Posts by Robert Drury

I'm Head of Product at Ormsby Street and so responsible for making sure that the product does everything that our customers want it to. I've been helping companies and charities of all sizes with their digital activities since the turn of the century, so have learnt a thing or two about businesses and also the kind of digital experiences they want. I'll be looking to share some of the insight from our customers on credit checking, cash-flow, and debt collection.

Cloud accounting integrations come to CreditHQ

We’re excited to have rolled out a new feature within CreditHQ, connecting data from a business’ accounting software with our credit data in order to analyse financial risk and suggested courses of action in order to get paid sooner.

In Beta Testing with a selected group of CreditHQ users is our integration with Xero, one of the world’s largest cloud accounting services.

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CreditHQ’s cloud accounting integration brings invoice information and credit data on companies together to support small businesses make decisions on what action will reduce business risk and improve cash flow.

“Our aim is to support small businesses in making informed business decisions, so the integration of accounting data enables CreditHQ’s insight engine to make more tailored suggestions to reduce debt and its inbuilt tools to focus the limited administration time a business has into the areas that will have the biggest impact upon business performance” says Robert Drury, Head of Product at Ormsby Street, the company behind CreditHQ. 

Subscribers can link their CreditHQ and online accounting packages to ensure that the financial situation of all their customers is monitored.

Companies that a business trades with can be matched to credit reports and have their credit and payment performance monitored, ensuring the business is aware of the latest finances of companies whose performance can affect their own.

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A risk profile will indicate how much outstanding invoicing sits with high-risk businesses, highlighting which customers need chasing for payment and which need their credit terms adjusting.

The import of accounts receivable data will enable CreditHQ to analyse the invoices are at the greatest risk of non-payment and prompt businesses to take action in the areas that will have the largest impact.

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Christmas is just around the corner, so get those invoices raised now

We’ve all heard it before – ‘Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business” and it’s true, so we should do everything we can to ensure the money keeps coming, however we’re soon to be entering the season when a Christmas is going to get in the way.

Many businesses will shut down for the festive period, which means your customers won’t be paying any of their bills. In the meantime, you’ll need to be paying your employees christmas postholiday pay and not getting in any more new business as your team open presents and drink sherry, so cashflow becomes doubly important as you need to bring in the cash before the Christmas shutdown begins.

There are however a few simple things you can do in order to make this a pain free period:

  • Invoice as soon as you can – if you want your invoices paying before Christmas then work out when you need to send them by taking your payment terms and the last Christmas post into account. If it arrives on the accounts payable desk too close to Christmas it might get put on the ‘next year’ pile
  • Ask for payments before they become due – don’t wait until an invoice becomes due before chasing it, instead contact your customers as soon as an invoice looks like it might become due to get it processed before the office parties and mince pies
  • Keep your spending under control – if there’s a chance you might not get all your income received before Christmas then keep an eye on your spending so your cashflow can cope, even if it means a New Year party rather than a Christmas party

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Are you suffering from a scary credit score this Halloween?

Whether you’re a brand new small business or a more established SME, one of the main worries facing all business owners, has to be building up your credit score and avoiding getting into debt. Here’s a few tips to help you on your way…

1) Know your own credit score. It’s vitally important to be aware of how your company’s financials are reported when potential traders and customers are searching for you. If you don’t like the look of your credit score, are other people going to want to do business with you? If you’re looking for ways to improve your credit rating, take a look at our post on ‘how to get a better credit rating for your small business’

2) Be aware of your payment terms! Don’t get caught out by thinking you’ve got 6 weeks to pay a bill when it’s due in 4.  This may count against you and other businesses could find out and not give you the credit terms you want, so keep on top of what’s due when.

3) On the flip side, when you’re investigating who to trade with, find out which company is likely to pay you on time. If they’re likely to renege on their payment terms, you can ensure you set shorter terms or limit the amount of credit you’re extending to that particular less-than-reliable company. Check out our ‘How can I tell if someone’s going to pay me on time’ blog for some more tips

halloweenIt’s often bandied around at the moment, but the word ‘transparency’ is of huge significance when it comes to managing cash-flow, credit ratings and debt within any small business – so make sure you’re armed with all the tools you need and aren’t walking zombie-like into debt! Know your customers but most importantly, know your own business!

You can search over 7 million companies and register free by going to www.credithq.co.uk 

Invoice early in holiday season or you’ll get burned

Most small business owners get told that it doesn’t matter if they have a good idea or great service but what really matters is that they have an effective cash flow or else they won’t survive. And it’s true, cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and as such we should do everything we can to ensure the flow keeps flowing.  However we’re soon to be entering the season when folks disappear off to the seaside which means they aren’t signing off invoices. It’s holiday season!

HolidaysMany businesses will have reduced staffing levels during the holiday period, which means your customers won’t be paying any of their bills. In the meantime, you’ll need to be paying your employees holiday pay and not getting in any more new business as your team also head off to get a tan.

There are however a few simple things you can do in order to make this a pain free period:

  • Invoice early – if you want your invoices paying before the holidays kicks in then get them out now. If it arrives on the accounts payable desk too close to flight departure time then it might not get addressed until they come back
  • Chase debt – don’t wait until an invoice becomes due before chasing it, instead contact your customers as soon as an invoice looks like it might become due to get it processed before the sandcastles and camping hits
  • Spend carefully – if there’s a chance you might not get all your income received before the holidays then keep an eye on your spending so your cashflow can cope, even if it means delaying the work summer social until September

But don’t forget to take a break yourself!  Everyone needs a holiday!

If businesses in Cambodia can pay on time why can’t businesses in Cambridge?

Back in February we set up a loan scheme with the international development agency Lend With Care in order to support the growth of businesses around the world.

Our loan was shared amongst four entrepreneurs in Vietnam and Cambodia and was used to purchase animals for rearing, obtain more land for farming, and set up a energy efficient plant for household gas.

So far 17% of our total loan has been paid back, and all of it on time, and no payments have been missed.

LendWithCare Payments

If only this schedule of payments could be met by all the other businesses we trade with.

In the UK the standard length of payment terms (i.e. the  time a business has between when an invoice is raised and when it is due to be paid) is 30 days, however, the average time it takes a small business to get paid is 71 days!

This delay between expected and actual payment causes immense problems for business owners who need to pay salaries, replenish stock, or plan for growth.  For those who can’t fund this cashflow gap through additional loans, overdrafts, or invoice financing face real survival dilemmas.

Some recent research we have undertaken with freelance workers has shown that they face the same problem and 36% of them have even turned to payday loans to overcome the problem.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.  If farmers in Cambodia can make their payments on time, why can’t businesses in Canterbury, Colchester, and Cambridge?

At CreditHQ we believe that people should pay what’s due when it’s due, and that’s why our products tell you which businesses pay on time and which don’t, so our customers can make decisions on who they should trust their own livelihood with.

Just ask! Your customers know what you need to do

Feedback

I called a long standing customer of our of our software products the other day and the first thing he said was “Hi Rob, I’m amazed you called.  I haven’t ever heard from anyone in your business before.”

And it’s true, he hadn’t actually ever spoken to anyone in the organisation before.  He signed up to access our service via his bank, his access information was sent to him via email, and since then he’s been signing in to the service and using it himself in order to get the value he needs.  At no point in the 5 years+ that he has been a customer has he spoken to any person within our business.

We had a great conversation for an hour, where he told me all the good things about the service we offer, the areas that he hoped it would get better, and importantly he told me about the challenges he faces as being the Finance Director of a small to medium sized business.

All of this information is absolute gold for me in helping figure out how we can get better at making businesses get control of their money.

At one point in the conversation he said ‘would you mind if I email you when i have something I think you should know?’, to which I said ‘of course not’ and I proceeded to tell him how every customer who signs up toCreditHQ will get an email from me where I ask for them to give me some feedback.  

I give every customer the chance to email me with the answer to a specific question such as ‘tell me your biggest business challenge today’ or to complete a questionnaire that takes about 2 minutes to do. 

It’s amazing what you find out.  And it’s amazing how you can use this to make decisions in your business about what you can do next.  Sometimes it’s a little thing (we don’t care about feature X) but sometimes it’s a bigger thing (you should charge more than you do).

And all through just asking.

Many businesses are scared to ask their customers what they think because they worry that they think bad things about them.  But they’re your customers so you already do something they like or they wouldn’t have got that far.  Why not listen to them and get them to give you more of their custom, or get them to spread the word about how great you are because you listen. A colleague of mine who was recently at SXSW (where we were showcasing CreditHQ as part of the UKTI’s Tech Ambassador programme), was told by an Über driver that he much preferred driving for the competitor taxi firm over there, Lyft, purely because they get in touch with their drivers asking for feedback and how they can improve conditions for them. 

We can’t do everything we get told would help, but we might find out some things we can stop doing that frees us up to do more of the good stuff.

You never know! Just ask!

We’re supporting Small Business Saturday. Are you?

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

The day itself takes place on the first shopping Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2015 Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, December 5th.

Here at CreditHQ our focus is also on small businesses, through the provision of credit and financial insight designed specifically to help improve small business cashflow and reduce business risk.

We really do love small businesses and you can read about some of our favourites from these blog posts from the team – Carolyn’s top 3, Rob’s top 5, or a couple from Jane.

To help support SMEs on the run up to Small Business Saturday, we’re giving all small businesses the chance to get CreditHQ for FREE for two months.

Just sign up for a Standard Subscription and use the voucher code SMALLBIZSATUK to get 2 months use of the service completely free*. There’s no minimum contract commitment so you can cancel at any time.

You can research your customers and suppliers, find out who’s liable to not pay you on time, and take action to ensure that you get the money you deserve.  You’ve got nothing to lose.

*Just use the code before the end of Small Business Saturday to take advantage of the offer.