I am looking forward to attending this event not only to learn about how modelling, simulation, and training are used across industries including: Health, Resources, Defence, Transport, Emergency Management, and Training but also to see what opportunities there are for Networking!
I am attending the following event coming up on 28th August:
The Young Business Forum invites all young executives in Brisbane to meet and learn from Matthew Lawson, CFO and Director of Cutting Edge, Queensland’s Largest Post-Production Company.
Matthew Lawson is the CFO and one of the Directors of Cutting Edge which is Queensland’s largest Post Production company. He has over 20 years experience in Financial Controlling/C.F.O. positions and performs a key role in monitoring and guiding the financial growth of Cutting Edge. Matthew is also a Board Member/Co-Founder of Youngcare, a charity committed to raising awareness and assisting young Australians living in aged care.
For more information visit the AICC site
Ever felt as though you have been treated like a bank by your customers? You are not on your own.
The latest Dun and Bradstreet figures show the average trade payment period has blown out from one week to 56 days compared with payment periods at the beginning of 2005.
What small businesses don’t understand is that many large companies avoid paying accounts until someone has phoned to follow-up their invoice. It is a deliberate strategy to manage their cash flow. They use your money to run their company, because it is cheaper than borrowing money from the bank.
While many business owners struggle with the fear of asking customers for money, understanding the business process can accelerate your cash flow and can even win long term customer loyalty.
The most effective of early-stage debt recovery tactics is surprisingly simple – a customer service call made 7-10 days after the first invoice has been sent. Here’s how:
You should also feel confident asking what date you can expect to receive your payment, and how it will be paid. This gives you a firm arrangement for payment that is foolproof nine times out of ten. On the tenth occasion, muster the courage to phone your customer again and make another payment arrangement.
While a customer service phone call might seem simplistic and perfectly obvious, over 90% of small and medium sized businesses struggle with significant cash flow issues as a result of poor debt collection strategies.
Most don’t pick up the phone and communicate with their customer. Instead they use “GST overdrafts” and personal credit cards to get by – and deal with the worry of going out of business in the meantime.
Using the “First Phone Call” technique not only shows customers you care, but empowers you to take charge of your credit situation and have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Published in The Courier Mail October 2005
In my experience I have found that if I arrive to Networking functions around 15 minutes early I am greeted by the organisers and that breaks the ice for me. I then stand close to the door and greet people as they come in. They think I am one of the organisers and speak to me easily and freely.
I will go and pick the best seat to see and hear the guest speaker. I figure if I do not meet anyone of interest I am still getting my money’s worth. However, in all the years that I have been networking I have never been to an event where I did not pick up at least one business card and spoke to at least one interesting person.
If I see someone standing on there own they are usually in the same boat as us and do not know anyone there. I will approach them just say hello and then the conversation develops from there. They are relieved they have someone to talk to and both of you now look like you belong.
I have had a chat with some amazing people over the years such as Tom Peters, Bob Dwyer, Jonah Lomu, Joe Bugner, Stephen Lundin, Kim Beazley, Pauline Hanson, and Robyn Henderson. You often gain a nugget of wisdom that was not in the presentation and it is great for name-dropping. “I had lunch with Kim Beazley last week.” You do not have to tell them that it was with 300 other people.
Many new Networkers make the mistake of trying to get their business card out too as many people as possible at a Networking event. Networking is about quality not quantity. M ost of those cards will end up in the bin. If I meet two people and they give me their business cards I am more than happy and see itas a positive result. Sometimes I will meet some one who is definitely not my cup of tea. However, I have learned that I may have something to teach this person or they have something to teach me. I pay them 110% attention and listen to what they have to say. I may not end up doing any business with them but they often refer other people to me.
The most successful Networkers consistently attend the same events each month. This gives them creditability with other Networkers and soon you become part of the furniture and other people will introduce you to their guests. At the Australian Institute of Credit Management, AICM, which I have been attending for the past nine years nearly every member in Queensland knows me or as heard of me. I am very fortunate to get a lot of business from that association and am very comfortable there. It is like visiting a group of wonderful friends every month. I still remember the first meeting I attended. A friend invited me and I was somewhat daunted by the calibre of the aged members and was petrified. It took me another year and in another state to attend another meeting. Now I scare new members!
The issue with many Networking functions is there is usually more than one person from each profession there. For example, the AICM focus nights I attend usually have four recruitment companies, three solicitors and four debt collection agencies being represented. They may have as many as three staff each there and sometimes the suppliers and sponsors out numbered the Credit Managers. It is important that you stand out amongst your competition and that you represent yourself rather than your company. I have several competitors vying for some of my customers and I welcome them with open arms. It keeps me on my toes and ensures I look after my clients as much as possible. The relationship I have with my clients is strong enough and most competitors treat me with respect being the “Elder” in the Credit industry. When I first attended credit Focus nights as a recruiter I was the only recruiter in Brisbane aside from the owner of the recruitment company I worked for who had credit and collection experience. That made me memorable immediately.
Networking is about serving others. It is the one quality that determines the difference between a good Networker and a great Networker. Those that approach networking as a way simply to sell their goods and services for purely their own gain will only be successful in the short term until the industry or that Networking group find out what they are really like. Great Networkers start thinking about a person they have just met and whom they can link them up with so that they can successfully do business together. “Ask not what they can do for your business but ask what can you do for their business.”
In continuing with the philosophy of being of service one of the easiest ways to become well known and valued to customers, suppliers, and potential customers is to be a knowledge expert. When you hear an issue it may not be in your area of expertise but the important thing is that you know where to find that knowledge and pass on those details to your customer to make life easier for them and solve their issues. For example, if you needed a good solicitor, accountant, bookkeeper, industrial relations specialist, car finder, cleaner, trainer, Speaker and even a marriage celebrant I would be able to refer you to someone immediately. Because many people know that I network constantly I get called for all sorts of information that does not relate to training or recruitment. In fact, I have been called a walking Yellow Pages.
The most important tool in your networking kit is your smile. When you first greet people, smile. That breaks the ice and nine times out of 10 the person will smile back and greet you. On the rare occasion where a person does not smile back it is usually because they are under some kind of duress and it is their problem so do not take it personally. One of the reasons I love living in Brisbane is I can still walk down Queen Street mall and smile at everyone that passes me. I get lots of smiles and greetings back. Ok, some people do think I am crazy!
While a good deal of importance is often placed on credit management policies that minimise your risk and maximise your cash flow, business owners often forget the considerable power of a well designed and clearly worded invoice.
There are a number of examples of companies large and small that fail to issue effective invoices. Just last month a small business sent me an invoice with glaring errors. Not only had the invoice been issued after six months and several requests from me, but it didn’t provide payment terms nor state it was a Tax Invoice. There are many debtors that could have taken advantage of the situation and paid the invoice when it suited them.
The weakest invoice I have received was in fact from a multinational that not only neglected to outline their payment terms, but stated the invoice was subject to their standard terms and conditions. While I remembered signing them almost three months earlier, I gave up my search for the elusive document after a couple of frustrating hours.
While most business owners are time-poor and tend to play down the importance of administrative details, following these four simple invoicing rules can make a significant impact on your cash flow:
A final consideration should be the schedule of your invoicing. While every business is different, invoicing normally occurs on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. When every cent counts though, especially in the case of a new business, invoices should be issued as soon as possible and coincide with the day the goods or services are delivered.
Published in The Courier Mail 16th November 2005