Operating Differently in the Business Office: How to Gain Greater Control Over Your Cash Flow
- Interest rates have been increasing for the last year.
- Three tips for managing cash flow.
This month, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the tenth time in 14 months. With the current federal funds rate at its highest level since 2007, now is not the time to have unhealthy cash flow in your dealership.
After years of low interest rates, improving cash flow management practices may have taken a back seat to other initiatives at your dealership. And you may feel stuck when it comes to changing.
You can’t control how quickly the postal service delivers your checks or how fast lenders fund your deals. Because of this, you may be tempted to focus on getting better at parts of the process you can control. Maybe you make a concerted effort to process deal jackets faster. Maybe you hire a part-time clerk to help stuff envelopes so you can get A/R statements out as soon as possible.
This may help you make incremental improvements, but you can only get so much better with your current processes. Instead of attempting to improve your current funding and payment processes, you need to manage them differently to truly get your cash flow in a healthy place.
Take back control over your cash flow with these three tips:
1) Adopt eContracting.
eContracting has been around for a while now and many lenders have been encouraging dealers to adopt it. Today many dealers are allowing customers to sign contracts digitally. But a full eContracting process is more than just eSigning.
To see maximum reduction in your CIT time and improve cash flow, you need to maintain control over every step of the funding process.
Electronically validating contracts prior to the signing ceremony is essential to keeping your CIT time low. By receiving lender confirmation that your deals are structured properly from the start, you can avoid wasting time correcting rejected deals and asking customers to come back in to re-sign.
When it comes to the signing ceremony itself, using electronic documents and signatures is a great start. But it doesn’t help your funding time much if you ultimately have to print the completed contracts and mail them to your lender. You should be able to submit contracts to your lender digitally along with any additional documentation like a scan of the customer’s driver’s license – even if the deal is completed remotely.
Finally, comprehensive tracking and reporting on your eContracted deals can help boost your funding speed. By proactively monitoring deals in transit, you can follow up when you notice funding delays. You can also gain insights like which lenders fund the fastest. With this information in mind, you can prioritize financing through those banks when possible.
2) Allow customers to make electronic payments.
Spending time stuffing paper statements, sending them out in the mail, and then waiting for the customer to send back a check is a tedious and time-consuming process. It may take a month or more for you to receive payment from the time you put a statement in the mail.
Instead, send electronic statements to customers and allow them to pay online. This allows you to receive payment immediately after sending out the statement. Customers will appreciate this flexible option, especially when most of their bills are paid online already, and getting payments faster helps keep you cash flow positive.
3) Pay vendors electronically.
Electronic payments aren’t just for receivables. You can pay vendors digitally as well. Instead of batch printing checks once or twice a month, mailing them out, and waiting for your vendors to cash them, you can control exactly when money leaves your account by paying bills electronically, precisely when they are due.
This ensures your money stays working for you until the exact time it is owed.
Improved cash flow isn’t the only benefit that comes with making these changes. By taking your funding and payment processes electronic, you save on printing and shipping costs and reduce the risk that your documents could be lost or damaged in the mail.
Although the Federal Reserve isn’t projected to lower interest rates any time soon, an increased focus on cash flow management can help you weather the storm until the benchmark starts to fall. It all comes down to enabling your dealership to connect with lenders, customers, and vendors instantly, no matter where they are.