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Flash Reports Are a Game Changer

Flash Reports

When we talk to people who have sales or operations backgrounds, we quickly pick up on their hatred/dislike/disdain/etc. for accounting. We get it. Accounting can be boring, especially if it’s not used for management purposes. But when we talk with the management team either in our coaching workshops or our consulting practice, we always implement a flash report in their company. Why? Because it’s a management tool that should be used by every leader in an organization! Flash reports are a game changer when it comes to leading a company financially. In fact, I will be bold enough to say every company should be using a flash report to make any decision in the company. (Keep in mind, we are not recommending that this is the only tool you should use to make decisions.)

What is a Flash Report?

First, what is a flash report? We have defined Flash Reports (or financial dashboard report) as “periodic snapshot(s) of key financial and operational data.” It measures three factors in your company, that include liquidity, productivity, and profitability. Unlike what sales and operational leaders typically think about accounting, this tool is supposed to guide them with the numbers. In addition, the numbers from flash reports aren’t going to be a 100% accurate. But if they are 80-90% accurate, then they are accurate enough for the management to make decisions.

Flash reports have changed how financial leaders lead the rest of their team. It’s just one of the ways that you could be more effective in your role. If you want to learn more, click here to access our free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

Flash ReportsHow a Flash Report Changes the Role of the Financial Leader

Stereotypically, an accountant or someone with accounting/finance background is a numbers cruncher. They want to look at all of the numbers and want the management team to also get excited about every number. In reality, there is not enough time to focus on every number. Instead, you should be looking specifically at 6-8 numbers that drive your business. We call them your key performance indicators or KPIs. Anyone in your company should be able to look at your flash report (a one-page report) to assess what the KPIs are doing.

Not just anyone in accounting cannot create a flash report… It would quickly get out of control because there are so many angles, numbers, and perspectives that you could interpret the data from. Unfortunately, there is not enough time in the day to look at all the data. It would take forever for management to look at all the information and make a decision. We know there is an art to be a financial leader. There is also an art to creating flash reports or dashboard reports. The goal is for the flash report to be prepared and completed within 30 minutes. It should cover a week’s data for the company to quickly pivot or adjust if need be.

How to Prepare a Flash Report

For a flash report to be a game changer, you have to set it up correctly the first time. Prepare a flash report by producing the following sections in consecutive order.

Productivity

First, the financial leader (CFO/Controller) needs to meet the owner or executive leaders to come up with some metrics for the productivity section. Both finance and operations need to be involved in this conversation because this section is what sets up the next two sections. You will know you have succeed when you have an indication of the key performance metrics of your company. These metrics also connect operations to the financial performance of the company. It’s an accountability partner. If you are looking to improve productivity in your company, then click here to read about our insights on how to do it.

Remove some of the barriers between departments in your company to increase your value to the company. To learn more how you can be effective, click here to download our 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

Liquidity

When you prepare a flash report, this section is where your CEO is going to look at first. It’s the pulse of the company because it tells them how much the company is generating cash (or not generating cash). The cash situation is often the first issue we discuss with consulting clients. Unfortunately, we find a lot of companies are not able to tell you if they have enough money to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Remember, cash is king.

Profitability

This is going to be accounting’s favorite section because it deals with what they focus on! The reason why you need to produce it last is because it needs to connect with the rest of the business. It should give management a rough idea of how much money they made during a given period. You will need to have a good understanding of your accruals if you are going to provide profitability in as part of the flash report.

Remember, timeliness is more important than accuracy in this flash report. There’s a reason why it’s called a flash report! Furthermore, management needs to focus on how the trends change over time.

Flash Reports Are a Game Changer

Flash reports are a game changer in the business world because it pushes companies to break down barriers in the business. We frequently say that CFOs and the financial leader of a company should walk around the office/warehouse and talk with sales managers, warehouse workers, operations managers, etc. Financial leaders need to get out of accounting so that they can lead financially. But the same goes for operations and sales persons. It may not be exciting, but they need to visit accounting.

This past week, we hosted a live webinar for those operations employees that were promoted to a P&L Leader. They were great at their job, but now they manage an entire department/division/etc. So, we touched on how they should be using flash reports as they manage their operation. Anyone in your company can be a financial leader. You just have to have the right tools, and flash reports are a great way to start.

Tips for Monitoring Your Business

Your flash report should be a living, breathing document that your business uses. As a result, we wanted to share some time for monitoring your business as you move forward with your flash report. Include the 3 most recent historical periods in addition to the current period in the flash report. This allows you to analyze trends in the same document. Have your entire management team agree to commit to the document. You may need to adjust it as time goes on, and that’s okay. Review weekly with your management. During these meetings, it may be useful to convert the sections into graphs so that the non-accountants can see what the numbers are communicating.

Producing a flash report is just one of many ways to be highly effective as a financial leader. Download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs to find out how you can become a more valuable financial leader. Let your flash reports be a game changer in your business!

Flash Reports

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Unlock Cash in Your Business

unlock cash in your business

Unlocking cash in your business can make a major impact on valuation, cash flow, profitability, and so much more.  As the saying goes, “Cash is King.” However, there is often money lying around that is essentially “locked up” in the system.

Unlocking Liquidity

Liquidity is key to success. A company could sell all the widgets in the world and have a great net earnings, but still go out of business if it can’t collect paymentsFailure to meet this simple obligation has landed many companies in a cash crunch with Mr. Chapter 11 lurking.

Liquidity =  ability to convert assets to cash

Why is liquidity important? Liquidity is vital to a company. It’s like the blood that runs through your veins. If your blood forms clots within arteries and veins, then you could suffer a heart attack.  Just like the blood coursing through our bodies, freely flowing cash is vital to a healthy company.

unlock cash in your businessReducing DSO

A little improvement goes a long way when unlocking cash in your business.  First things first… Take a look at your DSO, or daily sales outstanding. What is it running?

Oftentimes with our clients, we start by reducing DSO 1-2 days. Depending on the size of the company, this one change could easily create a great deal of free cashFor example, we consulted with a $10 million company that collected every 365 days. If we freed up just 5 days through DSO optimization strategies, it would result in almost $137,000 of free cash!

Small improvements can free up substantial cash within your business.

Here’s an example of how a little goes a long way.  A few years ago, we changed our processes to invoice within 24 hours. This reduced our DSO by 10 days.  Simple things like setting up rules and procedures for invoicing put you in a position to better manage liquidity.

(For more tips on how to optimize your accounts receivable, download your free checklist here.)

What to do in a Cash Crunch

Cash crunches can either be foreseeable or can completely blindside you. Economic downturns, vendors filing for Chapter 11, or a natural disaster, such as a wildfire, can have detrimental impacts on your cash position unless you have the knowledge and skills to cope with cash crunches.

Over several years, I’ve noticed that many companies who find themselves in a cash crunch are investing heavily in technology. While that may not be a bad thing, companies may become over-reliant on the new system and forget that it’s still important to monitor and manage internal processes – namely DSO.

If this is you, there are some options that you can act on to improve DSO:

Slow-moving accounts receivable can hurt a company by tying up cash.  These assets aren’t easy to liquidate in a cash crunch, especially if the crunch is caused by factors that are affecting your customers as well.  It’s important to manage your receivables process to make sure customers are current so the cash keeps coming in.

Example: Sitting on a Desk

CPA firms, law firms, and other professional services are notorious for insisting that all partners review each invoice before they are sent out to the client. The invoices (aka, cash) are essentially sitting on a desk, waiting to be approved. Sometimes, they get lost in the paperwork and are finally sent out 60 days after the service has been completed. Assuming the customer pays within 30 days, the receivable is 90 days old before the cash is in the door.

Let’s look at 2 issues:

#1 Partners are busy.

They simply don’t have time. They should be focused on doing the work, not reviewing invoices. Develop a procedure or invest in systems that circumvent this step.

#2 Each partner has to review the bill.

By having a number of busy partners reviewing invoices, there’s a high chance that it will a) get lost, b) get changed in error or misunderstood, c) get sent out late.

There’s something that most of these firms do not understand: the tradeoff between having a perfect invoice and getting cash quickly.

One firm that I consulted with was in the habit of mailing their invoices 30-60 days after the service was completed. There was no goal on when to mail invoices.  We helped them transition into a position where they mailed invoices within 24 hours of delivering the service. Their DSO was 42, which wasn’t terribly bad.

Then we convinced them to email clients their invoices the day of, reducing their DSO to 38. This was no simple feat. We had to figure out who needed the invoices for processing and we had to train their customers that emailing invoices the day of was the new norm. These are two important factors that you have to acknowledge as you undertake this technological change.  Don’t overlook something as simple as who is receiving the invoiceBusiness owners will likely let your invoice sit in their inbox whereas A/P clerks will make sure it gets put into the accounting system.  While these changes took a little time to adjust to, they saw significant improvement in their cash flow.

Don’t be afraid to ditch old practices.

Value Creation

Are you looking to sell your company in the near future? By reducing your DSO and optimizing your accounts receivable, you’ll be in a better position to add value to your company.

The purpose of business valuation is to assess the capacity a company has to grow. Use this when a company is trying to sell or merge with another firm.

Where To Create Value

It all begins with your revenue growth and profitability. These two metrics can be impacted by cash tied up in accounts receivable. By reducing DSO a certain number of days (depending on what your DSO is currently), you’ll be able to prove to any buyer that your company is able to generate free cash flow.

For more ways to add value to your company, download your free A/R Checklist to see how simple changes in your A/R process can free up a significant amount of cash.

AR Checklist

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What is Factoring Receivables

See Also:
Another Way To Look At Factoring
Accounting for Factored Receivables
Journal Entries for Factored Receivables
Can Factoring Be Better Than a Bank Loan?
History of Factoring
How Factoring Can Make or Save Money
Factoring is Not for My Company
The What, When, and Where About Factoring

What Is Factoring Receivables?

Factoring receivables is the sale of accounts receivable for working capital purposes. A company will receive an initial advance, usually around 80% of the amount of an invoice when the invoice is purchased by the lender. When they collect the invoice, the lender pays the remaining 20% (less a fee) to the borrower.

There are two types of factoring conditions: 1) Factoring With Recourse and 2) Factoring Without Recourse. The term recourse refers to whether or not the shareholder(s) of the company are personally liable for the factored receivables in case the company’s client(s) don’t payback the invoiced amount. By far most factoring relationships are conditioned upon With Recourse terms. By shifting more of the risk onto the shareholder(s) of the company, the factoring lender is able to then charge lower fees.

Qualifying for Factoring

The first step in receiving factoring financing is to be pre-qualified by a factoring company or a bank’s factoring department. Typically, this will entail an in-person meeting to review why the company is in need of factoring, as well as the provision of a company’s financial statements and supporting schedules (such as receivables and payables aging schedules) to document its operating history. They will also obtain information on the company’s customers.

A proposal for a factoring relationship will be created. This document will outline the proposed terms of the financing, including a facility limit, advance rate, discount fee schedule, repurchase provision, other fees, liens, process for notification of assignment, confirmation of receivables, and reporting requirements.

The proposal will be negotiated between the company and the representative(s) of the lender before being submitted to the loan committee of the lender for approval. Typically for proposed credit facilities of $1 million or more, lenders require a pre-funding audit of the prospective borrower.


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Factoring Operations

In a factoring relationship, all payments collected for accounts receivable are to be sent to the lender, typically to a “lock-box” under their control. Customers are to be notified of this by a Notification of Assignment letter which will also contain the new payment instructions. Invoices sent by the borrower to their customers will be required to contain the new payment instructions as well.

The borrower decides what invoices to factor (“sell”) by notifying the lender, through the use of a document typically known as a “Schedule A” form. This document will list each individual invoice that needs to be factored. It will have details such as the customer name, invoice number, date, amount, and corresponding purchase order or reference number of the customer. The Schedule A is to be accompanied by documentation which substantiates that the goods or services have been provided to the customers. The lender will decide which invoices it will purchase and then will advance funds to the borrower. This advance is based upon an agreed upon advance rate. The rate is typically around 80%.

Discount Fee

Hold the amount not advanced to the borrower in reserve. Then as customers pay the invoices, release the amount held in reserve to the borrower, less a discount fee.

The discount fee is a percentage that a fee schedule determines. The factoring proposal lays out the fee schedule. The fee is a function of the time it takes for the customer to pay the invoice plus a variable component. The variable component is based upon the prime lending rate. The less time it takes to collect, the smaller the fee. Apply the discount fee to the amount of funds advanced to the borrower.

For those invoices not collected within 90 days of the invoice date, a repurchase provision will apply. This requires the borrower to buy back the invoice, along with a late payment fee (around 5%).

Factoring Lender Reports…..What They Give You

Purchases & Advances Report

The lender will provide a Purchases & Advances Report, which identifies the invoices purchased by the lender, along with the advance rate and amount of each invoice advanced to the borrower. This is typically available daily online.

Collections Report

Lenders also provide a Collections Report, which lists all payments received from a borrower’s customers. Remember that the lender will receive and process all payments for a borrower’s receivables. There are two formats for a Collections Report. Format A lists all payments received for a borrower’s receivables and identifies those which apply to non-factored invoices as well as factored invoices. The detail on a Format A report will include the following:

  • Invoice number
  • Invoice amount
  • Date payment received
  • Amount of the payment collected for each invoice

The second format of a Collections Report is Format D. On a Format D report, information about the reserve refund and discount fee paid out of the reserve for a given invoice is also provided.

Reserve Report

The Reserve Report provided by a lender details changes in the borrower’s reserve account. As invoices are paid and processed, the factoring lender will remit the remaining portion of the reserve. This is usually 20% of the leftover invoice, net of fees. Should there be any outstanding invoices that a customer has not paid back within the agreed upon time period, the factoring lender may require the company to buyback that invoice AND still charge a fee. This type of situation is called “with recourse” because the lender can force the company to “buy back” delinquent invoices.

The borrower is usually required to provide monthly financial statements, including A/R and A/P aging schedules, within 30 days of a month’s end.

If you want more ways to add value to your company, then download your free A/R Checklist to see how simple changes in your A/R process can free up a significant amount of cash.

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What Is Dilution?

What is Dilution?

Dilution is any portion, regardless of why, of your receivables that you did not collect. This is important as the amount available from your line of credit with the bank is based on your outstanding accounts receivable balance. The bank wants to know the extent to which your receivables are likely to be turned into cash receipts. The greater the amount of dilution, the greater the risk to the bank and the less will be your available borrowing base.

The following are common causes of dilution and suggestions for remedying them.

Discounts

Discounts offered to customers for faster repayment can increase your dilution rate. But if these discounts account for a significant amount of dilution, you may consider other methods of encouraging faster repayment.

Collection costs

The greater the fees directly paid to collect on your receivables, the less of your receivables balance you will realize. This is worth examining to see if it has a material impact on your dilution rate. You may even consider less costly collection services.

Bad debt

Receivables not collected due to the default or other negligence of the customer. Reduce this through the establishment of tighter credit policies, such as more thorough credit checks prior to extending trade credit to customers.

Offsets

Sometimes a customer may also be a vendor. In the course of paying an invoice it may seem attractive to you or them to net out the amount they owe you from the invoice’s total. Although, you may want to end this practice depending on the amount of the dilution and its subsequent impact on your borrowing base availability.

dilution

See Also:
Financial Ratios
Accounts Receivable Turnover
How to collect accounts receivable
What is Factoring Receivables?
Working Capital

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Working Capital Analysis

See Also:
Balance Sheet
How to Collect Accounts Receivable
Factoring
Working Capital from Real Estate
Quick Ratio Analysis
Current Ratio Analysis
Financial Ratios

Working Capital Analysis Definition

Working capital (WC), also known as net working capital, indicates the total amount of liquid assets a company has available to run its business. In general, the more working capital, the less financial difficulties a company has.

Working Capital Analysis Formula

Use the following formula to calculate working capital:

WC = Current assetsCurrent liabilities

Working Capital Analysis Calculation

For example, a company has $10,000 in current assets and $8,000 in current liabilities. Look at the following formula to see the calculation.

Working capital = 10,000 – 8,000 = 2,000

Applications

Working capital measures a company’s operation efficiency and short-term financial health. For example, positive working capital shows that a company has enough funds to meet its short-term liabilities. In comparison, negative working capital shows that a company has trouble in meeting its short-term liabilities with its current assets.

Working capital provides very important information about the financial condition of a company for both investors and managements. For investors, it helps them gauge the ability for a company to get through difficult financial periods. Whereas, for management members, it helps them better foresee any financial difficulties that may arise. In conclusion, it is very important for a company to keep enough working capital to handle any unpredictable difficulties.

If you want more tips on how to improve cash flow, then click here to access our 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper.

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Operating Capital Definition

Operating Capital Definition

The operating capital definition is the cash used for daily operations in a company. As a result, it is essential to the survival of each and every business. Whether small or large, across industries, and under any other conditions that a business faces, lack of cash is one of the main reasons why a company fails. Due to this fact, it is of key importance that businesses monitor and plan for future cash holdings to assure that the business will have the money needed to continue doing commerce.


NOTE: Want the 25 Ways To Improve Cash Flow? It gives you tips that you can take to manage and improve your company’s cash flow in 24 hours! Get it here!

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Operating Capital Explanation

Operating capital, explained as the most essential asset in any business, allows a company to stay open. Also known as working capital, it can come from many sources. Operating capital vs working capital is a similar comparison to red vs maroon apples: there is no difference.

The initial operating capital for small business will come from investors. This could come in the form of savings of the owners, friends and family of the owners, banks and the S.B.A., angel investors, or venture capital.

For an existing business, operating capital outlay will come from more providers than for the startup. The same options exist with current owners, friends and family, banks and the S.B.A., and more. Additionally, however, a business can receive operating capital loans from mezzanine financiers, factoring, or becoming a public company and selling stock on the open market.

Operating Capital Formula

Though the operating capital formula is a simple function of subtraction it is actually quite complicated. The difficult part of operating capital requirements is the research associated with finding current asset and current liability amounts. Once these questions are answered the operating capital ratio comes naturally.

Operating Capital = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

Operating Capital Calculation

The operating capital calculation is quite simple.

If:

Current Assets = $1,000,000

Current Liabilities = $250,000

Operating Capital = $1,000,000 – $250,000 = $750,000

Managing your cash flow is vital to a business’s health. If you haven’t been paying attention to your cash flow, access the free 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper to learn how to can stay cash flow positive in tight economies. Click here to access your free guide!

Operating Capital Example

For example, Chris is the CFO of a large company – a series of retail stores which sell plants for home decor. Chris plans the company finances to assure smooth operations. This includes managing company operating capital.

Recently, the company has experienced enormous growth. While this is a great signal that the business model is sound, it can also form a operating capital crisis. Consequently, Chris must move forward carefully to avoid financial ruin for the company.

First, Chris wants to know where the company stands. He then performs this working capital calculation to see where the business is currently:

Current Assets = $1,000,000

Current Liabilities = $250,000

Operating Capital = $1,000,000 – $250,000 = $750,000

Chris knows that $750,000 is not enough money to get the company through this quarter. He also knows that with insufficient working capital the company will have to seek financing from a lender who is less risk averse. So Chris does his research.

The two choices Chris learns are possible are factoring and mezzanine lending. Therefore, Chris will need to do a lot of research to evaluate both options. As he does this research, he is empowered by the importance of his work: the fate of the company rests upon it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Chris chooses mezzanine lending as the option for the company. With mezzanine lending, he can have a total cost of capital lower than that with factoring. Additionally, mezzanine lenders will offer more money that that in the value of the receivables of the company.

Chris moves forward carefully in order to avoid a mistake. Because his nature as a planner makes this path an easy one, Chris will wait until he is prepared and then make the proper decision.

For more ways to improve your cash flow, download the free 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper.

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