Author Topic: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?  (Read 1572 times)

miller

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Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« on: April 26, 2017, 09:03:41 AM »
To make a long story short I had the opportunity to buy 1/2 of the business that my wife's family started over 100 years ago and decided I couldn't pass it up.  I'm giving up a very secure teaching job to be a business owner.  I wasn't happy in the teaching profession any longer and I've always loved the business. 
The business still uses carbon copies to create receipts.  I would like to spend less time on bookkeeping by being more efficient.  Any suggestions as to what software would be good for tracking sales, creating reports, and also creating invoices/receipts quickly?  I've looked into Quickbooks, but haven't used it yet.  Is it simple to create receipts for custom orders quickly and print them out on the spot?

SeattleCPA

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 10:54:44 AM »
If you guys are still using carbon paper, you are probably under-employing technology in dozens of other ways, too.

I say this not to throw rocks, but to suggest that it seems very possible you can systematically inject technology-based solutions and processes and improvements and get a giant, giant bump in efficiency or dramatic drops in costs.

A while back in a linked in group of single owner CPA firms, I got into a friendly argument with some CPAs about how technology had or should impact our businesses... Some argued there wasn't much opportunity. But see what you think about my rebuttal. (This is industry specific but it hopefully gives you a flavor of what's possible.)

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NeonPegasus

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 11:07:08 AM »
I would evaluate the different systems the company is using for various processes before deciding on something for printing receipts. Do they create POs? Do they create estimates? How do they submit invoices? How do they get paid? Who does the books? Who does the taxes?

You may find that a general software such as Quickbooks would be great. You may also find that there are programs tailored to their industry is better.

I have a metal fabrication business and use QB Contractor Pro. We create estimates. If a customer signs off on the job, we convert the estimate into an invoice. When they pay the invoice, the invoice gets a "Paid" stamp across it and it can serve as a receipt. I use it for bookkeeping as well and set up the chart of accounts to mirror what my accountant uses so all of our reports are easy for them to read and they can send me account-specific general journals to make at the end of the year to close out the books.

The job costing and profitability reports leave something to be desired as it appears you must bill the customer for your hours for your labor to appear on the reports. We don't do that - we estimate a certain number of hours and whether we go over or under, our final price doesn't change. That has been pretty disappointing but I don't know of any software that would provide as much of what we need at that price point.

That being said, my parents own a pest control business and had a lot of different needs. They purchased software specifically for pest control companies that helps them put together routes, track employee payments, etc.

I would recommend that you spend 3-6 months learning how the business currently works before trying to change the software. That will give you time to understand where technology would help the most and, therefore, which software would be the best choice for your business.

Congrats and good luck!

miller

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2017, 11:53:50 AM »
Thanks for the advice!  I definitely plan on getting my feet under me before I change anything drastic. There are two owners who are 50/50 partners and I'm buying the older owner's shares.  The other owner (FIL) is excited about making changes, especially with technology.  I'm sure we'll eventually make changes in other areas with technology as well, but as far as being more efficient with time I think bookkeeping will have the biggest initial impact.  Going into this with two young kids at home, I'd like to be as efficient as possible.

With This Herring

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2017, 09:51:37 PM »
*snip*
I would recommend that you spend 3-6 months learning how the business currently works before trying to change the software. That will give you time to understand where technology would help the most and, therefore, which software would be the best choice for your business.

Congrats and good luck!

QuickBooks is very commonly used for small companies because you can go back and fix misposted entries easily.  If the business is retail (like a hardware store, a shoe store, etc.) with lots of little transactions, there are third party programs that will interface between the register and QuickBooks so that the people working the register don't need to know QB and you can improve your inventory management.  But, yes, QB can set up invoices quickly, once the customers are entered into the system and you have customized the invoice template as you like it.

Big request:  If an accountant does the company's taxes at the end of the year, make sure that a closing date password is set as the fiscal year-end as soon as the accountant takes a copy for the year-end work.  An issue with switching to QB is that people get tempted to go back and change prior year information, which can cause a big headache.

+1 for learning how things work over a series of months before making changes to the current system.
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Doubleh

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2017, 12:40:16 AM »
We could probably offer better guidance if we knew more about the type of business, as that will drive the features that are important. Do you hold physical stock? Or just bill for time? Lots of small customers or a few larger ones? Cash payments, check, card? Do you have EPOS (electronic cash register)?

Given the caveat I don't know of any specific needs I have had good experience of xero. It is cos based which means you can raise invoices from your phone, and do the heavier lifting from your ipad or desktop. It is pretty powerful but also reportedly easier to get to grips with for non accountants than me traditional software like quick books.

Most importantly given that you say you want to apply technology to all aspects of the business is that it has lots of API interfaces, so it can automatically connect to your company's  bank account and automate bank recs, interface with a payment provider, payroll, crm etc. You can even have someone build your own software to interface with it. For example I have a connection with a SAAS  software business where I introduced xero. They have built a link between xero's API and their own product that means customer accounts in their system are automatically locked or unlocked depending on whether they have paid their account in Xero - as a result of which non payment has disappeared and they have saved tons of time on accounts receivable. Of course they had the skills to do this themselves but it shows the capability and you could always hire someone to build the extension you need.

craiglepaige

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2017, 01:24:16 PM »
I really want to know the type of biz only because of it's longevity. Are you allowed to disclose the details?
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Fishindude

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2017, 09:10:40 AM »
Hook up with a good accountant that will help guide you into modern accounting practices.  Something like Quikbooks will work fine for most small businesses.
Taking some accounting classes at a community college wouldn't be a bad idea either.   

Many small business have owners are very talented at the actual work of the business, but go broke because they are too busy doing the work to send bills and manage the money.

Proud Foot

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2017, 01:35:38 PM »
Thanks for the advice!  I definitely plan on getting my feet under me before I change anything drastic. There are two owners who are 50/50 partners and I'm buying the older owner's shares.  The other owner (FIL) is excited about making changes, especially with technology.  I'm sure we'll eventually make changes in other areas with technology as well, but as far as being more efficient with time I think bookkeeping will have the biggest initial impact.  Going into this with two young kids at home, I'd like to be as efficient as possible.

It sounds like you will not have any problems getting the other owner on board with making changes. Is this correct? As far as software it seems like everyone else has hit the major considerations. Does the company have a CPA prepare the tax returns? Sit down with them and see what type of systems the tax prep software works with and ask the CPA for their suggestions.  I am sure they would be overjoyed for you to move to an electronic system.

SC93

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2017, 02:53:12 PM »
I totally agree with doubleh. If we know what type of business it is we might be able to lead you in a direct path as to where to go.

Goldielocks

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Re: Bought into Family Business - Billing advice?
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2017, 11:05:47 PM »
DH used carbon copy receipts, and at the end of the week I would enter them into the accounting system.

Why?  That little receipt book was easy to use in shop, storage shipping floor, or even at a customer location.   And yes, DH is a super-user of tech.  But, with less than 10 receipts in a peak week done this way (most orders were on-line), the ease and convenience of this instant receipting method was very hard to beat.