Holiday pain points for SMEs: Avoiding a winter of discontent

Although many around the country are ready to welcome the holiday seasons with open arms (who does not spend most of the year waiting to roast chestnuts on an open fire?), the lead up to Christmas can leave a different taste in the mouths of small business owners, closer to what we imagine expired eggnog to taste like. Today we look at 3 pain points that mean winter may not always be the season to be jolly when running an SME, and attempt to offer a solution to each.

1-The Ghost of Christmas Past:  Supplier deliveries

Most of us are guilty of the same thing during the holidays: overbuying everything. Whilst it is undoubtedly great for the economy, stock disappearing too rapidly off the shelves will be sure to cause some panic for disappointed customers and unprepared owners alike.

The simple solution would seem to be to order more stock than usual well ahead of the seasonal rush, but if things were that simple then there would have been no reason to write this piece. There are many reasons why ordering a lot of stock in advance isn’t the answer: short shelf life items would go to waste, small businesses may not have sufficient storage room, budgets might not have taken into account such an increase in stock orders, etc.

In order to avoid cold sweats during the chillier months of the year, it is advised to contact your suppliers to enquire about their orders and deliveries pattern changes during the holiday season. Stock up on the most popular items based on your storage capacity and previous year’s sales, and take into account that scheduled deliveries may be affected by poor weather conditions.

2- The Ghost of Christmas Present: Staff

As anyone who’s seen a good Christmas movie knows, the holidays are a great reason to spend time with your family. Unfortunately, that means that most workers will prefer to spend time away from the workplace between Christmas and the New Year, and managing everyone’s availability whilst ensuring there is enough cover to assure as good a service as always will start the drama season (its official closing ceremony being the annual Christmas party).

Here again, preparing in advance is key: set an early deadline for leave requests, and use a Scheduling / HR program to allocate hours to staff and prevent brain freezes trying to solve that puzzle yourself. Once your schedule is ready, introduce it to your teams as early as possible to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. Remember to anticipate potential lateness and sickness due to our Great British weather too: communicate clear guidelines to be sure to have sufficient time to arrange for cover.

Seasonal staff is also a possibility during the period, but ensure you employ committed and trained individuals to upkeep the reputation of your business whilst your usual employees are away.

3- The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: Cashflow

Securing cashflow is not the easiest of tasks for most of the year, but it is especially true at Christmas: stock ordering, decorations, bonuses and other seasonal expenses (such as higher energy bills) are sure to put some pressure on your balance sheet at the end of the calendar year.

This is where your Capital on Tap account can make all the difference, as you can access extra cashflow as and when required. You can either elect to draw down funds directly into your business bank account 24/7 via your online portal or use funds on the go with the Capital on Tap Business MasterCard at millions of retailers worldwide, online and over the phone. And with card purchases remaining at 0% interest for up to 37 days when you pay your balance off in full each month, Christmas expenses can be dealt with in the new year!

 

The holiday season can prove to be stress-inducing for many of us, but with a little bit of preparation and a dedicated source of business finance ready to help UK SMEs, this Christmas might well be a holly, jolly affair after all. If you would like to check your eligibility for a Capital on Tap account, simply fill in our 2-minute application form today: Check your eligibility

How to create a stickier brand – Part 2

Typically, Pareto principle applies within the wholesale market: 80% of revenue and profit generally comes from the top 20% of customers. This, for many wholesalers, means that the majority of sales resource is focused on the Top 20% of customers. This has become known as the ‘Superstar’ theory.

However, there is an increasing school of thought that this theory is flawed. By focusing the majority of effort on the top 20%, the fragmented ‘tail’ of customers often gets ignored. But given the fact that these customers tend not to be promiscuous and in most instances generate higher levels of percentage margin should they not be a key target when wholesalers seek to develop their business?

Part of the issue with this fragmented tail of customers is that they are often credit constrained. This means that the volume and value of goods supplied by a wholesaler is constrained to the credit limit that the wholesaler offers. Often the limit and duration of credit terms is insufficient to cover the trading requirements of the customer. As a consequence you find customers juggling credit limits between suppliers in order to satisfy their needs.

So, if we look at this through the eyes of your customer, what do they want? Ideally, the provision of a credit facility that enables them to purchase what they need from a supplier and a credit period that enables them to maximise their working capital. But more and longer credit means higher risk right?

Not necessarily..

Capital On Tap’s real-time credit monitoring platform can offer more credit to your existing customers without increasing risk. We can do this because our proprietary software enables us to refresh the credit assessment of customers every time they order.  As a consequence, we have more information about the trading patterns and performance of their business which allows us to provide more credit to nearly 80% of our clients’ customers.

We have found that, when provided with more credit and more flexible payment terms, 7 out of 10 customers buy more with increases in order size of up to 20%.

Capital on Tap can help you create a sticky value proposition from your trading terms. We enable you to cultivate long lasting, mutually beneficial customer relationships where you help to improve the liquidity and positive cash flow within your customers’ businesses. They grow, you sell more, you grow.

Learn more about how Capital on Tap can help you sell more to your existing customers.

Sell more now!

How to create a stickier brand – Part I

If you could sell up to 20% more to your existing customers, what would it mean to your business?

The post Brexit marketplace is a highly competitive arena. A decreasing number of customers and increased promiscuity from buyers have wholesalers competing for a slice of an ever-decreasing pie.

In order to achieve growth, many wholesalers get drawn into competing on price. This, inevitably, is unsustainable. Others focus on improving their value proposition in order to create a ‘stickier’ brand or offering and thereby increase customer loyalty. There is no doubt about it; stickiness can change the game. It can transform business from a transaction-based model to a more lasting, mutually beneficial one in which companies improve their own revenues and help to improve their customers’ competitiveness.

The problem with stickiness is that it can be hard to create.

For example, a primary objective for wholesalers is to sell more to their existing customers. However, doing so without decreasing prices and subsequent margins is difficult unless your proposition is sticky. Now, sticky can be delivered by good, old-fashioned service. It can be achieved from training, NPD and range developments that increase choice. I know we’re not inventing gravity here and I know that most companies have a least paid lip service to some of these approaches, but that is often the extent of it.

The truth is, creating sustainable stickiness needs organisations to see the world through customers’ eyes. Otherwise, unlike gravity, stickiness just won’t happen.

 

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this series to learn how to create a sticky value proposition from your trading terms!

Learn more now!

Transforming trade credit at Capital on Tap

Faster Decisions

Customers expect rapid responses and taking too much time to make decisions can cost valuable sales. Complex, lengthy forms and internal processes can create a poor customer experience. The vast majority of customers will automatically migrate to ‘the path of least resistance.’ In other words, the supplier that makes it easy for them to make a purchasing decision. Capital On Tap enables your business to remove the obstacles that slow the onboarding of customers which, in turn, helps you to drive revenue growth.

More Sales

Our technology platform allows you to process a credit application in minutes with a confirmed credit decision in one hour, ensuring that your Sales Team maximise the revenue from each new customer. Our unique underwriting process also enables you to provide bigger and more flexible trade credit terms to your existing customers. Typically, we provide up to 80% of our clients customers with more credit, resulting in increases in sales of up to 20%.

No Risk

Every approved invoice processed through our platform is bad debt protected, meaning that your risk of non-payment is eliminated. We also guarantee to pay you for 100% of the value of your invoice on the invoice due date, meaning that you GET PAID ON TIME, EVERY TIME.

Less Cost

Our automated technology platform manages underwriting, credit control, collections and payment processing. Enabling you to focus on revenue growth whilst reducing costs.

To find out how we can help your business, please get in touch with our Director of Sales, Paul Scarratt at paul.scarratt@capitalontap.com or 07734 956003.