THE ART OF NEGOTIATION
Lots of companies that we’ve come across are having trouble with cash flow – it’s understandable given that many SMEs have difficulty sourcing and accessing credit in what is becoming an increasingly challenging business environment. However, sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the endless calls from aggravated suppliers who are looking for payment tends to worsen the problem in our experience.
Of course there’s no silver bullet solution, especially for some companies who have overstretched in the past and are now having difficulty just keeping their heads above water. But being open, honest and transparent with suppliers about a company’s cash flow situation won’t just give a struggling business some breathing room, it can also help to salvage relationships that would have otherwise turned sour.
You might be pleasantly surprised at how a formerly cold suppliers will react when a client explains the situation and, crucially, works with them to pay up. People don’t like putting each other out of business – they much prefer to get a workable payment plan in place that keeps them ticking over and keeps a client on board.
Having dealt with situations like this on numerous occasions in the past, my advice to business owners is to carry out an honest assessment of cash flow projections for the months and possibly year ahead. Only when that picture is clear should you begin to negotiate with suppliers and debtors about putting in place a payment plan – don’t ever promise to pay a monthly figure in an effort to reduce your debt if you know you can’t afford it. The last thing anyone needs in a situation like this is a retraction on an agreement that suited both parties. Projected cash flows allow business owners to make informed decisions about their ability to repay – plucking a figure from your head will only make things worse because, once you’ve renegotiated your terms, it is crucial that you stick to them.
The other obvious issue that this throws up is a business owner’s reputation, as well as the reputation of his/her company. If you cannot afford to meet an agreed repayment plan, it’s likely that other suppliers in your sector will become aware of the company’s financial predicament either through industry gossip or if your company is dragged through the courts by suppliers desperately trying to salvage some sort of payment. If that happens, securing the services of another supplier will be highly unlikely. If you get into this kind of spiral, simply running the company – let alone paying people what they’re owed – becomes extremely hard.
At DCA Accountant and Business Advisors, having negotiated on behalf of some of our clients, we have a good idea of what a supplier is looking for. At the same time, because we work with a large variety of businesses, we understand the pressures and stresses involved in running your own business. Because of that insight, we know how to address issues of payment and negotiation so that everyone involved can get on with the day-to-day running of their companies, as well as repairing working relationships to the benefit of both parties in the future.
DCA Accountants & Business Advisors.
For more on our services or to receive a free consultation for your business from one of our experts, visit www.dca-ireland.ie