Do you investigate everything you really need to when a prospective customer approaches you?

This is an unusual question for anyone to ask, after all we are all grateful when a potential new customer approaches us.  So why am I asking this question now?

Many businesses are going through a period of massive change… old style business models are being replaced by what appear to be leaner, faster moving, sometimes digitised models that involve using the services of people and companies you’ve not used before.  Companies are outsourcing more, they are sending goods and services out for external processing by specialists, before sometimes getting them back for further processing – in the past companies often tried to do everything in-house, now it is generally recognised that doing so is a massive mistake, no company whatever its size can hope to have all the skills and resources to keep all aspects of their operations at the cutting edge in an increasingly complex and fast moving world.  We are all being asked to do more work by companies we have never heard of before.  So what’s the problem?

The problem there is no past history of working with that company, and increasingly I’m seeing companies – particularly engineering companies – who are outsourcing to specialists, closing down some or all of their own departments.  And that brings massive risk to the company that accept such work… especially as I have seen several times in recent weeks those companies looking to outsource appear to be very close to insolvency and are merely supplier hopping, leaving a trail of unpaid debts behind them which, if you accept such work, would put the very existence of your business at risk.

So here are a few questions for you to ask / things for you to do before you take on a new customer / client:

  1. Why is the customer looking to use your services / outsource? Really dig down deep on this…is it for valid reasons that should stand the test of time or is it merely an effort to stave off cash flow problems, to get you to do work for which you will struggle to get paid?
  2. Why you?  Why not someone else?  What’s so special about you?  Is it merely because they see you as a easy touch because you need more work?  Or is it because you and you alone have the skills they really need?
  3. Why have they closed down their own department who used to do the work you are being asked to do?  Was it because they lost or made redundant the staff in that department (if so, why?), was it because they couldn’t properly manage the department or manage or control the work flowing through it? (in small industries or in a small area like the Black Country it may be possible to ask former staff for the real reasons, don’t be afraid to seek them out, either using your contacts or even social media).  Same for any previous supplier of such services, do you know who they are, can you speak to them?
  4. What do you know about the prospective new customer’s contract with its customer?  Does it enable such outsourcing?  (I’m seeing instances where work is being passed out where the contract specifically prohibits doing so – this is a very real warning not to get involved because the ultimate customer as and when they find out will not pay, and that means you will probably not be paid either, they will argue that the reason they are not getting paid is your fault).
  5. What do you know about the customer’s history and its finances and its directors’ / senior management’s history?  Do in-depth searches on them.  Not just cursory credit searches.  Do they habitually leave a trail of subcontractor destruction, liquidations or administrations behind them?  Are their finances strong, or not?  – And actually look behind the figures, don’t take them on face value – I’m seeing groups who have recently liquidated subsidiary or associated companies in order to jettison large levels of external debts (this could be you next time they do this!), where their failures will have a massive knock on effect on the remaining group companies which are not reflected in the  accounts or credit ratings – they have delayed filing their current accounts  to hide their true financial position.  Who are the customer’s external accountants / auditors – are they reputable or could they be working closely with their client to orchestrate the eventual failure and rebirth of the business (after writing your debt off)? – again, I’m seeing evidence of this…
  6. What’s the rumour mill saying about them?  Are there any murmurs of under-pricing, suppliers not being paid on time, fabrication of reasons not to pay, non-deliveries, resignations, sudden changes in staff/suppliers, etc?
  7. Who can you talk to whom you can trust, if anyone, to satisfy yourself as to the customer’s motives and reliability?  If they have been involved in any recent failures, pull down the statement of affairs, talk to the suppliers you know who have been left behind.  Think about others – customers, employees, advisers.  If there is no one you can talk to, then you might think about not accepting the work.
  8. Think about what’s the worst that can happen?  Then budget for it because there is a good chance it will happen… would it take down your business or be something that you can simply put down to experience?  What ‘hold’ if any do you have over the customer os its directors once you have started to do your work?  Should you be asking for a personal guarantee from the customer’s directors?

Right now I am seeing good businesses being put at massive risk by unscrupulous companies – yes, as much as it hurts me to say it, by Black Country businesses – who appear to be following the Carillion example of massive subcontractor abuse.  Make sure it’s not you who suffers as a result… and if you are an accountant or lawyer whose client has been asked to take on a big contract which might hurt them if they’re not paid, why not ask me for my thoughts? – it might just be the difference between you losing a client or your client going under themselves, or not.

President, Chair or Director of a credit union that's struggling? – read our great offering…

If you are the president, chair or a director of a credit union that is struggling, possibly even insolvent, the last thing you need is another bill, but the first thing you need is great support from people who have been down this road before.  Yes, credit unions are very, very different from most other organisations…

With this in mind, we are offering you a great deal:

  1. We will never charge you for either our travelling time or travelling expenses – whether this be pre- or post any formal insolvency appointment;
  2. Our first meeting with the board to assess your situation and explore with you your options is entirely free of charge.

This means that wherever you are in England or Wales you can be assured of getting the best possible support, when you need it most, without having to worry about what it costs.

Call me on 01902 672323, or my mobile 07813 102014, if you’d like to know more about how we can help you…

Paul Brindley

Licensed insolvency practitioner & Credit Union expert

 

President, Chair or Director of a credit union that’s struggling? – read our great offering…

If you are the president, chair or a director of a credit union that is struggling, possibly even insolvent, the last thing you need is another bill, but the first thing you need is great support from people who have been down this road before.  Yes, credit unions are very, very different from most other organisations…

With this in mind, we are offering you a great deal:

  1. We will never charge you for either our travelling time or travelling expenses – whether this be pre- or post any formal insolvency appointment;
  2. Our first meeting with the board to assess your situation and explore with you your options is entirely free of charge.

This means that wherever you are in England or Wales you can be assured of getting the best possible support, when you need it most, without having to worry about what it costs.

Call me on 01902 672323, or my mobile 07813 102014, if you’d like to know more about how we can help you…

Paul Brindley

Licensed insolvency practitioner & Credit Union expert

 

Credit Union Insolvencies

I’ve been looking at the number of credit unions that have gone into formal insolvency over the last ten years or so.

I did this because I simply do not believe all the hype coming from trade associations like ABCUL and some individual credit unions’ marketing departments – you see I think there are major hidden problems in the sector.

The figures  speak for themselves – there’s no let up in the number going under! To me that is a concern when there remains a massive demand for credit union services and the government are saying they’re supporting the movement.

If Abcul and credit unions were more honest about the condition of the sector, perhaps the government would provide more, much needed, support?

By the way, credit union insolvency is a very specialist field.  If you are looking for some insolvency support, my advise to you is to shop around – you see not all insolvency practitioners have any experience in thsi field (however big they may be) and choosing the wrong IP is like marrying in haste – you will repect at leisure the day you make a quick decision.  So carry out a beauty parade of insolvency practitioners – ask them about their previous experience in the sector, get them to be very specific as to how, if you choose them, they will conduct every aspect of the insolvency – make them go into detail, don’t let them take  a broad brush approach, get into the specifics.

Perhaps you should also note that unlike all other firms, I do not charge my travelling time, accommodation or other travelling costs – this could form a big part of the eventual bill.  For you it’s dead money, no value is being delievered for it. You see, it is my policy not to charge these things because my view is if I choose to accept an assignment, wherever it may be, because it’s my choice, the client should not pay for it.  I also don’t charge for attending the board meeting at which the credit union’s board are considering their options, or for preparing a formal written report on their options.  Again something to think about.

 

If you’d like some support with your credit union, call or email me.  My mobile number is 07813 102014, it’s almost always on. My email is paul@midlandsbusinessrecovery.co.uk

Here’s the list…

2015 – 4 so far

Enterprise The Business Credit Union – May 2015; Derby United Credit Union – April 2015; Haven Credit Union Limited – March 2015; Castle & Minster Credit Union – March 2015

 

2014 – 5

Lower Iveagh Credit Union Limited – November 2014; Redcar & Cleveland Money Tree & Glen Credit Union – October 2014; Ballymacarrett Credit Union – October 2014; Glenard Credit Union – June 2014; Wantsum Savers: The Isle of Thanet Credit Union Ltd – 10 February 2014

2013 – 8

South Birmingham Community Credit Union Ltd (know as CommuniSave Credit Union) – July 2013; Carleton Credit Union Limited – June 2013;  Millom & District Credit Union – May 2013;  South Warwickshire Credit Union – April 2013;  Portadown Diamond Credit Union – April 2013; Marches Credit Union – April 2013; Severn Four Credit Union – March 2013;  Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Credit Union – February 2013

2012 – 6

North Yorkshire Credit Union Limited –  November 2012; Tamworth Credit Union Limited – September 2012;  Waltonian Community Credit Union Limited – August 2012;  Pallister Credit Union Limited – May 2012;  Hull East of the River Credit Union Limited – January 2012; Handsworth Breakthrough Credit Union Limited – January 2012

2011 – 8

Gallowhill Credit Union Limited – September 2011;  Lee Bank/Highgate Credit Union Limited – July 2011; Caribbean Parents Group Credit Union Limited – June 2011; Worcestershire Credit Union Limited – June 2011;  Southend Credit Union Limited –  May 2011;  Ilfracombe & District Credit Union Limited – March 2011;  South East Birmingham Communuity Credit Union Limited – January 2011;  Havant Area Savers Credit Union Limited – January 2011

2010 – 10

South Kintyre Credit Union Limited – November 2010;  Tower View Community Credit Union Limited – November 2010;  Three Bees Credit Union Limited – October 2010;  Landsker Community Credit Union Limited – September 2010;  Elswick and Cruddas Park Credit Union Limited – August 2010;  Hackney Credit Union Limited – July 2010;  Splotlands Credit Union Limited – June 2010;  Forest of Dean Credit Union Limited – May 2010;  Edinburgh Hackney Cab Trade Credit Union Limited –  March 2010;  Redcar and District Credit Union Limited – March 2010

2009 – 6

Derby City Credit Union Limited – August 2009;  Hull Northern Credit Union Limited – August 2009;  Eastbourne Community Credit Union –  July 2009; Irvine North Credit Union –  July 2009; St Brendan’s Credit Union Limited – May 2009; South West Durham Credit Union – May 2009

2008 -6

Polmaise Community Credit Union Limited – November 2008;  Khalsa (Bradford) Credit Union Limited – October 2008;  Inner Preston Credit Union – May 2008;  Peterlee Credit Union – March 2008; Rotton Park and Winson Green Credit Union –  March 2008; Edmonton Credit Union Limited – January 2008

2007 -8

Caia Park (Wrexham) Credit Union Limited – December 2007; Streetcred Credit Union Limited – October 2007; Corby Community Credit Union Limited – July 2007;  Ferries Credit Union Limited – July 2007; Fleetwood and District Credit Union Limited – June 2007; Clydesdale Credit Union Limited – May 2007; Skelmersdale Credit Union Limited – April 2007; L27 (Liverpool) Credit Union Limited – January 2007

2006 – 6

Breightmet Credit Union Limited – December 2006; Sheldon Credit Union Limited – November 2006; St Columba’s (Bradford) Save and Credit Union Limited – October 2006; Furness Credit Union Limited – September 2006; Money Tree Credit Union Limited – August 2006; South Airdrie Credit Union Limited – April 2006

2005 – 1

Greater Pollokshaws Credit Union Limited – June 2005

2004 -5

Hackney South Credit Union Limited – November 2004; Employee Credit Union (Luton Borough Council) Limited –  September 2004; Raffles Area Credit Union Limited – July 2004; Dalston Social and Business Credit Union – January 2004; Dudley Estate (Newcastle) Credit Union – January 2004

2003 -9

Ruabon, Cefn and District Credit Union Limited – October 2003; Croydon Branch Union of Communication Workers Credit Union – October 2003; Shepherds Bush Social and Welfare Credit Union – September 2003; Leicester City Council Employees Credit Union – May 2003; Leasowe Credit Union – May 2003; Tendring Dial Credit Union – March 2003;  Guide Post and Scotland Gate Credit Union – March 2003; Fairswan Credit Union – March 2003; Cathall Community Credit Union – March 2003.