amersahm p mullis
Phil Mullis, partner at top-20 UK accountancy firm, Wilkins Kennedy LLP

As an independent retailer, you are now right in the middle of the golden quarter and you are probably seeing a huge period of frenzied activity.

You will be hoping for yet more sales boosts, profit jumps galore and inward cash flow, and, with careful planning you really can achieve all three. In particular, keep your cash flowing; cash, after all, is the lifeblood of your business.

Here are my 5 tips to keep that cash flowing for a happy Christmas:

1. Run your cash flow forecast – now!

How much stock are you going to need – when will you have to pay for it, when is the cash from product sales coming in, when will you need to restock? And do keep the cash flow model updated – daily if you can.

2. Check your suppliers

Are you sure they are able to deliver on time, every time? If they can’t that’s no good for you. Think about alternate suppliers as back up – indeed, the back-up may become your front line supplier in the future.

3. Check your supplier credit lines

They will want payment within their terms and your failure to pay on time could cost you. They won’t supply and you reduce your product line for sale.

4. Check your banking facilities

Is there adequate access to working capital should you need to purchase additional stock? Nothing worse than having stock outs on high margin lines.

5. Check your inventory – daily

Fully establish what is selling well, what less so. Is there an opportunity to push slow moving stock at a discount to generate that cash elixir and purchase the good stuff for re-sale? You also need to be mindful that slow moving stock is cash tied up and is likely to be heavily discounted come the January sales.

A retailer who plans their buying, inventory and cash flow should be a success and have a very happy Christmas. The emphasis on great cash management is not just for the golden quarter but all year, every year. If you’re not sure whether you’ve got the right model – get help and do it now; you won’t regret planning for success.