Freshen up your relationships

Start the financial new year by freshening up your relationships.

A new business relationship can be compared to the flush of new love – with rose coloured glasses firmly fixed. But as best behaviour starts to wane, the cracks can start to show. Sometimes the service delivered is no longer perceived to be worth the money expected and sometimes the money is held back or grinds to a halt.

So how can we keep our business relationships alive and mutually beneficial? Trust, respect and communication are biggies. As is the willingness to work on your relationship – together. Below are some more essentials that will help ease your journey.

First things first, ensure expectation and reality is aligned.

Talk to each other, define what you both need and want from the business relationship, then agree with a Letter of Service and Terms of Trade.

There are many forms and online services that facilitate this. It can be as simple as an email audit trail, an online process with something like e-sign, or something sophisticated like Practice Ignition if you are engaging on a professional level.

If it’s timely to consider a professional association or organisation that will help you with ideas in regards to Terms of Engagement, we recommend The NZ Bookkeepers Association or bookkeepers and businesses with an accounts function.

Show you’re in, boots and all.

Deliver what you said you would – this goes both ways – if you agree that one of you will do something, then do it. A relationship can stagnate due to miscommunication, with both sides waiting for the other party to act.

If you make a mistake own up to it sooner rather than later, then work it out together.

Use the right tools for real communication.

Xero is an excellent example of working in collaboration with transparency. Then there’s email of course, Google Docs, Hangouts, Skype… and a good old fashioned natter on the phone or over a coffee.

Keep the cash flowing.

Invoice on a regular basis with clear terms of payment. Make sure to stick to your terms and follow up on outstanding sales invoices.

Xero’s pretty handy for this as you can access real time data and use the online payment feature to get paid faster. Here’s a little video that shows how it works. Xero also has a feature to give you invoice reminders, you can take a look at that here.

You can also enlist the help of an outsourced automated debtor collection service like our friends at Debtor Daddy.

Alternatively, you can outsource to a credit management specialist who is invited into the Xero organisation, like the fine folks at Undercontrol who enable credit management, collection with notes and expected payment details recorded for true collaboration.