Improving Cash Flow for Businesses Managing Hourly Workers

For companies expending significant hourly labor costs, optimizing cash flow is critical. Accelerate receivables, control expenses, leverage credit strategically, smooth payroll cycles, monitor closely, refine projections, and build buffers to improve liquidity.

Accelerate Invoice Collection 

Reduce accounts receivable days outstanding by motivating customers to pay invoices faster through discounts and processes. Offer incentives like 2% discounts for paying within 10 days or net 15 terms. Consider gradually penalizing late payments with fees or interest charges after 30/60/90 days overdue. 

Automate reminder emails when invoices become past due. Use firm but professional language clearly requesting payment. Some systems can automatically print and mail duplicate postal reminders. 

Provide multiple convenient payment options suited to customer preferences – accept credit cards, PayPal, Venmo, bank transfers, checks, and cash. Offer choices for online payments, phone payments, mail-in, or in-person. The easier you make it, the faster customers will pay.

Analyze trends in days sales outstanding (DSO) and delinquency rates by customer segment. Some industries, like construction, pay notoriously slowly. Prioritize collections resources on high balances past due or chronic late payers. 

According to small business financial experts, each 1% improvement in accounts receivable turnover can increase cash flow by 10% or more. Those dollars can then be reinvested in growth opportunities rather than cover operating costs.

Control Inventory Expenses

Carrying excess inventory strains cash reserves unnecessarily. Right-size stock levels are based on historical sales data, turn rates, and seasonal patterns. Balance having ample supply to prevent stockouts by tying up too much capital in unsold goods.

Negotiate with vendors for optimal pricing, delivery schedules, and payment terms to control costs. Before renewments, compare alternate suppliers and negotiate volume discounts. Push for 90+ day terms to ease working capital strains.

Implement inventory management procedures preventing loss. Store items first-in-first-out (FIFO) and use the oldest stock first to minimize spoilage. Conduct cycle counts at least monthly to identify discrepancies. Lock up high-value items and monitor activity logs to deter theft.

According to retail operations experts, focusing on inventory optimization provides one of the most effective short-term cash flow improvements. Cutting obsolete products, managing turn rates, and monitoring waste generate exponential benefits over time.

Take Advantage of Credit Strategically 

Using business credit cards and revolving credit intelligently supplements cash reserves. Choose cards offering generous rewards or cash back on your largest spending categories like fuel, supplies, and utilities. Maximize sign-up bonuses and introductory discounts.

Schedule payments to take full advantage of grace periods before interest accrues. Set up automated full statement balance payments each billing cycle. Avoid carrying balances month-to-month, needlessly accruing finance charges.

Compare financing offers to identify the most favorable terms, balancing rates, fees, repayment structure, flexibility, required collateral, and other factors. Understand the total costs associated with credit agreements. Avoid high-interest merchant cash advances or other predatory lending targeting small businesses. 

According to finance strategists, optimizing credit requires a balancing act between prudently leveraging low-cost capital and avoiding excessive risk that strains future cash flow. Have clear policies guiding how and when revolving credit gets used.

Manage Payroll Effectively

Staggering hourly employee payment schedules help control cash flow timing challenges. Rather than everyone paid this Friday, batch employees into weekly or bi-weekly groups with offset schedule cycles. Consult compliance experts on any state laws regarding pay frequency.

Offer direct deposit, enabling faster, predictable paycheck delivery while eliminating physical check costs. Provide discounted early wage access or payroll cards allowing employees to access wages prior to payday for a small surcharge.

Plan ahead for payroll cost spikes around seasonal staffing, holidays, sales increases, mid-week pay cycles causing two pay periods to land in one week, and other events. Model projected dates and amounts for payroll-intensive periods. 

According to payroll specialists, effectively managing payment distribution is crucial for businesses with weekly volume fluctuation, like restaurants, retailers, and seasonal services. Meet worker preferences while structuring administration for ideal cash flow.

Monitor Cash Flow Regularly

Set up dashboards tracking weekly and monthly cash flow compared to projections. Dig into discrepancies to understand whether changes represent one-off events or emerging trends needing intervention. 

Keep leadership apprised of potential risks like revenue declines, inventory build-up, or labor cost overruns straining liquidity. Develop contingency plans detailing how to cover two, four, and twelve-week operating shortfalls through steps like payment term extension, credit line utilization, or cutting expenses.

Look for opportunities to smooth out troughs and peaks in cash demands using tactics like higher credit limits to manage new seasonal hires. Avoid tapping short-term financing options carrying exorbitant rates like merchant cash advances.

Build an emergency reserve fund equal to 2-4 months of fixed operating expenses as a buffer for unforeseen events. Contribute excess profits to these cash reserves when possible. Just don’t let balances sit idle, paying no interest.

According to finance experts, habitually monitoring liquidity metrics spotlights developing problems early when more options exist. But balance vigilance with undue alarm over normal fluctuations. Use data judiciously to inform smart cash flow strategies.

Optimizing collections, expenses, credit, payroll timing, reserves, and cash flow monitoring improves working capital critical for companies expending significant hourly labor. Master both tactical and strategic liquidity management.

Share on