By Mike Houghton, Commercial Manager, Able Systems
A recent survey of 1,300 tradespeople in the UK found that despite economic uncertainty, tradesmen and women are optimistic about their workload in the next two months – with many expecting theirs to increase.
With this, comes the need to buy more materials to support new projects, so cash flow, which has historically been difficult for many tradespeople to maintain, is vitally important for small businesses looking to pick up work and boost recovery out of lockdown. So, is now the right time for small businesses in the trade to adopt technology that can help boost cash flow?
The cost of the pandemic
The pandemic hasn’t been easy for most sectors.
For some, the restrictions imposed during lockdown made it near impossible to continue trading. For most tradespeople work dried up at the back end of March and continued to be sparse in April and most of May, as social distancing meant most homeowners were unwilling to allow work to commence in or on their properties.
According to research, the cost of the pandemic on small trade businesses has been £12,891 – this takes into account loss of work, loss of earnings and any other costs or loan repayments businesses have had to make.
Although government support during the pandemic has kept businesses a float through vital funds, that support is nearing its end which means tradespeople have to ensure they have a healthy pipeline of work and that their cash flow is well maintained.
Small businesses in the trade are often affected by late payments by customers, with The Federation of Small Businesses claiming 50,000 small businesses go bust in the UK each year due to an accumulation of late payments. Therefore, what can businesses in the trade do to improve payment collections?
Look to your smartphone
Almost every tradesperson will have a smartphone. We often take for granted the things our phones can do and for tradespeople it can help with boosting cash flow. Instead of leaving an invoice with customers to pay, which naturally they hold off as long as they can on, tradespeople should be looking to use apps that turn their mobile device into a card reader, so they can take payment on the spot. There are many apps on the market that offer this capability like SmartTrade, PayAnywhere or PayPal here. Simply the camera works as a card reader and the app does the rest in taking care of quotes, statements and payment.
Customers who have had home improvement work done, will often want a receipt due to the cost involved and in case there are any issues in future. You can partner your smartphone with a compact bluetooth printer, so you can print receipts once payment has been taken and hand them over to customers. These printers come at little cost and overtime incur no real running costs either -– without the need to use your mobile data too.
Boosting cash flow
The next few months are going to be vital for trade businesses, as they look to recover from the impact of the hardest months of the pandemic. Even making small changes, like using a card reader app, could boost cash flow to help fuel that recovery.
Able Systems provides bluetooth printers to trades people across the UK.