When assets need replacing, there’s no need to sweat

BLOG22nd May 2014

In many businesses, the key asset might be the knowledge and experience of the staff or possibly a valuable piece of intellectual property. Other companies, however, depend heavily on very specific capital assets. The presses used by a printer, for instance. The limousines of a wedding-hire firm. Or perhaps the fixtures and fittings of a gym.

But what happens when these vital pieces of equipment or property start to deteriorate? The investment required to replace them can often seem daunting to a small or medium-sized business, particularly if they are already trying to manage existing financial repayments.

One option is to replace assets piecemeal, but very often that’s not the best solution. If you’re a hotel, for instance, your reputation might depend on a rating from the AA or RAC. Doing up your rooms on an ad-hoc basis over the next five years isn’t going to impress any inspector. And it’s a recipe for ongoing disruption and inconvenience for your guests.

Another solution is to work closely with your professional advisers to renegotiate and consolidate the terms of any finance. Draw up a wish list of everything you hope to do but are currently putting off. Then arrange a meeting with your bank at which you put forward a clear proposition.

While individual circumstances clearly vary hugely, it may well be possible to refinance over a sensible timeframe, meaning that there’s no obvious hit to the business on a month-by-month basis. There may also be a chance of negotiating a flexible loan which you can draw down over a period of, say, six or nine months as you require it – allowing you to keep careful control over costs and spend only what you need.

Of course, if you already have a qualified professional on your board, they may be able to provide valuable input. But don’t exclude the idea of involving your accountancy firm. By working in tandem, you’ll be able to make a more credible case to your bank. In many instances, it may be that your advisers will be happy to attend a meeting and answer some of the trickier questions that are likely to crop up during the discussion. It’s an added reassurance for the bankers. And it may be the start of a bright new period of business investment.