In the event of a financial crisis, it is likely that your customer will go into liquidation or begin Voluntary Administration. You will be considered an unsecured creditor. This means that your own business is at risk of losing money or assets and may also face cash flow issues.
Consider consulting financial experts as soon as you suspect your company’s finances may be impacted by the difficulties of a customer. There are government guidelines and regulations you should be aware of to help protect your business.
Are you an unsecured creditor?
If you have provided credit to a business in the form of funds (a loan) or services or goods then you are a creditor.
Most creditors are categorised as secured or unsecured.
A secured creditor, often a bank, has provided credit backed by collateral. This may be property or other company assets.
An unsecured creditor has lent money, or provided goods or services without obtaining assets as collateral. This leaves nothing to fall back on if the customer is unable to pay their debts. Unsecured creditors are at risk of not receiving payment.
Signs that your customer is having financial difficulties
Your customer starts to miss payments when they’ve previously paid promptly. A smart company will quickly realise when a customer is in trouble, financially. Your customer may try to hide difficulties. They might:
- suggest they can’t pay you until they receive funds from their own client
- blame mistakes in your invoice, or claim that they didn’t receive your invoice
- promise, then default on, payment on a future date
- go silent, not answering the phone and not replying to emails
Major clues that they are struggling include:
- a sudden change of board members or a management reshuffle
- hiding assets, by transferring them to another business
- non-payment of debts to other creditors
- a change to their credit score
- legal proceedings against them. Default notices
When you recognise the warning signs, you should seek professional advice. You may have contractual obligations to fulfil but there may be options and strategies available to protect your company.
Insolvency – What happens next and what can you do?
A company with unresolved cash flow issues will probably become insolvent. If your customer has stopped paying your invoices then this suggests they have cashflow issues and may become insolvent.
Your customer might enter Voluntary Administration. This may enable the company to continue to trade and operate, perhaps after restructuring or improving the business.
Often a struggling company will go straight into liquidation and a Liquidator will be appointed.
The Liquidator will look into the company’s financial affairs. The end result of liquidation is the sale of assets so creditors can be paid what they are owed. The liquidator will pay secure creditors first. Unsecured creditors face the risk of having little, or none, of their debt repaid by the liquidator.
If you had registered your personal property on the Personal Property Securities Register, you may be able to get some, or all, of your debt repaid.
At this stage, you really should seek financial advice. If debts are not settled, your own business may be at risk of getting into financial difficulties. There is government advice available. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has a guide to liquidation for creditors.
However, a professional finance expert will have helped other companies in the same situation and may have options available to get your debt repaid.
Contact Corporate Lifeline now – we can help you!
Corporate Lifeline are financial experts. We have already helped to rescue hundreds of companies from Financial Problems and we can help you, too.
It’s important that you seek our help as soon as you spot the signs that your customer has financial problems. We will help you to ensure that your own business can weather your customer’s storm and stay competitive and profitable.
Contact Corporate Lifeline today for free advice.