How to improve cash flow in the entertainment business

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 08:11 am

Despite difficult trading conditions, the entertainment industry remains one of the UK’s brightest stars with a market value of nearly £70 billion. Whilst there might be money in show business, there’s no doubt that entertainment companies often struggle with cash flow issues, soaring outgoings, and highly variable income.

Even though 2020’s coronavirus pandemic has stemmed the flow of ticket sales, summer brings with it the promise of a return to business as normal – albeit the ‘new’ normal. For those ventures that want to use the opportunity to make changes to the way they work, there are worse places to start than improving cash flow.

Here are just some of the ways that entertainment businesses can improve their cash flow, encourage new custom, and boost gate takings.

Increase your audience share

In entertainment, both cash flow and the bottom line ultimately come down to the number of paying guests that you can encourage to come through the door. Ticket sales are everything and the only way to make good on your investment is to encourage punters to see your show, concert, or attraction.

It seems like a naïve answer to a complex question, but growing your audience share need not be a difficult endeavour. First things first, UK industry players should consider how they frame their re-opening after the COVID-19 pandemic. Theatres, live music venues and other recreation facilities should be sure to implement a clear hygiene policy that not only ensures that their premises are clean and safe for paying guests but that also makes those same customers aware of the changes made. This all contributes to making the public feel at home in your venue, and comfort is everything in entertainment.

Next up, businesses should consider how they can compete in a world where streaming services and digital media have gradually grown to become the most popular source of global entertainment. Just as ‘video killed the radio star’, Netflix is doing a sterling job of displacing theatre and cinema earnings. Introducing incentives, running extra screenings of cult films or welcoming a broader cross section of bands into your venue could see you appealing to a wider audience and increasing your ticket office takings in the process.

No matter what you do to freshen things up, remember that the public enjoy novelty and there’s plenty of scope for cutting into a new section of the entertainment market.

Proper payment solutions

Regardless of trends elsewhere in the business world, the entertainment industry remains stubbornly dependant on cash. When attending live entertainment venues, clients often purchase tickets, merchandise, food and drinks with cash. Producers and business owners then follow suit by paying their talent in the same way.

Cash is dependable and traditional, but handling money in this way does come with some risk. Perhaps most clearly, handling large volumes of cash on your premises leaves you open to criminal behaviour which could put your staff and customers at risk. Beyond this, it also leaves very little trace and is hard to track – so your business could become vulnerable to fraud. Finally, for those playing it by the book, having to deposit money in the bank can not only be labour intensive but take considerably more time than other transaction methods.

Fortunately, there are reliable alternatives available which don’t even necessarily involve high costs. UTP Group, for example, is one merchant services provider offering a full range of contactless Ingenico card machines and portable card readers so you could be selling tickets and other products all over your premises.

Not only could moving to contactless payment make things easier for staff and customers alike, but by choosing the right payment solutions provider you could see cash hitting your account within just hours of a transaction. With the same day funding, your takings could be processed much faster and be deposited into your business account quickly and efficiently. Tickets sold at the start of the show could be converted into money in the bank by the end of the first showing, making cash flow issues a thing of the past.

Investing to earn

If you are to make changes to your business model or payment solutions, it might be the case that you need to channel investment into your entertainment venture. Whilst some changes can be made quickly and cheaply (such as implementing a new policy to keep up with coronavirus guidelines), laying on more shows or equipping your talent to explore new avenues could be costly.

In such an uncertain economic climate, deciding part with money or even turn to a bank for a business loan can be daunting. For the entertainment industry, the situation can be even harder to deal with as it’s often exceedingly difficult to quantify future takings into a lender-friendly proposal.

One alternative, however, might be for businesses to seek a cash advance from their merchant services provider. For eligible clients, UTP offers funding of up to £150,000 with no ongoing fees and the option to payback as you continue to earn via showings and ticket sales. Entertainment businesses could access money in a flexible and easy way without having to worry about spreading themselves too thinly with new liabilities. By unifying your payment solutions and financing options, your business could simplify its admin and invest in the future at the same time.

In spite of the coronavirus health emergency and an already tough environment for the entertainment industry, businesses can still benefit from making changes to the way they work. No matter what the future holds, the show must go on.

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