Caitlin Sykes

Your Business editor of the NZ Herald

Small business: Getting paid faster - James McGlinn, Eventfinda

James McGlinn is co-founder and CEO of Eventfinda. He’s also the communications chair of the Auckland branch of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation.

James McGlinn, co-founder and CEO of Eventfinda.
James McGlinn, co-founder and CEO of Eventfinda.

Can you tell me a bit about Eventfinda?

Eventfinda is New Zealand's largest online event marketing company and fastest growing ticketing company. Around a million New Zealanders use the site every month to find out what's on and we supply most of the event listings you see elsewhere on the web. All our event information is submitted directly by the event promoters or publicists themselves. At any given time we're also ticketing more than 500 different events, and that's the fastest growing area of our business.

We started the business in 2006 when I was 26. Back then there were literally hundreds of websites in New Zealand with event listings on them. Some covered an individual town or city while others covered a niche such as mountain biking or raves. We thought if we could bring all of those events together in a single place, it'd be much easier for people to find out what was on.
Today we have 15 staff.

What's been the general story at Eventfinda in terms of cashflow?

Cashflow has been challenging at times. We can deal with advertising agencies with long payment cycles, and some promoters may not be in a position to pay for marketing until after their event. Too many late payments can lead to significant knock-on effects across the business if they're not managed tightly.

One of the strategies you've adopted is shifting some accounts receivable duties from the finance team to sales. Why?

We needed to reduce our average debtor days - the time taken to receive payment for our invoices - that Eventfinda's then part-time accounting team was seeing. We had to give our sales team better visibility over who owed what, since they were out there delivering a high level of service to those same customers every day. We found they'd often be putting together packages or offering discounts to people who hadn't paid their previous overdue bills - it didn't make sense.

We solved the problem by giving our sales team access to our accounts receivable reports in Xero so they knew exactly what the status of each account was, and made them responsible for following up overdue payments. As a result our percentage of late payments has dropped dramatically.

Do you have any other tips for small business owners on how to get paid faster?

If you're waiting for an overdue payment, pick up the phone and call the customer. It's a lot easier to just send another statement by email, but it's also easy for customers to ignore it. A phone call and the personal contact that comes with it is harder to dismiss and over the phone it's much easier to get clarity over any issues that might impact payment.

We once found we'd been sending overdue notices for a month to someone who had already left the organisation; that sort of situation can be resolved in a few minutes over the phone. Get a commitment for the overdue amount to be paid within a few days and if you haven't received the funds by the day following the agreed date, call again. Keep calling until you're paid - be the squeaky wheel.

Business is all about relationships and it doesn't hurt to ensure customers understand they won't continue to receive a high level of service if they don't honour their commitment to paying on time.

Coming up in Small Business: Crowdfunding campaigns are an increasingly popular way for companies to raise funds for projects. What has worked, and what hasn't, for companies that have run these campaigns? If you've got a story to share, get in touch: nzhsmallbusiness@gmail.com

- NZ Herald

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