Construction companies are notoriously cash-strapped. They often pay hefty upfront costs before sending out the first invoice - think paying employees, fixed costs, supplies and of course - subcontractors. Money has to be managed smartly with often tight windows of cash coming in and out of the business. Even once the invoice is with a customer, getting paid on time can feel like a lucky anomaly rather than the norm. The knock-on effect of slow and inefficient payment practices in the construction industry are immense because the longer subcontractors have to wait to get cash in the door, the higher the risk of project delays or worst case - insolvencies.
Jo-Ann Yukich, who looks after the finances for G&T Civil and Foundations, knows the sleepless nights and hassle of late payments all too well. She has been running the Auckland-based business with her husband and son for close to 20 years. The Yukichs love the freedom that comes with being their own boss but they’re not short of experiences that have challenged their trust in customers:
“We are very careful about choosing who to work with. Getting paid is often an issue - unfortunately in our time running the business we’ve often encountered contractors who are simply not paying.”
Over the years they have been lucky enough to build a trusted network of customers that enables them to run their business without any promotion, purely based on relationships. Nonetheless, despite good partnerships, prompt payment is not the norm at all:
“Even with trusted customers it’s not unusual to be paid up to 3 months late - there is always another excuse. We rarely get paid on the 20th - it’s often the 28th - then you throw in a long weekend and it can be really hard to know when you’ll actually get paid.”
With invoice amounts in the few hundred thousands of dollars, Jo-Ann is not talking about a small issue or slight inconvenience. Late payments cause significant mental stress that spreads throughout the whole supply chain:
“If I don’t know when the money is coming in, I can’t set up the payments for my subcontractors.”
This is why Jo-Ann has been a fan of Relay’s payment service from day one. Just a few minutes spent setting up a Relay account gave her visibility of upcoming payments.
“Relay has been absolutely great. Knowing when the money is coming in has such a massive impact. You’re always hopeful when sending out the invoice but you never really know if and when the money is actually coming in.”
Jo-Ann has also taken advantage of using the option to get paid early for a small fee to help out with cash flow gaps.
“I’d recommend Relay to anyone running their own construction business - getting peace of mind about money coming in, being able to pay our subcontractors on time and having the option to improve cashflow with early payments has been such a game changer.”