FIRMS in Huddersfield have been urged to make sure the cash keeps flowing while staff are on their summer holidays.
Wilma Teviotdale, president of the West Yorkshire Society of Chartered Surveyors and head of the department of accountancy at Huddersfield University, said many companies would be missing key staff responsible for chasing up payments from customers in the coming weeks.
Her comments came as figures today showed UK companies paid their bills more promptly during the second quarter of 2012 compared with the same period a year ago.
Business information group Experian revealed that April and June this year, firms were paying their overdue invoices 23.38 days after agreed terms.
That compares with 25.23 days during the same period in 2011 and 24.59 days during the first quarter of 2012.
Yorkshire firms paid their bills 23.72 days over the due date during the second quarter of 2012. That compares with 24.72 for the previous three months and 25.62 a year ago.
Ms Teviotdale said: “At this time of year – when employees will be taking their holidays – it is essential that firms plan ahead to ensure business is not disrupted.
“With economic prospects still uncertain, firms must try to ensure they keep cash flowing”.
Ms Teviotdale urged small and medium-sized enterprises to make sure that employees involved in raising sales invoices and chasing customers for payment completed a proper “handover” to stand-in staff – by briefing them on commitments made by customers regarding payment and making them aware of following up customer queries regarding sales invoices so that disputes are resolved quickly.
She said firms should ensure suppliers and customers are aware of any alternatives to their regular contacts to ensure a smooth handover.
And they should make sure that stand-in staff can access a list of contact details for suppliers and customers.
Ms Teviotdale said: “Getting cash into your business is critical.
“During the summer you will have staff away – but so will your customers.
“Plan ahead to avoid payment delays. 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.
“Systems for recording or forecasting cash flow need to be maintained in the finance director’s absence.
“And debrief people when they get back – this will enable them to get back ‘up to speed’ more quickly after their holiday.”
Ms Teviotdale said: “Cash is king and businesses must ensure that cash continues to come in by examining their debt collection and bill paying procedures as well as making sure proper safeguards are in place while people are away.”
The Experian survey showed that companies employing 50 to 100 staff and those with more than 501 employees paid their bills nearly two days faster than in the second quarter of 2011 while firms with 101 to 500 employees paid nearly two and a half days faster.