Who Owes You? 5 QuickBooks Online Reports That Can Tell You Fast

Keep a constant watch on your accounts receivable to improve cash flow.

Quick: How many of your invoices are unpaid? Have any of your customers gone over 30 days past due? Did you bill all of the time and expenses for that project you just completed for a customer?

If you’re doing your accounting manually, there’s simply no way to get that information quickly. Depending on your bookkeeping system, you may not be able to get it at all.

QuickBooks Online has more than one solution for this problem. You see the first one every time you log in. The Dashboard contains a graphic in the upper left corner that tells you how many invoices are overdue and unpaid. Click on the colored bar labeled OVERDUE, and you’ll see a list of invoices with the unpaid ones right at the top.

You can tell at a glance how much of your money is tied up in unpaid invoices.

While this is important information for you to have as you start your workday, it doesn’t tell the whole story. To get that, you’ll need to access some of QuickBooks Online’s reports – five of them in particular. Click Reports in the left vertical pane, and then scroll down to the heading labeled Who owes you.

These reports are listed in two columns. Each has the outline of a star next to it. Click on the star, and the report will be added to the Favorites list at the top of the page. Click on the three vertical dots next to it, and you’ll be able to Customize the report. And as you hover over the title, you’ll see a small, circled question mark. Click on this to get a brief description of the report.

There are several reports in this list that can provide insight into where your outstanding revenue is. We recommend you run five of them at least once a week – more frequently if your business sells large quantities of products and/or services. The suggested are:

Accounts receivable aging detail

This report provides a list of invoices that are overdue, along with aging information. There are several columns in the report, but you’ll want to pay special attention to the last one: OPEN BALANCE.

Tip: If you have many customers or simply a high volume of unpaid invoices, you might consider running the Accounts receivable aging summary instead.

Changing the Content

Before you run the report, you should explore the customization tools provided for it. They won’t be the same for every report, but you can start to get an idea of what can be done. Hover over the report title and click Customize. A panel like the one pictured below will slide out of the right side of the screen.

QuickBooks Online provides deep customization tools for reports.

You can see some of your customization options in the image above. Beyond these, you can also work with filters and headers/footers. When you’re satisfied with your changes, click Run report.

If you want to run a report with its default settings, just click on the report title in the list to display it.  You’ll have access to limited customization from there.

Four other reports you should be generating regularly are:

  • Customer Balance Summary: Shows you how much each customer owes your business
  • Open Invoices: Lists invoices for which there has been no payment
  • Unbilled Charges: Just what it sounds like: tells you who hasn’t been invoiced yet for billable charges
  • Unbilled Time: Lists all billable time not yet invoiced

We don’t expect you’ll have any trouble understanding reports like these; they’re fairly self-explanatory. QuickBooks Online offers many other reports, the standard financial reports that need to be generated monthly or quarterly, like Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flows. You’ll absolutely need these should you apply for a loan or need to supply in-depth financials for any other reason. We can help you analyze them to get a comprehensive, detailed picture of your company’s fiscal health.

Setting Up Sales Taxes in QuickBooks, Part 1

If your business is required to collect and pay sales taxes, you can use QuickBooks’ tools to help you meet those obligations.

Next to payroll, state sales taxes represent probably the most complex element of your accounting tasks. QuickBooks can help with the mechanics, but there’s a lot you need to learn before you can start charging and paying them. For example:

  • Is your company located in a destination-based or origin-based state where taxes are concerned (do you charge sales tax based on where your customers are or where you are)?
  • Certain types of items and services are exempt from sales tax. Are yours?
  • What local taxes (city, county, etc.) must you collect, if any?
  • How often must you submit what you owe, and to what agency?

If you don’t know your state’s rules, search for your Department of Revenue (sometimes called the Department of Taxation) on Google. Or talk to us about this whole complicated process. You can’t begin to work with sales taxes in QuickBooks until you know the answers to many questions.

First Steps

Once you know what your state’s rules are, you can start setting up the sales taxes you’re required to collect and pay. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click on Sales Tax, then Company Preferences. Make sure the Yes button is highlighted next to Do you charge sales tax?, then click on Add sales tax item. You’ll see this window:

In states where it’s required, you may have to at least set up a state sales tax item in QuickBooks. You may also be responsible for local (city, county, etc.) taxes.

TYPE should already be set to Sales Tax Item. Enter a name for your tax in the Sales Tax Name field; the Description should automatically appear as Sales Tax. Type in the Tax Rate (%) and the name of the Tax Agency that will collect it (select <Add New> if it’s not there already). Click OK to return to Company Preferences and continue to define additional tax rates. If there is a sales tax item you use frequently, you can select it from the Your most common sales tax item field.

Tip: Each sales tax rate is considered an Item in QuickBooks. When you have to edit or delete one, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Type sales tax in the Look for box, then Search. Right-click on your target and select your desired action from the local menu that appears.

Sales Tax Groups

When you want to combine multiple sales taxes as one item (state, county, etc.), click Add sales tax item again in Company Preferences and choose Sales Tax Group. Enter a Group Name/Number and Description. In the table below, click the down arrow in the field in the TAX ITEM column. Keep selecting individual tax rates until you’re finished, then click OK. When you use one of these groups in a transaction, the customer will only see the total tax, but reports will break them down into their individual parts.

Completing Your Preferences

The bottom half of the Company Preferences screen needs more information.

It’s important that all the entries at the bottom of the Company Preferences screen are correct before you start working with sales taxes in QuickBooks.

The first two items here are simply field labels that will appear in transactions to indicate whether or not a line item should be taxed. You should leave them as is; they’re automatically created by QuickBooks. If you want to Identify taxable amounts as “T” for Taxable when printing, click in that box to make a checkmark.

Is your QuickBooks company file set up on a cash or accrual basis? Click on the button in front of the correct choice. WHEN DO YOU PAY SALES TAX is a question that will be answered as you’re learning about your state’s sales tax requirements. When you’ve completed this section, click OK.

Assigning Tax Codes

As you create item and service records in QuickBooks, you’ll be asked to indicate whether or not they’re taxable. The Tax Code field appears at the bottom of the window, like in the image below.

You’ll need to designate every item or service you sell as taxable or non-taxable.

There’s much more you need to know about collecting and submitting sales taxes, like how to work with transactions and reports. We’ll cover those topics next month. In the meantime, let us know if we can help you set up your QuickBooks company file for this complex task.

5 Things You Should Know About the Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online doesn’t require deep knowledge of accounting principles. Still, there are concepts you should understand.

You probably didn’t expect you’d have to become an accounting expert when you started your business. You knew you’d have to deal with recording income and expenses – maybe track your inventory and process a payroll. But you may not have understood just how complex financial bookkeeping could be.

That’s why you decided to use QuickBooks Online, or are at least considering it. The service is an expert on accounting, and it simplifies the process. It knows exactly how you have to document transactions to stay compliant with the rules that accountants and other businesses follow. This is good practice, and it’s absolutely necessary if, for example, you ever have to apply for financing.

One of the features of accounting systems you should understand is the Chart of Accounts. You won’t have to alter it in any way—in fact, we strongly advise against it—but you’ll encounter it when you work with transactions. Here are five things you should know about it.

What is it?

These three columns from QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts display account Names, Types, and Detail Types.

QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts is a list of financial categories that are used to classify your company’s transactions when you record them. If you were doing your accounting manually, you would have to create your own Chart of Accounts. But QuickBooks Online builds one for you based on the company type and industry you choose when you’re setting up the site.

Why is the Chart of Accounts important?

Some people refer to the Chart of Accounts as the “backbone” of your company file. All transactions flow to it. Its primary importance can be summed up in one word: reports. Your reports will not be accurate if your Chart of Accounts is poorly constructed or if you categorize transactions incorrectly. This becomes as issue when you want to:

  • Prepare taxes. Your income tax return will not reflect your reportable income and deductible expenses if transactions are not assigned to the right classifications.
  • Apply for financing, take on an investor, sell your company, etc.
  • Monitor your finances. You won’t get a true picture of your income and expenses, which makes it difficult to analyze your company’s fiscal health and plan for the future.

What’s in the Chart of Accounts?

There are two types of accounts. One contains information that’s used in the Balance Sheet report. These accounts will have a number in the QuickBooks Balance column that’s based on all transactions up to the current date. They include Assets (bank accounts, accounts receivable, inventory, etc.), Liabilities (unpaid bills, credit cards, payroll and sales taxes, loans, etc.), and Equity.

The remainder of the accounts are used in the Profit and Loss report, otherwise known as the Income Statement. They’re divided into Income (sales, discounts given, etc.), Cost of Goods Sold (labor, shipping, materials and supplies, etc.), Expenses (advertising, insurance, payroll, etc.), Other Income, and Other Expense. You won’t see a number in the QuickBooks Balance column for these accounts because the Profit and Loss report changes based on the date range selected.

Should I ever make any modifications to my Chart of Accounts?

You can set up bank and credit card accounts in QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts.

As we stated earlier, we strongly recommend that you never modify your Chart of Accounts without consulting us. However, there are two exceptions to this. You’ll want to create entries for your bank and credit card accounts. To do this, first open the Chart of Accounts by clicking the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Chart of Accounts under Your Company. When it opens, click New in the upper right corner. Choose Bank or Credit Card and fill in the blanks.

Do I need to use account numbers in the Chart of Accounts?

Generally, the smaller the business, the less need there is for this. If your business is big enough that you have dedicated A/P and A/R individuals, you may want to post transactions to account numbers.

Understanding Reports

QuickBooks Online makes it possible for you to view the Chart of Accounts and those two critical reports, Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss. Customizing and analyzing them, though, is something you should do under professional supervision. We’re happy to help here and in other advanced areas of the site. Contact us for a consultation.

Creating Statement Charges in QuickBooks®

There’s more than one way to bill customers for your products and services. A statement charge is one of them.

Depending on what kind of business you have, you probably have a preferred way of billing customers. If they walk into your shop and present a credit card or cash, you create sales receipts. If they order off your website, they might receive an electronic receipt. Or your arrangement may be such that you send invoices.

There’s another way that’s especially useful if your customers are responsible for paying recurring charges, like an ongoing service contract that’s billed monthly. You can enter those financial obligations directly as statement charges.

As you know, QuickBooks can create statements, summaries of a customer’s activity. These are generated automatically from the invoices, receipts, payments, and other transactions you’ve recorded over a given period of time. But did you know you can manually add charges to statements? Here’s how it works.

Creating a Statement Charge

Click the Statement Charges icon on the home page or open the Customers menu and select Enter Statement Charges. Your Accounts Receivable register appears. Open the list in the field next to Customer:Job by clicking on the down arrow and select the correct Customer:Job.

Warning: If the item will be attached to a specific job, not just a customer, be sure you choose the correct job. QuickBooks maintains a separate register for each.

Consider creating a statement charge instead of an invoice for recurring transactions that will not be billed immediately.

Change the date if necessary and open the Item list (or click <Add New> if you haven’t created an item record yet). Select the one you want and enter a quantity (Qty). QuickBooks should fill in the rate and description. The TYPE column will automatically contain STMTCH (statement charge). Click Record when you’re done. The next time you create a statement for that Customer:Job, you’ll see the transaction you just entered.

Statement Charge Limitations

Before you decide to use statement charges, keep in mind that:

  • You can’t include some information that would appear on an invoice, like sales tax and discounts.
  • Even if your charge relates to hours you worked for the customer, QuickBooks will not open a reminder window containing that information the next time you create an invoice for the customer. You’d have to Enter Time by creating a single activity or entering the hours on a timesheet.
  • You still have to bill the customers.

Billing the Customer

There are two ways to bill customers for statement charges. You can, of course, just generate statements that include the date(s) of the charge(s). The next time you create a statement for customers who have manually-entered statement charges, it will contain them, along with any other activity like invoices and payments.

We’ve covered statements before, but we’d be happy to go over this QuickBooks feature with you. This means you’ll have to enter a statement charge every month if it’s to be a recurring one. Instead, you can treat them as memorized transactions, so they’re automatically entered in the register. If you’re billing multiple customers for the same service every month, for example, this would work well.

First, you’ll need to create a Group that contains all of those customers. Open the Lists menu and select Memorized Transaction List. Right-click anywhere on that screen and click on New Group. This box will open.

If you regularly bill customers for the same service, like a monthly subscription, you can create a Group and memorize the transactions.

Give your Group a Name and click the button in front of Automate Transaction Entry. Open the list in the field next to How Often and select the billing interval. Choose the Next Date to indicate when this group billing should begin. If the charges should be entered on a limited basis, enter the Number Remaining. And be sure to fill in the Days In Advance To Enter if that’s applicable. Click OK.

Next, you’ll assign the customers who should be billed monthly to your Group. Click Statement Charges on the home page again to open your A/R register. Select each customer one at a time and right-click on the statement charge that you want to recur monthly, then select Memorize Stmt Charge. In the window that opens, give the transaction a new Name if you’d like (this will not affect the transaction, only how it’s listed). Click on the button in front of Add to Group and select the Group name from the drop-down list. Repeat for each customer you want to include.

Keeping Track

If periodic statements are your primary customer billing method, this system should work fine. But if you also send invoices and/or collect payment at the time of the sale, you’ll need to remember that your statement charges must be billed on a regular basis, too. We can go over your customer billing procedures with you to determine whether you’re using QuickBooks’ tools wisely – or whether some changes could improve your collection of payments.

4 Things You Should Know About Advanced Settings in QuickBooks® Online

Do you know about all of QuickBooks Online’s settings? What you’re missing may be important.

Looking through all the settings available in QuickBooks Online is something like reading the owner’s manual when you get a new car. You know you should do it, but you find yourself consulting it only when you encounter a problem.

Whether you’re new to QuickBooks Online, or you’ve been using it for a while, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with these important preferences.  Settings do more than turn features off and on: they can teach you about tools you might not have known were available.

Let’s explore some that you may have missed.

Closing the Books

You’ve probably heard this phrase before but do you know what it actually means in QuickBooks Online? When you set a closing date, you’re indicating that no transactions entered prior to that date should be changed.

Click the gear icon in the upper right, then select Your Company | Account and Settings. Scroll down to the Advanced section in the left vertical toolbar. Under the first heading, Accounting, check the box in front of Close the books. Enter a date and choose one of the two options for exceptions, as pictured in the image below:

You can close the books as of a specific date in QuickBooks Online so users can’t change transactions entered before then.

Warning: Talk to us before you make this decision. We can discuss the pros and cons.

Categories

QuickBooks Online offers a couple ways to categorize transactions so you can see related data in searches and reports. Scroll down to Categories and click on the Off button to the right of Track classes to turn this feature on. QuickBooks Online will then add a Class field to forms like invoices, along with a drop-down list that you can build with your own options. For example, you could create categories like departments, customer types, and product lines.  You can choose to assign classes to entire transactions or to individual rows in them, and you can ask to be warned if you try to save a form without selecting a Class.

Track locations works similarly. You can assign a location (territory, store, department, etc.) to each transaction if you’d like.

Automation

By using QuickBooks Online for your daily accounting tasks, you’re already saving time. But the site offers a way to save even more with its Automation tools. Here’s what you can do:

  • Pre-fill forms with previously entered content. Once you’ve saved a transaction for a customer, vendor, or employee, you can choose to have QuickBooks Online complete some fields in the next form you create for them.
  • Automatically apply credits. Do you want QuickBooks Online to apply credits to the next invoice you create for a given customer? Most businesses do, but a specific example of a time you wouldn’t check the box would be if you’re a property manager who requires security deposits.

QuickBooks Online offers several automation options.

  • Automatically invoice unbilled activity. Be careful with this one. When you have customers with unbilled activity, QuickBooks Online can automatically create invoices for them on a schedule you designate. You have a few options here. You can simply ask for a reminder as the date approaches, or you can allow the site to automatically create invoices – with or without notifying you.
  • Automatically apply bill payments. When you record bill payments, QuickBooks Online can automatically apply them to the oldest recorded bill.

Time Tracking

Does your company sell services that are billed by the hour? If so, there are a couple of options you can turn on here. When you create timesheets or individual timed activities, you can add a Service field to the tracking form. You can also include a checkbox to indicate that a block of timed work is billable to customers. If you do the latter, you can opt in or out of letting users see the actual rate you’re charging customers.

Checking Your Work

QuickBooks Online refers to these as Advanced Settings for a reason. Making the wrong choices on any of them could lead to unhappy or confused customers and/or inaccuracies in your accounting file. We think you should know about these options, but we also hope you’ll schedule a consultation with us before attempting to set them up. It’s always much easier to spot problems in the making than to correct mistakes already made.

Do You Need to Bundle Products in QuickBooks®? Create Assemblies

If you frequently sell multiple inventory items grouped together, you need to learn about QuickBooks’ assemblies.

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 us about upgrading. Second, we know that not all of you are using the latest versions of the software. We’ll 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 in the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are active in 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.

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

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.

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. We’d be happy to work with you as you get started with this task.

How to Use Progress Invoicing in QuickBooks® Online

Does your business do work for clients over weeks or months? Consider using QuickBooks® Online’s progress invoicing.

Let’s say you’re doing a job or project for a customer that is going to take a long time, but you don’t want to wait until you’re finished to get paid. Or you’ve agreed to let a customer pay for something in multiple payments. QuickBooks can help. You can create an estimate upfront for the work or products and send a series of invoices at different intervals until the bill is paid off. This is called progress invoicing.

Before you can use this tool, you’ll need to make sure it’s turned on. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select Account and Settings. Click the Sales tab. Look for Progress Invoicing in the left column. If that option isn’t On, click the pencil icon in the far-right column and click in the box to create a checkmark and Save it. Then click Done in the lower right corner.

Creating a Template

You’ll need to use a special template for progress invoicing. Click the gear icon again and select Custom Form Styles. In the upper right corner of the screen that opens, click the arrow next to New Style and select Invoice to open the design window. Replace the template name with a descriptive one and click Airy Classic to select it.

You’ll need to select the Airy Classic template and give it a descriptive name.

There are other options on this page – lots of them. You can add a logo, change fonts and colors, and even modify the content on the invoice. Talk to us if you want to explore the possibilities.

Your progress invoice needs you to adjust a couple other things here. Click on Edit print settings. If there is a check in front of Fit printed form with pay stub in window envelope, uncheck it. Next, click the Content tab, then click the small pencil icon in the second section of the invoice sample over on the right. At the bottom of the left pane, click Show more activity options.Check the box in front of Show progress on line items if you want your progress invoice to display item details. When you’ve made all the changes you want to, click Done.

Estimate to Invoice

QuickBooks can create both invoices and estimates. They’re very similar, and you’ll complete them in the same way, with one obvious exception: In addition to an Estimate date, you can also specify an Expiration date. Click the + sign in the upper right, select Estimate, and fill out the form. Save and close when you’re done.

When your customer has accepted the estimate and you’ve agreed on a payment schedule, you’ll need to know how to create a progress invoice. Click Sales in the navigation bar on the left, then All Sales. Locate your estimate on the list and click Create invoice at the end of the row. This window opens:

You have three options when the time comes to start your progress invoicing.

You’ll choose Remaining total of all lines when you’re ready to send your final invoice. For your first, you can either enter a percentage of each line item or a custom amount for each. If you choose a percentage, QuickBooks will calculate what that number would be and enter it. You’ll be able to specify your custom amounts when the progress invoice actually opens. Click Create invoice.

The invoice that opens will contain the information you provided on the estimate. You’ll notice a new column here, though, labeled Due. Your calculated percentage will appear there if you chose that option. If you indicated that you wanted to enter a custom amount for each line, that field will say $0.00 of [total]. Go down that column and type in the amount you expect to be paid on each line item. When you’ve finished, Save the invoice and send it to your customer. Now it appears in the invoice list, where you can send reminders, receive payment, etc.

You can send as many progress invoices as you’d like until you can finally bill your customer for the Remaining total of all lines. QuickBooks provides a report so you can see the progress of all of your progress invoices at once. Click Reports and scroll down to Sales and customers to run Estimates & Progress Invoicing Summary by Customer.

Progress invoicing is a simple concept, but it requires many steps, as you’ve seen here. And there are other ways to go about it in QuickBooks. We strongly suggest that you let us help you with this task to make sure your invoices are set up correctly – and that you’re paid in full.

Receive Payments the Right Way in QuickBooks®: Your Options

How you record a customer payment in QuickBooks depends on why and how you received it.

One of the reasons we like QuickBooks is because it uses language and processes that are familiar to small businesspeople. Instead of using the term “accounts receivable,” it has a menu label that says Customers and menu items that use phrases like Create Invoices and Receive Payments. You would have to go into the Chart of Accounts to find standard accounting terminology – and we never recommend that you do that without consulting with us first.

Yet when you’re doing customer-related tasks, you’re following a traditional accounts receivable workflow, a series of steps that completes a sales cycle, like Estimate | Invoice | Payment | Deposit. QuickBooks keeps it simple for you and doesn’t often force you into unfamiliar territory.

One of the more pleasant elements of accounts receivable is the process of receiving customer payments. There’s more than one way to do this, and it’s very important that you use the correct way in each situation.

Payment Methods

Before you record your first payment, you’ll need to make sure that QuickBooks is set up to accommodate its Payment Method. QuickBooks comes with some standard types, but you can add, edit, and delete your own options (though not those that are built in to the software).

Open the Lists menu and click Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, then Payment Method List. This window will open:

You can work with Payment Method options in this window.

To use any of the commands in the Payment Method drop-down list, you’d highlight the method by clicking on it and opening the options list by clicking the down arrow in that field.

Note: When you add or change an existing entry, the window that opens contains fields for both Payment Method and Payment Type. They should be identical or at least very similar.

Settling an Invoice

If your company sends invoices, you’ll need to record their matching payments in the Customer Payment window. Click Customer | Receive Payments or the Receive Payments icon on the home page. There’s also a button for this in the toolbar in an open invoice. However you get there, here’s what it looks like:

You’ll record payments that customers send in response to invoices in this window.

Select a customer in the RECEIVED FROM field, and any outstanding invoices will appear in the table below. The CUSTOMER BALANCE appears in the upper right corner. Enter the PAYMENT AMOUNT and verify the date.

Click in the box for the correct payment method to the right. If it’s a check, enter the number in the CHECK # field. If you choose CREDIT DEBIT, you can enter the card details in the small window that opens. If you provided this information in the customer’s record and chose that as the PREFERRED PAYMENT METHOD, it should fill it in automatically.

Note: To set a PREFERRED PAYMENT METHOD, which will save time, open the customer record and click the small pencil icon in the upper right. Click Payment Settings and complete the fields in that window.

If the customer has paid less than the balance due, you can either LEAVE THIS AS AN UNDERPAYMENT or WRITE OFF THE EXTRA AMOUNT. Select one of those two options in the lower left and save your work when you’re done.

Instant Payments

You’ll use a different form when a customer gives you a payment in exchange for the goods or services you provided, without receiving an invoice. Click Customers | Enter Sales Receipts to open a window like this:

If a customer gives you a payment without receiving an invoice, you’ll provide them with a Sales Receipt.

You’ll complete this form much like you did the CUSTOMER PAYMENT window, except you won’t be applying the payment to an existing invoice.

Tip: If you have a merchant account or are willing to get one, you can record payments and email sales receipts at remote locations on your mobile device. We can walk you through the setup.

Receiving payments from customers is one of the easier tasks you’ll do as a QuickBooks user, but if you don’t use the software’s tools correctly, your books will be difficult to untangle. We can help ensure that you’re doing this element of your work right from the start; just contact us to schedule a consultation.

Could Your Sales Invoices Be Better? How QuickBooks Online Can Help.

Every interaction with your customers can enhance your image. Here’s how QuickBooks Online contributes to that.

Getting paid by your customers—on time, and in full—can take some effort on your part. You set smart due dates and enforce them. Price your products and services so they’re both reasonable and profitable. Accept online payments.

But are your invoices working for you here? QuickBooks Online provides sales form templates that you can usually use without modifying. But it also offers tools that support multiple kinds of customization. It helps you shape the content and appearance of your invoices and their accompanying messages to be consistent with your company’s brand.

These may be cosmetic changes, but they can affect the way customers react to communications from you. You have few chances to make an impression, so anything you can do to enhance and personalize every interaction will have impact on their impression of you. Neat, well-designed sales forms convey professionalism and attention to details.

Here’s a look at what you can do.

Editing Fields

Unless you use every single field in QuickBooks Online’s default sales form template, your invoices will look sloppier than they might otherwise. The site gives you control over much of the content that your customers will see. To make changes, click the gear icon in the upper right of the screen and select Account and Settings, then Sales. You’ll see Sales form content in the left column. Click on any of the fields to the right to open a more thorough list of options.

QuickBooks Online lets you turn fields on and off in your sales forms and specify other preferences.

Click on the status (On, Off) in the right column to change it. When you’re satisfied with your selections, click Save. Then close that window by clicking the X in the upper right corner.

You have more options than these. Click the gear icon again, and then Your Company | Custom Form Styles. You’ll see that there is already a “master” form. You can either edit it or create a new one. We recommend leaving the master form alone so you always have a clean copy to consult if you get tangled up while you’re working.

Click the down arrow in the New style box in the upper right and select Invoice. In the screen that opens, enter a descriptive name for your template in the field at the top and then click Content. A graphical representation of your invoice will appear in the right pane, grayed out. It’s divided into three sections: header, footer, and table (the middle of the invoice where you describe what you sold). Each displays a small pencil icon on the right side of the screen. Click the one in the middle to make that area more visible.

It’s easy to specify which fields should appear on your invoices, what the labels should say, and how wide the space should be.

As you check and uncheck boxes to indicate what content should be included, your invoice on the right will change to reflect your actions. You can Preview PDF by clicking that button in the lower right. When you’re satisfied with the changes you’ve made to all three sections, click on the Design tab.

Changing the Look

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to have QuickBooks Online forms that look attractive and consistent, which highlight your brand. The site provides tools that give you control over the appearance of your invoices, not just their content. Click each link below the Design tab to:

  • Choose a template.
  • Add your company’s logo.
  • Select a color scheme and fonts.
  • Change the printer settings to accommodate letterhead, for example.

 Choosing Your Words

You have control over the messages that go out with your invoices.

Finally, click the Emails tab. Options here let you customize the emails that are sent to customers along with their invoices. Again, changes you make in the left pane will be reflected in the graphical version on the right side.

When you’ve completed all of your modifications, click Done.

We gave you this whirlwind tour of QuickBooks Online’s invoice customization options so you’d know what was possible. We expect you might need some assistance when you sit down to apply the concepts you’ve learned about to your own company’s sales forms. We’re available to help you present a polished, carefully-crafted image representing your brand to your customers.

How Do You Track Jobs in QuickBooks? Part 2

In this second of a two-part series, we’ll explore how you use the job-related records you’ve created.

Last month, we showed you how to start building a foundation for tracking jobs in QuickBooks. We explained that you can use the software’s jobs tools to track income and expenses for any related group of items and/or services (you can think of them as projects, if you prefer).

We covered three elements of preparing to use “jobs”:

  • Creating job records that you can use in transactions (example: develop promotional materials)
  • Creating item records that can be assigned to jobs (example: website development)
  • Determining whether you’ll need to create a new account in your Chart of Accounts for your job income and expenses. You should consult with us anytime you think it might be necessary to modify the Chart of Accounts.  

Using Your Job-Related Records

Now that you’ve recorded the items and jobs themselves, you can start using them in transactions, and eventually track your progress by generating reports.

Let’s say you worked eight hours on website development for your promotion job. You’d open the Employees menu and select Enter Time | Time/Enter Single Activity to open this window:

You can enter individual, billable activities and assign them to jobs.

In the example above, you’re limited to recording one day’s work on a specific SERVICE ITEM. You’d verify the date and select from the drop-down lists to complete the fields for employee NAME, CUSTOMER:JOB, and SERVICE ITEM. You can either use the timer to time the job or enter the number of hours manually in the DURATION box. Click in the Billable box to create a checkmark and add NOTES if you’d like. The CLASS field is optional; talk to us if you’re not familiar with this feature.

 If you worked on two separate service items on the same day for that CUSTOMER:JOB, you would create two individual records. You can also enter billable activities directly on a timesheet by clicking Employees | Enter Time | Use Weekly Timesheet. Once you select the employee NAME at the top, any single activity(ies) you created that week will appear as individual records, and vice versa.

Writing a check or using a credit card for a job-related purchase that should be billed to the customer? You’d fill out these forms in QuickBooks like you usually do, making sure that you document the items or services by highlighting the Items tab, select the correct CUSTOMER:JOB, and make a checkmark in the BILLABLE? column.

If you write a check or charge your credit card for purchases that can be billed to a CUSTOMER:JOB, be sure to record it in QuickBooks.

If you’ll be doing some billable driving for your job, you should also be tracking your mileage in QuickBooks. Open the Company menu and select Enter Vehicle Mileage. If you haven’t created a VEHICLE record in QuickBooks, click <Add New> and easily do so. Complete the rest of the fields and save.

Tip: Do you want to see some of your overhead expenses on job costing reports? Create a CUSTOMER:JOB named “Overhead” and assign related costs to it.

Billing the Billables
When the time comes to invoice your customers (Customers | Create Invoices), you’ll see how your careful work in QuickBooks simplifies that task. Open an invoice form and select a CUSTOMER:JOB. If you’ve entered billable items for him or her, this small window will open:

When you create an invoice for a CUSTOMER:JOB who has billable time, mileage, or other expenses, QuickBooks can automatically add them.

If you leave the first option checked and click OK, another window will open that lists all of the expenses you’ve marked as billable to the customer, arranged by type. Click in the first column of each expense you want to include and click OK. Your invoice containing those entries will open. Do any editing necessary, and then save it.

Note: You’ll probably notice two fields in the Choose Billable Time and Costs window that refer to Markup. This is an advanced concept that we can explore with you, should you want to charge customers more for expenses you’ve incurred on their behalf.

Related Reports

QuickBooks contains a wide variety of reports related to your work billing customers for jobs. Click Reports in the navigation pane or Windows menu, then Jobs, Time & Mileage to see what’s available. Choose a date range and click Run to see them appear with your own data.

If you’ve never worked with jobs in QuickBooks, we strongly recommend that you let us help you here. There are a lot of moving parts, and you don’t want to miss out on any of your efforts or expenses that are billable.