The coronavirus is affecting every facet of the US economy, especially the construction industry. With mandatory stay-at-home orders now in place across the country, construction in many places has literally come to a standstill. Many contractors may find that their huge backlog of work is suddenly shrinking due to projects being put on hold, or now being completely cancelled. As COVID-19 dries up cash, credit managers, accounting clerks, and others in the construction business will find it harder to collect on receivables. Filing a mechanics lien on every past due receivable is the most critical step you can take right now to get those accounts paid.

COVID-19 is creating an AR crisis for construction

If your crews aren’t working, you won’t be progress billing any projects, and you won’t be getting paid. An anticipated go-back-to-work set to occur at the end of April (fingers-crossed) means that your construction company will most likely experience a scenario similar to the below:

  • Normal receivables for March, for worked performed in February (pre-shutdown)
  • Limited receivables April, for work performed in March (shutdowns start)
  • Virtually no receivables for May, for work performed in April (shutdown in full effect)
  • A severe cash-flow problem in May and June

Even if construction workers are allowed back on the job site on May 1, contractors won’t be collecting payment for that work until the end of June. If the stay-at-home order has to be extended, then your cash-flow shortage will be extended as well.

Dig deeper: Accounts Receivable Management for Construction Companies

Post-COVID, receivables collection will get harder

Once we all have been given the all clear sign, and construction projects ramp back to normal, what’s going to happen?

Every one of your projects will start up simultaneously, and every one of them will be demanding that their project is your number one priority. In addition, every other subcontractor or supplier on the job will be jockeying to get their outstanding invoices to the top of the payment stack.

Every project manager will be struggling to make up for time lost, due to the shutdown. Lenders will want their projects finished quickly, as interest rates begin to increase. And material suppliers will be dealing with depleted inventories, and raising prices.

Many, many subcontractors will be working overtime, to try to get these projects back on schedule, or at least closer to completion. And, depending on your trade or craft, you can expect to see higher material costs almost immediately at the supply house.

This will leave many contractors trying to cover these higher than usual costs, at a time when their cash flow is barely trickling in, due to the work stoppages during March and April. Construction businesses will need as much cash on hand as possible to survive the post-COVID boom.

Speed up AR collection to protect your cash flow

Credit managers in construction need to act quickly to make sure they get paid for every invoice on every single project. The

This is even more critical as we move into the post-pandemic recession, which is about to hit the global economy. Some of the effects that the industry is already seeing:

The last point is especially troublesome for contractors, whose survival is reliant upon a healthy and sustainable cash flow.

As the money gets tight, the project owners and general contractors will have to determine who gets paid, and who has to wait for their payment. Typically, those who get paid first are the ones who have protected their lien rights correctly. If you haven’t sent the right notices – preliminary notices, NTOs, preliens, NOIs, etc – your GC or property owner won’t see your invoices as a priority. You will most certainly have to wait to get paid.

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