Invoice Finance is the secret weapon for Mantis Building Services as this Queensland-based family business forges ahead with a plan to grow its labour hire division for the mining, construction and agricultural sectors.

Entrepreneurs are often urged to find their true business niche – and the team at Mantis Building Services has taken the advice to heart.

The Queensland business offers specialised concreting, carpentry and labour hire solutions. Set up in 2017 by tradie Jacob Williams, Mantis first zeroed in on the mining industry for concreting jobs around the country.

Nikki Civitarese, Jacob’s sister and Mantis’s financial controller, expects its high growth labour hire division to increasingly dominate because of a shortage of skilled construction workers, especially in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

“There are companies that just can’t get trades, or they are paying through the roof for people to do the work,” Nikki says. “That’s how we came up with this niche market of subcontracting workers to the mines. And it’s working.”

With the business doing well and two other brothers, Casey and Dane Williams, recently joining as account managers, Mantis will extend its labour hire offering to the agricultural sector. It will draw on the industry connections of Jacob’s wife, Taylor Pressler, whose family runs 2PH Farms, one of the largest privately-owned mandarin orchards in the southern hemisphere.  “We’re making it a family affair,” Nikki says.

Better performance, better cashflow

To help manage growth and maximise value created in the business, Mantis, which has offices in Woombye on the Sunshine Coast and Emerald in Central Queensland, signed up in 2020 with ScotPac to use its Invoice Financing facility.

The on-demand line of credit enables Nikki to convert invoices into an immediate source of cashflow.

“When you have rapid growth, if you don’t have the correct financial controls in place it can sink your company,” she says. “That’s especially true with industries such as labour hire. You’ve got to make sure you keep your staff and pay them on time. That’s why we went with ScotPac.”

Nikki knew of ScotPac’s strengths and services from her previous role at a civil construction company that had suppliers which did business with ScotPac. “I’d dealt with a lot of invoice financing companies and found that ScotPac were second to none in customer service,” Nikki explains. That’s why when she joined the family business, she knew just who she wanted to partner with, and approached ScotPac.

Nikki is impressed at the level of support ScotPac provides when setting up systems and controls. “They’ve also given us some great advice on risk management.”

While she considered using bank facilities, Nikki says ScotPac’s rates are more competitive than some of the banks and its products are more flexible.

User-friendly invoice creation and payment

The other key benefit of the ScotPac partnership has been its simple-to-use Cash Connector portal, making it easy to access the funding locked away in a business’s unpaid sales invoices.

Operating like an overdraft, Cash Connector integrates with the client’s accounting software and clients can pick and choose which invoices they want to fund, giving them the freedom and flexibility to better manage cashflow. The business only pays for the funds it uses.

Nikki says Mantis uses the funds to invest in growth and pay staff and suppliers without having to wait for clients to pay their invoices. The system streamlines the creation of sales invoices and the receipt of payments, while also providing an automatic drawdown limit. She is impressed at how simple Cash Connector has been to set up and use, saying “within 24 hours of applying I had approval to use it and access to the money – you would not get that from a bank”. “It’s a brilliant platform and one of the easiest things I’ve ever used in all my years in accounting.”

Nikki believes ScotPac partnered with Mantis because they had confidence in the family enterprise’s long list of invoices, strong cashflow projections and positive growth plans.

“They could see that potential, and I’m a big believer that your business succeeds based on the staff you have and the people you work with. ScotPac are the type of people I want working with me because they go above and beyond.”

Relationships, not just transactions

With Mantis thriving, Nikki is enjoying the chance to work with her brothers and turn an already strong business into a niche power player through their fast-growth labour hire initiative.

Whatever they take on in the future, she is planning to keep ScotPac as a finance partner.

“It’s really hard to get good service these days,” she says. “Everyone is either too busy or has the wrong attitude and I have found ScotPac to be positive and helpful and having the right attitude towards their clients.”