Keeping Cash Flowing In Turbulent Times

“Cash flow is top-of-mind for most clients,” reads an April 3, 2020 article in the Journal of Accountancy about how CPAs are supporting business owners through the COVID-19 crisis. Cash flow has always been an issue for business owners, and CPAs are always their trusted advisors, but if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything it’s that CPAs do some of their best work under pressure. Well, that and that people are really bad about regularly washing their hands, eww.

You don’t need us to tell you things are rough out there. Roughly 38.6 million Americans are unemployed. Many Main Street businesses are still shuttered. Barflies have resorted to — gasp — grabbing cases of beer from the grocery store. And Lord knows it’s a terrible time to be a gym owner.

Despite unprecedented government intervention, business owners have still found themselves struggling to make payroll and in desperate need of guidance from their most trusted advisors. Who do business owners turn to in a crisis? Their drunk Uncle Pete who owned a moderately successful carpet-cleaning business in 1975? A sketchy strip mall psychic who will undoubtedly bill them to cleanse the curse upon their mortal soul? A Magic 8-Ball? Nah. Their CPA.

As much as we’re sure countless CPA firms would love to strap on their capes, fire up their best spreadsheets, and go forth into the world (at a six-foot distance, natch) to solve this crisis at zero cost, at the end of the day they have employees to pay, too. After all, accounting firms aren’t immune to economic downturns themselves. In just two short months, we’ve seen firms large and small across the U.S. and the world take all manner of cost-cutting measures, from furloughs to pay cuts, in reaction to economic uncertainty. Internships have gone virtual. Offers for new hires have been delayed. Everyone sort of puckered up at once like coronavirus shoved a handful of Warheads in the world’s mouth and no one could escape the consequences.

Short of telling clients they can pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today, what are firms supposed to do when clients need them most but may not consider the services of their CPA to be an “essential” business service?

“Be business partners with them, know they’re struggling, and try to help them,” advises Jeremy Sperring, CFO and chief operating officer at Frazier & Deeter, a top 100 firm. Sometimes the answer is as simple as picking up the phone and asking clients “is there anything I can help with?” Keep the lines of communication open and make it known that your firm is there to guide them through these rough seas.

There’s another way to help, and it starts with your invoices. Twenty-five percent of the top 100 accounting firms in the U.S. are already using QuickFee PayNow and QuickFee PayLater to quickly and easily receive client payments, and though their reasons may be varied, now more than ever it makes sense to go paperless. One big reason: there’s likely no one at the office to collect paper checks. Thanks, Rona!

“The demand for contact-free payment options has skyrocketed and QuickFee provides three different online payment options,” says Andreas Diwing, senior director of marketing at QuickFee. “This, coupled with the fact that most offices are closed and there is no one that can or wants to go through the hassle of depositing a paper check, has led to QuickFee more than doubling processing volumes over the past six weeks.”

In March, the World Health Organization spokesperson told U.K. paper The Telegraph “people should use contactless technology where possible” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So there’s one more reason to make the move toward digital payments if your firm hasn’t already.

Additionally, “Buy now, pay later” programs are becoming increasingly popular, as anyone who frequents retail stores or Amazon can tell you. What if clients could apply that same concept to much-needed professional services?

“People today expect options, and in retail, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) providers like Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay that allow consumers to pay in installments are more popular than ever before. BNPL is the fastest-growing online payment method worldwide. QuickFee brought this same payment experience to the professional services industry.”

With QuickFee PayLater, your firm gets paid in full as soon as the next business day, while clients have the convenience of an affordable payment plan that allows them to pay over time. Win-win, right? I mean, at the end of the day if you do work for free, it’s not client work, it’s charity.

No one wants to have the awkward “hey, you got my money yet?” conversation with clients. You’re running an accounting firm, not an interest-free bank. By offering digital — and, more importantly, flexible — payment options to clients, you empower them to focus on their business while you do the same. You know, without needing to have the conversation about where the money to pay your invoice is going to come from.

Your clients aren’t the only ones worried about cash flow. Everyone is. Why not make it easier on yourself and your clients and give our friends at QuickFee a shout to see if their PayNow and PayLater payment solutions are a fit for your firm?

It’s simple. QuickFee firms get paid faster and improve their cash flow. QuickFee firms see an average reduction of 32% in DSO. Further, QuickFee firms are also saving on transaction costs, reducing time spent on administration, all while providing their clients with a convenient, secure, and contactless payment experience. Also, as we know many partners don’t like having that “cash discussion” with their clients, that discussion becomes so much easier when their firm has multiple Payment Plan options to offer.

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