Many construction business owners overlook the importance of cash flow in construction. Without sufficient cash flow, your business may be unable to pay vendors on time or continue work on projects.
But what is cash flow in construction? Why is it so important and how can you improve it? We'll answer all of this and more in our detailed guide.
In the construction industry – and any other business – cash flow refers to the amount of cash coming into and out of the company over a specified period of time.
Cash flow is calculated by subtracting your cash outflows (expenses) from your cash inflows (income).
In the construction industry, cash flow is crucial if the company hopes to stay in business.
Why is cash flow important in construction? Because cash flow is a key measurement of a company’s financial health.
Depending on the chosen accounting method, a business can still be profitable but have a negative cash flow. It may seem like a healthy business on paper, but its negative cash flow may cause it to run into issues paying its bills.
By monitoring cash flow in construction, construction businesses can predict their needs, identify potential issues and take action to correct problems before they face a cash shortage.
Construction companies can face a wide range of cash flow problems. Here are some of the most common ones.
Bad cash flow in construction can lead to big problems for a business later on down the road. But how do you deal with problems relating to cash flow in construction?
One of the first and most important things is to start managing your cash flow properly. Without proper management of your cash flow, you won’t be able to identify potential problems and have an accurate picture of your business’s financial health.
Managing cash flow in construction can be challenging, but it’s not an impossible feat. Here are some helpful tips on how to manage cash flow in construction.
A mechanics lien can be a powerful tool in ensuring that you get paid for your work. Here are a few important things to know:
One of the most important aspects of cash flow in construction is ensuring that you get paid on time. Taking action with a mechanics lien is one way to protect your payments and ensure you’re paid what you’re owed.
Rather than purchasing new assets in cash, consider financing them instead. Yes, you will have to pay interest on the purchase, but you can avoid running into cash flow issues.
Financing allows you to make smaller payments over a longer period of time, which frees up cash for your business’s expenses.
Along with improving the management of cash flow in construction, financing your asset purchases will also help you build your business’s credit. If you ever need to take out a loan in the future, having good credit will be imperative.
Another effective way to improve the management of cash flow in construction is to negotiate better payment terms. This means:
Negotiating favorable payment terms can go a long way in improving the management of cash flow in construction.
Creating more accurate estimates will allow you to confidently project your cash flow needs for projects ahead of time. Accurate estimates will help you create accurate projections, making it easier to manage your cash flow.
Along with improving the management of your cash flow, it’s also important to know how to improve cash flow in construction.
There are several effective cash flow techniques in construction. Some ways to improve your cash flow include:
Make sure that your contracts clearly state your payment terms as well as late fees. Clear payment terms ensure that customers know when to pay. Late fees also reduce the risk of late payments, as customers do not want to incur additional fees.
Make sure that you’re sending out invoices as soon as the work or a milestone is complete. Delaying invoicing will only delay your payments from customers. If you struggle to remember to invoice customers, set aside time once a week to take care of this task. Pencil it into your schedule so that you don’t forget.
The easier it is for customers to make payments, the quicker you’ll get paid. Give customers multiple options for making payments, including:
If customers have to jump through hoops to make payments, they’ll be less likely to pay on time.
Opening a line of credit can help you manage gaps in cash flow in construction. If you run into negative cash flow territory, you can rely on this line of credit to keep your business afloat temporarily.
You know to better manage and improve your cash flow, but how do you get better control over your cash flow?
One of the best ways to control cash flow in construction is to create cash flow forecasts. A cash flow forecast will predict what your business’s cash flow will be in the future, so you know whether you need to take action now to avoid a cash shortage. Forecasts can also help you predict the impact of an investment or other business decision that may impact your cash flow.
Cash Flow Frog takes the guesswork out of managing cash flow in construction. From one central platform, you can:
Cash Flow Frog integrates with the most popular accounting software, allowing you to use the most accurate and up-to-date data when planning your cash flow.
Want to see Cash Flow Frog in action? Here’s a snapshot of a cash flow statement for a construction business.
You may be interested: