Time to grow
31st May 2013
... Comments

Having survived an uncertain climate, you may well be looking for innovative ways to grow your business. This can be an exciting time as you and your staff work hard to win new business. Yet a pressured and fast paced ‘win’ environment can easily allow factors to creep in that could potentially damage your business.


The issues:

  • How well do you know your customer?
  • How can you be sure that the great new job you have just won doesn’t come with a host of hidden costs?
  • Are your new customers in a position to pay?
  • Customer cash flow problems can quickly drain profits


What you can do:

  • Don’t take on new business at any cost.
  • Introduce into your workflow, early on, a structured checklist to remind you of the various commercial checks and due diligence you can/must carry out.
  • Classify these new opportunities according to risk – low, medium or high.


The results:

  • By being able to identify opportunities with a greater chance of profitability there will be fewer losses.
  • Your debtor days will decrease and your overall cash flow will improve.
  • Your decision making will be made at a much earlier stage.


So, play to your strengths. However, not knowing whether you have done business with someone before, or the work you did, for them can be detrimental in many ways. So, have a central and integrated system that will enable you to see all current and past work that you have done for these customers and how you did it.


The results:

  • You can focus on bids that you can win.
  • You can identify where you had previous successes and the skills needed within your organisation to deliver.
  • You can pinpoint new opportunities more accurately, based upon better knowledge of similar past work.
  • You can save time if the processes for the new jobs can be edited from previous ones.


I’d suggest that it is also key to see what’s coming down the line. Getting an accurate picture of potential work is essential to understanding your future cash position.


Also, make an effort to capture costs early. It’s easy for costs to slip through at the early stages. An expense here, some extra work there – the costs can quickly add up and you will face a few nasty surprises down the line and a serious erosion of your profit margin. Capture and analyse all costs at the earliest opportunity and you can understand the true costs and profitability of every bit of work throughout its lifecycle and see how much it costs you to win new work. Use this information to make future informed decisions about a customer.


By David White, Partner, Charterhouse, based in Beaconsfield


About the Author

David W

Member since: 16th May 2013

David White is an equity partner in Charterhouse a practising firm of Chartered Accountants based in Beaconsfield and Harrow. David is Charterhouse through and through having been with them for 30 years...

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