shown us that your leopard can indeed change it’s spots.
If you would like to learn more about the diligence, credit control processes and methods to improve overall cash flow in your business check out our other News Blogsor attend our Seminar, that is taking place as part of Leeds Biz Week.
Any successful business, large or small has suffered the hardship of having to write off unpaid invoices.
Often, the more successful the business is, the higher chance they’ll be faced with writing off a percentage of cash-flow. Team Corp & Comm advise clients to consider this fact so that they can prepare and plan. The more exposure you experience, the more risk you have to manage.
What do I need to Know?
Now as you all know, Corp & Comm don’t do doom and gloom. We find a positive in everything. If you’ve got a canny Accountant, you too can find a little positive in write offs through tax relief on both VAT and Corporation Tax. So make sure you ask about this.
However let us educate you about another, lesser known positive from write offs.
Just because you’ve written off an amount in your annual figures, does not mean to say that that’s the end of it… far from it.
Did you know you have SIX years to recover an outstanding account, irrespective as to which tax year it falls into.
Obviously when you’re successful in recovering your monies, there may be some tax implications on the monies you’ve recovered back but hey, if you’re paying tax on an amount that you previously written off, well then that’s a good place to be in our book.
So don’t delay, roll up those sleeves and dive down the back of that sofa. You never know what hidden gems are waiting to be found in your older debt ledgers, just waiting for that opportunity to be collected properly and be returned to where they rightfully belong… Your Bank Account !
As always if you would like more information or don’t have the time and need to outsource the task get in touch.
Recent studies and news reports have shown that debit card payments have overtaken cash transactions, for the first time in the UK.
This is understandable from a technology and customer experience perspective. After-all as a small business owner in today’s fast- moving climate, you have to be flexible to accommodate the diverse demands of all your customers.
Customers like options. The more options that you make available to them, whether its product/service type or payment method, the better chance you have of creating customer loyalty, driving repeat business and ultimately generating greater profits.
Therefore one important decision you will have to make is whether or not your small business will accept debit/credit cards.
What does the research say?
A HMRC survey, undertaken at the end of last year found that 70% of small businesses said that they do not use an entirely cashless system, although 21% do choose to use chip and pin machines as part of their payment mechanisms.
This reluctance from small business owners to switch to a cashless payment system isn’t just stubbornness. It is borne out of many factors but the main ones were processing and mis-use costs and security.
To accept debit/credit cards. That is the question!
So while accepting cards may appeal to your customers, there are some aspects of these kinds of transactions that make accepting this form of payment more of a risk. In addition to the cost of paying to access the services, arguably the most costly drawback of accepting cards at your small business are chargebacks.
What are chargebacks?
Customers of major card companies have the power to dispute transactions, to protect themselves against fraud or unauthorized purchases. A chargeback happens when an issuing bank returns money to a customer in a forcible manner in order to settle a disputed transaction.
Banks have instituted chargebacks to protect customers from dishonest merchants, but they do not have a whole lot to offer when it comes to protecting honest merchants from dishonest customers.
There are also dishonest consumers who make a habit of purchasing products and services then disputing the charges.
Small business owners should be aware that buyer’s remorse can lead to their requesting a chargeback.
So unsurprisingly chargebacks are a concern for small businesses as it can find itself faced with enormous financial loss, and the prospect of fighting what seems like an uphill battle to retrieve the revenue you’ve earned.
3 Issues to consider when fighting a chargeback:
1 It’s Incredibly Time-Consuming
In order to retain the revenue business owners need to prove to a merchant that the services were provided in the first place. It can be hard to do, so you need to evaluate whether fighting the revenue will be worth as many as 10-12 hours of your time.
2.It Could Be Your Fault
Chargebacks aren’t always initiated by dishonest consumers. They can also be triggered when your customer doesn’t remember you when checking the credit card statement. So ensure:
Your business is easily identifiable on the statement
You are attentive to queries in case a customer doesn’t recognize the charge.
If there is a genuine problem deal with it professionally before fighting a chargeback.
3.The Client’s Unlikely to Result in Recurring Revenue
Even if you ultimately win the chargeback battle against a dishonest customer, the benefits to your business are likely to be limited to the total amount of their bill
Considerations beyond Chargebacks
Compliance – In these days of GDPR, it is vitally important we all adhere to security rules and regulations. If you record your calls, you must stop recording at the time that you verbally take a person’s card information. If you note down the details, then you must ensure that these notes are destroyed.
Costs – The rules about passing on card charges within a transaction have recently changed. Should a person use a personal card to clear an account, irrespective as to whether it is clearing a business account, you cannot pass on card transaction charges. You can only pass card charges when using a business card.
As with any financial transaction, common sense is the key. By being educated as to the do’s and don’ts we’re all better placed to make those informed decisions and to ultimately succeed in this ever changing world of payment methods.
For those of you that know us well, you will know that our editorials are always packed full of advice and guidance about :
-how to try to avoid a bad debt occurring in the first instance, then
-secondly should you sadly have the mis-fortune of experiencing a delayed invoice payment, how best to attempt to recover your debt thereafter.
Well it now seems that our publications are reaching higher plains ? The essential advice and guidance that we’ve been passing on to our valued contacts over the last few years has reached the corridors of power in Government.
It is clear that our wise words have been both read and understood in Parliamentary circles, as the very same steps, hints and tips we’ve been preaching for some time can now all be found on the website of the recently created Small Business Commissioner https://www.smallbusinesscommissioner.gov.uk
This Business Commissioner role is to act as a national champion for small businesses and support them in payment disputes with their larger customers.
The role was established in response to the discovery that nearly half of the UK’s small businesses experience late payment.
Payment processor, Bacs estimated that a total of £26.3bn was owed to these businesses and given that we all rely on the UK’s 5.5 million small and medium sized businesses for jobs, goods and services, an unfair payment culture that hurts these firms has no place in our economy.
“There is simply no excuse for a business culture where supply chain bullying or poor payment practice are acceptable. FSB research shows that poor payment practice is on the rise, causing 50,000 business deaths each year.” Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses commented
Our advice is to keep the above link handy and use the information as a reference, to help you create a strong and robust credit control process.
We see our role in industry to be there for comment and to reflect both sides of any argument. As a result, we are often drawn into discussions on public forums such as LinkedIn and Twitter about the need of some people to name and shame the companies who purposely delay payments.
Although there used to be such forums as ‘Credit Circles’ in the past where like-minded similar industries shared knowledge on bad payers, this practice has fallen out of favour given the rise in credit compliance and data protection regulations.
Well now one of the Commissioner’s roles is to be that point of reference when it comes to naming. The Commissioner actively encourages that people who have suffered through unfair practices at the hands of late payers contact them and complain.
The naming part of the process may prove cathartic to some but sadly the likelihood of these companies being shamed will probably not materialize.
That being said, the creation and potential evolution of the Commissioner is a step in the right direction to resolving issues of late payment and we for one advocate the best practice the Commissioner’s office encourages… even if they have straightforwardly stolen from the industry experts… 😊
Every day, as we run our client’s credit control functions, we remotely access many different accounts systems. As a result, we feel that we’re well suited to pass on our opinions about which accounts systems work best and why. There are many different accounting systems in the marketplace such as Harvest, Kashflow, Wave etc and all are unique and all fulfil a purpose. However for the sake of ease and security in your business, we would recommend you look at one of the big three providers Sage, Quickbooks and Xero.
In our opinion, a good accounts package should complete the minimum of 3 things :
* Allow the process of raising invoices on a daily basis, to either one individual client or a number of clients in a run, with furthermore the ability to be able to email both the original invoices and copies thereafter at any given time.
* Allow you to create a statement of accounts for an individual client, with no barriers as to the dates, values or numbers of transactions to be listed within that statement, which again can be emailed at any given time.
* Have the ability to raise management information reports, to highlight what monies are owed to you by a particular client and from where, with a view to creating a process for the pursuit and recovery of your outstanding monies.There are many other functions that a business owner could deem equally as important to them, this is for the purpose of successful credit control.
Sage is the oldest player in the market and has a well established name within the accounting industry but this may well be its only downfall. Although Sage are working constantly to improve its ‘user friendliness’, in our opinion Sage is great if you have a good grasp of accounts, if you are a complete novice then Sage may not be the best introduction to accounting software.
Quickbooks has also been around for a while but was a little slow in developing the on-line element of accounting. They are more than making up for this now and their advertising presence has increased dramatically over the last few years. However in our opinion although Quickbooks are nearly there with the customer ‘interface experience’ there is still work to be done.
In our opinion Xero is the best starter package for a business looking to gain control of its accounts and its credit control function. Whereas we think Sage suits accounts people with a grasp of business, we think the opposite with Xero, it suits business people who need to gain a better understanding of accounts. Because of this we think it suits the ‘masses’ more.
Furthermore Gavin McBride Director of Smith McBride Chartered Accountants and Tax Consultants share our view:
“As a practice we have had experience with most if not all of the bookkeeping software on the market. Xero is our preferred choice for our clients to use. The main reason being that they find it easy and logical to use. Xero can really help a business owner to run a much more efficient business and keep track of who owes them money! It can also help them to keep a handle on how much money they are or are not make day to day”.