One of the main reasons small businesses fail is lack of cash. And it’s possible to have no cash even if your business is making a profit. That’s because assets, like accounts receivables, are not cash until you’re able to collect what’s owed to you by your customers. Profit, in this case, will not pay your bills. This is why it’s essential to keep an eye on cash flow at your plumbing business. Doing so will ensure that the amount of cash generated by your business is sufficient to pay your immediate operating expenses, such as business loans, payroll, and rent.
Here are some key steps every plumbing business owner should take in order to optimize their cash flow.
Choosing to automate your invoices is beneficial to your plumbing business because you’ll get paid faster. This can be done easily by using accounting software, which can automate time and expense tracking, recurring invoices, late payment reminders, billing, appointment scheduling and more for your plumbing services. For instance, FreshBooks, an all-in-one accounting plumbing software solution, can manage all your bookkeeping needs — everything from creating invoices to managing cash flow and tracking employee time.
Overall, the faster you receive payments, the better. Anything that can help you maintain a steady cash flow to pay your employees and cover your business expenses is something worth looking into.
Forecast Your Cash Flow
Be sure to draft a forecast of your cash flow to ensure you have enough money to pay all upcoming bills. This will allow you to plan a cash flow budget, which should include an estimate of all cash receipts and all cash expenditures that are expected to occur at your plumbing business during a specific time period. You can make these estimates on a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis. Your cash flow budget should show you when money is coming in, when it will go out and what money remains each month after you’ve paid your expenses and recorded your income. To help with this task, you can use a cash flow management software solution. Many of these solutions integrate with various accounting software platforms if needed.
Outsource When Needed
Outsourcing allows you to leverage outside expertise for certain workflows, such as payroll, accounting, taxes, office cleaning, marketing and more, which can benefit your plumbing business in many ways. By choosing to outsource, you can save money by converting fixed costs into a variable expense. With outsourcing, you can decrease the labor costs of full-time employees, reduce overhead and increase plumbers cash flow. Outsourcing partners are essentially subject matter experts, so they will already have the tools and know-how for specific tasks. In turn, they can reduce the learning curve and improve workflow efficiency, saving you valuable time to focus on your core business. Additionally, outsourcing can help you grow your plumbing business by freeing-up capital to secure small business funding.
Cut Operating Costs
There are several ways to reduce costs and increase cash flow without negatively affecting your core plumbing business. You may want to start with the following:
- Hire an accountant to prepare your taxes. An accountant can help you discover tax breaks and deductions to keep your business growing.
- Review your insurance policies to make sure deductibles, premiums and liability coverage are both affordable and appropriate for your current business needs.
- Further, evaluate your advertising campaigns to determine if they are effective enough to justify the cost.
- Decrease paper filing work and paper storage at your office by using free or low-cost cloud storage.
Overall, to optimize your cash flow, prioritize your needs and cut costs in places where you’re not finding value.
Offer Flexible Payment Options
Flexible payment options – such as allowing clients to pay by cash, checks and credit cards – will make it easier for your customers to pay for your plumbing services. In addition to traditional payment methods, be sure to consider online payments or mobile payment options, which have become increasingly popular over recent years. Online payment options give your business an inexpensive, faster and reliable way to do business while offering your customers convenience and security.
There are also secure credit card payment processing solutions. EMSmobile, for instance, is specifically geared toward plumbers, roofers, electricians and other traveling business professionals. With this particular solution, you can accept payments right on the job.
Keep in mind, as with any payment method, there are advantages and disadvantages. However, to optimize your cash flow, you should offer your customers payment options that will work best for them. Doing so will allow you to get paid on time, every time.
Stay on Top of Accounts Receivable
It’s imperative to keep up-to-date on your customers’ accounts and inquire about unpaid invoices in order to promote a positive cash flow. Do this by reviewing all of your accounts receivable on a regular basis.
For customers paying for your plumbing services in installments, send reminders for payment when necessary. You can also try installment payment software to streamline this process. Installment payment software can facilitate your business’s ability to offer your customers the option to purchase an item over time through a set number of regular payments. You then have the choice to implement the software yourself or utilize a SaaS tool to provide installment payment capabilities. In those instances, the service will pay your business the full price of the item upfront and then remit the installment payments from the customer. This will help eliminate unnecessary strain on your cash flow.
Stall Your Supplier Payments
Delaying payments to your suppliers when you are able to can help increase your cash flow.
In fact, many U.S. companies are holding back payments to their suppliers for longer than at any point in the past decade, according to The Wall Street Journal. This allows them to keep more cash on hand that otherwise would be tied up in their businesses.
To keep a good relationship with your supplier, it’s important to be sure that you’re not breaking any agreements before you decide to delay any payments.
Ask for a deposit when taking on a long-term contract to help maximize your cash flow. For instance, you can ask for a 10 percent deposit upfront, and after the job has begun, the remaining amounts can be paid per your agreement. This allows you to have some additional cash flow while waiting for, let’s say, the electrician or general contractor to finish up on items that they need to do in order to pass a plumbing rough-in inspection.
Raise Your Pricing
Raising your prices won’t necessarily affect your customer base, but it can make a big difference to your bottom line and cash flow. Play around with the numbers and try to predict what will happen if you raise your prices by 10 percent or 20 percent. Then, evaluate the market to ensure you remain competitive. You may even realize that you’re pricing your services too low to begin with.
By considering these cash flow tips, you’ll be on the right track to having the necessary cash to sustain or grow your plumbing business. Keep in mind, you can always work with your accountant to review how cash circulates through your business if you’re having trouble developing a solid system to track cash flow.