By Mark Porter
Controlling your cash is vital in today's economy but you are probably also under staffed and over worked - a perfect combination that can lead to missing items that can greatly effect your cash flow.
Therefore it is vital that you have the check and balances built into your operations that will help avoid bad customers, missed charges, paying too much to vendors and maintaining cash flow.
We are not going to look at this topic from the accounting side. We will assume that everyone has an accounting system such as Quickbooks or Peachtree etc and is watching their aging process (the accounts not themselves). We will deal with the management side in this Blog.
Avoid Bad Customers: Debt from one Bad Customer can wipe out profit from a lot of Good Jobs so it is vital that you stay on top of COD and delinquent customers. These days this information can be continually changing and it is important that everyone is aware of a customer's status. There is nothing worse then shipping a job to a customer on COD before getting the money or calling a customer to tell them you are holding their job back only to find out they sent you a check earlier.
Allowing Management to make credit decisions on customers and to convey that decision immediately to other staff is very important. Management can simply flag a customer as COD or On Hold and immediately order entry people cannot open orders without a security password and shipping people cannot create packing slips without a security password.
Chargeable Changes: Profit margins on jobs are so thin these days that any extra work can turn a job from money maker to money loser. It is vital that you track your chargeable changes and collect them from your customer. Implement a system that will document all changes made to the order from the time you agree to do the job until you ship that job to the customer. The changes should be Date / Time / Employee and Reason stamped. Change Orders should be sent and immediately email notification to the customers of the changes. These changes should be immediately reflected on the invoice but allow for changes at that time.
If you keep record of every change and document the reasons for the changes you will collect your legitimate extra fees.
Start Your Aging As Soon As Possible: We all know that customers are going to take their time paying you whether that is 30, 60, 90, 120 days so the sooner you can start the clock the better. When you generate your physical invoice automatically email a pdf copy of it to your customer at the same time. This avoids any delay in mailing invoices and allows you to collect your money days earlier.
Customers will want your invoice asap so that they can bill their customers and keep their cash flow going. You may not get your money any sooner but you will become a more desirable vendor for them.
Don't Miss Any Jobs: Reduced staffs and hurried work schedules can lead to people doing things they forget about. Maybe a job is shipped and then your plant manager pulls the Job Bag to write something on it and then forgets to but it back in the billing file. Or maybe the job bag fell behind the shippers desk. The end result is a shipped job that isn't billed at all or billed at a much later date when it is found which is uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Run reports each Friday that provide a list of jobs shipped but not invoiced. Don't let any hard earned money slip through your fingers.
Don't Over Pay Purchases: Everyone makes mistakes including suppliers but you shouldn't have to pay for their mistakes. By issuing POs, recording receipts and entering Vendor Invoices you can be instantly flagged when the invoice price varies from the PO and the Quantity billed exceeds the Quantity received. You work hard for your money don't give it away to suppliers.
Other Production Tips There many other production ways to watch your cash but we covered those in our May Blog.