Well folks, it’s that time of the year again. That time when many business owners start getting anxious about cash flow over the holiday season, and as much as we all need a good break, we sure wish that our customers just kept on paying us over the holidays.
Sadly that is generally not the case, but there’s a couple of things that you can do right now to help reduce the anxiety, and give your cash flow a quick shot in the arm before the holiday season kicks in.
We’ve put together our favourite tips to make sure you get paid on time over the Christmas and New Year break, even though it might be tools down for some of your customers:
- In the weeks leading up to Christmas, focus on getting your invoices out as soon as the job is complete or the order is filled, and make sure your payment terms are clearly stated on the invoice. Even better, include a “Payment Due Date” field so your customers know exactly when you expect payment.
- Review your debtors today, and don’t rely on automated email reminder systems that are built into so many accounting packages now. Your customers are so conditioned to reading those emails that they’re like water of a reindeer’s back (see what we did there)! Pick up the phone, ring your customers and ask them for payment. And even though it’s not our preferred method, at the very least send them a personalised SMS reminder.
- Create urgency, make sure you’ve done the most you possibly can, to get paid by 16 December, because Santa knows that no-one pays during the week leading up to Christmas, and this year many businesses are indicating that 16 December will be their last working day until at least 09 January next year.
- Resolve any outstanding reconciliation or dispute items now. Set aside a block of time, with a glass of Christmas cheer, and get those niggling issues cleared up. By taking away the reason for payment delays right now, you still stand a chance of getting paid the balance before everyone does a runner this year.
- Okay, so there was only 4 tips, this last one is just our favourite recipe for a Christmas baked ham. Everyone has their family favourite, and this one is ours:
Glazed Apricot Christmas Ham
8-9 kg cooked leg of ham
2 heaped tablespoons of brown sugar
10-12 whole cloves
250g apricot jam
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau
Step 1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Step 2. Remove skin from ham by cutting through the skin at the knuckle end of the ham, and loosening the skin at the broad end of the ham and pulling it gently away with fingertips. There will still be some fat left on the surface. Score the surface in diamonds or your own fancy pattern.
Step 3. Rub ham well with brown sugar and stud with cloves in each diamond, or however it works with the pattern you’ve made. Cook uncovered in a large baking tray for 30 minutes.
Step 4. While it is cooking, melt the apricot jam and the Grand Marnier together over a low heat in a small pot.
Step 5. Remove ham from the oven after 30 minutes and brush with the apricot glaze, then place the tray back in the oven for another 1 ½ hours. Brush the ham every 30 minutes (or thereabouts).
Enjoy your Christmas ham and stay on top of those outstanding customer invoices throughout December.