Release notes – February 2017

CreditFocus

(www.creditfocus.co.uk)

February has been a busy month here at Ormsby Street, following the major release for CreditFocus at the end of January.  We’ve listened to the feedback and have made a few immediate updates to the service to address what seemed the most pressing.  The remaining feedback has made its way into our backlog for future release.

New features

  • Company page print
  • VAT receipt print
  • Direct Debit prompt for Bank Charge customers

Fixes

  • Payment score history graph
  • Specific businesses not appearing in business search
  • Specific businesses not loading
  • Watchlist paging
  • IE11 Solicitors Letters double submission

Feedback

If you have feedback on the CreditFocus service then do get in touch with us at support@creditfocus.co.uk and let us know your thoughts.  It could be an issue you’ve identified or a great idea for how we can support you more.

CreditHQ

(tfc.credithq.co.uk)

A slightly quieter time was had with CreditHQ, where we’ve introduced a couple of new features aimed at highlighting key features, as well as offering an incentive to upgrade.

New

  • Watchlist suggested businesses
  • Free trial on upgrade

Fix

  • Invitation resend

Feedback

If you have feedback on the CreditHQ service then do get in touch with us at support@credithq.co.uk and let us know your thoughts.  It could be an issue you’ve identified or a great idea for how we can support you more.


Note: These release notes summarise the key releases undertaken during the period.  A series of smaller or more technical releases have also taken place.

How to optimise profit through effective credit management

As part of our Ask The Expert series, fellow of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management, Steve Savva looks at the effects of optimising profit through effective credit management.


How to optimise profit through effective credit management

It takes an average of 72 days to settle an invoice owed to SME’s in the UK.

Financing a single £1,000 debt at 8% per annum* for 72 days would cost almost £16; that’s before you even begin to take into consideration bad debts or administration costs.

Yet many companies simply do not bother to train the people who are instrumental in getting cash in.  Targets, incentives, rewards and training should be as welcome in Credit as they are in Sales!

Collecting money is an important part of the overall business.  Timely collections ensure good cash flow, minimise the need for bank borrowing, lessen the possibility of crippling bad debts and maximise profits.

What should you consider?

  • Your terms of sale are there to be enforced.
  • The policy you set will determine the effect needed.
  • Credit-check your customers regularly.
  • You should never be embarrassed to ask for your money.
  • If you promise to do something, do it!
  • Efficient, effective systems and communication channels at the time of sale ensure fewer problems at the back end.
  • A dedicated collections person ensures better use of knowledge, quicker reaction to adverse signs and continuity for customers.

Why might you have credit risk concerns?

  • You may assess a risk incorrectly.
  • You fail to notice warning signs of a customer’s decline.
  • Because companies can be crippled by outside events; the collapse of a major company in a market sector can cause many smaller businesses in the same industry to fail.
  • Management doesn’t plan for impending business downturn or interest rate increases.
  • Cash flow suffers before you figure out what’s wrong.

What should you do?

  • Follow up on all overdue accounts. Be persistent.
  • Find out what the real problem is, how it will be resolved, when you can expect payment and so on.
  • Maintain goodwill, empathise, but don’t get sympathetic to their problems.
  • Collecting money is a selling job, so talk about the benefits of paying rather than the consequences of non-payment.
  • Watch the big ones. Don’t think because someone spends thousands of pounds with you that they cannot become a problem.
  • Ask for the money. All too often one has heard conversations about the weather, business levels, held orders, but never a request for payment.
  • Set the tone. A little friendly conversation puts them at ease and preserves goodwill, but get to the point.
  • Leave yourself an escape route. If you lose your temper you lose control.  Stay courteous, but in command.  Be assertive not aggressive.
  • Provide Customer Satisfaction at a Profit and collect the money.

About Steve Savva (FCICM)

stevesavvaSteve has been involved in credit management since leaving school and was a founding Board Member of the Association of Credit Professionals, who he served as Chairman and President.  He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management, where he served as Chairman of the East Midlands Branch.

Steve has been developing and presenting training courses for a number of years with his own company, Credit Management Training Ltd


Your exclusive offer

Get 40% off the cost a CMT training course by using the voucher code ccp-mcc-197 on checkout. Courses include Best Practice in Cash Collection by Phone and Managing Commercial Credit Risk.  Book now at a venue near you.


average cost of Bank Borrowing for businesses, including hidden costs for loans, overdrafts and charges etc.

Feedback on the new look CreditFocus

It’s been a busy week at Ormsby Street as we switched the customers of CreditFocus over to a new platform.  This switch has been a few years in the planning and comes as a result of a whole range of things, but when you’re moving so many customers we’re bound to have missed something, and we did.

The majority of feedback we’ve had has been positive for the change, but there are some much-loved features which the customers we spoke to yesterday are missing.  Things like finding companies via the A-Z list, daily summary emails, and being able to download a PDF document of a company’s profile.

We’re already on the case with some of these so we can expect some updates to the service over the coming weeks, and that’s one of the huge benefits we have in this new platform compared to the old one.

We’ve been testing features of the new platform over the past couple of years with some other customer groups and the ability to roll out new features is now a relatively smooth one, so we’ll push some new updates out soon.

As well as the updates mentioned above that will bring back some favourite features, we’ve also got some exciting new features to rollout, including our integration with cloud accounting software, which is currently in beta testing with one customer group.

Our cloud accounting integration leverages the data held within the accounting software and combines it with up-to-date financial risk data to help small businesses understand their greatest risks and prioritise action to reduce this risk and improve cash flow.

So watch this space!

In the meantime, thanks for all your patience.  We know change can be disruptive, but we know you’ll love what’s coming down the line.

 

Helping other small businesses help themselves

Nearly a year ago we used the subscription fees we received to lend to small business operators around the world as part of the Lend With Care programme.

Since then, the businesses we’ve been supporting have gone from strength to strength and our loans are being repaid on time.

As we’ve had a large chunk of our loans repaid we thought we’d reinvest these funds in some more small business operators, to help them grow and make a difference.

Asad Hameed is 43 years old and lives in Datanagar, Pakistan. He is married and has three sons and three daughters, all of whom are in full time education. Asad has been a tailor for the past 20 years and is the only wage earner in his household.  His business is growing succesfully but he now needs to bring on board an extra pair of hands in order to satisfy the demands of his growing customer base.  So we’ve completed his load with Lend With Care and he can now help his business reach its potential.

asad

At Ormsby Street, we support small businesses in taking control of their money so they can grow their business and make a difference in their communities.  Through our cash flow management and financial insight services we help them make informed decisions on who to trade with and give them tools to get hold of the money they are owed.

2017 should be an exciting year for Asad, and we hope it will turn out to be an exciting year for all our small business customers.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Ormsby Street!

 

 

 

 

Do your retail clients make you wait for your payments?

Tesco are currently classed as the worst for late payment in a list of the UK’s best-known retailers, taking an average of 105 days beyond terms to pay its suppliers, according to our latest analysis.

Our data analysis also reveals that the average time taken to pay a supplier amongst the list of 20 retailers was 45 days beyond terms. Previous research shows that the average overdue invoice to a small business was worth £6,142, small business suppliers to some UK retailers could be waiting prohibitively long to receive late payments on a considerable amount of money.

martinMartin Campbell, managing director of Ormsby Street know that, whether it’s a small greetings card designer or a food manufacturer of some sort, winning a contract to supply a national retailer can be a landmark moment for a small business, particularly in the lucrative Christmas shopping season, but just because a retailer is a household name, it’s no guarantee they are going to pay on time.

He says, ‘Because Christmas is such a major part of the shopping calendar, any orders may be much larger than at other times of the year. This means that a small business could be waiting for even more money during the festive period. If they have had to take on extra staff or resources to meet the order to a major retailer, this could be a potentially difficult and damaging time for their cash-flow.’

The best retailer in the list when it comes to paying suppliers, is high-end department store, Fortnum & Mason, which takes an average of just five days beyond terms to pay its suppliers. In second place was Lidl, which takes an average of nine days beyond terms, followed by House of Fraser and John Lewis, who pay on average after 15 and 18 days beyond terms respectively.

Campbell adds, ‘Negotiating with a major retailer on things like payment upfront can be tough – retailers are all aware that for a small business it’s a big deal to get their products in front of a national audience and so they usually hold the trump card.

‘But that’s not to say that small businesses should just accept the situation. If the retailer values the product and wants it in their store, there should always be a little leeway for negotiating better payment terms.’

The analysis showed that amongst 20 of the UK’s leading retailers, seven of those took on average more than 60 days beyond terms to pay their suppliers, a period of time that is hard to justify.

Campbell concludes, ‘For a small manufacturer or supplier, winning a national retail contract can feel a little like Christmas has come early.

‘Yet if it means they have to wait more than two months to receive payment, it is a big decision as to how any shortfall in cash-flow can be bridged, if indeed it can. The answer lies in small businesses protecting themselves against late payments by learning more about the financial health of their customers, negotiating more favourable payment terms and then chasing hard for late payments.’

christmas-tree-3

Notes: The data used in the analysis was provided by Experian, the global credit reference agency, and looks at the credit rating and payment performance looking at 20 of the UK’s leading retailers. This data is available to users of their services.

The payment performance information generated is gathered from a network of six thousand suppliers over a period of three months (up to and including 31 October). Experian provides further information on payment performance data on its FAQ pages.