8 Ways to Get Your Invoicing Done Quickly

Those of you providing snow services, I know how you scramble to get those invoices out the door so you can get the cash coming in!  And for those of you who will start getting really busy soon, it’s important not to have to spend any more time than necessary to get the invoicing out the door.

Getting invoices done quickly improves productivity, reducing overhead.  Even something as little as 15 minutes a day adds up over a year.  If you work 48 weeks a year (52 minus 2 weeks’ vacation and 10 holidays), 15 minutes a day is 60 hours a year.  Just think what you or an employee can do with that extra time. Additional billable work, another sales call, or clocking out sooner.  Financially, it’s $600/year for an employee making $10/hour, $1500 at $25/hour, $6000 for someone at $100/hour!

These tips below can save you much more than 15 minutes a day, depending on the complexity and volume of invoicing.

  1. Invoice off of Estimate or Sales Order – Rather than create an invoice from scratch, if an Estimate or Sales Order exists, click on Create Invoice, select some or all of the Items on the invoice – definitely much faster.invoicing
  1. Use Item Groups – This is a fast way to pull multiple items onto an invoice (or estimate or sales order). While you might select only 1 item (group), you might find your invoice now has 20 Items.  Examples –  items in a display, components of an outdoor fountain, labor and materials for a shed…  Below are a couple screen captures. For more details on creating Item Groups, you can read this article we wrote).  If you don’t want your customer to see the detail of the group, then be sure you uncheck the Print Items in Group.invoicing
  2. Duplicate – If you need to create an invoice similar to another one you’ve done, you can duplicate the invoice, change the customer and any other pertinent information. (You can also use this feature with estimates – very helpful for those who need to price 2 ways for whatever reason.)  Right-click on the document to get the pop-up menu belowinvoicing
  3. Memorize Invoice – Need to do this invoice (or type of invoice) frequently? Then memorize the entire invoice.; very helpful for landscapers and other service providers who invoice the same amount monthly. IF the services are the same but the quantities or rates are different, then memorize without the numbers that vary.  I once had a client used this feature because the detail in the item descriptions was lengthy, specific for the client but the same description every month.  Definitely saved her more than 15 minutes!
  1. Batch Invoice – This is a very fast way to create invoices for multiple customers who are being invoiced for the same product or service and the same An example would be homeowners’ monthly association fee or maybe an area where you plow snow.



  1. Invoice from Time & Materials – If you invoice for time and materials or expenses and have the information already in QuickBooks, you can pull that into your invoice. You get to choose how it appears.


  1. Batch Time & Expenses – Available in Premier or higher – different than Batch in #5, this lets you create time and material invoices quickly. Your billable time and expenses summary shows in a chart (great way to see it all in one place) and you can quickly invoice multiple customers who may all have very different times and expenses.


  1. Group of Memorized Invoices – For those of you who send out monthly invoices and a client is billed the same amount each month, but a different amount than another client, this is a powerful tool. A landscaper could quickly invoice all their lawn maintenance clients, or a bookkeeper with flat fee billing or a contractor providing project management….  You have to first create an invoice, memorize it and then save it in a group (you can have multiple groups).  When it’s time to invoice, simply go to your memorized transaction page and double-click on the group, enter the date and all the invoices in that group will be created!  Or even better yet, set the group to automate transaction entry so you don’t have to do anything!


You most likely will use a combination of these options, but you will definitely save lots of time and get your invoices out much faster.

So what will YOU do with the time that you save?  Would love to hear which method(s) you have found the most effective for you!

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Working With Customer Deposits (or Prepayments)

Do you take deposits up front from clients? Whether you’re in the construction industry, landscaping, trades or some other type of business, deposits up front help cash flow and enable you to pay employees and purchase materials for the job.  How they can be recorded in QuickBooks varies.

Many simply use Receive Payments to record the deposit.  Unfortunately, this understates your Accounts Receivable. So, if your true outstanding A/R is 75,000, and you enter a $10,000 deposit your A/R account would show $65,000.  With a short time-frame and few invoices, you can do the math in your head, but I don’t recommend this as an ongoing method, even it’s really simple.  From an accounting point of view, your balance sheet would be incorrect – definitely not something you could show a bank or investor.

Another method is to use the Progress Invoicing and invoice for the payment, so at least your receivables is correct. However, this shows income before you’ve done the work, so it’s still technically inaccurate.

For those of you who offer customers a discounted rate for paying for your work for the season up front, the complaint I hear from business owners is they see this huge number in the early season for income, which really does not reflect the work they’ve done. And in the remaining months of the season or project, your income is understated and can even show a loss for the business which really isn’t true.

I’ve also seen some record the deposit correctly, and then when they invoice, they enter the prepayment on the invoice.  In fact, I used to do to this. In many cases, the resulting amount due is $0, but that’s also what the invoice shows. So when you’re reviewing invoices, you don’t get to see the original amount and then the payment unless you actually open the invoice to see the detail. It may also confuse your customers if you send them a statement.  I found I wanted to see an actual invoice with an amount and then a payment applied separately.

The method I prefer is to invoice for the deposit, then invoice as you do the work, and use a credit memo to apply the deposit/prepayment to the invoice. That way the accounting is correct, you don’t overstate your income, and both you and your customer can easily follow the invoicing and payments.  (For those of you who file taxes on a cash basis, you will need to make an adjustment at year-end to show the money you actually received, which is not shown in this article.)

One-time Setup

  • Create an Other Current Liability Account for deposits (e.g. Unearned Income, Customer Deposits, Prepayments, Retainers)
    • List>Chart of Accounts>New>Other Current Liability
  • Create an Item for Prepayments/Deposits
  1. prepaymentClick on List > Item> New Item
  2. Type
    1. Service if upfront deposit or retainer for services
    2. Other Charge if up front deposit is for products
  3. Item Name – Prepayment or Upfront deposit… your choice
  4. Account is the Other Current Liability account created above

Handling Prepayment/Deposit

Record upfront deposit

  1. Create an Invoice for the job using the prepayment Item; you may want to use the memo at the bottom of the Invoice to make note of the deposit as well for reporting purposes
  2. Receive the payment against the invoice – this will show in your customer deposit “other liability” account on your balance sheet.

Applying Prepayment to an invoice

  1. Create an invoice for the work being done (this may be a progress invoice if you created an estimate or sales order)
  2. Create a Credit Memo (Customer>Create Credit Memo)
    1. Use your prepayment Item and enter the amount you are applying to the invoice
    2. When saving the credit memo, you’ll be asked if you would like to apply this to an invoice – say yes. If the customer has multiple invoices, be sure you select the correct invoice.
    3. On the memo line at the bottom of the credit memo, I like to make note of the invoice it’s paying – easier to follow in reports and statements.
    4. FYI, if you customize the footer of your invoice to show payment applied, if you choose to send this invoice to your customer, they will see the amount of their prepayment that is applied to the invoice.

Prepayment Reports

For a Summary Report of Customer deposits/prepayments:

  1. Click on Reports> Customers & Receivables > Customer Balance Summary
  2. Click Customize Report
    a.On the Display tab, click on Advanced Options and select Rows = Non-Zero

prepayment       b. On the Filters tab, click on Account, then select your Deposit/Prepayment liability account


  1. If you intend to use this report frequently, click on the Header/Footer tab and name your report.
  2. Run the report and then memorize

prepayment For a Detail Report of Customer deposits (this is what I use),

  1. Click on Reports> Customers & Receivables > Customer Balance Detail
  2. Click Customize Report
    1. On the Display tab,prepayment
      1. Deselect Account
      2. Click on Debit and Credit
    2. On the Filters tab, click on Account, then select your Deposit/Prepayment liability account
  3. If you intend to use this frequently, click on the Header/Footer tab and name your report.
  4. Run the report and then memorize




You will see the original deposit and then the drawdown of the deposit.


If prepayments are common for your business, then periodically you will want to reconcile the deposit/prepayment account to clear out finished projects so they don’t stay in your reports, but that’s for another day.

Contact our office if you have any questions or need assistance.

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Profit Planning with QuickBooks Budgeting Tools

Our last article discussed the benefits of using QuickBooks to help you in your “profit planning” by taking advantage of the budget tools in QuickBooks.  So now you’re ready to use create your  budget in QuickBooks – great!

Select the type of budget

Start by clicking  on Company > Planning & Budgeting> Set Up Budgets. If you’ve already set up a budget, that one will appear. You’ll be able to edit it or create a new one. If you haven’t created a budget, the window shown in Figure 1 opens.



              Figure 1: You’ll start working on your budget by selecting its year and content.

Select Profit and Loss and click Next.

On the next screen, you’ll see you can have additional criteria, (Customer:Job or Class),so you can budget for individual customers/jobs or classes instead of by account only. I do NOT recommend this for a customer:job – use an estimate instead unless for some reason that can’t work. But for those of you who use QuickBooks Classes, you might want to select Class.  For now, we’ll leave this box unchecked. Click Next.


   Figure 2: You can choose other criteria.

Determine the Content

Indicate whether you want to start from scratch with your own figures or let QuickBooks pre-populate your budget with last year’s numbers.


Figure 3: Using actual data will use actual amounts to the penny!

When you click Create budget from scratch. then Finish, you see a window similar to the one shown below



Figure 4: Budgets in QuickBooks are account-based, so yours will be set up that way.

You can decide if you want to have the same amount for each month, such as rent, or if you want to vary the amount by time of year (income and payroll fluctuate seasonally for many contractors). While you can’t enter a total and ask QuickBooks to divide it across the months, there are some fast ways to get some numbers entered and QuickBooks will total for you.

  • If you know the amount you want for the year, but not how that breaks out per month, use QuickBooks pop-up calculator (a favorite of mine!)
    • Simply click in the cell, type in your total, then the “/” so yBudgetou  can divide by 12, then press enter and the result will show in the box!
  • When you click in the cell that has a number you want to use for each month, use Copy Across  (found in the lower left-hand corner of the budget screen)  Guaranteed to be faster than you!  Perhaps you want to use one amount for the first few months, (e.g. you know you have a rent or insurance increase coming on a renewal month), then you can type in the new amount and copy that number across the rest of the year.Budget
  • Perhaps you expect sales to go up a certain amount each month. When you click on Adjust Row Amounts, you can either use the 1st month or click in a specific cell and go from there.  You can adjust up or down, by percent or dollar amount.Budget

As you can see, QuickBooks helps you get the numbers in quickly.

And if your company works on their budget in Excel, did you can import your budget?

  1. Export your last year’s budget to Excel (File>Utilities>Export>Lists to IIF).
  2. Open in Excel (you’ll need to use All Files (*.*) to see your exported budget
  3. Leave all the “funny-looking” jargon alone – it’s important!
  4. Delete the old numbers and enter your desired numbers (maybe you can even use copy & paste your new numbers) then save in the same file format as the one you exported (iif)
  5. Import your new budget into QuickBooks (File>Utilities>Import>Lists to IIF) and review!

Once the budget is in, you have a great tool to help you monitor your progress during the year.  If you want help working with the QuickBooks budget, let us know!

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Profit Planning for 2018

In previous articles, I’ve discussed reviewing your existing sales and profitability to see if you wanted to make any changes.  Now it’s time to plan for your new year and profitability.

Many of you may have already worked on a business budget for 2018.  If you haven’t (and perhaps have not in the past), I encourage you to do so – no matter what size your business is.   If it helps, think of your sales, gross profit (profit after direct/job costs but before overhead expenses) and net profit (bottom line after all expenses) as goals you want to achieve. And I think you’ll agree that it’s much easier to hit a target you can see ;-).

Once your budget is in QuickBooks, it’s easy to monitor how you’re doing during the year, so you don’t have to do updating in spreadsheet or just wonder.  I find it can also help you pay closer attention to your expenses as well.  After all, you’ll want to keep those down so you achieve your profit goals!

If you’ve never done a budget before, you can have QuickBooks create a budget based on your past year.  If you do that, be prepared for odd numbers because QuickBooks will take your actual numbers and divide by 12 to give you monthly, so you will get actual dollars and cents – rarely even numbers like 500 per month.  But it can be a nice start for some

For those of you who have divisions or departments or services lines or locations (like landscapers, painters, builders etc.) you can also plan for each “profit” center – and QuickBooks can help with that, too. In fact, many of you probably have staff members how work up budgets for their area(s) of responsibility.

If you have multiple people working on the budget, then quite often Excel is where many people work up their numbers.  In fact, I find that’s where many work on their budgets anyhow since you can do more with formulas to help you with some of your numbers. The good news is, we can usually find a way to import those numbers into QuickBooks.

Once the budget is in QuickBooks you can get the following reports:

  • Budget Overview (great way to see your original budget as a whole)
  • Budget vs Actual – the default is by month, but you can do month, quarter, or year


Profit & Loss Budget Performance lets you evaluate where you are the time period you’re evaluating (e.g. month or quarter), and what your budget is for Year-to-Date as well as for the entire year.


You can even get a graph. Let’s face it, sometimes a picture (graph in this case), makes it easier for some aspects to jump out at you.


We have a separate article for “how-to” but if you want help with this, let us know!

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QuickBooks Year-end Checklist

There’s lots that needs to be done at the end of the year to get your books ready for taxes. Here’s a list of to help you; those who have been diligent about bookkeeping will find this list will be shorter.

  • Order Forms: If you haven’t done so already, get the forms you need like your W-2s, W-3s, 1099s, and 1096s.  Even if you e-file with Uncle Sam, you still have employees and vendors needing documents.
  • RECONCILE!! I can’t tell you how big this step is. This is a good step to verify that you have tracked all money into and out of the company and will help you find missed entries, duplicates, checks not cashed, and more.  You will save money with your accountant if they don’t have to reconcile.   And DO NOT simply rely on Bank Feeds or go into the register and check off transactions. I promise that using the reconcile feature inside a QuickBooks will not only be faster but more accurate. Accounts to reconcile would include
    • Bank and credit card(s)
    • Loan accounts- Remember, interest is an expense – it doesn’t reduce your loan balance, so do review; your bank may have that online as well as sending out a statement.
    • Other balance sheet accounts, such as employee advances, prepaid insurance, customer prepayments, etc.
  • List of loans and terms – Make a list any new loans, lines of credits, etc. that you took out this year. Your accountant may want to see a copy of the terms and interest rate.
  • List of equipment purchased – Your accountant will want to know of any equipment, vehicles, furniture etc. that you purchased during the year. If the purchase is large enough, rather than expense the purchase in full, your accountant will depreciate the purchase over a few years. Ask your accountant what size purchase – frequently it’s been purchases of 500 or 1000, but with tax law changes their answer may be different. Usually your accountant will want a copy of the receipt or purchase document with the price.  In the case of a vehicle where you had a trade-in value and/or down payment, then they would want that information as well.
    • FYI – for future reference there is a Fixed Asset list where you can keep lots of pertinent information. you can click on List, Fixed Asset List.  In the future, when you purchase a fixed asset, you can use an Item (instead of account) and select Fixed Asset so you can put in the detail.
  • Employees
    • Unemployment – unemployment rates frequently change each year in part based on how many employees in any claim with your company. The state of Maryland usually sends you a letter in November with the number to call to see what your new rate will be. If you process payroll yourself in QuickBooks, look to see if your version will let you enter the new rates for the upcoming year – new versions do. If you need help entering the new rates, call us for help.
    • Employee withholding – it’s good to check whether employees’ withholding will be the same or if they want to revise it, so have them do a new Federal W-4 and state withholding forms (sometimes they decide after their taxes are done!)
    • Before you print out your w-2’s,
      • Run the Payroll Summary Report and compare to the W-2’s
        • Besides wage and taxes, you may also need to review fringe benefits that need to be on a W-2
    • 1099 Vendors –Review your list of vendors. To get your list, Click on Vendors, Print 1099’s
        • Be sure that all who need to get a 1099 are marked as 1099 eligible. When in doubt either call them, ask your accountant or make them 1099-eligible. Best to err on the safe side!
        • Confirm that contact information is correct, ask for tax ID or have them send a W-9.
          • Some companies make it a policy to obtain a W-9 before they ever pay a vendor – that’s incentive to get the form returned to you!!
          • Here’s the link to the IRS website to get the W-9 – they’re listed right at the top (left side)
      • If you need to update several, the Add/Edit Multiple Lists is a great tool for updating this information. Simply click on Customize Columns and select the Tax ID field (and any others you might want); remove those you don’t need at this time.  This does NOT remove any data from your QuickBooks; this is simply a feature to simplify editing.

QuickBooks Year-end Checklist

  • Inventory – If you have inventory do a physical inventory (Inventory > Physical Inventory Worksheet) and then compare with what QuickBooks says.
    • I also recommend you do NOT print out the Quantity On Hand column so no one can get lazy and use the numbers in the system
    • For those with large inventories, you may want to consider “cycle” counting – i.e. you systematically do counts on just some of your inventory checks (daily, weekly, monthly – whatever works), but this way it doesn’t get away from you.

QuickBooks Year-end Checklist

  • QuickBooks Version – Intuit supports 3 years, so in May they will “sunset” QuickBooks 2015. Doesn’t mean 2015 won’t work, but if you download bank transactions, use payroll or email reports, invoices, or statements, those features will no longer work.
    • Here’s a link to my article discussing the new 2018 QuickBooks products.
    • This page has 2 videos highlighting the differences between the different versions,
    • This page has a comparison chart of the different QuickBooks versions; we can also provide demos if you need
    • You can also download a 30-day trial of Enterprise here.
    • I’ve mentioned before but I’ll mention it again ;),
      • For those of you using Enhanced Payroll and paying for direct deposit fees, Enterprise Gold is often a better deal – even if you’re in QuickBooks Pro or Premier.
      • Those of you on Intuit’s “older” Enterprise plan, you may find the subscription is a better deal – especially since Intuit is raising their prices on the older plans – substantially. We can help you navigate your options so you can get the plan that’s best for you –whether that’s staying with your current plan or changing.
    • For those of you considering moving to the online version but want job costing, check out this article.
    • If you would like to upgrade, let us know – we can help you get a good price and assist with the upgrade if you need.
  • Review your QuickBooks setup. This is a great time to make changes in your QuickBooks setup.  Even I do this!  Perhaps you want to use Classes or change your Classes.  Or maybe the Chart of Accounts needs some cleaning up.  And often the Items list can use some (or lots!!) of clean-up (including mine!).   We’ll be happy to help you review, make recommendations, and even give you tips to make it go faster!
  • Other Services – Calendar or fiscal year-end can be a good time to review other services – whether you need them and or want to change them.
  • Customer payments and credit cards – If you would like to process checks in QuickBooks instead of having to go to the bank, or want customers to pay you online or have customers asking you to accept credit cards, Intuit Payments is definitely worth reviewing – they have simplified and lowered their rates.   I can promise that Intuit is NOT going to give away their integration with QuickBooks to another provider.  With no double-entry, the ease of reconciliation and the time saved, it’s often a smart decision.  Let us know if you are interested or reach out to George Madenian – George_Madenian@intuit.com 818-436-8158!
  • Payroll – This is a great time of year to review your payroll options. This page has a simple chart comparing the payroll products.  Let us know if you have questions. Keep in mind we can get you discounted pricing.  Don’t just look at tangible costs. Also consider job/project costing (if that’s an issue), amount of time to handle payroll tasks, risk (of under payments or missed payments) or fraud (I’ve known of bookkeepers and even a payroll company).   For those who don’t want the hassle of the payroll tax filings and w-2’s, there are Intuit products that will do that for you, but do contact us so you can get discounted pricing.
  • Adjustments to make to your books. While some adjustments are best left for your accountant, there are a few that you can do or at least get the information pulled together for your account.
    • Bonuses – It’s great to give bonuses to employees at year-end, but it’s not so great to forget about the tax part of it. Bonus checks should always be run through payroll, but often are not, which requires an adjustment after the fact.
    • Work in Process- For those of you who have projects that span over a few months and need to track work in process there are usually two methods – one simply for year-end for tax purposes and the other method is done monthly; typically only my larger commercial clients track monthly. If you use QuickBooks Enterprise, you’ll love the WIP Summary Report. Contact our office if you want help with that.
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QuickBooks Setup for Success

It’s the start of a new year and for many, this is the time to make changes to your QuickBooks before your season gets busy.

There are 4 major areas I consider when working with contractor clients:

  1. Software – So much depends on your setup and what setup you can do depends on your software! So, is your version of QuickBooks a good fit for your company?  Regardless of how long you’ve been in QuickBooks, this is always good to review.  This will give you a start:
    1. Start with creating 2 lists – what you need and what you want. Realize that you may not get everything you want, so you might have to rank some features. Also, keep in mind that QuickBooks is an accounting package so it won’t be the best for CRM, scheduling and time tracking.  Here are several questions to help guide you:
    2. How many need access? This may quickly narrow your options
    3. Who needs to be able to do what? For instance, if you just want someone to track their time, you might want a mobile time tracking product that integrates with QuickBooks instead of giving them access to QuickBooks.
    4. Do you need to job cost? The desktop version of QuickBooks still beats the online version Online when it comes to job costing!
    5. Are you currently using a 3rd party product or considering one? If so, which versions of QuickBooks do they integrate with?  Some will integrate with both but not with all the same features.  And some will integrate with desktop only or online only, so you need to know!
    6. If you want mobile access, what you do you want to be able to do when you’re not in the office? Sometimes an add-on product might be a better option.
    7. For those of you in Pro Plus, or Premier Plus or Enterprise, let me know so we can price your current plan and see if there’s a plan that can save you money and/or give you more for your money. When you call Intuit directly, you won’t always get someone who has your best interests at heart – they have sales quotas & goals ;-)
    8. A couple resources that might help you more:
      1. My feature comparison chart – this makes it easier to compare
      2. An article I wrote comparing QuickBooks Desktop (Pro/Premier/Enterprise) with QuickBooks Online. In spite of the rumors, Intuit is not giving up on the desktop versions of QuickBooks – they are still the bigger money makers for them.
      3. Videos showing the differences between the products
    9. And if you want to make a change, let us know. There are promotions we can’t always advertise, and there are often life-long discounts we can get for you versus a short-term discount followed by full price later.
  1. Setup – I often see problems in the setup, which can explain why you can’t get the reporting or information you want. So here are some major areas to consider:
    1. Classes – Classes are unique to QuickBooks. I think of Classes as way to do side-by-side comparisons of Profit Centers. You can see a sample report below.  For contractors, that’s usually your divisions.   Here are some examples to get the wheels turning.
      1. Landscapers, often use maintenance, Installs, Irrigation, Lighting, and Snow (or some variation).
      2. Painters might do interior and exterior work and/or commercial vs residential (I can create a P & L for Customer Type if you don’t want to use classes).
      3. Construction might want New construction, remodel – maybe even historic, if that’s a specialty of yours.
      4. For those of you with multiple offices, then you might want to use location – especially if those locations are in different sates
      5. Other ideas: Sales rep, partner, crew, program….
      6. You can even have sub-classes; just keep in mind that they don’t collapse (i.e. the P & L by Class won’t just show the “parent” classes when you “collapse the report).QuickBooks Setup
    2. Chart of Accounts – Those not using Classes are usually doing it in their Chart of Accounts. I used to start here but I found that once we setup Classes, we were going back & changing the Chart of Accounts, so now Chart of Accounts is 2nd ;-). My main strong recommendation for all you contractors:
      1. Your job costs belong in the Cost of Goods section. The sample service file in QuickBooks is a great idea of what NOT to do!! My rule of thumb – if you had to spend that money for that job (e.g. buy materials, pay for labor, rent equipment, etc.) then that’s a direct cost.  Some of you have all your payroll in payroll expenses – you’ll want to separate office staff from field staff since that’s such a large component of your job costs. You’ll like the separation when looking at your Profit & Loss reports as is the example above.  Also note in the above example, they did NOT pull out field labor as I recommend (tsk tsk!)
    3. Items – The key to job costing in QuickBooks is in your Items – NOT your Chart of Accounts!
      1. Decide what Items you need. My rule of thumb for Items (Products & Services) is (1) What do your customers need to see and (2) What do you want to see in your job cost reports
      2. For contractors, if you do T & M invoicing (Time & Materials), you want your Items to have a cost side as well as an income side. That way you can see what you paid for the different materials and subs as well as what you invoiced.
    4. Jobs – Many of you provide more than one service for your customer and there is often crossover in time period. So if you want to see the job costs for one job, you need to be able to specify the job. In some cases, I just see a list of customers, so it’s hard to pull out the costs for a specific job.   If these are one-time customers, 1 short job or 1 service, then you may not need jobs, but most contractors I work with need to specify jobs.
    5. Payroll There are many different options for payroll.
      1. If you want job costed payroll, still the best options are Enhanced or Assisted Payroll with Intuit and I can get your pricing discounted as well as help explain how they work and which might be your best option.
      2. If you want to outsource your payroll, there are a couple different “tricks” to get the labor costs – let me know if you need to know.
  2. Work Flow – This is another big area where I hear complaints and work to help my clients streamline. You usually know where the work slows to a crawl – could be time tracking, payroll, invoicing, payables, tracking cash flow or getting job cost data or some other type of reporting.  Poor workflow adds to your overhead and stress, so while it’s not a hard cost like field staff, it definitely affects your bottom line. It’s good to list the areas that are a problem – then you can begin to look at solutions.
  3. Reports – This is often the issue that prompts changes. What reports are you unable to get, and/or doing them in Excel? Which reports take too long to get? What information would you like to see in reports but are not?  From there, we can begin to address the issue.

If you would like to make a change in your QuickBooks or want help in addressing your setup, please contact our office. Now’s the time to do it before you get really busy!

Here’s to a year that will provide better data and smoother and faster workflow!

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By now you probably have a good idea of your year-end numbers.  As you look back over your year, take the time to list what worked – and what didn’t. Here are a few recommendations to help you review 2017 so you can plan for 2018

  1. Profitability: Where were you most profitable? Where were you least profitable?  I would look at
    • Service line or division or department – You should easily be able to compare your different divisions. Total sales is not your only indicators! You want to compare AFTER your job expenses including field labor (cost of goods). If you use the Class tracking in QuickBooks, which I highly recommend, comparing divisions will be easy!
    • Type of customer – If you review your customer list and start looking for patterns as to the type, you may find you really like some and would love to drop others and your numbers support your decision. Some ideas for type could include residential, commercial, builder, HOA’s, property management, government, age or other demographics.  QuickBooks can help you track this easily. Identifying the type of customer(s) you like (besides those who pay quickly ;-) will also simplify your marketing.
    • Location – Are you finding a certain municipality or county or subdivision or… hasn’t been profitable? Or maybe it’s been a gold mine for you. Perhaps it’s time to consider moving to a new location so you’re more centrally located or it’s been so profitable it’s time to consider a second location.
    • Type of jobs – Over time you’ll find that there are certain types of jobs you enjoy, are more profitable, easier to estimate.  Maybe you decide certain types of jobs you will no longer do because you lose money on them or you just really don’t want that type of work or that they’re too small – or too large.  I know many are often afraid of turning away projects, but if you underestimate your costs or the crews are inefficient, you aren’t helping your business.  When you narrow the type of work you do, you’ll find it will be easier to estimate and your crews will be more efficient.  It will also be easier to market to the types of clients and jobs you prefer!
  2. Overhead: Have you reviewed your overhead costs lately?  If not, maybe it’s time!
    1. I find it’s easy to forget about payments that are automatically paid by credit card or deducted from your bank account. I know I made changes in a couple subscription plans that saved money in my own business.
    2. I’ve also seen that those using Enterprise Solutions are frequently paying more than needed – especially this year with pricing changes Intuit made. If I know you use Enterprise, I make it a point to reach out to make sure you have a plan that fits your needs – often I can get payments reduced.  If we haven’t spoken, let me know – I can find out what your current plan is and discuss whether or not there is a better option.
  3. Staffing: Were there changes in staffing? Consider both out in the field and in the office. Sometimes a new employee could be a reason to add or drop something. For example, a new employee with certain skills may suggest you’d like to use more of those skills, which could mean different jobs or different clientele.
  4. Time: Many of you are conscious of time out in the field, but what about office time? I find few companies clock how long it takes to do office tasks and often there are inefficiencies.
    • Are you still doing paper time sheets or using the old punch time cards for employees to clock in/out? Maybe it’s time to go mobile – there are lots of good products out on the market – of course some better than others!
    • Are you entering data in one place and then some version of that same data in a second place (like a spreadsheet and then in QuickBooks – or vice versa)? Could there be a way to integrate the data so you don’t have double-entry resulting in saving time?
    • Are you doing work-arounds? Maybe it’s time to re-assess – can it be done in QuickBooks or will an add-in product solve your problem?
    • Are you running reports in Excel? If so, is that because you can’t get that information from QuickBooks? I frequently find that setup and lack of training are key reasons you’re not getting some of the reports you want/need from your software and hence using Excel to generate the report.
    • Are reports taking a long time to run? Perhaps there’s some file maintenance that needs to be done or upgrade in computers or networks. Slow computers add to your labor costs as people sit and wait – including you!
    • Are there faster ways to get your work done? Unless you live and breathe QuickBooks like I do, you might find there are features and/or “tricks” to get the information you want that you don’t know about.
    • Sometimes it pays to talk to a professional and I’m happy to take a look and discuss your situation.
  5. Software: Is your current software solution still a good fit for you?
    • QuickBooks Whenever I’m working with clients I start with discussing what version of QuickBooks you’re using and your pain points. Sometimes QuickBooks can do what you want – you just didn’t know it could or how to get the results you wanted.  If your current version won’t do all you want, we discuss pros/cons of keeping what they have, upgrading and/or getting an add-on product.  I recommend having a needs list and a wish list.  Most times, you won’t find something that fits all of your needs and wishes so you have to decide what’s most important – and that’s unique to your business.
    • Add-ons –Is it time to add a 3rd party product to solve for one or more of your pain points? Add-ons come in 2 “flavors”
      • Task specific – these often solve 1 issue – e.g time tracking, payroll, estimating, CRM, etc.
      • Industry specific products typically solve for more than one pain point within your industry, will use your lingo because they “understand” you. You’ll find that add-ons have differences so there’s no “one-size fits all” solution – you will still have to decide which one best fits your business.
      • And of course, I always want to know how the products integrate with QuickBooks; that’s one reason why I like the Intuit add-ons because I know the integration will be good. If job costing is important, there are better ways than others for those job costs to come in to your QuickBooks if you want to maximize the reporting in QuickBooks.

If you need help either getting this data or wondering how to adjust your setup and/or procedures, let me know – I’ll be happy to work with you

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It’s time to review your sales to see where you were most profitable in 2017 and see what if any changes you’ll make for 2018.  When looking at profitability, there are a few different factors you can review using QuickBooks.  So here are 5 areas to consider.

  1. Identify Your Most Profitable Division/Service Line: If your divisions or service lines or departments are classes, this can be simple to evaluate. Run your P & L by Class, then customize the report so you can see % of Row.  Then not only will you have a comparison by dollar amount, but the percent of your business income AND expenses. If you take the time to allocate your overhead (either on a monthly or quarterly basis), you can get an even better picture.
  2. Identify your Most Profitable Products/Services – If your Items are double-sided, AND you use the items tab when you receive your bills, then the Item Profitability Report can be helpful as well. Choose Year to date or Year to last month for your date range. Is it time to drop a service or product?  Or maybe you want to sell more of a particular product or service line.

Note: If you haven’t been good using Items in your job costing this is an area that may not reflect true profitability. If so, put it on your list to improve for 2018 ;-)

  1. Identify Your Most Profitable Customers: Look at the Job Profitability Summary It will run on an accrual basis only, so you could have some unpaid invoices in there.  But hopefully your customers will be forthcoming with payment.  The default date range is all, since some jobs cross over years, and in some cases, multiple years.  If that’s true for you, then you may want to keep that setting. But for most of you, the jobs tend to be shorter, so I would recommend running it just for this year.  For the purposes of identifying the top customers, you can collapse the report so you just have the customer names. Export the report to Excel and then you can sort for the Difference column which should be your profit.  Of course, this assumes you’ve been good about costing all your labor and materials to the job ;-). For those of you who outsource your payroll, you may find that not all your labor costs are in.
  2. Identify Your Most Profitable Types of Customers: When you look at the top customers above, do you see a pattern as to the type of customer? Perhaps they’re commercial or government or residential or landlords, or …. You get the picture. (I use industry for type).   You can also use subtypes.  If you want more top customers, it’s helpful to have a better picture of just who they are.

If you use the Customer Type field, you can create a Custom Summary report with Customer Type for column headings. (Click on Reports>Custom Reports>Summary).   You can also turn on % of Row if you’d like.

  1. Identify Your Most Profitable Jobs: Click on Reports>Jobs, Time & Mileage> Job Profitability Summary. You can export this out to Excel as is or filter on the customers you identified above.  Unless all your jobs have unique names/numbers this will take more work before you can easily sort in Excel. Perhaps the quickest way is to copy the customer name down so it is with the job name and then sort by Difference (your profit). You can use the Auto Filter feature in Excel to remove the rows with blanks in the job column.

Also look to see if there is a pattern in the type of job you do for that customer.  Some types of jobs are more profitable than others. Makes more sense to stick to the more profitable jobs!

As you go through these steps, you might also want to take note of which ones are the bottom of the list. Perhaps it’s time to drop those customers, jobs, products or services.

When you can identify your true top customers and jobs, then you have a better idea of how to market, and you can focus on more profitable customers and jobs, which will boost your bottom line rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

If you need help getting this setup in QuickBooks, contact our office.

Would love to hear if you had any “a-ha’s” as you look at these reports!

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Save Time with Mobile Barcode Scanning and Enhanced Sales Order Workflow

Platinum Enterprise now has 2 new features that should be a great help for those of you using inventory in a big way – mobile barcode scanning and a greatly improved sales order workflow with real-time updates!

Both features need to be activated in the new Site Operations found in the Company Preferences (Edit>Preferences>Items and Inventory>Advanced Inventory Settings>Site Operations)

sales order fulfillment

The new sales order fulfillment worksheet, found ONLY in the Platinum version of Enterprise’s Advanced Inventory, is easier to understand and more functional.  Note there is now a tab for Picklist instead of just printing out a sheet.

sales order fulfillment

sales order fulfillment

And here’s where it gets really good. Before you had to be physically connected to a computer to enter the picking, but now you can now use a WIRELESS device!

sales order fulfillment

You’ll need to download the free QuickBooks Desktop Warehouse app (for Androids only)

sales order fulfillment

You can use an Android phone or the Zebra MC 40.  The advantage of the Android phone is it’s inexpensive and easily obtained but the advantage of the MC 40 is the ability to scan. You can count wirelessly on the phone but not scan.

sales order fulfillment

And you have real-time status on your sales orders!

sales order fulfillment

This is an area that Intuit plans to continue to develop and I would expect to see additional wireless devices and making adjustments based on feedback.

For those with large warehouses or garden centers with products out in the field, this definitely has potential.  If you would like to download a 30-day trial version of QuickBooks Enterprise, click here.  Let me know if you want more information or what you think of these new features!


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Work More Efficiently and Faster

This year’s new QuickBooks 2018 features focus on solving for some common pain points and issues.  These first few are for QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise, the latter ones I specify the version(s) of QuickBooks.

QuickBooks 2018Multi-Monitor

If you use multiple monitors, then chances are you’ve experienced working in QuickBooks and a pop-up window is on a different monitor – and sometimes behind other windows.  This new feature puts an end to that. In fact, the new feature is supported up to 3 monitors!  The monitors must be touching each other for this to work

Click on View>Multi-monitor

QuickBooks 2018Search Chart-of-Accounts

Ever have to hunt to find an account in the Chart of Accounts?  Now you can search – finally! Type in the word, part of word or number and QuickBooks will help you find it much faster 


Copy Line/Paste Line Keyboard Shortcuts for Transactions

If you’re a keystroke person like me, then you will like these.  Ctrl-Alt-Y for Copy (perhaps Y for the last letter in Copy) and Ctrl-Alt-V for Paste (Ctrl-V) is the Windows paste keyboard shortcut.

QuickBooks 2018 QuickBooks 2018


Cash/Accrual Toggle on reports

I know some of you have your default report setting on cash (personally I recommend setting it to accrual), but regardless of your setting, chances are you sometimes want to switch “basis”.  In the past, you had to click on Customize Reports to make the change.  Now, you can simply click on a button for to make the change between cash and accrual.

QuickBooks 2018Past Due Stamp on Invoices

If you’re like most businesses, chances are you have a few customers who are “slow pay”.   Up to now,  if you wanted to resend the invoice with a past due notice, you’ve had to manually stamp the invoice. Now you can have it appear on your invoices automatically. You can either turn this feature on at the template level so it appears on all late invoices, or you can click the button on the screen to turn it off or on.

QuickBooks 2018Payroll Liability Reminder

Even been late on a payroll tax payment?  Those penalties and interest can add up!  I remember back when I did bookkeeping trying to keep up with which tax payment was due when – I had a chart that I had to  check frequently.  Over the years Intuit has tried to make this easier, but I love having the reminder show up in red on your home page on Pay Liabilities – gives you 7 days’ notice.

QuickBooks 2018Secure Webmail

If you email invoices using webmail (like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo), Intuit upgraded from the “old” SMTP to the current industry standard Oauth 2.0.  Not exciting but very important!


Edit>Preferences>My Preferences>WebMail –

Check Use Enhanced Security and then log into your Intuit account. 

QuickBooks 2018Enhanced Inventory Reports – (not available in QuickBooks Pro)

In the past, some of the inventory reports have had very few options for customizing.  Now there are 3 inventory reports that let you decide which columns you want to see. Those reports are:

  1. Inventory Valuation Summary
  2. Inventory Stock Status by Item
  3. Assembly Shortage



Merge Multiple Vendors – available in QuickBooks Accountant and Enterprise

A common occurrence is to have the same vendor listed multiple times in your vendor list – for a variety of reasons.  Different users, variations of store names,…  Currently you can merge 2 vendor names into 1.  This new feature lets you merge up to 4 names at one time.

If you’re in the Accountant’s Edition, click on Accountant>Client Data Review>Merge Vendors

If you’re in Enterprise, click on Company>Accounting Tools> Merge Vendors.

  1. Type in the name (keep it short)
  2. Select the 2 to 4 you want to merge
  3. Choose the one you want to keep
  4. Be sure it has all the pertinent information
  5. Click on Merge

Note: Some names can’t be merged

  • Vendors with direct deposits
  • Federal/state tax agencies
  • Vendors with online transactions (does that mean downloads in bank feeds)

QuickBooks 2018

There are 2 more new features, specific to Platinum Enterprise but they’re big enough to warrant a separate article and many of you aren’t in platinum.

Should you upgrade? If these address some of your pain points, then determine how much your current work-around is costing – daily, weekly, annually – and that will help you determine whether or not to upgrade. Personally, I recommend waiting until at least one release patch (update) has come out, or wait until W-2’s and 1099’s are done.  Those of you working in 2015 QuickBooks, will definitely need to upgrade before the end of May if you want to continue downloading bank transactions, running payroll and processing credit card payments, to name a few.   And I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date on any sales!  (I suspect there might be a Cyber Monday sale – Intuit has had those in previous years).

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