1. How to back up your important QuickBooks™ data
  2. Seven Ways to Search QuickBooks
  3. Fast access to company files you have used recently
  4. Deleting invoices off the "Select Invoices to Print" window.
  5. Filtering a Report - Selecting most of the items from a list
  6. Hiring Summer Employees? QuickBooks™ Can Track Their Time
  7. Save Time for Summer by Memorizing Transactions
  8. Is It Time to Adjust Your Pricing? How QuickBooks™ Can Help
  9. Turn Over a New Cliche: Adopt Best Practices
  10. Using the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries Feature
  11. Tracking Bills in QuickBooks, Worth the Effort
  12. Classes or Types? When To Use Them in QuickBooks
  13. QuickBooks™ Tips And Tricks: Make it Yours
  14. Modifying Reports: Better Insight Into Past, Future
  15. Portable Productivity: Smartphones Do Invoices, Expenses, Time Billing
  16. Backup or Portable Company File? How to Decide
  17. QuickBooks™ Can Do Much More Than You Think
  18. Receiving Payment from Customers in Quickbooks
  19. 5 Ways to Accelerate Your Receivables in QuickBooks
  20. Spring-Clean Your QuickBooks™ Company File
  21. 8 QuickBooks™ Reports You Should Run Regularly
  22. 5 Ways You Can Use QuickBooks' Income Tracker
  23. Billing for Time in QuickBooks: An Overview
  24. Depositing Payments in QuickBooks: The Basics
  25. Receiving Payments in QuickBooks
  26. How QuickBooks™ Helps You Accelerate Receivables
  27. What QuickBooks' Calendar Can Do for You
  28. Creating Customer Statements in QuickBooks
  29. 5 QuickBooks™ Reports You Need to Run in January
  30. Tracking Time in QuickBooks, Part 1
  31. Tracking Time in QuickBooks, Part 2
  32. 5 QuickBooks™ Online Reports You Should Run Regularly
  33. Why QuickBooks™ Should Be on Your Desktop
  34. How to Use Memorized Transactions in QuickBooks
  35. Paying Bills in QuickBooks: The Basics
  36. Applying Finance Charges in QuickBooks
  37. Create Assemblies to Bundle Products in QuickBooks
  38. Using Bill Tracker in QuickBooks

How to back up your important QuickBooks™ data

  1. Click on File
  2. Click Back Up
  3. Complete the location where the file will be backed up (i.e. floppy disk in A: or other disk)
  4. Click the Back Up button

Seven Ways to Search QuickBooks

Over time, your QuickBooks™ company can grow in size to the point that it becomes difficult to find specific transactions. For instance, let's say that you hire a new employee, and want to order another desk to match the ones in your office. You vaguely remember the last time that you ordered a desk, but can't remember which vendor, or how much you paid. In this article we'll discuss seven ways that you can search QuickBooks™ to find transactions such as this, or when necessary, determine if a transaction was deleted. #1: Registers QuickBooks™ maintains a register for each account on your balance sheet, which includes bank accounts, inventory, accounts receivable, and other assets. There are also registers for accounts payable, loan accounts, and owners' equity. Depending upon what you're looking for, a register might be a fast way to find what you're looking for, such as that desk we mentioned at the start:

  • Choose Edit, and then Use Register (or press Ctrl-R). Alternatively, you can choose Banking, and then Use Register.
  • As shown in Figure 1, choose your Furniture account from the list, and then click OK. QuickBooks™ will then present a window similar to Figure 2.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 1:

Every balance sheet account'not just cash accounts'has a register.

  • As also shown in Figure 2, you can use the Go To button to search the register. This can help you narrow your search within a register that contains many transactions.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 2:

The register displays a searchable listing of all transactions within a balance sheet account.

Keep in mind that registers are just one way to find transactions in QuickBooks, and won't always be appropriate for every situation. For instance, income and expense accounts don't have a register'in those cases you need to take another approach. #2: Simple Find Think of the Simple Find feature as an expanded version of the Go To feature within a QuickBooks™ register. Choose Edit, and then Find (or press Ctrl-F) to display the window shown in Figure 3.If necessary, click the Simple tab at the top of the window. You can then carry out searches based on transaction type, such as Invoice, Estimate, Bill, Check, and so on:
  • Choose a transaction type from the list.
  • Optionally limit your search by completing the Customer/Job, Date, Transaction #, and Amount. It's not necessary to complete these additional fields, however without doing so you'll return a list of all transactions of a given type, which may or may not be helpful.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 3:

Simple Find allows you to search within a single transaction type. Once your list of transactions appears on the screen, you have several options:

  • Double-click on a transaction to view it, or click once on the transaction and then click the Go To button.
  • Click the Report button to display a Find report onscreen. As we'll discuss later in this article, you can then click the Modify Report button to further refine the results of the Find report.
  • Click the Export button to export the results to a comma-separated values (CSV) file or Excel spreadsheet.

#3: Advanced Find This feature, shown in Figure 4, is akin to the Simple Find on steroids. You can search QuickBooks™ based on any combination of dozens of criteria. For instance, Figure 4 shows a search on customers in the city of Middlefield who bought appliances costing $500 or more. To use Advanced Filter, simply choose a field from the Filter column, and then set the desired criteria. Your input choices will vary based on the field that you choose. For instance, if you click on Name City, you can enter a single city. Conversely, you can make multiple selections when you choose a field like Item or Account. Keep adding new filters as needed. You can craft some very elaborate searches in this fashion. To eliminate a filter, click once on the item within the list on the right, and then hit the Delete key. Alternatively, the Reset button will also clear the decks for you.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 4:

Advanced Find allows you to specify criteria for dozens of available fields.

#4: Search Current versions of QuickBooks™ feature a Search command on the Edit menu. You may be prompted to enable Google Desktop the first time that you choose this command. Doing so will allow you to use the same search terms and conventions that you use on the Internet to locate transactions within QuickBooks. As shown in Figure 5, this feature is not automatically enabled, and doing so may cause minor performance degradation on your computer. As shown in Figure 6, Google Desktop automatically groups transactions by type, and you can choose to sort by date.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 5:

You must enable Google Desktop Search within QuickBooks.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 6:

Google Desktop search automatically groups transactions by type.

Indexing required: Google Desktop initially runs an indexing process on your QuickBooks data. The length of time required for this varies, based upon the size of your QuickBooks™ company. You'll get the best results from your search if you wait until Google Desktop has completed its initial index. New transactions will automatically be indexed after this one-time process completes. #5: Customized Lists By default, QuickBooks™ customer and vendor lists only display names and balance totals. You may not realize that you can add additional columns, such as phone number, and that each column is sortable:
  • Choose Customers, and then Customer Center (or press Ctrl-J).
  • Right-click on the customer list, and then choose Customize Columns.
  • As shown in Figure 7, you can add as many additional fields as you wish to the list, as well as move fields up and down within the list. Click OK once you've made your changes.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 7:

You can add or remove columns from list windows in QuickBooks.

  • As shown in Figure 8, you can resize the columns within the list. Place your mouse between field names, and then drag to the left or right to resize the field.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 8:

QuickBooks™ list columns are resizable and sortable.

  • Click the name of a field within the list to sort based on that column. As shown in Figure 8, you can use this technique to search for a customer simply based on telephone number.

#6: Report Filters Some QuickBooks™ reports are like a fire hose of data, giving you far more information than you really need. Fortunately, every report has a Modify Report button in the upper-left-hand corner of the screen, which enables you to pare down the results of the report. As shown in Figure 9, you can click the Filters tab of the Modify Report window and make the same choices that we discussed previously in the Advanced Filter dialog box.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 9:

Most QuickBooks™ reports allow you to apply filters to limit the amount of data shown.

#7: Audit Trail: If you've exhausted all of the previous methods to find a transaction in QuickBooks, one final place to look is the audit trail. Someone could have deleted the transaction, either on purpose, or accidentally. The audit trail formerly was an optional feature in QuickBooks, but starting with the 2006 versions and onward, it's always on, so you'll always have a searchable record of every transaction ever entered in QuickBooks. You cannot view the details of deleted transactions in the audit trail, but at least you'll know why it didn't appear through any of the other search methods:
  • Choose Reports, Accountant & Taxes, and then Audit Trail.
  • Once the report appears on screen, you can change the date range to pick a broader range if necessary. You can also click the Modify Report button and apply any filters that you wish. As shown in Figure 10, any deleted transactions will be marked as such.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 10:

The audit trail shows deleted transactions.

Summary Hopefully you now have at least a couple of new ways to retrieve transactions or contact information from QuickBooks. Not every technique is appropriate for every search, but understanding these seven ways to search QuickBooks™ can broaden your skills, and help you retrieve information about anything within your accounting records. Did You Know? There are hundreds of add-on products available for QuickBooks™ that may be able to help you streamline business processes that you currently carry out by hand. Visit https://desktop.apps.com/home to search the list of available products by industry or business need. Many applications are certified by QuickBooks, and most products include customer product ratings. Free trials are often available, so you can try products before you buy. The web site also includes a list of developers, so you can have a custom application written for you if can't find an existing tool to meet your needs.

Fast access to company files you have used recently

Use the Open Previous Company option found on the File menu to give you fast access to company files you have used recently

Deleting invoices off the "Select Invoices to Print" window.

Here's how you delete some of those old invoices that have been hanging around. This is a common problem in QuickBooks. Here's the fix - for each entry that is showing up in your Reminders list under "Invoices to Print", double- click on it. This action should take you to the invoice itself. Once here, remove the check mark in the box in the lower left hand corner that says "to be printed", then click "Save and Close". This invoice should no longer show up in the "Invoices to Print" list.

Filtering a Report - Selecting most of the items from a list

When filtering reports in QuickBooks™ you may want to select most of the items on a particular list, but not all items to appear on your report. First choose the "selected" option from the list (selected accounts, selected names, etc).

Normally you would check each item that you want to appear on your report. However, if you want to check all the items on the list, click the first item and do not release the mouse button. While holding down the mouse button, slide the mouse pointer down just below the list.

When QuickBooks™ is done all of the items on the list will be checked. Release the mouse button. Now you can manually click the items to remove the ones that you do not wish to include in your filter.

Hiring Summer Employees? QuickBooks™ Can Track Their Time

QuickBooks™ offers capable tools for tracking the items you sell, but it's also quite a competent time-tracker. If you pay employees based on the hours they work, QuickBooks™ can ease your bookkeeping burden. Tracked time can flow to both invoices and payroll, helping you pay employees and collect on services provided to customers.

Before you start tracking time, you'll need to turn on the related tools. Click Edit | Preferences, and then Time & Expenses. Click on the tab titled Company Preferences. You'll see the window shown in Figure 11.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 11:

Before you can start tracking and billing for time, you'll need to fill out some of the fields in this Company Preferences window.

In this window, be sure you've checked Yes, and then select the first day of the work week from the drop-down list.

If you are going to want billable time to flow directly to invoices, check the first box under Invoicing Options. The other options in this window relate to expense and item tracking; check with us to see if your business needs to use them.

Tip: If you want to use payroll to pay employees for time worked, be sure to check the box labeled "Use time data to create paychecks" when you're building employee records, as shown in Figure 2.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 12:

To facilitate the flow from time to paychecks, be sure to check the box for "Use time data to create paychecks."

If you're planning to use QuickBooks's job tracking, click on Sales & Customers in the left pane, then on the My Preferences tab 1. Here, you can choose how you want QuickBooks™ to handle available time and costs when you're preparing an invoice.

Single Activities or Time Sheets?

QuickBooks™ offers two ways to enter time. You can record hours on individual tickets or fill out weekly timesheets. No matter which you choose, the information is always available in the other form. You can switch methods at any time, and your work will be preserved.

Let's start with the individual time tickets. Open the Employee Center in the toolbar, or click on the Employees menu. Click Enter Time, then Time/Enter Single Activity. The window shown in Figure 13 opens:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 13:

It's easy to record hours on this single-activity ticket by simply filling in the blanks

QuickBooks™ pulls in data from other parts of the program, records you've already created. First, enter the activity's date or select it from the calendar. Click the arrow next to Name and choose the appropriate employee from the list.

Second, if the hours are going to be billed to a customer or job, click the next arrow and select the correct one (ignore this if you're just recording company time, like regular compensation or sick time). Finally, pick the service that the employee performed, if applicable. Be sure to check the Billable box when it's appropriate.

Tip: You can create a new record on the fly here if, for example, you haven't set up the service you need to record. Click < Add New > in the drop-down list.

Linking to Payroll

You can also use QuickBooks's timer if you're going to bill for a timed activity such as a phone call. And you can add notes that will be saved to the ticket.

QuickBooks™ provides other ways to describe hours spent so that they're recorded properly. If you have payroll turned on and have associated a payroll item with the selected service item, the Payroll Item field (which indicates how much the employee should be paid) will automatically be filled in. You can easily change this field if necessary.

If you haven't created a payroll item, select Add New. A wizard will walk you through the process. This relationship can be a bit confusing so talk to us if you have any questions. When you're done, click Save & Close or Save & New.

Week at a Time

Weekly timesheets can save you a lot of time. To get there, open the Employee Center in the toolbar, or click on the Employees menu. Click Use Weekly Timesheet. You'll see a window similar to the one shown in Figure 14:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 14:

Rather than entering each activity individually, you can document an entire week at a time using the Weekly Timesheet.

You can speed through weekly timesheets, using the drop-down lists to select the appropriate data and entering the number of hours worked. Click Copy Last Sheet if you want to duplicate the configuration from the last pay period.

QuickBooks™ Time Tracker offers another way to save time and avoid errors. Employees can send their timesheets from any computer that has an Internet connection. Your staff who handles payroll can then download and incorporate them into the company's payroll. Prices start at $10/month for one user.

Whether you're bringing employees in for seasonal help or your regular payroll incorporates time worked as well as items sold, QuickBooks™ contains the tools you need to both invoice customers accurately and dispatch proper paychecks.

If you need help with this feature, or you have any questions on QuickBooks's reporting, don't hesitate to give us a call.

Save Time for Summer by Memorizing Transactions

Unfortunately, your work with QuickBooks™ doesn't end just because it's summer, the weather's great, and school's out. But there are ways to minimize your time spent managing your money and maximize your time at the beach. Memorizing transactions is one such way. When you memorize a transaction, QuickBooks™ remembers all of the relevant details and either processes it automatically or reminds you that it's due.

A memorized transaction could be bills that show up in the same amount every month, like your Web-hosting payment, or obligations that change regularly, like your utility bill. You can specify the amount due if it's static, or leave the amount open if it regularly changes, making this feature very flexible and easy to set up.

Jog your memory

Once you start teaching Quickbooks to memorize transactions, you'll wonder why you didn't use this handy feature before. Say you want to automate your electric bill. First, create a transaction without an amount, like the one shown in Figure 1. Click the Edit menu, and then click Memorize Bill. The dialog box shown in Figure 15 opens.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 15:

To memorize a bill payment that changes regularly, fill out the transaction form minus the amount.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 16:

When you click Edit/Memorize Bill, this dialog box opens.

The vendor's name appears in the Name field. If you want a more descriptive name so you'll recognize it in a list, change it here. You have a few decisions to make in order to set up the repetitive transaction:

  • Do you want QuickBooks™ to remind you in advance of the bill's due date? Click Remind Me. If not, click Don't Remind Me. And if it's a bill whose amount remains the same every time, you can click Automatically Enter. If the transaction is a part of a group you've created, click the With Transactions in Group button.

  • How often do you pay this bill? Generally, it will be monthly, but QuickBooks™ gives you several options.

  • Check the Number Remaining box if you have a transaction with a finite number of payments, such as paying off a company vehicle.

  • How much warning do you want? Enter a number in the Days In Advance To Enter field.

  • If you've created a group and you want this transaction to be a part of it, select the name from the drop-down list.

When you want to use a memorized transaction, click the Lists menu, then Memorized Transactions List to open the dialog box shown in Figure 17. You can also "memorize" repetitive reports. Open the report you want to work with by clicking, for example, Reports/Company & Financial/Profit & Loss YTD Comparison. A dialog box like the one in Figure 18 opens. Accept the name presented, or change it to one that you'll more easily recognize. If you want to save reports in groups you've created, like Accountant, select the group from the drop-down list.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 17:

The Memorized Transactions List allows you to customize to your preference.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 18:

The Memorize Report dialog box...

Thanks for the memories

Memorized transactions and reports can not only save you time for more summer adventures: They provide another way for QuickBooks™ to give you a quick look at what you owe and are owed, and how your company is performing overall.

Is It Time to Adjust Your Pricing? How QuickBooks™ Can Help

Changing the prices of your company's services and inventory items can solve one of two problems, depending on why you're looking for a solution. Say your materials suppliers have upped their prices. You may choose to increase your affected products to maintain your profit margin. Or maybe an item or service has not been moving well. A drop in price might trigger improved sales.

Those examples, of course, are simplifications of what needs to be a thoughtful, studied process. They're critical business decisions that should be made with the guidance from your trusted ProAdvisor. We're not experts in just QuickBooks™ - we also understand the flow of profit and loss, and we can be valuable allies in your battle for continued growth.

We'll explore the tools that QuickBooks™ offers to help simplify price changes once your decisions have been made. They're not overly difficult to use, but we want to ensure your intentions are carried out accurately. And there are related inventory issues that may be impacted by your modifications.

First Steps

First, make sure that QuickBooks™ is set up to accommodate price levels. Click Edit | Preferences and select Sales & Customers in the left vertical pane. Then click the Company Preferences tab. You'll see the window shown in Figure 1.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 19:

Before attempting price level changes, be sure the Use price levels box is checked. If it's not already checked, click on the box next to Use price levels. Then click OK.

Multiple Options

QuickBooks™ offers options related to item price changes. You can simply alter the cost of one item, or you can modify several at once. Your adjustments can be in the form of either percentages or fixed amounts.

There are two ways to get to the price-changing window. You can click the Customers menu, then Change Item Prices. Or you can select the Items & Services icon from the home page. If you do the latter, simply open the Activities menu at the bottom of the screen and select Change Item Prices to see a window similar to the one shown in Figure 20.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 20:

The Change Item Prices window displays lists of your products.

By opening the drop-down list below Item Type, you can select the desired type of product: Service, Inventory Part, Inventory Assembly, Non-Inventory Part, or Other Charges.

Targeting Your Changes

Once you've selected the right type, click in the column next to the item(s) you want to change. A check mark will appear. If you want to increase or decrease the prices of all of them, click next to Mark All at the bottom of the screen, as pictured in Figure 21.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 21:

Click the box next to Mark All if you want to change the prices of all entries.

Based on your discussions with us, you should now know how you want to adjust the selected price(s). You may have just decided on a new price, in which case you can simply enter it in the New Price column.

Here's an alternative. In the box to the right of Adjust price of marked items by (amount or %), enter either an individual number to increase by that amount, or a number with a % sign after it to up it by that percentage. To decrease the cost, enter a negative number.

The next step is a little trickier. If you simply want to alter the price of an entry based on its current sales price, leave the Current Price option showing in the next box. But if you want to change it based on its Unit Cost, you'll have to consult us or do some digging to learn what that is.

If you want the resulting numbers to be rounded up, click the arrow next to Round up to nearest. When you're satisfied with your work, click Adjust to see your changes reflected in the New Price column. Make any desired modifications, then click OK.

One Exception

Of course, no existing transactions will be altered. But if any of your newly priced items or services occur in memorized transactions, you'll have to edit them. Go to Lists | Memorized Transaction List. Highlight the affected transaction, then right-click and delete it. Enter a new transaction and memorize it again. If you know only that transaction will be affected, you can select Edit Memorized Transaction instead of deleting it.

Don't know where all of those items occur? Go to Edit | Find to locate them as shown in Figure 22.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 22:

You can easily find items in memorized transactions using the Find tool.

Making price changes in QuickBooks™ - even global ones - isn't terribly difficult, but it involves a business decision that's best made in conjunction with us. It can lead to increased profitability no matter which direction you go, as long as you take into account the issues and potential outcomes involved.

Turn Over a New Cliche: Adopt Best Practices

Turn over a new leaf. Make a New Year's Resolution. Make a fresh start. Get your ducks in a row. All familiar cliches, but their message is valid: At this time of year, you probably feel like renewing your commitment to running a more successful, productive business.

There are numerous ways to do this, but you might consider adopting the concept of best practices (if you haven't already). Most industries have them, primarily larger businesses. Best practices are a set of operational guidelines that are expected to produce a favorable outcome. Run your business using these techniques or methods, and you're likely to be more successful.

Accounting has best practices. While they're not carved in stone, sticking with some tried-and-true, common-sense procedures will likely lead to increased efficiency. Perhaps adopting some or all of them will make a difference in your business. QuickBooks™ can help.

The Three I's

Let's look at the three stages you'll encounter when you decide to apply best practices to your company.


What problems are you trying to solve? Where are your bottlenecks? Are collections a problem? Cash flow? Timely, accurate payroll? Have you seen a reduction in your customer base? Are your bills being paid late? Having trouble keeping up with inventory?

Bring your employees in on this process. They're on the front lines, and will have insight into where your systems are breaking down. They'll be pleased to be asked, and they may have ideas that will evolve into best practices.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 23:

When you're formulating ideas that could evolve into best practices, use your best resource: your employees.


Turn your ideas into policies, and formalize them. Make a big deal out of introducing them to all staff related to accounting, and explain the rationale behind them. They're intended to improve your company's financial bottom line, which should translate into a positive outcome for everyone. Don't turn your presentation into a critique of past performance; emphasize the constructive nature of the changes. Put it in writing, too.

Here are some examples of best practices that other businesses have implemented.

  • Invoice at the time of service/shipment, instead of once or twice monthly.

  • Set a specific time interval to deal with collections, like once a week. If you're running QuickBooks 2011, you can use the Collections Center. Previous versions have numerous helpful reports, like A/R Aging Detail, Open Invoices, and Collections Report.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 24:

QuickBooks™ 2011 features the automated Collections Center.

  • Estimate your income tax obligation monthly, not just quarterly. When payments come due, there won't be any major surprises.

  • Make sure everyone who works with accounting has a backup person who can fill in. Consider having us do the training.

  • If you don't have a merchant account - which QuickBooks™ supports - get one, and encourage customers to pay in this fashion. Pay your bills the same way wherever possible. Use all of the technology that makes sense for you.

  • When it's logistically possible, have employees who incur billable time use a timer. A few minutes lost here and there adds up. QuickBooks™ has a built-in timer; remote employees can use Time Tracker.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 25:

Have employees time billable activities whenever possible.

  • When was the last time you looked at your pricing structure? Are you building in enough profit? Evaluate your selling ratios on a schedule. Run inventory reports regularly.

See? It's not rocket science. It's a matter of emulating the practices of the most successful businesses. You might network with other companies to see how they handle this formalizing of processes. Talk to us, too.


Don't leave it at that. Evaluate the effectiveness of the new best practices by scheduling follow-up meetings with employees. What's working, and what isn't? Do you need to tweak your methods?

This step is absolutely critical. You might want to appoint a compliance officer who follows up with individual employees and departments. If your business is small and informal, you could bring in lunch one day a month for follow-up - and for the development of new best practices.

Not just for mega-companies

You may already know something about best practices, but have always assumed that the concept was designed for big business. While it may be more of an imperative for large companies, even a sole proprietor with a bookkeeper can benefit. It's really just a matter of putting the most effective work processes into place and maintaining them. Implementing best practices can be a good first step towards a more successful 2011. Call us if you have any questions.

Using the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries Feature

Data entry and modifications in QuickBooks™ can be tedious. Beginning with QuickBooks™ 2010 Pro Edition and above, that job got a lot easier. The Add/Edit Multiple List Entries tool does just what its name implies: It lets you add entries to your lists of customers, vendors, services, inventory parts, and non-inventory parts. It also makes changing one or several of them quick and easy.

Using this feature, you can:

  • See customized views of your list data
  • Enter missing information
  • Create new entries from duplicates of existing ones
  • Do a mass change of a whole column
  • Copy and paste records from Excel

There are a myriad of applications for this tool. You could use it, for example, when you're changing Preferred Vendors for a group of items and you don't want to edit each individual item record. Or, when the area code for select customers or vendors has changed. You could use it if you're adding an inventory item that's just slightly different from another, or when your accountant tells you to change the name of an account.

Building the perfect view

To get started, click Lists | Add/Edit Multiple List Entries. In the screen that opens, click the arrow next to the List box and select the type of data you want to see, like Customers. Then select the group that you want displayed by dropping the View list down. Click the Customize Columns button. This window opens:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 26:

Make sure your columns are correct and in the right order.

The list on the left represents all possible column labels. To make the list on the right reflect what you want to see in your table, highlight the correct item and use the Add or Remove buttons and the Move Up or Move Down buttons. When you're satisfied, click OK. The table will change to display those columns in that order.

TIP: You may have a lot of empty space between columns. To close those gaps, put your cursor on the faint vertical line that separates two column names. A cross-like symbol will appear. Drag it left or right until the columns are positioned well.

Let's say that a customer commissions a new job. Since so much information will remain the same as in previous jobs, you can duplicate her record. Highlight the last entry in her list of jobs and right-click. Select Duplicate Row. The new entry will contain her default information, except the name will change to DUP [NAME OF PREVIOUS JOB]. Change that phrase to the name of the new job and click Save Changes if you're done.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 27:

It's easy to duplicate an entry's information.

Mass changes

You may occasionally want to make the same change to a subset of records. Say a city's zip code changed and you want to find the customers affected. You'd open the Customers list, click on the View arrow and select Custom Filter. Then:

  • In the Search list, choose from All, Active, etc.
  • In the For box, enter the common attribute, like the zip code.
  • Click on the arrow next to the in box, and tell QuickBooks™ where you want to search (address fields, all common fields, etc.).
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 28:

You can search for a group of entries that share a common characteristic.

  • Click Go. QuickBooks™ will display a list of all of the matching entries.
  • Make your change to the entry at the top of the list, then right-click on it. You'll see this menu:
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 29:

Copy Down command changes all entries in a column to match the top one.

When you select Copy Down, all of the entries duplicate the first one in the list.

Some housekeeping

Anything you change in these views, as long as you click Save Changes, will be reflected throughout QuickBooks, wherever that record appears. If you've made an error, like using a dollar sign, you'll get a message telling you to fix it.

You can use Add/Edit Multiple List Entriesin other ways. For example, it's a good way to see how thorough your recordkeeping is. Take a look at your lists occasionally to spot missing data. Or say you were at a trade show and signed up new customers, but you didn't have QuickBooks™ on your laptop so you entered them in Excel. Once you've made sure that your column names and order in Excel match those displayed in Add/Edit Multiple List Entries, you can just copy and paste the new customers in.

This feature is easy to use, but be cautious. We can help with complex modifications. Add/Edit Multiple List Entries is one of the ten best features QuickBooks™ has incorporated in recent years. It's an easy way to get a birds' eye view of your lists, and a great time-saver.

Tracking Bills in QuickBooks, Worth the Effort

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 30:

Next to payroll, paying bills is probably your least favorite task in QuickBooks. You don't have to use this feature -- you can keep stacking bills on your desk, scrawling the due dates on a paper calendar, and writing checks.

If you're still operating this way, though, you're missing out on the numerous tools that QuickBooks™ offers to track your accounts payable, including the ability to:

  • Enter bills as they come in
  • Set reminders for bills due
  • Pay bills easily
  • Locate a bill or payment quickly
  • Enter bills as (or after) you receive items
  • Link bills to purchase orders
  • Have instant access to a bill's status

Receiving the goods

When an expense bill comes in (from a utility company, for example), click the Enter Bills icon on the home page, or Vendors | Enter Bills. A window like the one displayed above opens. Select the vendor and fill in the blanks. Make sure that the Expenses tab below is selected and the appropriate account number and amount fields are completed. If it's a bill for an item that already has a related Item Receipt (the shipment preceded the bill), QuickBooks instructs you to use Vendor | Enter Bill for Received Items. Follow the prompts.

Note: Dealing with incoming inventory is complex. Consult with us if you plan to use this feature.

If the bill came simultaneously with items, click Vendors | Receive Items and Enter Bill. When you select the vendor from the list, this box opens (if you have sent a purchase order):

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 31:

QuickBooks™ is telling you that you have open orders with this vendor.

Click Yes. The Open Purchase Orders box opens, containing a list of open POs. Select the one(s) you want and click OK. The bill form opens, containing the details of that purchase order. Change quantities if they don't match the shipment, and edit other fields as necessary. Save the bill.

Settling your debts

It's good to set reminders for bills. Go to Edit | Preferences and click Reminders. Make sure that the Show Reminders List...box is checked, then click Company Preferences. Find the Bills to Pay row and enter the advance notice you'd like. Indicate whether you want to see a list or a summary, then click OK.

When bills are due, click the Pay Bills icon or select Vendors | Pay Bills. A window opens displaying all outstanding bills. You can pare this down by selecting a date in the Due on or before field and filtering by vendors. The screen will look something like this:
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 32:

You can easily select the bills you want to pay. Enter a check mark next to the bills you're paying, and change the amount in the Amt. To Pay field at the end of the row if necessary

At the bottom of the screen, you can set the payment date and type, use any discounts or credits, and make sure the correct payment account is selected. When you're done, click Pay Selected Bills.

Tip: You can have credits and discounts automatically applied by going to Edit | Preferences | Bills.

After You've Paid Up

There are a number of places where your bills appear in QuickBooks, including:
  • The Unpaid Bills Detail report
  • The A/P Aging Detail report
  • The Vendor Center
  • QuickReports
  • In the Recent Transactions pane of some forms
  • On the bills themselves
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 33:

QuickBooks™ displays the Paid status of bills.

QuickBooks also lets you void and delete bills, and copy and memorize them. Check with us before voiding and deleting, as this can make some complicated changes in your accounts.

You can just pay bills by using Banking | Write Checks or Enter Credit Card Charges. But the payoff for tracking bills is instant access to your accounts payable status, better relations with vendors, and a more insightful accounting of your company's cash flow.

Classes or Types? When To Use Them in QuickBooks

QuickBooks' standard reports are critical to understanding your company's past, present, and future. But the program also offers innovative tools that can make them significantly more insightful and comprehensive.

QuickBooks™ offers two simple conventions that let you identify related data: classes and types. Classes are used in transactions. Types are assigned to individual customers, vendors, and jobs.

For example, you might use classes to separate transactions that relate to different departments, locations, or types of business. A construction company might want to track classes using New Construction, Remodel, and Overhead. Your customer types might help you isolate groups by characteristics like Industry or Geographical Location.

Creating Classes

First, make sure that QuickBooks™ is set up to use classes. Go to Edit | Preferences | Accounting | Company Preferences. Make sure that Use class tracking is checked. If you want to be prompted for a class designation in transactions, check that box, too. QuickBooks™ already contains a Type field in customer, vendor, and job records.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 34:

To create a class, just give it a name and click OK

It's easy to build lists of options for both. To define classes, go to Lists | Class List. In the bottom left corner of the screen, click on Class, then select New from the menu. You'll see this: Let's say that you're a contractor and you want to separate remodeling jobs into room types, like Bathroom or Kitchen. Go through the above steps again. Enter "Bathroom" in the Class Name field and click the box next to Subclass of. Open the list and choose "Remodel." Click OK.

Tip: If your class list grows lengthy and you want to tidy it up, you can make classes that you're not currently using inactive by checking the box in this window. It will remain in your QuickBooks™ records and can be reactivated again.

Putting Classes to Work

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 35:

You can assign different classes to individual line items in transactions.

Now you can use classes in transactions. Open a blank invoice and select a customer. The Class field will be next to the customer name. If the entire invoice will be assigned to the same class, click the drop-down list and select it. You can also assign separate classes to individual line items: Not all invoice templates include a column for classes. You can add this by selecting the invoice form you want to modify and clicking Customize in the toolbar.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 36:

You can filter by class in QuickBooks™ reports.

QuickBooks™ comes with two reports specially designed for tracking class-based transactions: Profit & Loss by Class and Balance Sheet by Class (both can be found in the Reports menu, under Company & Financial). Of course, you can filter other reports to include a class column. You can also create a QuickReport for individual classes. Go to Lists | Class List and select a report or graph.

Warning! The Balance Sheet by Class report is complicated and may produce unexpected results. Let your ProAdvisor help you work with this one. They can also help you set up a solid class structure.

A Simpler Assignment

Customer, vendor, and job types are a bit less complicated. Job types are especially useful; you can track, for example, profitability and time spent on individual projects. Customer and vendor types can produce output for things like targeted mailings and reports.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 37:

Customer, vendor, and job types are specified in their records.

Creating types is very similar to creating classes. Go to Lists | Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, and select the type you want to work with. You'll follow the same instructions here as you did for classes. Types do not appear on transactions; they're designed for your own internal use, and they're stored in records. Classes and types can be used very effectively in your bookkeeping, but they require a good deal of thought and planning upfront to get accurate, meaningful reports. Let your ProAdvisor know if he/she can assist as you attempt to use these powerful forms of classification.

QuickBooks™ Tips And Tricks: Make it Yours

No matter which version of QuickBooks™ you're using, there are always ways to make your workday easier. As with any software, we tend to learn the features we need and not much more. But small changes in the way you operate can add up to significant time savings and more accurate files. If you jumped into QuickBooks™ without a thorough introduction, consider these tips.

Use the Open Window list

Spend some time in Preferences, and you'll be surprised to learn that you have more flexibility than you knew. QuickBooks™ is designed to work for a tremendously wide variety of businesses, so it comes with some features activated but many dormant.

The Open Window list is a good example. Do you tire of closing windows to find a screen that you used several tasks ago? Make sure that you're in one-window view (View | One Window), and then click View | Open Window List. Click on any entry to move to that page.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 38:

The Open Windows list lets you easily move among active screens

Make account assignment mandatory

QuickBooks™ lets you enter transactions without assigning them to accounts. So your Chart of Accounts has two accounts labeled Uncategorized Income and Uncategorized Expenses that serve as repositories for these transactions. This means that when you run reports or prepare for taxes, you may have a hard time remembering the circumstances of those transactions and will find it difficult to assign them to accounts.

Do yourself a favor. Set up QuickBooks™ so that you must assign an account to every transaction. This will take extra time upfront, but not as much as if you try to recall the transaction three months from now. Go to Edit | Preferences | Accounting | Company Preferences and make sure that Require Accounts is checked. If you have questions on this, please call or email us.

Use the Account Prefill fields

Speaking of accounts, here's a little time-saving tip. If you have vendors that are always assigned to the same account(s), you can establish this constant in the vendor record. Simply open the Edit Vendor window for a client and click the Account Prefill tab. Select the appropriate selection(s) from the drop-down lists. If a payment is sometimes split between multiple accounts, you'll handle this division when you add transactions.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 39:

Designate vendor accounts to save time when creating transactions

Use "Pending Sales"

Invoices, sales receipts and credit memos can be earmarked as "pending." These sales do not show up in registers or reports (except for the Pending Sales report) and can't be used for transactions where payment has already been applied. Create the transaction and click Edit | Mark [form name] As Pending. To finalize it, open the form and click Edit | Mark [form name] As Final.

This action can be useful in multiple situations, including:

  • Backordered items
  • Draft approvals
  • Estimates
  • Time-tracking for jobs
  • Profit and loss reports that show the impact of pending sales (choose Either as the posting status [Non-posting or Posting] under Filters)
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 40:

You can mark a payment as "pending" in several situations

Be kind to your accountant: Set a closing date

Once we've worked with your QuickBooks™ file up to a certain date, entering, editing or deleting transactions prior to that date wreaks havoc with the balance of your books. To be safe, your administrator should password-protect the ability to do this, so that no one does this intentionally or unintentionally. Go to Edit | Preferences | Accounting | Company Preferences and enter a closing date and password. We will change the date each time we complete our work.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 41:

Password-protect closed periods to preserve the accuracy of your books

These are just a few examples of ways you can customize QuickBooks™ to make your workdays more productive and your record-keeping safer and more reflective of your business. We can help you further tailor the software to make it a better fit.

If you have questions on this or any other QuickBooks™ feature, call or email us. We're your partner and we're here to make your business better.

Modifying Reports: Better Insight Into Past, Future

If you make one resolution about improving your accounting procedures in 2012, it should be this: Make extensive use of the tools that QuickBooks™ offers for report modification. Comprehensive, meticulously-shaped reports that flow out of your carefully-constructed records and transactions are your reward for pounding on the keys every day, conscientiously recording income and expenses.

QuickBooks™ supplies you with a wide variety of pre-formatted reports whose modification options can help you do focused, critical analysis of your financial data. The right set of numbers will help you understand your history and plan for the future more effectively.

Note: The reports discussed and pictured here shows only one possible set of customization options. There are many variations. We can answer your questions.

Check your preferences

When you created your company file in QuickBooks, you chose between reporting on a cash (income and expenses are recorded when money changes hands) or accrual (recorded when you invoice or receive a bill) basis. This affects summary reports, but not those that break out individual transactions or are simply lists.

If you want to change this, click Edit | Preferences | Reports & Graphs | Company Preferences and click the desired button:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 42:

You can establish a preference for your summary reports' basis here.

You can set other preferences in this window that will affect your report output here, too, as you can see.

Altering the display

Open the Income by Customer Summary report (Reports | Company & Financial). Change the dates to reflect a range you'd like to see. Want the data displayed by different time increments -- like week or quarter -- instead of just the total? Click the arrow next to Columns and select Four week.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 43:

You can do some report display alterations from this toolbar; the options it offers vary by report.

By default, your report rows display alphabetically. If you want to view a column by total in ascending or descending order, select the column by hovering over the top number until the magnifying glass appears, and click on it. Click the arrow next to Sort by and choose Total, then click the AZ [down arrow] icon (in some reports, there will be other options here).

Additional options in this toolbar let you:

  • Memorize the report
  • Print, email or export it to Excel
  • Hide or Show the Header
  • Collapse or Expand the columns
  • Refresh the report if you've made changes that will alter data

More display options

Click Customize Report to open this window:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 44:

This window outlines your report's content options.

Some of the options here duplicate what you saw in the toolbar. In addition, you can switch between Accrual and Cash for just this report, and add subcolumns in some. The latter is a complicated operation, one that you must understand well in order to glean any insight from it. We can help you with this.

Sometimes the subcolumns are generic, as shown in the screen above. In other reports, they're very specific to that group of data.

Clicking on Revert takes you back to the default format, and Advanced opens additional options specific to the current report.

More customization = more insightful results = more informed financial choices

Transaction reports have many similarities and two major differences: You can change the column order by hovering your cursor over the column label until a hand appears. Click, hold and drag the column to the desired spot and let go. You can also add or delete columns by clicking Customize Report and checking or unchecking labels.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 45:

In transaction -- or detail -- reports, you can alter the column structure.

Learn the mechanics of report display modification well, and your company's finances will come into much sharper focus, improving the wisdom of future choices. Up next month: filtering your reports for additional clarity.

If you have questions on this or any other QuickBooks™ feature, call or email us. We're your partner and we're here to make your business better.

Portable Productivity: Smartphones Do Invoices, Expenses, Time Billing

Accounting in the cloud is closer than you might think. In fact, it's here, in some cases. QuickBooks Online, of course, is entirely cloud-based, but it does not yet offer all of the features found in Intuit's top-of-the-line products, Premier and Enterprise.

In the meantime, Intuit itself, as well as third-party developers, have built online apps that fill in some of the gaps. These add-on solutions exist on websites, but they can collect data and synchronize it with desktop QuickBooks. So can that iPhone or Android that's sitting on your desk right now.

Many Mobile Applications

To find these apps, go to the Intuit App Center and click on All Apps. There are dozens of them, arranged by category (Billing and Invoicing, Customer Management, Inventory Management, Apps by Intuit, etc.).

Your first stop should be at Intuit's QuickBooks™ Connect (this is the name of the online application that you'd use on a remote PC or laptop; the name of the smartphone app is QuickBooks Mobile). This app gives you easy access to your customer and sales data when you're away from your office.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 46:

QuickBooks™ Mobile, shown here on the Android operating system, gives you sales tools when you're away from desktop QuickBooks.

Remote Sales Tools

Whether you're working in web-based QuickBooks™ Connect or on a smartphone, your data and transaction options are similar. QuickBooks™ Connect has a few more features, like an Item List and Customer Center, but both let you:

  • Access multiple company files
  • View, add, and edit customers, estimates, invoices, and sales receipts, using QuickBooks' custom templates
  • E-mail these forms to customers

QuickBooks™ Mobile and QuickBooks™ Connect use the Intuit Sync Manager -- located on the desktop where QuickBooks™ is installed -- to keep data current everywhere. That computer must be running for syncs to work.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 47:

You can create and e-mail invoices from QuickBooks™ Mobile.

Manage Travel Expenses

Concur Breeze grabs the data you need (customers, employees, jobs, etc.) from QuickBooks™ to record expenses on the road. You can enter charges directly into a form or snap a picture with your phone -- it'll be attached to your expense report. These charges are then sent to a report template that thoroughly documents the charge, letting you specify variables like the trip purpose, travel policy type, project and client. The status of your approval and payment are also included here.

You can send travel itineraries from your free TripIt Pro account and credit card charges directly to an existing expense report to accelerate the process. And once an expense report is approved, money can be moved automatically from the designated company bank account to an employee's account. $8 per month per user; free 30-day trial.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 48:

Concur Breeze provides mobile expense management.

Mobile Time-Tracking

If your company has employees or contractors who work remotely and submit hours for approval, consider eBillity Time Tracker for Intuit QuickBooks. After it pulls in customers, service items, and employees from QuickBooks, you can invite workers to track their time on their smartphones by either entering it manually or using the timer, and then sync it with the online application.

Mobile workers can use the application in offline mode; entries are uploaded when they reconnect. Prices start at $10/month for Admin and one user.

Backup or Portable Company File? How to Decide

When you think about it, it's pretty amazing that Intuit is able to pack the lion's share of your financial data into one giant company file. Certainly makes it easier to separate from QuickBooks™ and move when necessary.

There are actually three options for saving and relocating that file. You know about backups, since you should be producing them religiously. You generate them so that if QuickBooks™ -- or your computer itself --- stops working or your file becomes corrupt, you can re-create the entire environment. Portable company files are more limited, and are best used when you want to save your file to a temporary location and/or email it to someone else.

You would only use an Accountant's Copy, of course, when you want us to check your progress. We'll work with you on setting this up.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 49:

Once you save and send off an Accountant's Copy, you can't work on transactions created before the dividing date.

The Critical Backup

We can't emphasize this enough: Losing your financial data can be the beginning of the end of your company. You won't know what you're owed, so you'll be unable to collect. You'll miss vendor payments. Payroll will be impossible to reconstruct, and you won't be able to submit payroll taxes. And how will you know what your income tax obligation is?

It can happen to you.

QuickBooks™ simplifies this process. Click File | Create Backup You'll be asked whether you want to back up locally -- to a network folder or thumb drive, for example -- or to the cloud, using Intuit Data Protect (fees apply). If you select the local preference, click on Options to designate a location in this window:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 50:

Choose from options in this window to create a backup profile.

Click OK, then Next. QuickBooks™ will ask when you want to save your backup copy and offer scheduling options. When you're done, click Finish.

Warning: If you're using Intuit Sync Manager, there are special rules about copying the company file. Let us help you handle this safely.

Just the Facts

Portable company files are more compact than backup files, so they can be easily e-mailed as attachments or copied onto another computer. But they don't contain everything that backups do. They lack, for example, letters, logos, attachments, images and templates. Don't use this option if changes will be made, since they can't be merged back into the file.

Be sure to create a current backup before you begin to move your file.

To save a portable company file, click on File | Create Copy (you can do this to copy any kind of file, actually). This window opens:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 51:

Click File | Create Copy to access any of QuickBooks' three options.

Select Portable company file and click the Next button. In the following window, you'll browse to a location for your file. QuickBooks™ will already have entered the name and will save your data in .qbm format. Click Save, then OK when QuickBooks™ tells you it must close and reopen your file first. Click OK again when you're told that the file has been created.

Opening the File Elsewhere

When you're ready to open the file at another location, click File | Open or Restore Company In the window that opens, select Restore a portable file. The Open Portable Company File window opens; make sure that the file's location is displayed in the Look in: field. Click Open. QuickBooks™ then asks where you want to restore the file.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 52:

The following step is critical. Rename your file unless you want to overwrite your current company file. You can add a date or some other identifying information like a version number.

Click Save. QuickBooks™ will convert your portable file to a standard company file with a .qbw extension.

QuickBooks™ makes it easy to create copies of your data, but an error here can threaten your company's future. We can help ensure that that doesn't happen.

QuickBooks™ Can Do Much More Than You Think

Zero In On Key Report Figures

You've undoubtedly created reports that were so lengthy that you got tired of scrolling up and down to find totals for each individual section. QuickBooks™ lets you collapse and expand reports to see primary totals only, but this command affects the entire report.

If you want to just collapse a section or two, here's how you do it. As an example, go to Reports | Company & Financial | Balance Sheet Standard. In QuickBooks™ 2012, you'd click the Excel button (your version may say Export). Indicate that you want to create a new worksheet and click Advanced. This window opens:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 53:

Be sure to enter a figure in the Reorder Point field so QuickBooks™ can remind you to reorder.

Make sure that Auto Outline (allows collapsing/expanding) is checked, then click OK and start the export. When your report opens as an Excel spreadsheet, you'll notice that there is a series of vertical lines to the left of your data, and a group of numbers that corresponds to them running above horizontally.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 54:

Excel's Auto Outline feature adds tools to the left of your data that let you collapse and expand subsections.

To collapse a section so that only the totals show, click on the minus (-) sign next to the line that should remain (in this example, it's Total Checking/Savings). Do the same for Total Accounts Receivable and Total Other Current Assets. Then scroll down and do the same thing for the other asset subtotals. Here's what you'll see:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 55:

As you can see, the minus (-) signs have turned into plus (+) signs, which allows you to expand the rows back to their original states.

Auto Outline is a very useful feature, but there's more than one way to implement it. And its availability and operation can vary in different versions of both Excel and QuickBooks. We can help you master this, as well as other QuickBooks-to-Excel tools.

Hidden Gems

Here are some other less-commonly-used QuickBooks™ features that you may want to try:

  • Getting ready to send an invoice but want to check a related transaction from the same job a few months ago? You could use the Find tool, which is a seriously underused feature that can often answer a question quickly. But that takes a few clicks. Instead, just hit Ctrl + L, and that Customer/Job screen pops open in the Customer Center. Click Ctrl + E from that screen to see the Edit Job dialog box.
  • CTRL+Y on transaction screens opens the Transaction Journal, which shows you the behind-the-scenes debits and credits. If the Account column is truncated, click and drag the little diamond symbol to the right.
  • QuickBooks™ offers numerous helpful payroll reports, but it also transfers your data into Excel for more comprehensive views of your employee compensation information over customizable date ranges. Go to Reports | Employees & Payroll | Summarize Payroll Data in Excel and More Payroll Reports in Excel.
    QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

    Figure 56:

    Summarize Payroll Data in Excel is actually a series of reports, available by clicking this navigational bar at the bottom of the screen.

  • Allowing multiple windows in QuickBooks™ and tired of clicking the little x repeatedly to start with a clean slate? Click Window | Close All. This drop-down menu also displays the list of open windows; click on one to go there.
  • There may be no more frustrating task than reconciling your bank accounts. If you're using online banking, consider doing this more than once monthly. Also, don't let QuickBooks™ do an automatic adjustment for a considerable discrepancy unless it was a mistake made by a financial institution: Click the Undo Last Reconciliation button and try to find the error. And don't forget about the Leave button. You may do better attacking it later.
  • If you occasionally need to enter a transaction for an entity that isn't a customer, vendor or employee, go to Banking | Other Names List. You can add, edit and delete these, as well as converting them to customers, vendors or employees.

There's more than one way to do a lot of things in QuickBooks. We can tell you about more, and evaluate your workflow to see how else we can improve your accounting experience.

Receiving Payment from Customers in Quickbooks

Undoubtedly, there are some QuickBooks™ tasks that are more enjoyable than others. It's no fun paying bills, for example, and making collection calls on unpaid invoices can be downright unpleasant.

But you probably don't mind recording payments after all of your hard work creating products or providing services, sending invoices or statements, and generating reports to make sure you're on top of it all.

QuickBooks™ offers more than one way to document customer remittances, and it's important that you use the right one for the right situation.

Defining the destination

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 57:

Uncheck the box on the farthest right if you think you may want to direct payments to other accounts sometimes.

Before you begin receiving payments, you need to make sure they will end up in the correct account. The default is an account called Undeposited Funds. To make sure that this setting is correct, open the Edit menu and select Preferences, and click the Company Preferences tab. Use Undeposited Funds as a default deposit to account should have a check mark in the box next to it.

If you think you'll sometimes want to deposit to a different account, leave the box unchecked. Then every time you record a payment, there will be a Deposit to field on the form. Talk to us if you're planning to use any account other than Undeposited Funds, as you can run into serious problems down the road if payments are earmarked for the wrong account.

The right tool for the job

Probably the most common type of payment that you'll process will come in to pay all or part of an invoice or statement that you sent previously.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 58:

You'll record payments on invoices you've sent in this window.

To do this, open the Customers menu and select Receive Payments. In the window that opens, click on the arrow in the field next to RECEIVED FROM to display the drop-down list, and choose the correct customer. You'll see the outstanding balance. Enter the amount of the payment you received in the AMOUNT field and change the date if necessary. Click the arrow in the field next to PMT. METHOD, and then select the type of payment.

If you established a credit card as the default payment method in the customer record, the card number and expiration date will be filled in. If not, or if a check was submitted, enter the information requested.

Any outstanding invoices will appear in a table. Make sure that there's a check mark in front of the correct one(s). If the customer only made a partial payment, you'll have to indicate how you want to handle the underpayment. Here are your options:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 59:

ou can select how to handle partially-paid invoices here.

When you're done, save the payment.

Instant income

There may be times when you receive payment immediately, at the time your products or services change hands. In these cases, you'll want to use a sales receipt. Open the Customers menu again and click Enter Sales Receipts.

Select a customer from the drop-down list or add a new one, then fill out the rest of the form like you would an invoice, selecting the items and quantities sold, and indicating the type of payment made (cash, check, credit).

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 60:

Fill out a sales receipt when payment is received simultaneously with the sale.

Other scenarios

These are the most common methods of receiving payments from customers, and you may never have to do anything other than simple payment-recording and sales receipts.

But unusual situations may arise that leave you stumped. For example, a customer may want to make a partial, advance payment before you've created an invoice or at the same time you're entering it. In a case like this, you'll have to create a payment item so that the money you've just received is reflected on the invoice. Or you may get a down payment on a product or service, or even an overpayment.

Let us help you when such situations occur. It's much easier and more economical for you to spend some time with us before you record a puzzling payment than to have us track it down later on. We'll help ensure that your money makes it to the right destination.

5 Ways to Accelerate Your Receivables in QuickBooks

If you asked five small business owners to name the top three roadblocks they face in their quest for ongoing profitability, it's likely that all five would point to slow payments.

It's everyone's problem. Accounts receivable requires constant monitoring. As satisfying as it can be to dispatch a group of invoices, you know that it's going to take some work to bring in payment for at least some of them.

By using QuickBooks' tools and complying with accounting best practices, you'll be more confident during the invoicing stage that what you're owed will actually be in your bank account in a reasonable amount of time. Here are five things that we suggest.

Let customers pay invoices electronically

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 61:

You're likely to get paid faster if you let customers pay electronically when they receive an invoice. Go to Edit | Preferences | Payments | Company Preferences.

A few years ago, this was a good idea. In 2014, when people have stopped carrying checkbooks and are accustomed to using their mobile devices to pay for merchandise, it's become almost required. Whether or not you know it, you're probably losing some business if you don't have a merchant account that supports credit and debit card payments, and possibly e-checks.

If you have an online storefront, you've undoubtedly been accepting plastic for a long time now. Not many shoppers want to place an order on a website and hunt for envelopes and stamps and blank checks to complete it. If you invoice customers, it's just as critical that you allow them to remit payment ASAP.

Not set up with a merchant account yet? We can help you get started with the Intuit Payment Network.

Keep a close watch on your A/R reports

Part of being proactive with your accounts receivable is being vigilant and informed. Create and customize A/R reports regularly. When you customize your A/R Aging Detail report, for example, in addition to the other columns that you include, be sure that Terms, Due Date, Bill Date, Aging and Open Balance are turned on (click Customize Report | Display and click in front of each column label).

You should also be looking at Open Invoices and Collections Report frequently, or assigning someone else to monitor them closely. We can help here by creating more complex financial reports periodically, like Statement of Cash Flows.

Send statements

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 62:

In this window, QuickBooks™ wants you to create filters to identify customers who should receive statements. Here, everyone with transactions that are more than 30 days old will be included.

Invoices are generally the preferred way to bill your customers, but you should consider sending statements in addition when customers have outstanding balances past a certain date. QuickBooks™ sometimes calls these reminder statements. You're not providing the recipients with any new information; you're simply sending a kind of report that lists all invoices sent, credit memos and payment received.

To generate statements, click Customers | Create Statements. You'll see the window pictured above. You can send statements to everyone, a defined group or one customer, and you can define the past-due status that you want to target in addition to other options.

Send accurate invoices the first time

Few things will slow down your accounts receivable more than incorrect invoices. The customer can wait until payment is almost due to dispute the charges, which means that they'll probably get another 15 or 30 days (or whatever their terms are) to pay the amended bill.

So whoever is responsible for creating invoices needs to be checking and re-checking them. If it's logistically possible depending on your workflow, have them verified by a second employee.

Offer discounts for early payment and assess finance charges

Offering discounts is a balancing act. You'll be getting less money for your sale--even 5 percent multiplied by many customers can add up--but it may make sense financially for you to take a small hit in return for being able to deposit the payment sooner. We can help you do the math here.

To offer this, you'll have to set up your discount scenario as a Term option (Lists | Customer & Vendor Profile Lists | Terms List), as seen here:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 63:

This Standard discount term gives customers a 5 percent discount if their invoice is paid within 10 days.

To make a customer eligible for the discount, open the Customer Center and double-click on a customer, then on Payment Settings | Payment Terms.

You might also want to be assessing finance charges. The revenue you bring in from finance charges will probably be negligible. But sometimes, just knowing that a late payment will be more costly may prompt your customers to settle up in a timely fashion.

Whatever approaches you choose to accelerate your receivables, be consistent. If any of your customers should compare notes, you want to be regarded as being firm but fair.

Spring-Clean Your QuickBooks™ Company File

Come spring time, most people are eager to throw open the doors and windows, and do some spring cleaning. It's a good time to "spring clean" Quickbooks as well.

It's not difficult to see when your home needs cleaning, but QuickBooks™ company file errors are harder to detect, including:

  • Performance problems
  • Inability to execute specific processes, like upgrading
  • Occasional program crashes
  • Missing data (accounts, names, etc.)
  • Refusal to complete transactions, and
  • Mistakes in reports.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 64:

If some transactions won't go through when you click one of the Save buttons - or worse, QuickBooks™ shuts down - you may have a corrupted company file.

Call for Help

The best thing you can do if you notice problems like this cropping up in QuickBooks--especially if you're experiencing multiple ones--is to contact us. We understand the file structure of QuickBooks company data, and we have access to tools that you don't. We can analyze your file and take steps to correct the problem(s).

One of the reasons QuickBooks™ files get corrupt is simply because they grow too big. That' either a sign of your company's success or of a lack of periodic maintenance that you can do yourself. QuickBooks contains some built-in tools that you can run occasionally to minimize your file size.

One thing you can do on your own is to rid QuickBooks™ of old, unneeded data. The software contains a Condense Data utility that can do this automatically. But just because QuickBooks™ offers a tool doesn't mean that you should use it on your own.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 65:

Yes, QuickBooks™ allows you to use this tool on your own. But if you really want to preserve the integrity of your data, let us help.

A Risky Utility

The program's documentation for this utility contains a list of warnings and preparation steps a mile long.

We recommend that you don't use this tool. Same goes for Verify Data and Rebuild DataUtilities menu. If you lose a significant amount of company data, you can also lose your company. It's happened to numerous businesses.

Be Proactive

Instead, start practicing good preventive medicine to keep your QuickBooks™ company file healthy. Once a month or so, perhaps at the same time you reconcile your bank accounts, do a manual check of your major Lists.

Run the Account Listing report (Lists | Chart of Accounts | Reports | Account Listing). Are all of your bank accounts still active? Do you see accounts that you no longer used or which duplicate each other? Don't try to "fix" the Chart of Accounts on your own. Let us help.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 66:

You might run this report periodically to see if it can be abbreviated.

Be very careful here, but if there are Customers and Vendors that have been off your radar for a long time, consider removing them, but only once you're sure that your interaction with them is history. Same goes for Items and Jobs. Go through the other lists in this menu with a critical but conservative eye. If there's any doubt, leave them there.

A Few Alternatives

There are other options. Your copy of QuickBooks™ may be misbehaving because it's unable to handle the depth and complexity of your company. It may be time to upgrade. If you're using QuickBooks™ Pro, move up to Premier. And if Premier isn't cutting it anymore, consider QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions.

There's cost involved, of course, but you may already be losing money by losing time because of your version's limitations. All editions of QuickBooks™ look and work similarly, so that your learning curve will be minimal.

Also, try to minimize the number of open windows that are active in QuickBooks. That will improve your performance. And what about your hardware? Is it getting a little long in the tooth? At least consider adding memory, but PCs are cheap these days. If you're having problems with many of your applications, it may be time for an upgrade.

A Stitch in Time...

We've suggested many times here that you contact us for help with your spring cleanup. While that may seem self-serving, remember that it takes us a lot less time and money to take preventive steps with your QuickBooks™ company file than to troubleshoot a broken one.

8 QuickBooks™ Reports You Should Run Regularly

You send invoices because you sold products and/or services. Purchase orders go out when you're running low on inventory, and there are always bills to pay, it seems like. All of this activity is, of course, important in itself, but all of your conscientious bookkeeping culminates in what's probably the most critical element of QuickBooks: your reports.

Reports can tell you how many navy blue sweatshirts you sold in March, what you paid for health insurance premiums in the first quarter, and how much you bought from your favorite vendor last month. They're very good at drilling down to get the precise set of numbers you need.

But carefully customized and properly analyzed reports can do more than tell you how many golf clubs to order and when it's time to switch phone services. They can help you make the business decisions that will help you take your growing company to the next level. There are several that you should be looking at regularly, some of which you can interpret easily and use in your daily workflow. We'll help you with the interpretation of the more complex financial reports.

Who Owes Money?

That's probably a question you ask yourself every day. You don't necessarily have to run the A/R Aging Detail report every day, but you'll want to run it frequently. It tells you who owes you money and whether they've missed the due date (and by how many days).

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 67:

By running the A/R Aging Detail report, you can see whether you need to follow up with customers who have past due invoices.

As with any report, you can modify it to include the columns, data set and date range you want by clicking the Customize button. When you create a report in a format that you think you might want to run again, click the Memorize button. Enter a name that you'll remember, and assign it to a Memorized Report Group.

Getting There

There are two ways to find the reports you want to see. You can open the Reports menu and move your cursor down to the category you want, like Customers & Receivables, which will open a slide-out menu of options there.

Or you can open the Report Center, which lets you explore reports in more depth. Each is represented by a small graphic with four icons under it. You can:

  • Run the report with your own data in it
  • Open a small informational window
  • Designate it as a Favorite, and
  • View QuickBooks™ help.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 68:

If you access QuickBooks™ reports through the Report Center, you'll have several related options.

Other accounts receivable reports that you should consult periodically include Open Invoices and Average Days to Pay.

Tracking What You Owe

Reports can also keep you up-to-date on money that you owe to other people and companies. An important one is Unpaid Bills Detail, accessible through the Vendors & Payables menu item. Though you can modify its columns, this report basically tells you who is expecting money from you, the date the bill was issued and its due date, any number assigned to it, the balance due, and relevant aging information.

Vendor Balance Detail is critical, too. This report displays every transaction (invoices, payments, etc.) that contribute to the balance you have with each vendor.

Standard Financial Reports

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 69:

We hope you'll let us help you by running and interpreting these standard financial reports.

QuickBooks™ report categories include one labeled Company & Financial. These are reports that you can run yourself, but they're critical for understanding your company's financial status. We can customize and analyze these for you on a regular basis so you'll know where you stand. They include:

  • Balance Sheet. What is the value of your company? The balance sheet breaks out this information by account (under the umbrella of assets, liabilities and equity).
  • Income Statement. Often referred to as Profit & Loss, this shows you how much money your business made or lost over a specific time period.
  • Statement of Cash Flows. How much money came in and went out during a specified time range?

Reports can only generate information about what you've entered in QuickBooks™ and exactly where it's been entered. So it's crucial that you follow standard accounting practice as you proceed through your daily workflow. We're always available to answer questions you have about QuickBooks' structure and your activity there. Your reports--and your critical business decisions--depend on it.

5 Ways You Can Use QuickBooks' Income Tracker

One of the reasons that QuickBooks™ appeals to millions of small businesses is because it offers multiple ways to complete the same tasks, which accommodates different work styles. Say, for example, you wanted to look up a specific invoice. You could:

  • Go to the Customer Center and select the customer, and then scan through the list of transactions,
  • Use the Find feature (Edit | Find), or
  • Create a report.

There's also another way you can get there if you have a recent version of QuickBooks: the Income Tracker. (Note: Only the Administrator or a staff member with the correct permissions can access this feature. Talk to us about whether to allow other employees to use it, and how to set that up.)

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 70:

QuickBooks' Income Tracker provides a visual overview of your company's income.

That's the first thing you can do with QuickBooks' Income Tracker. To get there, either click the link in the vertical navigation bar or go to Customers | Income Tracker.

Four colored bars across the top of the screen represent unbilled estimates, open invoices, overdue invoices, and invoices paid within the last 30 days. Each bar contains two numerical values: the number of transactions of that type and the dollar amount involved.

QuickBooks™ defaults to displaying all types of transactions, but when you click on a bar, the screen changes to show only that type of transaction.

You can also filter the table of transactions using the drop-down lists below the colored bars. Your choices here include Customer:Job, Type, Status (Open, Paid, etc.) and Date (range). Click the arrow to the right of each filter's label to display your options.

The column labels below these lists will change depending on the transaction type that's active.

More Functionality

The Income Tracker is great for simply viewing groups of transactions; double-clicking on one will open the original form. You can also open them by selecting an action to take. For example, open your estimates list and click on a transaction to highlight it. Then click the arrow next to Select in the Action column at the far right end of the row.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 72:

You can modify transactions like estimates from within the Income Tracker.

If you choose the first option here, QuickBooks™ opens a small window that asks you whether you'd like to create an invoice for 100 percent of the estimate, a percentage of it, specific items, or percentages of each item. When you make your selection and click OK, a completed invoice form opens, which you can then check over and save.

As you can see above, you can also mark the estimate as inactive, print it, or email it.

Each transaction type supports a different set of actions. In the open invoice action column, as you'd expect, you can click the option to Receive Payment, which opens the Customer Payment window with the customer and amount due already filled in. This can be edited to reflect a different amount, or you can just accept it as is, then save it.

Flexible Forms

You can even create a new transaction within the Income Tracker. Click on the arrow next to Manage Transactions in the lower left corner of the screen and select the form you want.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 72:

You can open new transaction screens from within QuickBooks' Income Tracker.

The Income Tracker also provides one of the fastest ways to print multiple forms. Just select the transactions you want to print by clicking in the box in front of them, and then click the arrow next to Batch Actions in the lower left corner.

Finally, you can edit transactions from here, too. Either double-click on one or select it and click Edit Highlighted Row in the Manage Transactions menu.

QuickBooks' Income Tracker doesn't do anything that can't be done another way in the program. But it provides an excellent one-glance view of the current state of your receivables movement.

If you're consistently seeing patterns that you don't like, call us. We can evaluate your receivables process and suggest ways to accelerate it. Even if your sales aren't increasing, getting that "PAID" stamp on invoices quickly will improve your cash flow and strengthen your confidence as a business manager.

Billing for Time in QuickBooks: An Overview

If your small business sells products, you know how precisely you must track your starting stock numbers, ongoing inventory levels, and your reorder points. QuickBooks™ provides tools to help with this process, but human factors can sometimes throw off your careful counts.

Fortunately, QuickBooks™ is remarkably flexible when it comes to recording the time your employees spend on customers and jobs. You can enter information about a single activity -- either billable or unbillable -- and/or document hours in a timesheet. A built-in timer (the "Stopwatch") helps you count the minutes automatically; you can also type them in manually.

One Work Session

All versions of desktop QuickBooks™ include dialog boxes designed to help you enter all the details related to a single timed activity. To get there, either open the Employees menu and select Enter Time | Time/Enter Single Activity or click the down arrow next to the Enter Time icon on the Home Page and choose Time/Enter Single Activity.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 73:

uickBooks helps you create records for individual activities completed by employees, which can be either billable or unbillable.

You fill out the fields in this window like you would any other in QuickBooks. Click the calendar icon in the DATE field to reflect the date the work was completed (not the current date), and click the down arrows in the fields that contain them to select options from a list. If you already know the duration of the activity, simply enter it in the field to the right of the clock icon. Otherwise, use the Start, Stop, and Pause buttons to let QuickBooks™ time it.

The Time/Enter Single Activity dialog box is designed to record one activity, not necessarily an entire workday, unless an employee only provides one service for one customer in a day. If he or she provides more than one service for one or more customers, you'll need a fresh record for each.

Note: If the employee selected is timesheet-based, an additional field will appear above the CLASS field asking for the related PAYROLL ITEM. And if you've turned on workers' compensation (and the employee is timesheet-based), a field titled WC CODE will drop into place below it. This must be done absolutely correctly, and it can get complicated. We can help you manage this feature.

A Comprehensive View

At the top of the Time/Enter Single Activity dialog box, you'll see an icon labeled Timesheet. If you click on this with an employee's name selected, his or her timesheet will open and display the hours already entered for that period. Or you can open a blank timesheet by opening the Employees menu and selecting Enter Time | Use Weekly Timesheet. You can also click the Enter Time icon on the Home Page.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 74:

You can access an employee's timesheet from the Time/Enter Single Activity dialog box, from the Employees menu, or from the Home Page.

If you've entered all of the hours individually for an employee in a given time period, the timesheet should be correct when you click through from the Time/Enter Single Activity box. If not, you can edit cells by clicking in them and changing the data. Be sure that the Billable box is checked or unchecked correctly.

You can also enter hours directly on a timesheet instead of recording individual activities. Just select the employee's name by clicking on the arrow in the NAME field at the top of the Weekly Timesheet dialog box and fill in the boxes.

Note: Individual activities that you enter for employees are automatically transferred to the timesheet format and vice-versa.

Billing for Time

QuickBooks™ keeps track of all entered billable hours and reminds you of them when it's time to invoice. If customers have outstanding time and/or costs, this dialog box will open the next time you start to create an invoice for them:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 75:

This dialog box is one of the ways QuickBooks™ helps you bill customers for everything they owe.

QuickBooks™ also provides several reports related to billing for time. We'll be happy to go over them and--as always--help with any other questions you might have.

Depositing Payments in QuickBooks: The Basics

Satisfying though it may be to enter all of those customer payments manually on a paper deposit slip, it can also be tedious and time-consuming. The more successful in business you are, the more time and care it takes.

Whether you accept cash, checks, or credit/debit cards, QuickBooks™ has tools that help you streamline the process of moving the funds into your physical bank accounts. In fact, part of your job is done when you enter the payments on the Receive Payments or Sales Receipt screens.

An Important Decision

When you record a payment in QuickBooks, you can enter it in one of two ways. Ask us if you are not certain which one best suits your business. Payments can be deposited:

  • In a specific bank account. QuickBooks™ lets you specify an individual account for each transaction. If you select this option, a box labeled DEPOSIT TO will appear on the Sales Receipt and Receive Payment screens. Select an account from the drop-down list, and your payment will be automatically deposited into it.
  • QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

    Figure 76:

    You can choose to deposit customer payments to specific accounts.

    In Undeposited Funds. This is an asset account that can hold multiple payments, but they are not automatically deposited.

If you decide to have all payments sent to the Undeposited Funds account, you can establish that as your default. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences | Payments | Company Preferences. Then make sure that the box in front of Use Undeposited Funds as a default deposit to account is checked.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 77:

Check the box on the right if you want payments sent to the Undeposited Funds asset account. You will make the actual deposits later. If this box is not checked, a DEPOSIT TO field will appear on the Sales Receipt and Receive Payments screens.

Other Deposits

What about money you receive that is neither payment on an invoice you sent nor payment for an item or service received immediately? There are many situations where this might be the case, including:

  • Vendor refunds, rebates, etc.,
  • Unsolicited donations [for non-profits], or
  • An owner's investment in the business.

To record incoming funds like these, open the Banking menu and select Make Deposits to open the Payments to Deposit window. Click OK to skip to the Make Deposits window.

Complete the Deposit To, Date, and Memo fields, then click in the table below them if you have not already used the Tab key to get there. Use the drop-down lists to select (or add) the individual or company who submitted the payment, the account where it should be tracked, the payment method, and the amount. Enter any additional information needed, fill in the optional Cash back goes to fields, and then save the transaction.

Note: While you are working in the Make Deposits window, you can click the Payments button at any time to open a new window containing customer payments that need to be deposited if you want to process them simultaneously.

You may also want to use the Attach tool for miscellaneous payments to store related documentation.

Depositing Undeposited Funds

You should process your Undeposited Funds on a regular basis, whether every day, every few days, or weekly, depending on your banking needs. To do this, go to Banking | Make Deposits.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 78:

You can either view all of the unprocessed payments in Undeposited Funds in a single list, or you can display them by type.

The Payments to Deposit window will open if you have pending payments in your Undeposited Funds account. Put a check mark in front of all of the payments you want to deposit by clicking in the column to the left of the DATE column.

Click OK, and the Make Deposits window will open, displaying the payments you just chose. As we instructed previously, select the account where you want the money deposited and the date, add a memo, and request cash back if desired. Save your work when you are finished.

These are the steps you will take to deposit payments by cash and check. If you are planning to open a merchant account so you can accept debit and credit cards, the process is similar, but there are additional steps you must take to ensure that your books balance.

We can show you the ropes and answer any other questions you have about depositing payments. You work hard for your money, so make sure you see it in your bank accounts.

Receiving Payments in QuickBooks

There are numerous ways to prioritize your workday. Do the most difficult things first. Get important phone calls out of the way. Respond to customer emails.

But it's likely that one activity takes precedence when you see that it needs to be done: recording payments. While you're probably very careful with this process, it's critical that your actions here are accurate. If they're not, you could either lose money that you've earned or anger customers by requesting payments they’ve already made.

QuickBooks™ comes with some helpful pre-defined payment types; however, you also have the flexibility to edit that list and add new types. To see your list, open the Lists menu and select Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, then Payment Method List. This window opens:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 79:

To make changes to this list, click the down arrow to the right of Payment Method.

By selecting items from this menu, you can add, edit, and delete payment methods. You can also make one temporarily inactive if for some reason you're not going to support that option right now but don’t want to delete it, either. Click in the box next to Include Inactive if you want it to remain on the list (an X will appear next to it). When you want to reinstate it, open the Payment Method menu again and select Make Payment Method Active.

To search for every transaction that used a specific payment method, highlight it in the list and select Find in Transactions. QuickBooks™ will open the Find window with that filter already applied.

When you're done working with that window, click the x in the upper right to close it.

Applying the Funds

Ideally, you or someone on your staff will be working frequently with the Receive Payments screen frequently. To get there, open the Customers menu and select Receive Payments, or click Receive Payments on the home page. This is the screen you will work with if you're recording a payment that is to be applied to an invoice that you sent.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 80:

The Receive Payments screen in QuickBooks

First, select a customer by clicking on the down arrow in the field to the right of RECEIVED FROM. If there are outstanding invoices, they will appear in the table below. Enter the PAYMENT AMOUNT in the field below, and change the date if necessary. Click on the icon representing the payment method. If you don't see it there, click the down arrow below MORE and add it or select it. Your chosen icon will turn green. Then:

  • For cash or e-checks: Just enter any REFERENCE # needed.
  • For checks: Enter the CHECK #.
  • For credit/debit cards: If you've saved the customer's preferred payment method in his or her record, the number will fill in automatically. If not, or you need to change it, enter it manually. As you know, you need a merchant account in order to accept credit/debit cards and e-checks. If you haven't set one up and want to, let us help.

If the payment amount equals the total of all outstanding invoices, there will be a check mark in the first column of every line in the table. If the payment is for any less than the CUSTOMER BALANCE in the upper right, QuickBooks™ automatically pays the oldest invoice(s) first. You'll also see an UNDERPAYMENT box in the lower left corner. Click the button in front of your preference here (leave as underpayment or write off the extra).

When you're done, click one of the Save buttons.

Other Types of Payments

You'll also use the Receive Payments window to record down payments and overpayments. And there are situations where you'll have to complete other forms to document the incoming money. For example, if a customer makes a partial payment for products or services that haven't yet been invoiced, you'd use a Payment Item. A customer who pays for a product at the time it is received would get a Sales Receipt.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 81:

Sales receipts go to customers who pay for products or services at the time they are received.

This may all sound a little confusing. But it won't be if you gain a thorough understanding of the right way to record different types of payments. We can go over all of this with you to ensure that your incoming money is documented correctly, which will take less time than trying to retrace your steps when a mistake has occurred.

How QuickBooks™ Helps You Accelerate Receivables

You're meeting your sales goals. Keeping inventory balanced. Making sure that every billable hour gets invoiced. Taking advantage of vendor discounts. Basically, doing everything in your power to keep cash flow humming.

But you can't control how quickly your customers pay you.

You can, though, use QuickBooks' tools to:

  • Make it easier for customers to remit their payments,
  • Remind customers about unpaid balances, and
  • Keep a close eye on unpaid invoices.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 82:

QuickBooks™ lets you accept payments from customers in multiple forms. Accepting credit cards and e-checks is likely to speed up your receivables.

Process Plastic

You can, of course, offer customers a discount for paying early. That may work in some cases. But accepting credit cards and e-checks is likely to be more effective. It also has other positive impacts on your business, including:

A more professional image. What do you think when you purchase goods or services from a business that doesn't accept credit cards? In 2015, this is unusual. It may make customers wonder why. And you work too hard to preserve your reputation to give anyone reason to question your standing.

Time savings for you. How much time do you spend logging checks and running to the bank with deposits? It's must faster to simply record a credit card payment.

Convenience and goodwill for customers. Your customers will appreciate the time that they'll save, which translates to a feather in your cap.

There are extra costs associated with setting up what's called a "merchant account." And you'll have to learn how to set up an account and process payments. But once you've done so, you'll be able to invoice customers in QuickBooks™ and let them pay immediately by credit card. If you ever have occasion to accept payments out of the office, you'll be able to use your smartphone or tablet to accept them.

We'd like to see you take this positive step for your business, so let us know when you're ready. We'll help with setup and implementation.

Send Statements

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 83:

You have a lot of options to choose from when you create statements in QuickBooks.

This may be an area of QuickBooks™ you've never explored. Statements are just what they sound like: detailed summaries of what each customer owes over a period of time that you email or print and send by U.S. Mail.

QuickBooks™ makes this very easy. Start by either clicking the Statements icon on the home page or by opening the Customers menu and selecting Create Statements. The window above appears, laying out the three steps required:

  • SELECT STATEMENT OPTIONS. Be sure that the Statement Date is correct. Then indicate whether you want your statements to include transactions within a specified date range or all transactions are past due by more than a specified number of days.
  • SELECT CUSTOMERS. You can generate statements for one customer, all customers, or a designated group in between.
  • SELECT ADDITIONAL OPTIONS. You'll have several decisions to make here about your statements' content and appearance. Let us know if you have questions about any of these.

Track Outstanding Receivables

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 84:

When you create the Open Invoices report, make sure that the Aging and Open Balance columns will display.

As a small business owner and/or manager, there are certain QuickBooks™ reports that you should be looking at frequently. One of them, Open Invoices, gives you an instant status update on your outstanding receivables. But it's important that you set up the report to give you the exact information you need.

Open the Reports menu and select Customers & Receivables | Open Invoices. If you need to change the date range, click the down arrow to the right of the Dates field in the upper left to display your options and choose and then click Customize Report above that. The window pictured above opens. Grab the scroll bar under COLUMNS and move it down until you see Aging and Open Balance. If there are no check marks in front of them, click in the column to create them.

There are other reports you'll want to look at regularly as you try to accelerate incoming customer payments, like A/R Aging Summary and A/R Aging Detail. If we're not already working with you on reports, creating and analyzing the critical financial reports that we should be generating monthly or quarterly, let's set up a meeting.

Call the office today if your copy of QuickBooks™ needs a tune-up at the same time to ensure that you can keep accepting those payments accurately.

What QuickBooks' Calendar Can Do for You

These days, some of us find ourselves updating multiple calendars. There's the Outlook calendar or other web-based solution for scheduling and task management. Or, maybe a smartphone app to track a "to-do" on the road with a paper calendar as backup.

But where do you keep track of your everyday financial tasks? Including these in your scheduling calendars and/or task lists will make for very crowded screens, not to mention how inconvenient it can be to keep switching between applications.

Consider adding one more tracking tool: the QuickBooks™ calendar. This graphical screen isn't designed for data entry (except for the to-do list); rather, it's designed to give you a quick overview of your financial activity, both historically and in the future.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 85:

The QuickBooks™ calendar consists of two parts.

The graphical calendar itself displays one of three types of entries: Entered, Due, or To Do. The number in parentheses refers to the number of each type that occurred or will occur that day. Details of each entry appear below; double-clicking on one opens the original form.

Calendar Setup

Before you start using the QuickBooks™ calendar, you should designate your display and content options. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences | Calendar. Make sure that the My Preferences tab is active.

Click on the arrows to the right of every field to open the menu that displays your choices. The first of these are:

  • Calendar view. Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Or do you want QuickBooks™ to remember the last view that was open?
  • Weekly view. Should the calendar only display the primary workdays or all seven?
  • Show. What items would you like to have displayed on the calendar? It defaults to All Transactions, but you can filter it by transaction type.

You can also specify whether you want past due and upcoming entries to be included, and for how many days.

Tracking your "To-Do"

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 86:

You can create to-do items and have them appear on the QuickBooks™ calendar.

The QuickBooks™ calendar also offers tools for creating a to-do list of several types (call, fax, email, meeting, appointment, or task). These will appear on the calendar unless you filter them out.

Tip: The link that opens the to-do window is somewhat hard to find, but is located in the lower right corner of the graphical calendar.

Click on Add To Do to get started. The window pictured above opens. Click the arrow to the right of the field under TYPE and select the type of to-do that you want to define. You can also select a PRIORITY level if you'd like.

Below those two fields is a small box to the left of WITH. If you want to connect that activity to a customer, vendor, or employee, click in the box and select the type. Then click the arrow next to the field below it and choose the correct individual or company.

You aren't required to create this link; you can simply designate your to-do type and enter a DATE, TIME, and DETAILS. The activity will still appear on your QuickBooks™ calendar. But if you do associate it with a specific entity, like a customer, it will appear in that customer's record when you click on the To Do tab.

A Word About Reminders

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 87:

You can get advance notice of scheduled financial activities by setting up Reminders. Go to Edit | Preferences | Reminders | Company Preferences.

The QuickBooks™ calendar is not really a reminder tool. You'll need to use QuickBooks' Reminders to get help with advance notice of due dates.

But the calendar will display the actual due dates for transactions. If you've entered a bill that's due on February 28, for example, the word Due will appear on that date in the graphical calendar; the number of transactions due will appear in parentheses after it. All entries for that day appear in a list below. To see the original form, you'd double-click on the one you want to see.

Using Reminders in conjunction with the QuickBooks™ calendar can help you stay current with sales and purchases - if you have you due dates established in a way that will be good for your cash flow. Call the office if you need help scheduling incoming and outgoing payments in a way that will work to your advantage.

Creating Customer Statements in QuickBooks

Let's say you have a regular customer who used to pay on time, but he's been hit-and-miss lately. How do you get him caught up?

Or, one of your customers thinks she's paid you more than she owes. How do you straighten out this account?

Both of these situations have a similar solution: QuickBooks™ Statements. QuickBooks' statements provide an overview of every transaction that has occurred between you and individual customers during a specified period of time. They're easy to create, easy to understand, and can be effective at resolving payment disputes.

A Simple Process

Here's how they work. Click Statements on the home page, or open the Customers menu and select Create Statements. A window like this will open:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 88:

QuickBooks™ provides multiple options on this screen so you create the statement(s) you need.

First, make sure the Statement Date is correct, so that your statement captures the precise set of transactions that you want. Next, you will need to tell QuickBooks™ what that set is. Should the statement(s) include transactions only within a specific date range? If so, then click the button in front of Statement Period From, and enter that period's beginning and ending dates by clicking on the calendar graphic. If you would rather, you can include all open transactions by clicking on the button in front of that option. As you can see in the screen shot above, you can choose to Include only transactions over a specified number of days past due date.

Choosing Customers

Now, you need to tell QuickBooks™ which customers you want to include in this statement run. Your options here are:

  • All Customers.
  • Multiple Customers. When you click on this choice, QuickBooks™ displays a Choose button. Click on it, and your customer list opens in a new window. Click on your selections there to create a check mark. Click OK to return to the previous window.
  • One Customer. QuickBooks™ displays a drop-down menu. Click the arrow on the right side of the box, and choose the correct one from the list that opens.
  • Customers of Type. Again, a drop-down list appears, but this one contains a list of the Customer Types you created to filter your customer list, like Commercial and Residential. You would have assigned one of these to customers when you were entering data in their QuickBooks™ records (click the Additional Info tab in a record to view).
  • Preferred Send Method. E-mail or Mail?

Miscellaneous Options

At the top of the right column, you can select a different Template if you would like, or Customize an existing one. Not familiar with the options you have to change the layout and content of forms in QuickBooks? Let one of our QuickBooks™ experts introduce you to the possibilities.

Below that, you can opt to Create One Statement either Per Customer or Per Job. The rest of the choices here are pretty self-explanatory--except for Assess Finance Charges. If you have never done this, then it may be helpful to call the office and arrange for a QuickBooks™ pro to work with you on this complex process.

When you are satisfied with the options that you have selected in this window, click the Preview button in the lower left corner of the window (not pictured here). QuickBooks™ will then prepare all the statements in the background, and display the first one. Click Next to view them one by one. At the bottom of each, you will see a summary of how much is due in each aging period, like this:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 89:

It is easy to see how much each customer is past due within each aging period. This summary appears at the bottom of statements.

After you have checked all the statements, click the Print or E-mail button at the bottom of the window.

Other Avenues

Your company's cash flow depends on the timely payment of invoices. Sending statements is only one way to encourage your customers to catch up on their past due accounts. There are many others, like opening a merchant account so customers can pay you online with a bank card or electronic check. If poor cash flow is threatening the health of your business, a QuickBooks™ professional can help.

5 QuickBooks™ Reports You Need to Run in January

Getting all of your accounting tasks done in December is always a challenge. Besides the vacation time you and your employees probably took for the holidays, there are those year-end, Let's-wrap-it-up-by-December-31 projects.

How did you do last month? Were you ready to move forward when you got back to the office in January? Or did you run out of time and have to leave some accounting chores undone?

Besides paying bills and chasing payments, submitting taxes and counting inventory in December, there is another item that should have been on your to-do list: creating end-of-year reports. If you didn't get this done, it's not too late. It's important to have this information as you begin the New Year. QuickBooks™ can provide it.

A Report Dashboard

You may be using the Reports menu to access the pre-built frameworks that QuickBooks™ offers. Have you ever explored the Report Center, though? You can get there by clicking Reports in the navigation toolbar or Reports | Report Center on the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 90:

QuickBooks' Report Center introduces you to all of the software's report templates and helps you access them quickly.

As you can see in the image above, the Report Center divides QuickBooks' reports into categories and displays samples of each. Click on one of the tabs at the top if you want to:

  • Memorize a report using any customization you applied.
  • Designate a report as a Favorite.
  • See a list of the most Recent reports you ran.
  • Explore reports beyond those included with QuickBooks, Contributed by Intuit or other parties.

Recommended Reports

Here are the reports we think you should run as soon as possible if you didn't have a chance to in December:

Budget vs Actual

We hope that by now you've at least started to create a budget for 2018. If not, the best way to begin is by looking at how close you came to your numbers in 2017. QuickBooks™ actually offers four budget-related reports, but Budget vs Actual is the most important; it tells you how your actual income and expenses compare to what was budgeted.

Budget Overview is just what it sounds like: a comprehensive accounting of your budget for a given period. Profit & Loss Budget Performance is similar to Budget vs Actual. It compares actual to budget amounts for the month, fiscal year-to-date, and annual. Budget vs Actual Graph provides a visual representation of your income and expenses, giving you a quick look at whether you were over or under budget during specific periods.

Income & Expense Graph

You've probably been watching your income and expenses all year in one way or another. But you need to look at the whole year in total to see where you stand. This graph shows you both how income compares to expenses and what the largest sources of each are. It doesn't have the wealth of customization options that other reports due, but you can view it by date, account, customer, and class.

A/R Aging Detail

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 91:

QuickBooks' report templates offer generous customization options.

Which customers still owe you money from 2017? How much? How far past the due date are they? This is a report you should be running frequently throughout the year. Right now, though, you want to clean up all of the open invoices from 2017. A/R Aging Detail will show you who is current and who is 31-60, 61-90, and 91+ days old. You might consider sending Statements to those customers who are way past due.

A/P Aging Detail

Are you current on all of your bills? If so, this report will tell you so. If some bills slipped through the cracks in December, contact your vendors to let them know you're on it.

Sales by Item Detail

January is a good time to take a good look at what sold and what didn't in 2017 before you start placing orders for 2018. Make sure you watch this closely throughout the year because looking at monthly and annual totals will help you identify trends--as well as winners and losers.

QuickBooks™ offers some reports in the Company & Financial and Accountant & Taxes categories that you can create, but which really require expert analysis. These include Balance Sheet, Trial Balance, and Statement of Cash Flows. You need the insight they can offer on at least a quarterly basis, if not monthly. If you need assistance setting up a schedule for looking at these, please contact the office.

Tracking Time in QuickBooks, Part 1

When you sell a product to a customer, you know it. It goes away, and your inventory count in QuickBooks is reduced by one. This tracking helps you know what is selling and what is not, and it signals when a reorder is due.

If your business provides services to customers, though, you are selling your employees' time and skills. There's no inventory count; you can sell as many hours as you have workers to fill them. Tracking time accurately and comprehensively, though, is as important as knowing how many hard drives or tote bags you've sold.

QuickBooks™ contains tools to help you record the hours employees spend doing work for customers, so you can bill them for services rendered. You can also use these same features to enter employee time for payroll purposes. The software offers two options here: single-activity records and timesheets.

Building the Foundation

QuickBooks' Preferences have been many times before. The software was designed to support small businesses with a wide variety of structures and needs, so it needs to be flexible. For that reason, we always recommend that you check in with your "Preference" options before you explore new features.

To get to the preference options open the Edit menu and select Preferences. In the left vertical pane, click on Time & Expenses, then on the Company Preferences tab at the top. Take a look at the top part of the window that opens:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 92:

The Company Preferences window for Time & Expenses displays multiple options.

To make sure that QuickBooks' time-tracking features are turned on before you start, click the button next to Yes under Do you track time? Specify the First Day of Work Week by opening that drop-down list. If you know that all your time entries will be billable, click in the box in front of that statement.

The other options in that window will be discussed next month in Part 2.

Creating Service Items

Before you can start tracking billable time, you have to create a record for each service offered--just like you would for a physical product. Click the Items & Services icon on the home page or open the Lists menu and select Item List. The window that opens will eventually display a table containing all the items and services you've created.

To define a service item, click Item in the lower left corner, then New, to open a window like this:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 93:

You can create numerous types of items in QuickBooks; Service is one of them.

Click the down arrow in the field under Type to see your options here. There are many, ranging from Service to Inventory Part to Sales Tax Group. Select Service. In the field under Item Name/Number, enter a word or phrase and/or number that describes the service, and that won't get confused with another.

If you had already created an item like "New Construction Services" and you wanted "Carpet Installation" to appear as a subitem of it, you would click in the box in front of Subitem of to create a check mark, then open the drop-down list below it and select "New Construction Services."

Ignore the Unit of Measure section. If this designation is important to your business, call the office about upgrading your version of QuickBooks. Contact the office as well, if the service you are defining is used in assemblies or is performed by a subcontractor or partner, as these are more advanced situations.

Enter a brief Description in that box and your hourly charge--to the customer--in the field to the right ofRate. Click the down arrow in the field next to Tax Code to select the item's taxable status.

It is very important that you get the next field right. QuickBooks™ wants to know which account in your company's Chart of Accounts should be assigned to this item. In this case, it would be "Construction Income." If you are not yet familiar with the concept of assigning accounts, please call to set up a session with a QuickBooks™ pro in the office to deal with this and other basic knowledge you should have.

When you are done, click OK.

Stay tuned for next month when the focus is on entering time items in records and timesheets.

Tracking Time in QuickBooks, Part 2

Last month, we learned about getting QuickBooks™ ready for time-tracking by activating it in Preferences and creating a record for a service item. This month, the focus is on using that record in the two different ways you will be using it in QuickBooks: to pay employees for their hourly work and to bill customers for services.

Recording Employee Hours

There are two ways to enter hours for your employees who provide services to customers and are paid by the hour. The first is to create a work ticket for a single activity. Click Enter Time on the home page, and then Time/Enter Single Activity to open this window:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 94:

Single-activity work tickets for employee hours are especially useful if you need to set a timer.

First, check the date to make sure it displays the day when the work was actually done, not recorded. Click the arrow in the field next to Name and select the employee's name from the drop-down list that opens, then do the same in the Customer:Job field below. The Service Item field needs to display the name of the service performed by the employee.

If you want to time a period of activity, use the Start, Stop, and Pause buttons under Duration. You can also replace the 0:00 that appears by default with the number of hours and minutes that were worked.

In the middle column, select the correct Payroll Item from the drop-down list. You can add a new employee if necessary without completing his or her entire record, but be sure to go back and complete it before your next payroll.

Hidden behind the drop-down menu is a field titled WC Code, which stands for Workers' Compensation Code. It will only appear if you are using QuickBooks™ Enhanced Payroll and have that feature turned on.

Tip: If these two fields do not appear, you have selected an employee who is not timesheet-based.

In the upper right hand corner, you will see a field labeled Billable. Be sure you click in the box to create a checkmark if you will be invoicing a customer for the work done.

Save the activity record when you have completed it.

Using Timesheets

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 95:

You can enter employees' hours directly on a timesheet instead of creating a single activity record.

QuickBooks™ offers a second option for entering employee hours: timesheets. You will notice that there is a Timesheet icon in the toolbar of the Time/Enter Single Activity window. If you click on it with a completed record open, a new window opens containing a graphical representation of a paper timesheet.

If you enter employee hours in a single activity record, they will appear on a timesheet, and vice versa. There are two advantages to entering hours directly on the timesheet, though. The first is that it is faster. Second, you can click the Copy Last Sheet icon if you are just going to duplicate an employee's previous pay period's hours. If you want to go there straight from the home page, click Enter Time | Use Weekly Timesheet.

Billing Customers for Time

QuickBooks™ makes it easy to transfer billable hours worked by employees to the corresponding customers' invoices. After you have entered blocks of time spent on services, open an invoice form and select the customer. This window will open:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 96:

Once you've entered billable hours worked by an employee, simply open an invoice form and select that customer to open this window.

By default, Select the outstanding billable time and costs to add to this invoice? is checked. When you click OK, a new window opens displaying a grid that contains all of that customer's billable time. You can Select All or click in front of each entry you want to include. You will notice here that there are also tabs on the grid for Expenses, Mileage, and Items that can be billed back to the customer.

If you choose not to carry billable hours over to the invoice at the present time, you can always add them by clicking Add Time/Costs in the invoice's toolbar.

Questions? One of our QuickBooks™ experts is always available to help ensure that you are billing customers for all costs they incur--and to talk about any other element of accounting that affects your cash flow.

5 QuickBooks™ Online Reports You Should Run Regularly

QuickBooks™ Online's Dashboard, the first screen you see when you log in, provides an effective overview of your company's finances. It contains at-a-glance information about your recent expenses, your sales, and the status of your invoices. It displays a simple Profit and Loss graph and a list of your account balances. Scroll down and click the See all activity button in the lower right and your Audit Log opens, a list of everything that's been done on the site and by whom.

Why QuickBooks™ Should Be on Your Desktop

If you're still doing your accounting manually you are at a competitive disadvantage--even if you're a very small business. You might be managing just fine using Microsoft Word for invoices and records and Excel for reports, but keep in mind that many of your rivals manage their financial data digitally.

Some of your competitors likely use QuickBooks; it's the market leader, and it's on millions of desktops. While you might feel that the products and/or services they use are not necessarily superior to what you are using, they have an edge because managing their financially data digitally enables them to run their businesses more efficiently. Furthermore, when you use software like QuickBooks™ your customers perceive you as someone who is technology-savvyâ??and it could help you build better customer relationships. Just maybe it's time to update your accounting system too. Here's what your competition has learned about managing their financial data digitally and what you, too, can experience when you use QuickBooks.

How It Helps

First, there is never a good time to make the transition to new software. Switching to QuickBooks™ is going to cut into your productive hours, and it will take time to learn how it works before you can start using it daily. But don't worry. A QuickBooks™ professional can accelerate that process by helping you implementing it and training you on its operations. Once you get going, you'll discover a whole range of benefits that you may not have even considered, such as:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 97:

Once you've created an item record, for example, QuickBooks™ stores it for use in transactions.

Minimized errors. Once you've entered data into QuickBooks, whether it's a customer's address or the price and description of a product or service, the software stores it. It will appear in lists that you can access when, for example, you're creating invoices. Not only does this improve accuracy, but it also makes duplicate data entry unnecessary.

Faster payments from customers. QuickBooks™ supports merchant accounts. Sign up for one, and you'll be able to accept direct bank transfers and credit/debit cards from customers. You can automatically include a payment stub on invoices to speed up the remittance process.

Real-time account balances. Supply your login information for your online banks and other financial institutions, and QuickBooks™ can connect to them. It imports cleared transaction data regularly and helps you reconcile your accounts. You can even set it up to pay your bills electronically.

Instant data access. Do you have a customer on the phone with a problem concerning an invoice or payment? QuickBooks' search tools help you track down the smallest detail in seconds.

Time-tracking. If you (or your employees) provide services that are billed back to customers, you can create time records individually or on a timesheet. These blocks of hours and minutes can be marked billable, so they'll appear the next time you start an invoice for any affected customers.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 98:

If your company sells services, you can create individual time records or comprehensive timesheets and mark sessions as billable.

Improved customer relationships. Your customers want answers when they have problems or questions, and they want them quickly and accurately. QuickBooks™ lets you store all needed details about customers in records, including contact information, payment particulars, and transaction history. Nothing helps encourage future sales like a company that knows its customers.

A more contemporary image. Those invoices and statements you create in Word--or worse, write by hand--contribute to your customers' impressions of you and your commitment to using state-of-the-art technology to better serve their needs. When you email professional-looking, carefully-customized sales and purchase forms, you're likely to go up a notch in their eyes.

Feature flexibility. You can use a little of QuickBooks™ and still have it be worth your time and technology dollars, or you can stretch its capabilities to the limits. If the latter happens, you may want to expand the softwareâ??s reach by integrating it with one of the hundreds of add-ons available in areas like inventory, invoicing and billing, and CRM.

Time and money savings. Believe it or not, this is actually the most compelling reason to use QuickBooks. Yes, you have to pay upfront for the software and it takes time to get used to using it, but you'll soon see that your investment will reduce the hours you spend on accounting. And that means you'll have more time to do what only you can do: make your business flourish by planning for its future and taking the actions that will move you toward greater success.

Need Help?

Have you installed QuickBooks™ but are having trouble using its features fully? Do you need some guidance, particularly in the area of advanced reports? Don't hesitate to contact the office and let a QuickBooks expert assess where you are with the software and devise a plan to complete its implementation. You may be surprised to learn what you can do.

How to Use Memorized Transactions in QuickBooks

Last month's Quick Books article explored the benefits of having QuickBooks™ on your desktop. Among those listed were three that impact every business. To recap, QuickBooks™ helps you:

  • Save time.
  • Save money.
  • Minimize errors.

There are numerous examples that could be used to illustrate how this software accomplishes this but for this month the topic is using memorized transactions. These are templates you set up that contain most if not all the information that could be repeated at specified intervals, eliminating the need for you to enter the same repetitive data regularly and reducing the chances that you will make a mistake.

You can create these transaction models for both sale and purchase transactions. For example, you might have wireless service bills that remain the same every month or vary by just a bit. Or, you have customers who have monthly standing orders for the same products, or services, or subscription fees.

QuickBooks™ makes it very easy to set up transactions for repetitive use and you will see how it works in more detail below. We recommend you use one of QuickBooks' sample files for this tutorial.

Creating a Template

Let's start by creating a repeating bill. Click Enter Bills on the home page and complete all the fields that will remain the same every time the bill is created. In our example, we are paying a utility bill whose Amount Due will change every month, so we are leaving that blank. When you are done, click Memorize in the toolbar to open this window:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure 99:

Once you have created a transaction template, you will have to complete the fields in this window to memorize it correctly.

The vendor name appears automatically in a field in the upper left. Below that is a list of four options. These have to do with how/if you want to be notified when it is time to process a memorized transaction. Your choices are:

  • Add to my Reminders List. QuickBooks™ will display an entry in your Reminders List for each memorized transaction. Not using Reminders? Please call.
  • Do Not Remind Me. Nothing will be done.
  • Automate Transaction Entry. You would only select this option if nothing but the date of the transaction changes when it recurs. QuickBooks™ would automatically process and dispatch the transaction.
  • Add to Group. If you have multiple recurring transactions that come due at the same time, you can create Groups and assign transactions to them (more on this later).

On the right side of the window, open the drop-down list in the field next to How Often and select from the options provided. Click the calendar icon to choose the transaction's Next (Due) Date. If you only want QuickBooks™ to automate the entry a specific number of times, add that in the field next to Number Remaining. Then enter the Days In Advance To Enter.

Further Explanation Needed

Let's expand on two of the concepts discussed here. First, advance notice for transactions. If you've selected Add to my Reminders List for any memorized transactions, you need to tell QuickBooks™ how far in advance your reminders should start to appear. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Reminders.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure  100:

If you want Reminders for memorized transactions, you'll need to tell QuickBooks™ what your Preferences are.

Memorized Transactions Due appears toward the bottom of the Company Preferences list. Click on the appropriate button to indicate whether you want to see a summary or a list in your Reminders (or nothing at all) and how many days in advance the alert should appear.

Next, Groups. As mentioned earlier, you can combine memorized transactions due at the same time within a group. To create one, go to Lists | Memorized Transaction List. Click the arrow next to Memorized Transaction in the lower left, then click New Group and give it a name. Choose from the options available for notification and click OK.

Now you can add memorized transactions to this Group by right-clicking on it, selecting Edit Memorized Transaction, and clicking in the button next to Add to Group. Click the down area to the right of the field assigned to Group Name and select the one you just created.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

You can add memorized transactions to a Group and process them at the same time.

Caution Advised

This particular QuickBooks™ feature has been shared with you because software like this can save time and minimize errors. There are many other features that can help you as well, so don't hesitate to call if you would like to learn more about them.

The mechanics of creating memorized transactions are fairly simple. But mistakes can be costly in terms of bills that don't get paid on time (or at all) and items or services that don't get invoiced. If you're new to QuickBooks, call for assistance as working on your own could be tricky. Even if you're a seasoned user, you may want help setting up memorized transactions for the first time. Please contact the office if you need assistance with this or any other element of QuickBooks™ accounting. Help is just a phone call away.

Paying Bills in QuickBooks: The Basics

Last month, we explained that the process of paying bills in QuickBooks™ requires two separate sets of actions. We went over what's required to enter bills and to set up reminders, so they don't get overlooked. This month's column will walk you through the second step: paying the bills.

You'll remember you must first click Enter Bills on the home page (or open the Vendors menu and select Enter Bills), which opens a graphical representation of a bill. Select a Vendor from the drop-down list and complete the remaining fields in the top box. Make sure the Amount Due carries over to the lower part of the screen under either the Expenses or Items tab and that the rest of the fields there are completed and correct before you save the bill.

A bill, once saved, will be available to you when you click Pay Bills on the home page. That action will open a window like this one:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

When you click Pay Bills on QuickBooks' home page, a screen containing a table like this will open.

In the upper left corner, you'll first SELECT BILLS TO BE PAID by either defining a date range or asking to see all bills that have been entered but not yet paid. To the right of those options is the Filter By field. You can open the list and click All Vendors or click on a specific vendor. Selecting an option in the Sort By field allows you to change the display order of the list of bills.

Selecting Bills

Next, you'll have to indicate which bills you want to pay, and by what method. It may take more than one pass if you're using different payment methods for different vendors. If that's the case, you'll have to select bills in batches. Click in the box in front of each bill that you want to pay (or click Select All Bills below the table).

There are several columns in the table you will see. Some will already be filled in for each vendor with information that was included in the actual bill, like REF. NO. and AMT. DUE. Others refer to discounts and credits. If you've already set up vendor discounts (early payment, for example) or are entitled to a credit (overpayment, returned merchandise, etc.) and have set up QuickBooks™ to apply those to bills automatically, they should appear in those columns.

Tip: If you are the company administrator, you can set up this option. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences | Bills. With the Company Preferences tab active, check the boxes in front of Automatically Use Credits and Automatically Use Discounts, and select the correct Default Discount Account. Discounts and credits are rather complex concepts in QuickBooks, and you might need help setting them up. If so, don't hesitate to call.

The final step in bill paying on this page is to enter the AMT. TO PAY at the end of each applicable row.

Dispatching Payments

If you've selected All Bills (or chosen a batch that will use the same payment method), you'll need to deal with the lower half of the bill-pay screen, which will look something like this:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

Whether you'll be dealing with credits and discounts or not you'll still have some work to do at the bottom of the bill-paying screen.

You can click on Go to Bill if you need to see the original form; also, verify the Payment Date and Terms are correct. You can still Set Discount and Set Credits here, but again, please don't do so until we've scheduled a session to go over these advanced tools if you plan to use them. Select a payment method for the bills you've selected; the options and account to the right of your choice will change depending on which it is.

When you're done, click Pay Selected Bills and do any follow-up work that's requested.

The bill-pay process in QuickBooks™ has a lot of moving parts, some of which may need prep work before you can dispatch bills. If you're planning to use this element of QuickBooks, please call to set up a consultation. Although beneficial, it's one of the more complicated processes in the software, and it must be carried out with extreme accuracy. When you're ready to get started, please call the office for assistance.

Applying Finance Charges in QuickBooks

There are myriad ways to bring in customer payments faster and improve your cash flow. You can:

  • Get a merchant account and let customers pay you electronically
  • Offer a discount for early payments
  • Shorten the payment due cycle (21 days instead of 30 days, for example)
  • Be more aggressive about collections

QuickBooks™ can help you take all of these steps. It also offers a fifth option: assessing finance charges for tardy remittances.

Maybe you don't want to do this because it seems like a less-than-friendly way to treat customers â?? especially valued ones. But you're not in the business of lending money, which is what you're doing when you continue to let your accounts receivable slide. So, here's how to do add finance charges to your payment policies.

Multiple Issues Involved

Before you can start adding finance charges to tardy payments, you will need to let QuickBooks™ know how you want them handled. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click the Finance Charge tab in the left vertical pane, then the Company Preferences tab in the window that opens. You will see something like this:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

You will need to decide on your QuickBooks™ Finance Charge settings before you can begin to apply these late fees.

What Annual Interest Rate will you charge? Will there be a Minimum Finance Charge? Do you want to offer a Grace Period? If you've never worked with finance charges before, you might be at a loss as to how you should answer these questions. If so, don't hesitate to call a QuickBooks™ pro in the office who can help you make sure you're selecting the correct Finance Charge Account. In this example, QuickBooks™ defaulted to 70100 â?? Other Income, which may be the best option for you.

The next question may require some research. Some jurisdictions don't allow you to Assess finance charges on overdue finance charges; you'll need to find out if this is the case. If there's any doubt, make sure that the box in front of that option isn't checked.

QuickBooks™ also needs to know on what date it should start calculating finance charges: on the due date or invoice/billed date. Finally, check the box in front of Mark finance charge invoices "To be printed." QuickBooks™ doesn't include finance charges on invoices themselves; it bills them on separate invoices. Check this box if you want the software to print all of them as a batch.

When you're done here, click OK.

Applying the Charges

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

By selecting an Assessment Date, you are telling QuickBooks™ how many late days should be included in its finance charge calculations.

When you are ready, open the Customers menu and select Assess Finance Charges. A window like the one in the image above will open.

QuickBooks, of course, performs all of the required calculations in the background. But it must first know what specific date you plan to actually assess the charges so that it can determine the number of late days that should be included. This may not be the current date, so be sure the Assessment Date is correct before proceeding.

All you have to do here is make sure there's a checkmark in front of every finance charge that should be invoiced (the check marks should already be there, but you should verify this). If you send statements, clear the box in front of Mark Invoices "To be printed. " The finance charges will appear on the next statement.

When you are satisfied, click Assess Charges.

Dispatching the Charges

Your finance charges have now been recorded in QuickBooks™ as individual invoices. When it's time to print, open the File menu and select Print Forms | Invoices. You will see your numbered finance charge invoices displayed like this:

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

You can see your finance charge invoices when you go to print them.

Of course, if you email invoices, you would click on File | Send Forms.

It is a good idea to notify your customers before you start assessing finance charges. This will give them a chance to catch up, and no one will be surprised to see the extra invoices.

QuickBooks™ does the heavy lifting as far as calculations are concerned, but it is important that you set your finance charges up correctly. Customers will be annoyed by mistakes, and it is much easier to get this tool set up right from the start than to have to go in and untangle errors. If you plan to start assessing finance charges but aren't sure how to proceed, please call the office for assistance.

Create Assemblies to Bundle Products in QuickBooks

Let's say you run a home improvement retail outlet, and one of the things you sell is doors. You might sell their parts -- door frames, hinges, doorknobs, etc. -- individually, in case a customer needs to replace a piece. You may also want to sell all of the individual components as a kit and give your buyer a price break for purchasing them all together.

QuickBooks™ calls these assemblies; sometimes they're referred to as kits. Just as you'd create an individual inventory part, you can group related parts together and create an item that you would sell as a package.

A couple of caveats here: You can only build assemblies in QuickBooks™ Premier and above. If you need this feature and are using QuickBooks™ Pro, talk to a QuickBooks™ professional about upgrading. Second, not all of you are using the latest versions of the software so will use QuickBooks™ Premier 2018 in the examples here.

Under the Hood

Before you can start working with assemblies, check your QuickBooks™ settings to make sure they're correct. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Items & Inventory | Company Preferences. Click on the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are active it's not already checked. If you want QuickBooks™ to deduct the quantity of items that have already been entered on sales orders, check that box (we recommend this, so you're not selling items that have already been promised). Then make sure the button in front of When the quantity I want to sell exceeds Quantity Available is filled in, for the same reason.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

Before you start building assemblies, you'll need to make sure your Company Preferences are marked accordingly.

Creating an Assembly Item

Creating an Assembly Item

Open the Lists menu and select Item List. Open the drop-down list under Item in the lower left corner and click New. In the window that opens, click the down arrow under Type and select Inventory Assembly. Enter an Item Name/Number in the corresponding field in the window that opens. Don't check the Subitem of or the I purchase this assembly item from a vendor boxes and ignore Unit Of Measure.

Again, depending on the version of QuickBooks™ you're using, you may see different fields in the Inventory Information box at the bottom of this window. But there are some standard elements you should find in this window no matter the version. They include:

  • Cost. How much does it cost you to purchase all of the parts for one assembly?
  • Sales Price. What will you charge your customers per kit?
  • COGS Account. "COGS" stands for Cost of Goods Sold. What account in the Chart of Accounts will you use to track the cost of producing your assemblies? Usually, the default one in QuickBooks™ is fine.
  • Income Account. Which account tracks your sales of this assembly?
  • Bill of Materials (BOM). This appears as a table in QuickBooks; it's a list of all the individual inventory parts that make up the kit, along with their Cost (to you), QTY (quantity required for each assembly), and the total BOM Cost.
QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

Your Bill of Materials Cost is the total of all inventory items required to create an assembly.

The Inventory Information box at the bottom of this window might contain fields for information like the Asset Account, quantity On Hand, and the number of items on purchase orders and sales orders. Once your inventory assembly is saved, it will appear in your Item List.

When you need to actually create kits, you'll open the Vendors menu and select Inventory Activities, then Build Assemblies. You'll select the Assembly Item from the drop-down list in the upper left corner, which will open a list of the components needed and their quantity on hand. You'd enter the number of kits you want (the maximum possible appears below the table) and then click one of the Build buttons. The next time you look at the kit in your Item List, you'll see that its quantity has increased.

The concept of assemblies is easy to understand, but if you haven't worked with accounts and inventory much, you may find creating kits in QuickBooks™ to be a bit of a challenge. Inventory levels can be a real problem if they get out of whack, and accounts must be assigned correctly to avoid inaccuracies in reports and taxes. If you need assistance as you get started with this task, please call.

Using Bill Tracker in QuickBooks

Bill-paying may be your least favorite accounting activity. You definitely know how those checks and online payments affect your account balances, but it's more than that. Staying up to date with your bills and paying them on time (but not too early) takes a supreme organizational effort.

If you're using a manual bookkeeping system, you know how difficult it is to keep up. QuickBooks™ offers several options for helping you with this. You can set reminders and/or put the due dates on your calendar. If you're using QuickBooks™ 2016 or later, you have access to another tool: Bill Tracker.

A Comprehensive Overview

QuickBooks™ Bill Tracker is similar to the software's Income Tracker. If you've used that, you know that it provides a way to get a birds-eye view of your accounts receivable. You can see where every transaction falls in your income "pipeline" (estimates, open invoices, etc.).

Bill Tracker works similarly, but for accounts payable. It has two advantages over just opening your Vendor Center and clicking the Transactions tab. First, it displays the Status of each transaction. Second, it contains Action links, so you can do more than simply open each entry.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

Bill Tracker lets you switch between lists of different types of accounts payable transactions.

To open this tool, click Bill Tracker in your navigation pane. The screen that appears consists of two parts. Color-coded bars across the top represent different transaction types, Purchase Orders and Bills. The latter is further divided into Open Bills, Overdue, and Paid In The Last 30 Days. Each bar contains both the number of transactions that fall in that category and their total dollar amount. Click on one, and the list below changes to include only that type of entry.

You can see in the image above that the Open Bills list has three alternate views that you can open by clicking on them in the drop-down list: Item Receipt, Credit, and Unapplied Payments. If you have questions on any of these, please call and QuickBooks professional can explain them to you, since you should know when to consult these lists.

Changing the View

Bill Tracker defaults to the broadest view possible. That is, when you select a category of transactions, it shows all of the active ones. But a series of drop-down lists below the main toolbar gives you control over what subset of information is displayed there. You can narrow your list down to one vendor, for example, and choose a date range.

Data columns are different for each list. When you're displaying Overdue transactions, the labels read Vendor, Type, Number, Date, Due Date, Aging, Status, Amount, Open Balance, and Action. You get a thorough description of each entry at a glance.

Taking Action

As was mentioned earlier, Bill Tracker lets you work with transactions as well as just view them. Click on Purchase Orders and open the drop-down list at the end of one of the rows in the Action column. You can see in the image below what your options are there, including Convert to Bill. When the Open Bills list is active, you'll be able to click on Pay Bill.

QuickBooks™ Efficiency Tips

Figure :

Open the drop-down list in the Action column to see what you can do with the selected transaction.

To see what else you can do with individual transactions or groups of them, look in the lower left corner of the screen and locate the Batch Actions and Manage Transactions buttons. With the Purchase Orders list open, click in the box in front of one or more to create a check mark. Open the Batch Actions menu. You'll see that only two options are available to you here; the others are grayed out. You can Print Selected Purchase Orders or Close Purchase Orders. Pay Bills is only active when you're in a list that allows that.

Now, open the Manage Transactions list. You can create transactions from this menu by clicking on Purchase Order, Bill, CC Charge, or Check. If you select Edit Highlighted Row, the original transaction will open.

Remember that you should never write a check to pay a bill if you're using QuickBooks' bill-payment tools. If you've already entered the bill, click Pay Bills on the home page or open the Vendors menu and select Pay Bills. Please call if you have questions about this process.

QuickBooks™ offers multiple ways to take the same actions in accounts payable; Bill Tracker is just one. But this instant overview can tell you quickly where you stand with your vendors -- and help you avoid late payments. As always, help is just a phone call away.

At Nugent & Associates, we're not just number crunchers. We bring over 3 decades of invaluable certified public accounting and tax expertise to your company – serving as business and financial strategists who can offer such services as tax and financial planning, investment advice, diligent financial records, and help with estate planning.

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