The business had been relying on internal accountants/bookkeepers to provide the compliance and the managing director took his eye off the ball as he was away from the office most of the time due to family illness. The organisation had multiple sites for distribution in Ireland which had a limited financial budget. Weak finance and a dysfunctional organisation meant that the directors were in breach of their duties. Pressures on cashflow, staff costs and evolving legislation meant the company had to review how to meet their business objectives while keeping the customer happy without compromising the bottom line and bank balance.
To save the company from bankruptcy as 3 years of accounts and tax returns hadn’t been filed. The business was losing money and relied on a couple of large customers. Urgent action was required by me. The business had to price for new work that would result being in positive cashflow, so I set up a pricing model for them. The company had to try to meet the challenges in growing to adapt to the economic climate by developing practices that enabled them to reduce costs, improve efficiency and still deliver good service through motivated employees.
The company relied heavily on bank overdrafts and loans. I wanted to focus on generating as much cash as possible internally. We looked at key funding sources of private equity/venture capital funding as well as the non-traditional alternatives such as ‘peer to peer’ lending, crowd funding and business angels, all of which can be extremely efficient in helping fund a growing business. Existing business plans had to be reviewed and changed to focus on profit-making areas and cash control areas. My formula was revenue generation and cost reduction and working capital reduction, basically the owner was losing control of the business.
- Cashflow had to be organised and systems implemented. A planning phase was implemented to monitor liabilities and customer debts. Cash was king.
- Reassess existing business plans and make changes to focus on profit-making areas and cash control areas.
- Review employment models for efficiency, such as outsourcing, so key tasks could be completed at a fraction of employment costs without having to spend significant time on non core tasks.
- Construct a model of how the business might perform in certain situations and look at a budget that serves as a control tool to help evaluate the performance of cash budgets, profit plans and balance sheet forecasts leading to comparisons with actual results facilitating the analysis and correction of variances.
- Bringing the accounts up to date.
- Bank reconciliations.
- Controlling accounts.
- Communicating with Companies House, HMRC and suppliers.
- I considered an exit strategy but felt it was far to early as the company was in such a poor state, who would buy it?
- Strategy, structures, roles and functions are constantly being realigned with new objectives as the business evolves, so that control is not lost and employees aren’t working at cross purposes.
- The financial performance of the company is monitored daily, weekly and monthly – depending on the department. Key performance indicators have been established to measure progress in such areas as cash, supplier liabilities, expenses and bank balance. Up to date and relevant business data and financial reporting is being used to evaluate the success of past decisions and analyse the current situation. Using facts and figures that are relevant and specific are helping the company build a successful operation.
- The business is now on a firmer footing and can look forward to steady growth and is continuing to look for other profitable work. A team ethos has been encouraged. Regular monthly board meetings are now held and I sit in on these and relevant information communicated to key staff.
- Costs and cash still need to be managed carefully, however the company now applies a systematic approach to identify opportunities to leverage the best return for the business. They now understand the elements of profitability, liquidity and risk while keeping a close eye on cashflow.
- The company is transitioning to more efficient terms and practices in all areas of the business.
- The business was saved from being struck off by one day and the jobs of 200 people were secured.
- I believe the company now has a future and can flourish now with the correct systems, right people and all the stakeholders are buying into the long term goals of the business owner.
Eamonn is not just a very good financial controller, he is a friend, a leader, a team player and very professional in his duties.
Michael Keogh, Managing Director
Case Study: Eamonn Corrigan