Using QuickBooks Online for the Service Industry : 6 Tips from Marnie Stretch, CPB

January 14, 2016 Bryan Tritt

Say the word “accounting” and many business owners in the service industry cringe since that’s the last thing they want to handle. They want to focus on solving problems for clients rather than balancing the books, which is why they hire you.

Bookkeepers are also in the service industry and QuickBooks® Online (QBO) is their go-to tool to service clients seamlessly.

Lucky for us, we have access to star Intuit® trainer and QuickBooks ProAdvisor® Marnie Stretch, who was kind enough to share some tips on how bookkeepers can help clients in the service industry. Stretch has more than two decades of experience in helping business owners use QBO. She owns a consulting business, thinkQuickBooks, where she teaches right-brained artists and other professionals about the left-brained world of accounting.

Below are Stretch’s six tips, which are applicable to not only the service industry, but also anyone wanting to use QBO for their industry and business.

1. Customize it

The beauty of QBO is that it’s customizable for you and your customer’s needs. Start by using it in Google Chrome, Intuit’s recommended browser for QBO. Adapt the browser to your preferences, whether it’s saving bookmarks or setting up a unique user. Customize reports by adding or deleting columns and removing rows with zeroes. With QBO’s custom reports feature, keep those customizations and don’t waste time recreating your work. Speed up data entry by optimizing a products and services list. Create a list that isn’t too big or too small – make it just the right size to help you be efficient.

“Customization does take time on the front end, but if you take the time to do it in the beginning, it will save you time in the future,” says Stretch. “Be sure to check out the new category feature for even better organization and information from your reports.”

2. Get Comfortable with the QBO App

The world is your oyster, and thanks to smartphones, it’s easier than ever to work on the go. QBO offers an app with many features for both iOS and Android. Features include letting you take pictures of receipts to include with your bookkeeping, gathering customer signatures on estimates and invoices that help customers pay while face-to-face, and running real-time reports to access your business’ books anytime and anywhere.

3. Activate Intuit Payments

Make it easy to accept customer payments by setting up Intuit Payments, a free tool that automatically syncs up with QuickBooks. You can even collect monthly payments automatically by setting up recurring Sales Receipts. You’ll be charged 2.5%, plus 25 cents per transaction. Currently, Intuit Payments accepts Visa, MasterCard and Discover. There are no setup fees and no commitment, making it ideal for customer payments.

4. Use Other Apps to be More Efficient

Don’t let your job take longer than it needs to with the help of apps that can help streamline your workflow. There are hundreds of apps in the Apple and Android app stores, and some may be better suited for a specific client based on their industry. Within QBO, there’s an app tab that suggests some tried and true apps to make bookkeeping less painful. For example, TSheets tracks an employee’s time and integrates with QuickBooks, Jobber schedules appointments and is perfect for landscapers or HVAC specialists, and Hubdoc stores your financial documents, such as receipts or expenses, in one place. There are many general or specialized apps, and while it can sometimes be a challenge to find the right mix for each of your clients, it will pay off in the long run, says Stretch.

5. Have Consistent and Open Communication

Every client relationship is different. Whatever the workflow scenario, it’s in your best interest to understand how the team works, who takes on which tasks and when tasks are complete. If everyone has access to the QuickBooks file, it’s important to communicate with each other when the files are ready to be worked on. Accountants and bookkeepers can do very different jobs and the client should be aware of each person’s role, says Stretch.

6. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Don’t spend longer completing a task than you need to with QBO’s intuitive and easy-to-use shortcuts. Know your keyboard shortcuts and you’ll speed up your work incrementally. For example, don’t waste time hunting for the right date; instead, click the “T” and you’ll automatically move to “T”oday’s date. Clicking the + or the – moves you forward and back a day. Try out the  “W” or “K” in week and “M” or “H” in month for faster avenues to reach the correct date. And, when entering dates in the current year, there’s no need to enter the year since QBO will add it for you.

Do your job faster with other keyboard shortcuts by clicking “ctrl + alt + ?” on a PC and “command + alt + ?” on a Mac.

Closing Thoughts

Bookkeepers can bring a ton of value to their clients in the service industry and beyond, and they can increase that value by utilizing these six tips. Have a specific industry you’re serving and need relevant tips and tricks for QBO? Let us know in the comments and we’ll interview one of our experts.

About Bryan Tritt

Bryan Tritt Bryan Tritt is a social media specialist, a recovering lawyer and a former sports business scientist who leads communications for Intuit Canada's accounting software. Follow him on Twitter: @IntuitBry. See all of Bryan's articles…

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