I have led companies in the retail, real estate, transportation and restaurant industries from near catastrophe to stability and profitable growth. Companies find themselves in a dire straits position for a multiple of reasons when the economy is strong as well as weak … more so when weak.
The current business climate is tenuous and an increasing number of businesses find themselves in a profit and cash flow crunch. If you or someone you know is in that position, time is of the essence. Literally every hour that passes is critical when a company’s profit and cash flow are on a downward trend. The faster action is taken to restore the business to a positive cash flow position, the more likely it can be further strengthened to renewed profitable growth.
The following steps are the major ones that I have guided clients through who have been in this situation:
1. Stop issuing checks until Step 2 and Step 3 are completed. The exception would be payroll and any utilities if you are at the point of being shut off if the bill is not paid. If you have a trucking company you have to buy fuel. If you are a restaurant you have to buy food. If you don’t have the funds to pay “life support costs and expenses” there are still options but they would have to be addressed on a case by case basis. You want to avoid getting to the point of not being able to pay the must have expenses. There is a wide variation of the definition of must have items. The clients I have helped were very surprised at the literal definition of “must haves” but they thanked me later.
2. Be certain as to your exact cash and liquidity position. You need a very accurate snapshot of the free cash in your bank account, the quality of accounts receivables and a precise accounts payable listing that includes all invoices. You would be surprised as to how many companies do not know their actual cash position, ignore problems in their accounts receivable balances and forget that oftentimes there are bills sitting in unopened mail and desk drawers.
3. Develop an eight week cash receipts and disbursements forecast and don’t leave one cent off of the disbursements list. If you are not sure how to do this, there is an example at 10 Minute MBA This is a core schedule that I implement with all clients and is very valuable when used properly.
4. Document an organization chart with each person’s position and compensation.
5. If the business sells a physical product, it is important to evaluate the inventory. You cannot sell what you don’t have and you can’t replenish inventory if vendors have shut you off.
6. If there are debt agreements in place understand all debt compliance covenants.
7. Identify all critical support functions. For example, the company’s internet connection, maintenance agreements on machinery and equipment and key licensing agreements if any.
The goal is to have an accurate picture of all the facts no matter how dismal they are. I can’t tell you how many times I have been blind sided by additional pieces of information that were very important in finalizing the turnaround plan.
What Actions Are Typically Taken Once There Is An Accurate Picture of Situation?
1. Cut all non- essential spending and payroll.
2. Implement a temporary reduction in pay for as many people as possible. That is always difficult and may be impractical if there is a union or a large hourly workforce. Every situation is different but normally payroll has to be cut and it is often delegated to the outside consultant to handle.
Note: many of these steps are implemented quickly. Even while the entire picture is still being developed. That is where experience with these situations is very valuable. Experts with turnaround experience know how and where to act fast.
3. With people you want to take the action one time and then meet with those that remain and explain to them what is going on and how it is going to be fixed.
4. Vendors on the accounts payable list will need to be called and given a date when they can expect a workout plan. This is not fun work even for an expert consultant. However, whatever needs to be done to save the business and restore profitability should be addressed.
5. If there is a sales staff, look to move those people to full commission status and if possible add to the staff with full commission as the compensation package. Be careful if out of pocket expenses are paid. They have to be limited and per diems in place.
6. Assign clear accountability for collecting receivables and put in place a three step collection process. In certain cases discounts are negotiated for paying early.
Notice all the emphasis at this point is on cutting expenses and build cash once that process is in place then
Work on your building business and profits plan. Make sure it is realistic and focused on the next 90-180 days. When that is drafted including the financial projections you are now in a position to negotiate with bank debt holders, capital equipment lease venders and other long term lease agreements in place.
Some clients may need to file for chapter 11 reorganization. This should be avoided at all costs since it is very expensive, time consuming and a major distraction. However sometimes it is the only available option other than shutting your doors. Chapter 11 is usually the best answer where selling assets, selling the business or parts of the business is part of the the turnaround plan.
I hope this helps and while it addresses many points there are always more depending on the business. The following is right from my Turnaround Consulting Site
Do you worry about running out of cash?
Do most of your key vendors have you on COD?
Have checks issued by your business bounced?
Are revenue trends decreasing and accounts payable increasing?
Have any of your valued employees left for a “better opportunity”?
Are you spending all of your time fighting fires?
Do you wake up at night fearing you will be out of business?
Do you fear you will not have enough cash to meet your next payroll? What about the next?
Are you thinking or have been advised that a reorganization of your business under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy code may be the answer?
“If You Answered Yes To More Than One of These Questions, Then You Need To Call Steve Pohlit at 727-587-7871 Right Now. That Is My Direct Line. I Will Personally Determine If I Can Help You Solve Your Business Problems or Refer You To Someone Who Can. This Call Will Cost You Nothing and May Well Save Your Company.”
There are two reasons why companies ask me for business consulting assistance:
1. They know what to do but want an independent third party experienced business development consultant to drive the process as that approach demonstrates management’s commitment to achieving the goals.
2. Management understands the need for improved performance and understands they do not have the experience to implement what is required.
3. There is actually a third reason and that is where a business is in a crises situation and turnaround business consulting procedures need to be implemented fast. Nobody likes that situation, even the consultant. However, many companies can be salvaged with the right action. Think of the what goes into action when a person has a heart attack. Timing and action are the differences between life and death.
Be Well and Prosper,
Business Development Consulting
Steve Pohlit has more than 20 years experience running very large and medium sized companies. Steve consults with clients to design and implement processes that will deliver improved business performance for the long term. Learn more about the process of Increasing Profits by 30% or More In 90 Days or Less by visiting 10 Minute MBA or you can call 727-587-7871 and speak with Steve directly. Have a question? Click Here To Visit Ask The Consultant