The January to March Cash Flow Crisis

After the rush of the Christmas period, cash seems to dry up for most business in early January. People are away, invoices don’t get paid, and probably won’t until February or even March.

You need to have a cash buffer leading into January to help you through these tight months. If you have customers on account, START YOUR DEBTOR FOLLOW UP NOW! The creditors who chase hard and early will get paid first. Don’t be the last on the list to contact your customers for payment – they may have no cash left to pay you by that stage.

Christmas Parties for your Team

The ATO has a “minor benefit” limit of $300 per employee for Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) purposes. If you keep the cost of your Christmas party to under $300 per employee, then this should be able to be viewed as a minor benefit and exempt from FBT.

Additionally, keep any Christmas presents below $300 per employee and ensure they are “one-off” gifts, and they should be exempt from FBT.

Christmas Party Policy

Employment laws are changing all the time, and recent changes confirm the need for employers to remind their employees about work policies in relation to responsible drinking and behaviour at work functions. An sample email template here.

Office Closure Dates

Do your customers know when your office is closing and when it is re-opening? You should update your web site with these details and put a sign on your front office door with an emergency contact number, just in case a courier tries to deliver anything to your office while it is closed.

Signature Lines on e-mails

Update the signature lines NOW for all of your employees. At the bottom of your e-mails during the month of December and early January, list the closing and re-opening times for your office, and even list an emergency contact phone number if you wish. This will encourage your customers to contact you well before you shut your office for any needs or enquiries they may have.

E-mail “Out-of-Office” Auto Reply

Ensure that your team updates and turns on their e-mail “Out-of-office” automatic reply during your last work day. Say something simple like “Our office is closed for the holiday break starting Friday 21 December 2012, and we will return on Monday 7 January 2013. For strictly urgent matters, please contact [TEAM MEMBER] on [i.e. 0400 111 222] and they will respond to your request within 24 hours.”

Recorded Phone Messages

Prepare a recorded phone message for your phone answering system to let your customers know when your office is closing and re-opening.

After Hours Emergency Contact Details

Your customers may feel frustrated if they have an urgent need over the holiday break but cannot contact your office. You may decide to provide the mobile phone number or e-mail address of a Holiday Break Contact Team Member that can respond to customers within 24 hours. These emergency contact details could be left on your recorder phone message, e-mail signature lines and e-mail “out-of-office” replies.

Enjoy Your Break

Above all, have a great holiday break and try to relax. We’ve really enjoyed working with you this year, and we’re very much looking forward to helping you next year too!