How Float Helped Kettle Collective Tackle the Issue of Late Payments
Colin Bone is the Managing Director of Kettle Collective, an architectural firm with its main office in Edinburgh, Scotland. Managing the finances of multiple offices, in various locations across the world, meant that Colin needed a tool to help him make confident decisions in no time.
Managing the finances across multiple offices
Whilst Kettle Collective is based in Edinburgh, it also boasts offices across the Middle East in Muscat and Dubai, with its newest office just opened in Hong Kong.
Keeping track of the finances of all of these offices, Colin has to keep a close eye on the Collective’s cash and uses an in-house accountant, as well as an external one, to keep their books in order.
“The majority of our day-to-day finances are done in Edinburgh, where we centralise everything and work in multi-currency for all of our offices. And, for that, we use Xero.”
For Colin, Xero covered almost everything he needed. But it was insight into the operational cash position that Xero lacked.
“My role is all about cash flow, and maintaining that commercial side of the business. It’s one of the areas that we were feeling slightly exposed in – our real cash position.”
Moving away from spreadsheets
To get insight into the business’s cash flow, Colin was in spreadsheets constantly. He says, “With spreadsheets, it was an ongoing situation. Everything was a moving target. I had spreadsheets open all the time, and was constantly jumping in and out of them to keep things updated.”
Knowing that Xero couldn’t give him an insight into the daily cash position, and that spreadsheets were too complicated and time-consuming, Colin had to look for other options.
“When I came across Float and saw that it integrated with Xero, it was obvious that I needed to try it. That link with Xero saved me so much time in getting that accurate cash position.”
Now that Colin didn’t have to constantly update his numbers in a spreadsheet, he was safe in the knowledge that his forecast would be up-to-date. Colin explains, “I knew that everything in Xero was correct because we’re so diligent about keeping up with our bookkeeping, so there was that immediate reassurance that all the information in Float would be accurate.”
With the knowledge that Float would show information free from human error, Colin was able to get out of the spreadsheets and focus on the business.
Tackling payment terms
Kettle Collective has relatively healthy and regular cash flow, and they’re lucky to not be cutting too close to the cloth in terms of cash flow. But, the business hasn’t escaped the biggest issue in the Construction/Property Industry: long payment terms.
“For us, every project is different in terms of the actual project, the scale, the fees, everything. But usually, what always remains the same, is the difficulty of keeping on top of payment terms.”
For Colin, even when issuing payment terms of 30 days, some payments will still come in at 90, or even 120 days. He explains, “It’s just about the biggest issue in the industry.”
But running on the knowledge that if they don’t get paid then they aren’t able to pay their suppliers means that they need to keep a close eye on their current cash position.
“That’s where Float comes in; it gives you a broader look. You can work out that there’s the space to move things around. It gives you safety. So, if a certain invoice doesn’t come in for 30 days, and instead comes in for 90, you know that you’re still covered.”
Seeing himself in Float’s story
For Colin, Float does more than just provide him with the comfort that Kettle Collective will be okay in the long term. When Colin first came to Float, after hearing our very own Colin Hewitt’s story, he felt like it was a story very much like his own.
“I like where Float has come from. It’s a similar story to mine. Starting with a spreadsheet and trying to keep up with it. So seeing what Float has done, and where you’ve come from, that’s so useful.”
Float, for Colin, has been a means of tracking the growth of Kettle Collective, but it’s also helped him to want to grow the business, giving him something to aim towards.
“If you see something that looks great, you want to know why, and how to get to that. It’s what Xero’s telling Float, and it gives you a great position to start with. If your cash flow looks amazing, then you want it to be amazing.”