Improved home inspector standards better protect consumers

Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman announced that the Province will improve home inspector licensing requirements by creating a common professional standard for home inspectors.

The move fulfils government’s commitment to streamline the process for home inspectors who are currently governed by four different associations, each with its own requirements.

A common professional standard will ensure homebuyers benefit from a more standardized approach to home inspections. The Province will enhance Consumer Protection BC’s role in licensing home inspectors by:

  • setting new education and training requirements;
  • establishing standard testing and evaluation;
  • implementing provincial inspection standards and a common code of ethics; and
  • taking on an expanded compliance and enforcement role.

This new approach follows consultations with both consumers and industry stakeholders. The Province will work to have the new standards in place by the end of 2015.
“Quotes:
Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing –

“Consumers deserve a rigorous, reliable home inspection industry. We want to ensure homebuyers have every possible confidence that their home inspector is qualified to help them with what is often the largest investment they will make.”

Rob Gialloreto, president and CEO of Consumer Protection BC –

“Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases a person will make. We fully support the provincial government’s commitment to enhancing protection for consumers when it comes to home inspections and we applaud their continued leadership in this area.”
Quick Facts:

  • In June 2013, Premier Christy Clark’s mandate letter to Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman directed him to strengthen home inspector accreditation to better protect homebuyers.
  • In 2009, British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to require licensing of home inspectors.
  • B.C. and Alberta are the only two provinces that regulate home inspectors in Canada.
  • There are approximately 440 licensed home inspectors in B.C.
  • People thinking about buying a home often hire a home inspector to do a visual inspection first to help identify signs and symptoms of any major structural issues.

 

5 Tips to Manage Your Cash Flow

 

NC) Cash is king—it’s a common saying in the business world. But surprisingly few entrepreneurs take steps to manage their cash flow so they don’t wind up with an empty bank account and nothing to pay the bills.
“One of the main causes of business failure is poor cash flow management,” says Susan Rohac, Senior Vice President, Financing and Consulting, at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). The good news: cash flow management is easy to improve with a few simple steps. “Getting control over your cash flow helps you prepare for slow periods, plan your financing and have peace of mind,” Rohac says.
Follow these five steps to get a better handle on your cash flow.

Profitability check. First, make sure your business is earning a reasonable profit. Even the greatest cash flow management won’t help if your fundamentals are out of whack.

Analyze each product and service separately to see whether it’s pulling its weight. Make sure your products are appropriately priced, and work to eliminate inefficiencies. Instead of just chasing sales, chase profitable sales.

In 2007, Mike Whittaker’s company Bonté Foods learned the consequences of poor cash flow the hard way after facing large cost overruns on two major projects.

The company had to act quickly to restore its cash position. It analyzed its profitability and realized it had to raise prices to better reflect costs. Bonté also unloaded lower-margin product lines and launched an efficiency drive while tightening cash flow management.

The changes had a huge impact. Sales in Bonté’s meat division are up 36% since 2009, while gross profit is up almost 6%. “We learned to watch our cash very carefully,” Whittaker says. “You need to always be ahead of the curve on cash flow management.”

Do a cash flow projection. Next, prepare a cash flow projection for the coming year. This is your early warning system for cash flow hiccups. Use an Excel spreadsheet or accounting software to plug in expected monthly cash inflows and outflows, including anticipated big-ticket purchases.

Use the projection to anticipate slow periods and plan in advance what to do about them. “Through the year, check your actual cash position regularly—once a week or month—against your projection to see how you’re doing and deal promptly with any divergences,” advises Rohac.

Finance big buys instead of draining cash. One of the most common cash flow mistakes is using cash to buy a major long-term asset, instead of getting financing. Even if you feel flush right now, you may suddenly wind up short of cash if you experience a sudden revenue shortfall or rapid growth.

Use your cash flow projection to plan your financing needs ahead of time, not in the midst of a crisis, when bankers may be wary to lend. Rohac also recommends matching the lifespan of a purchase with financing of similar duration.

Speed up cash inflows. Getting money into your business more quickly can save you carrying costs on your line of credit. Some tips: send out invoices more quickly, ask customers to pay electronically and charge interest to slow-payers.

Raise cash quickly in a crunch. Facing an unexpected cash flow crunch? You can raise cash quickly using various techniques: approach your bank for help; check your inventory and assets to see what you can sell off, even at a discount; ask suppliers or your landlord for extra time to pay bills; or offer your customers a big discount to earn some quick sales.