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High DSO or Low DSO? Discover Days Sales Outstanding for Construction

Updated: Apr 8

Cash flow management is crucial for any construction business. As the owner, you understand the importance of maintaining your finances. One key financial metric is Days Sales Outstanding (DSO). It is the average time it takes for your company to collect payments after making a sale. In this blog post, we will explore DSO's true importance. Prepare to uncover the differences between high and low DSO, as well as their far-reaching impact on cash flow management. Stay tuned for our practical strategies to optimize your DSO, setting your construction business up for a thriving financial future.


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dso days sales outstanding

What is DSO and Why Does It Matter for Construction Businesses?

DSO calculates the average days needed to collect payments from clients. It shows how quickly your company turns invoices into cash.


Why does DSO matter? It is a key player in your business's cash flow management. The swifter you convert those invoices into cash, the better equipped you'll be to cover expenses, seize new project opportunities, and keep your operations running like a well-oiled machine.


How to Calculate Days Sales Outstanding

To calculate DSO, divide your accounts receivable by your total credit sales, then multiply the result by the number of days in the period

dso formula

Monitoring this regularly, such as monthly or quarterly, can help you stay on top of changes and adjust your budget accordingly.

High DSO vs. Low DSO: Which Is Better?

Understanding your DSO number is crucial for success in the construction industry.


A high DSO number shows that your construction company is selling services on credit and waiting a long time to collect payment. This can lead to cash flow problems, which can be challenging to cover ongoing expenses like payroll and materials that need to be paid promptly.


In contrast, a low DSO value means that your company is collecting its accounts receivable more quickly, allowing it to cover expenses and create more opportunities.


In the construction industry, time is money! If your construction company has a DSO of 60 days, it takes an average of two months to receive payment for services provided. That's a long time to wait and can strain your finances, making it difficult to pay suppliers and employees on time. But, imagine the possibilities with a DSO of just 30 days! Better cash flow and financial stability allow you to take on larger projects, and invest in growth opportunities. It's crystal clear - a lower DSO is key to achieving financial success in the construction industry.


How to Maintain a Healthy DSO While Preserving Client Relationships

Low days sales outstanding is good for cash flow, but it could also signify overly aggressive collection practices. For instance, strict payment terms and penalties for late payments can pressure and dissatisfied clients.


Therefore, you need to find the sweet spot between DSO and maintaining positive client relationships. To achieve this, a customer-centric approach to collections is key, including:


1. Open communication:

Maintaining open lines of communication with clients to avoid misunderstandings or disputes.


2. Clear payment terms:

Being honest and transparent about payment terms and expectations.


3. Prompt dispute resolution:

Addressing any concerns or disputes promptly and professionally to maintain goodwill.


4. Flexibility:

Being willing to work with clients to find solutions to payment issues, such as offering flexible payment plans or negotiating payment terms.


By prioritizing these elements, you can find the right balance between managing DSO and maintaining positive client relationships. The result? Improved cash flow and stronger, more enduring client relationships.


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Practical Strategies to Optimize Your Days Sales Outstanding

Optimizing your DSO can greatly benefit your construction business's financial health. By implementing these practical strategies, you can keep your DSO low and optimize cash flow management:


Timely and Accurate Invoicing:

Ensuring that your invoices are accurate and sent out promptly is critical for keeping your DSO low. Late or inaccurate invoices can lead to payment delays, which can hurt your cash flow.


Offering Electronic Payment Options:

In today's fast-paced business world, clients expect convenient payment options. By offering electronic payment options, such as online payment or ACH transfers, you can make it easier for customers to pay you on time. This can help reduce payment delays and improve your DSO.


Establishing Mutually Beneficial Payment Terms:

Work with clients and suppliers to establish payment terms that benefit both parties. This will help maintain healthy cash flow management and positive business relationships. Be honest and open about payment terms, and negotiate solutions that work for everyone involved.


Implementing Accounting Software:

Sage 100 Contractor is a software solution that can optimize your DSO. It can help you track and manage your accounts receivable more efficiently. This software offers a range of financial management tools, including accounts receivable management. It can help you improve your cash flow and boost your bottom line.


Working with Bookkeeping Services Firms:

Partnering with a bookkeeping services firm like CCA can ensure that your receivables are collected on time. You'll have peace of mind knowing that your financial management is handled by experts. This can free up your time and resources to focus on other areas of your construction business. With CCA's assistance, you can be confident that your company's finances are in capable hands.


In Conclusion

Optimizing your DSO is crucial for the financial health of your construction business. By understanding the difference between high and low DSO, you can take practical steps to improve cash flow management. So how to balance managing DSO and keeping your clients happy? By continually applying the strategies above, and partnering with the experts at CCA, you can keep your DSO low and your bottom line strong. With the right processes in place, you can achieve financial success and take your business to new heights.


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