Plan ahead for summer holidays, say experts

A leading accountancy body has issued top tips for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners to help make sure that their businesses do not suffer financially while they and their staff are on holiday.

Issuing the guidance on 15 July, Clive Lewis, head of enterprise at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), said: “At this time of year, when employees will be taking their holiday, it is essential that firms plan ahead to ensure business is not disrupted.

“Cash is king and businesses must ensure that cash continues to come in during the summer. Firms must examine their debt collection and bill paying procedures, as well as making sure proper safeguards are in place while staff are away, so that they’re not caught short.” The ICAEW tips for business owners are:

  • plan ahead to avoid payment delays. During the summer you will have staff away – but so will your customers, so getting cash into your business is critical
  • make sure invoices are still paid on time otherwise you could damage your credit rating and limit your access to supplies on credit
  • if the person authorising payment is away, make sure that someone else can authorise it in their absence. The same applies with cheque signatories
  • make sure that staff complete a proper handover and in enough time. Staff involved in raising sales invoices and chasing customers for payment must properly brief the staff standing in for them, especially on commitments made by customers regarding payment. They should be aware of how to follow up customer queries regarding sales invoices so that disputes are resolved quickly
  • make sure that suppliers or customers are aware of any alternatives to their regular contacts to ensure a smooth handover and make sure stand-in staff can access a list of contact details for suppliers and customers
  • systems for recording and forecasting cash flow need to be maintained in the finance director’s absence
  • debrief people when they get back, to help them get up to speed after their holiday.

Link: Government guidance on managing cash flow