What was the best thing about the 2023 financial year? If your answer is ‘It’s over!’ you’re not alone. With the highest rate of inflation in three decades and ongoing interest rate hikes, it’s safe to say that the past 12 months were tough for many of us. As we kick off the 2024 fiscal year, it’s a great opportunity to start fresh and set yourself up for success.
Having worked extensively in payments over the last 15 years, I’ve learned that they are often the crucial element that transforms your business and the way it operates. Here are the top three things you should be budgeting for in the new fiscal year so that payments can become your secret advantage in the market.
1. Invest in systems that improve cash flow
In tough economies, cash flow is make-or-break for businesses. One of the biggest holdups in cash flow is late payments. Aside from the awkward conversations that spring up when you need to chase these payments, the process can result in a ridiculous amount of extra admin work – but it’s urgent and important because you need that working capital.
A way to soften this pain point is by adjusting your systems to better accommodate bank payments. These reduce the need to chase and, as an added bonus, cut down on high fees. 78% of Australian businesses already offer bank transfers for payment. And while this usually requires the payer to engage in time-consuming processes that can lead to late payments, this can be automated through modern payment systems. Instead, the system pulls the money from their account directly on the due date. This takes the chore of ‘making a payment’ out of both the customer’s and your hands, ultimately reducing late payments and increasing cash flow.
2. Increase efficiency with your budget
Budgets will need to be tighter this fiscal year, with every dollar carefully spent to achieve optimal productivity and efficiency. One way to increase both is to use payment methods that are integrated into the invoicing or billing software you already use, creating smoother processes overall.
Automating payment collection and reconciliation through platforms such as Xero allows you to eliminate the arduous manual work. Not only does this free up your time, but it minimises errors, and delays. Take Dukes Gym, a full-service gym offering personal training and round-the-clock access for members. Through GymMaster and GoCardless, they’ve transformed their payment systems, reducing the need for their team to waste time on mundane tasks in their financial processes and saving them roughly 20 hours per week. What’s more, they generated $100k in additional revenue by turning those 20 hours into billable ones.
Frustrating and outdated payment systems also lead to involuntary customer churn, something that can be devastating to businesses this financial year. For instance, customers that intend to stay with you might unwittingly end the relationship because the details on their payment card have expired. That’s a real shame and a wasted opportunity. Businesses that adopt more efficient payment processes — such as those connected to a bank account, which has no expiration date — are better placed to unlock even more customer lifetime value.
3. Future-proof your business
In terms of innovation, payments are among the fastest-moving areas of any business – think of the last 5-10 years and how quickly trends such using as Buy-Now-Pay-Later services or paying with your phone and leaving physical cards at home evolved. Setting aside some budget to future-proof your business for payments is a necessity, allowing you to adapt to the changes before their widespread adoption. This will lay the foundations for successful integration and transition.
One major transformation that is just over the horizon is PayTo, an instant account-to-account payment method that facilitates smarter, safer and faster transactions compared to conventional direct debit. Among consumers that are aware of PayTo, 83% would consider using it if their banks made it available. The adoption of PayTo in Australia by financial institutions is well underway, with PayTo set to replace direct debit altogether in the next three to five years.
There are many steps businesses can already take to become PayTo ready, and it’s wise to invest in at least familiarising yourself with it. If your business doesn’t offer the convenience, speed, and security that customers have come to expect with these types of payment innovations, they may become frustrated and choose to take their business elsewhere. This could make a dent in profits and put you at a disadvantage compared to your competitors.
For businesses, a solid plan at the beginning of a new fiscal year is pivotal in determining how well your business grows over the next 12 months. By using your budget wisely on payments, your profit and loss statement will look a lot healthier as you head into the close of the 2024 financial year. Improve your cash flow, budget efficiently, and adopt tech early to slash costs, optimise customer experiences and ultimately, access the untapped value and potential of your payments. A great start in FY2024 is more achievable than you may think.
By: Luke Fossett, General Manager, GoCardless Australia and New Zealand