Differing realities remain depending on your particular geography, but if you’re like many North American painting contractors, the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel appears to be brighter, at least in terms of how it has affected your business.
The “new normal,” however, is presenting many with new, unique challenges. And for painting contractors and many small to medium business owners, one of those challenges is ensuring the necessary cash is on hand to keep ahead of your debts, whether paying the rent or paying your team.
The following are some ideas from various sources that merit consideration in any current cash flow strategy.
- Build cash-generating incentives into your marketing plan. Painting contractors have found several ways to generate cash earlier in the traditional exchange of services for payment. For example, consider offering incentives to your current customers for early payment, or advance booking discounts for prepayment. Gift certificates and/or vouchers for prospects can also produce cash now for services performed later.
- Step up collection. Collection is likely the least favorite part of many painting contractors’ lives, and the fact of the matter is that those who were prone to late pays are even less likely now to square up their debts. However, the times don’t give them a pass any more than your creditors do for you, so be persistent in your collection efforts.
- Achieve maximum PPP loan forgiveness. By now you’ve decided whether the Payroll Protection Program is for you, and if it was, you are well into the eight-week window in which funds must be used. So now what? First, submit the loan forgiveness application form that was recently released by the Small Business Administration (SBA). And second, understand that the rules might be changing. For example, there has been recent bipartisan support in Congress for an extension of the eight-week window. There has also been talk of a “sliding scale of forgiveness,” and whether or not the additional expenses you may have incurred in paying back the PPP loans are exempt from forgiveness. Ray Lampner, a CPA and panelist at a recent webinar in Wisconsin, told his audience that the SBA and the Department of Treasury are issuing “new guidance on the PPP on an almost daily basis. The words you’ll hear often are, ‘as of today…’” The key takeaway? Stay up to date. The SBA website is a good site to have bookmarked, as is the PRO Support Center, where the CARES Act article lists resources that can guide PROs to further relief.
- Consider all relief options. Relief is available in all shapes and forms these days from state and local governments, so be sure to consider all the options that could increase cash flow both for your home and your business. For example, if your children are in college, they still may be eligible for CARES ACT funds through their school. Additionally, many states are providing funds specific to renters. And state governments are also funding small business grant programs, separate from CARES Act funding. Visit your state and local government websites to learn more about specific relief programs that may apply to you.
- Call your credit card company. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that many credit card companies have begun waiving late fees and deferring customer payments. If such a plan would provide you with relief, understand that staffers there are dealing with literally millions of similar requests. Have the patience to make sure your request for relief reaches a customer service department—and understand that they might be overwhelmed.
- Open a 0% Interest S-W PRO Account. Your S-W PRO account can increase productivity and maximize purchasing power, all while providing you the benefit of interest-free purchasing that allows you to keep your cash in your business. Visit your nearest store to learn details and sign up for your S-W PRO account.
*Sherwin-Williams is a manufacturer of paints, coatings, and related products; we recommend you consult your financial or tax professional before making any important financial-related decisions.