A Technology Guide for Salon and Spa Businesses

In this day of age, using the right technology is an important part of running a business. However, technology progresses so quickly that it can be difficult to know exactly what software, apps, and mobile devices to look for. And on top of that, every business has its own unique needs so what works for the restaurant across the street might not work for your salon or spa business.

In this blog post, we’ll list the different types of technology salon and spa businesses should use. Before we start, it’s important to note that we recommend businesses use cloud software. Since it’s hosted online, cloud software is accessible through any internet-connected computer or mobile device. Additionally, different systems are able to connect and share data, automating various responsibilities for business owners. Now let’s get into it.

Salon and spa management software

Your main goal is to get clients to come in so you can in turn provide them with a great experience. You can accomplish this goal with the help of the following technology:

  • Appointment scheduling software – You can easily schedule and track client appointments using scheduling software. It can even connect with your website so clients can view what times are available and book an appointment online.

  • Inventory software – If you sell any products, you can track your stock using inventory software. It can sync with your point of sale system so you always have an accurate count of each item you sell.

Financial software and mobile apps

Keeping accurate and up-to-date financial records is essential to any business. The following technology can help you manage your salon or spa business’s finances:

  • Accounting software – Your business needs to maintain a general ledger that has all your transactions recorded and organized. Cloud accounting software can connect with your online bank account and other financial software so your records are automatically updated.

  • Merchant processor – Make it easy for your clients to pay you using a credit or debit card with a merchant processor.

  • Point of sale (POS) – You can charge clients for specific services/products using a POS system. And all along, you’re keeping detailed sales records that can help you make smart business decisions.

  • Payroll software – If you have any employees, you can use payroll software to track their hours, tips, benefits, and withholdings.

  • Bill payment software – You can keep track of all your bills and make sure they’re paid on time using bill payment software.

  • Receipt app – If incur expenses outside of your business, take a photo of the receipt using a mobile app so the details are instantly sent to your general ledger and other financial software.

  • Cloud document storage – Instead of keeping a disorganized filing cabinet around, store your documents online so they’re out of the way but still easy to get to.

Marketing technology

Marketing helps your business stand out among your competitors. Here is some basic technology you can use to get the word out:

  • Website – Every business should have a website but salon and spa owners in particular can attract clients by showcasing their business on the internet. Be sure your website links with your appointment scheduling software so your clients can book online.

  • Social media – People are on social media and your business should be too. You can share photos, video, and other information that can encourage people to book an appointment.

  • Email software – You can keep clients coming back with a sound email marketing strategy. You can send them special offers and even a monthly newsletter so you stay on their mind.

And a few more

We’ve covered the main technology salon and spa businesses should use but here are few more worth considering:

  • Streaming music – Set a pleasant mood in your studio with the right music

  • Mobile lighting/sound/temperature control – Even lights, speakers, and the thermostat can be controlled on a mobile device or computer.

  • iPads/tablets – They have so many features that can help you run your salon or spa business. Plus, you can always have your tablet handy so you don’t have to wait until you’re back at your computer to take care of anything.

BookKeeping Express (BKE) specializes in accounting and bookkeeping services for salons, spas, and other health and wellness businesses. We can help you manage your finances and advise you on the best technology to use in your business operations. Visit our health and wellness page to learn more.

Expense Management Tips for Real Estate Agents

Running a real estate business comes with its own unique set of challenges. Much of your business is conducted outside of the office, making expense management more complicated than it is for businesses that operate from a fixed location. You have the extra responsibility of holding onto your receipts and later recording and categorizing your expenses when you are in your office.

That being said, proper expense management is an important part of running any business. You can maintain a healthy cashflow and maximize your tax deductions by properly tracking your expenses. In this blog post, we’ll outline the different types of expenses real estate businesses typically incur and provide advice on how they can best be managed.

Common expenses

Common expenses consist of any money your business spends in its efforts to generate revenue. They’re paid for directly with business funds, which makes them easy to track and record in your general ledger. Some examples of common expenses include:

  • Advertising expenses – websites, mailing lists, print advertising, online advertising, promotional materials, and logo clothing
  • Professional fees – bookkeeping, accounting, and legal fees
  • Business travel – cab, bus, train or plane fares, tolls, and parking fees
  • Insurance – health insurance, errors and omissions insurance, business liability insurance, and business equipment insurance
  • Professional dues and fees – multiple listing service dues and dues paid to the local Chamber of Commerce, realtor associations, and real estate license renewal fees

Common expenses with special rules

Even though common expenses are easy to track, some have special rules when it comes to including them as a tax deduction. For instance, some real estate agents like to give gifts to their clients when a sale closes. The cost is deductible but only up to $25 per client per year. The cost of business meals and entertainment are 50 percent deductible so taking a client to dinner or to a special event can be a beneficial alternative to giving them a gift. You can learn more about the tax implications of giving gifts to clients in this blog post.

However, when businesses unfortunately get audited, it’s sometimes because of these expenses. Be sure to save your receipts and note the purpose of the gift, meal, or event and the client you treated. Additionally, there are reciept apps for mobile phones that we’ll cover more at the end of this blog post.

Special circumstance expenses

Special circumstance expenses generally don’t get paid for with business funds. Because of this, it’s more challenging to record them in your general ledger and extra documentation is needed when you deduct them from your taxes.

Two examples of special circumstance expenses typically associated with real estate businesses are home office expenses and vehicle usage.

Home office expenses are deductible but you need to first make sure your business meets the standards set by the IRS. If it does, you then need to properly calculate the deduction. You can learn more about how to qualify and calculate your home office deduction in this blog post.

The cost of driving in the course of running your real estate business is also deductible. But only certain types of drives are deductible so tracking your mileage is critical. You can learn more about the mileage deduction in this blog post.

Use technology to help you manage your expenses

Real estate agents tend to have a more difficult time managing their expenses than other professions but mobile apps and cloud software can be used to make things easier. Here’s what we suggest you use:

  • Receipt app – Instead of stuffing receipts into your wallet, just take a photo of it on your mobile phone. The receipt app will send the details to your general ledger
  • Cloud document storage – Get rid of that filing cabinet once and for all. You can store your documents in the cloud so they’re out of the way but still accessible
  • Mileage app – You can track the exact number of miles you drive for business. The app will update your records so you're prepared for tax time
  • Cloud accounting software – All your business transactions need to be recorded in your general ledger. Cloud accounting software connects with your apps and software so your records automatically get updated

BookKeeping Express (BKE) specializes in accounting and bookkeeping services for real estate businesses. We can help you manage and track your expenses so you can focus on helping your clients buy and sell homes. Visit our real estate agents page to learn more.

Go Paperless and Store Your Documents in the Cloud

At BookKeeping Express (BKE), we encourage our clients to reduce the amount of paper they use in their business. Not only does it help in their efforts to run an environmentally-sustainable business – it also makes it easier for them to manage back-office responsibilities and collaborate with their bookkeeper since documents are readily available in the cloud.

Simplify your back-office responsibilities

Many business owners struggle to keep track of bills, receipts, bank statements, and other important documents. They tend to pile up on a desk or get stored in a filing cabinet where they’re quickly forgotten. When the time comes to pay bills, categorize expenses, and update the books, there is a large stack of paper to organize and make sense of.

Using cloud document storage, you can upload these documents as they come in. When you sit down to take care of your back-office responsibilities, you’ll easily be able to find the documents and information you need.

Collaborate with your bookkeeper

Businesses traditionally work with a local bookkeeper. But thanks to the cloud, business owners and their bookkeeper can now collaborate online, so a local bookkeeper is no longer required.

When your important financial documents are available online, your bookkeeper can update your records in real time. They can ensure your bills are paid on time, perform bank reconciliation on a regular basis, and identify any issues early on.

Go paperless with Hubdoc

One of the keys to making any change in your business is to implement the right tools. When it comes to document storage, the financial specialists at BKE love Hubdoc – a cloud document storage service that automates data entry.

Successful business owners are switching to cloud software. Different systems hosted in the cloud are able to connect and share data, automating much of the tedious back-office responsibilities many business owners don’t have the time and patience for.

Hubdoc syncs with both QuickBooks Online and Xero, our prefered cloud accounting systems. It also connects with Bill.com, which the BKE bookkeeping team uses to manage our clients’ accounts payable. When you upload your documents to Hubdoc, it extracts data and automatically sends it to your general ledger and billing system.

BookKeeper Express helps our clients select and implement cloud technology that can improve their business operations. Visit our features page to learn more about how we can serve your business.

Expense Management Tips for Home Service Contractors

Properly tracking expenses can be a hard part of running any business. But for businesses in the home service contracting industry – such as plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians  the responsibility can be especially difficult. Much of your expenses are likely incurred while you’re in the field, so you need to hang onto your receipts and remember to update your financial records later on. 

Expenses are funds that are spent or costs that are incurred in your business’s effort to generate revenue. By understanding how to track and categorize your expenses, you can ensure your business’s funds are properly spent. In this blog post, we’ll outline the different types of expenses  home service contracting businesses commonly have and provide tips on how they can be properly managed.

Common Expenses

Common expenses are general or operational costs that are not associated with any specific client or job. They tend to be easy to track and record in your general ledger since they’re usually paid for directly with business funds. Some examples of common expenses include:

  • Advertising expenses - websites, mailing lists, print advertising, online advertising, promotional materials, and logo clothing
  • Professional fees - bookkeeping, accounting, and legal fees
  • Business travel - cab, bus, train or plane fares, tolls, and parking fees
  • Insurance - health insurance, business liability insurance, and business equipment insurance
  • Professional dues and fees - dues paid to the local Chamber of Commerce, trade associations, business license, professional license fees, renewal fees, and franchise fees
  • Continuing education - business journals, online courses, contractor license recertification classes, seminars, class materials, and related travel

Special rules expenses

Some expenses have special rules set by the IRS. In order to correctly deduct these expenses on your taxes, you need to make sure you understand the rules and follow them.

For example, business meals and entertainment are only 50 percent deductible, which can be a source of audit trouble for some business owners. Bookkeepers traditionally advise their clients to keep the receipts for these expenses and note who they met with and the purpose of the meal or meeting. However, there are now mobile apps that can be used to take a photo of a receipt and instantly upload the details to your general ledger.

Special circumstances expenses

Some expenses do not flow through your general ledger or get paid for directly with business funds. In these cases, you’ll need extra documentation to make sure the expense gets categorized correctly.

Two examples of special circumstances expenses are home office and personal vehicle expenses. Even if you run your entire business from your house, you probably still pay your mortgage, property taxes, and other other home-related expenses using your personal funds. Similarly, you might use your personal vehicle for work but pay for gas and maintenance out of your own pocket.

With the proper documents, you can categorize these expenses in your general ledger and possibly claim a home office deduction and vehicle deduction on your business taxes.

In the case of the vehicle deduction, mobile apps are available that will track the miles you drive for business purposes and upload the details to your business’s records.

Cost of Goods Sold

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) are expenses directly attributable to creating a product or service. This includes the cost of raw materials, direct labor, and sometimes other service-related expenditures (often referred to as Cost of Sales).

COGS can be deducted from Gross Revenue in order to calculate your Gross Profit. Your Gross Profit margin is the amount of money you have left for operational and general costs and remaining profit. Understanding your COGS and being able to calculate your Gross Profit is one of the best ways to determine if your pricing is correct and what your sales goals should be.

For home service contractors, examples of COGS include the costs of parts and materials, labor, and even merchant fees from accepting credit card payments. Keeping tabs on these costs might sound tedious but it’s an important part of running a successful home service contracting business.

Use technology to simplify expense management

With the right technology, you can make it easy to track and manage your expenses. Here are few types of apps and software your home service contracting business should be using:

  • Receipts app - Receipts get lost or damaged. Use a receipt imaging mobile app to take a photo of your receipts so the details are instantly sent to your general ledger
  • Mileage app - You can track the miles you drive for business purposes using mobile GPS mileage apps
  • Online document storage - Filing cabinets take up too much room and get disorganized. You can go paperless and store all your documents in the cloud with online document storage
  • Cloud scheduling & invoicing software - Successful businesses are adopting cloud software. Home service contractors can automate much of their business processes by using cloud-based scheduling and invoicing software that connect and share data with other systems
  • Cloud accounting software - All your business transactions need to make it into your general ledger. You can ensure that happens by having a completely cloud-based back-office setup with accounting software at the center.

BookKeeping Express (BKE) is the leader in accounting and bookkeeping for home service contractors. We can help your business manage and track your expenses so you can focus on serving your clients. Visit our home service contractors page to learn more.

Remodel Safe Harbor Rule: A Tax Incentive for Multi-Unit Restaurants and Retailers

If you own a restaurant or retail business, remodeling your store when the time is right is often a good investment. It can not only attract more customers to come in and spend money, it can also help you improve efficiency and even increase the value of your business and the building it operates in.

But a remodeling project is also a major logistical undertaking. It often means temporarily closing down – putting a pause on revenue. There might also be other inconveniences like laying off your staff, obtaining construction permits, and managing the contractors doing the work.

And then there is the cost. Projecting how much an entire remodel will cost can be hard to do. Unexpected problems happen, deadlines get missed, and plans and budgets often go by the wayside. Because of concerns like these, many business owners decide the bad outweighs the good and decide to put off remodeling for too long.

After lobbying efforts from the National Restaurant Association and other organizations, the IRS recently lessened the financial burden of a remodel by issuing the remodel safe harbor rule in Rev. Proc. 2015-56.

The rule, which only applies to businesses that are publicly held or have audited financial statements, allows for up to 75 percent of remodel costs to be immediately deducted in the same tax year. The other 25 percent is capitalized and depreciated over time.

This means that multi-unit businesses and franchises now have a big incentive to remodel their stores. Prior to this rule, depreciation was the only way to write off remodel costs on your taxes. However, fully depreciating an asset like property can take as long as 39 years, meaning costs are incrementally recovered each year. Under the remodel safe harbor rule, you can remodel your stores now and deduct the majority of the total cost on your taxes the same year.

BookKeeping Express selected as the mandated bookkeeping provider for all UFood Grill, Amada and All About People franchises

ARLINGTON, VA - BookKeeping Express (BKE) is proud to announce we have been selected as the trusted accounting and bookkeeping service provider for all UFood Grill franchisees. The quick-service health food restaurant will open its first franchise location in May and BKE will manage the implementation of their back-office technology and all the day-to-day financial tasks. As future UFood Grill franchises open, BKE will be the mandated outsourced bookkeeping and accounting service provider.

“As we continue to position UFood Grill as the leader in the franchised healthy fast-casual space, we made a decision to protect our franchisees from having to spend time and energy on anything other than building an exceptional customer experience around delicious and nutritious food,” UFood Grill CEO Salvatore Rincione says. “BKE helps us lower the barrier of entry for prospective franchisees, by removing an intimidating set of back-office functions. BKE also makes us feel at ease knowing that our franchisees books are accurate, up-to-date and standardized across all of our locations.”

BKE has a long track record of providing best-in-class outsourced accounting and bookkeeping to quick-service restaurant franchises, as well as franchise concepts in a variety of other industries. BKE is already the mandated bookkeeping partner for all new Amada Senior Care franchises, as well as every All About People franchisee. Additionally, BKE is a bookkeeping partner for Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill, Anytime Fitness, Great Clips, Waxing the City, Bottle & Bottega, Dogtopia and a number of Dwyer brands including Mr. Rooter, Aire Serv and Five Star Painting.

“UFood Grill is a great franchise concept with tons of potential,” BKE CEO Keith Mueller says. “Our team of expert bookkeepers is excited to start helping their franchisees grow and succeed by providing the best bookkeeping services available to restaurants like theirs.”

BKE provides the best back-office services available to franchises by combining bookkeeping expertise, technology and a deep understanding of their clients’ business operations. BKE ensures each one of the franchisees it serves keep accurate and up-to-date accounting records that comply with their franchisor’s accounting standards and use the franchisor’s preferred reporting format and metrics. Franchisors use these reports to aggregate the financials for their Item 19 reporting obligations. Having BKE as a trusted provider attracts new franchisees, often first time business owners themselves, letting them hit the ground running with no accounting or bookkeeping experience needed.

More about BookKeeping Express

BKE was founded in 1984 in California and has since grown into the leader of outsourced accounting and bookkeeping for franchises and small- and medium-sized businesses. Now headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, BKE employs a team of bookkeepers who are experts in technological and financial best practices for the industries and franchises we serve.

We remove the need for franchisees and business owners to spend time on day-to-day accounting tasks by providing back-office software setup, bank reconciliation, payroll, expense management, financial reporting and many more services.

Visit bookkeepingexpress.com to learn more.

6 Trends in Employee Management and Payroll

Extra time is a scarce resource when you’re a business owner. Managing all your day-to-day responsibilities keeps you plenty occupied, leaving little time to keep up with the latest developments in business management and technology. But it’s vital to think about the big picture and consider new ways to make your business run more efficiently.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the latest trends in employee management and payroll technology. Modern payroll software has many advantages that allow for employers to engage with their staff in new ways. Here are six trends in employee management and payroll all business owners should know:

1. New types of employees

It’s becoming more common for businesses to hire employees on a short-term or part-time basis. These types of workers can help out during busy times or provide the necessary skills for specific projects. However, these new types of employees are often given different compensation and benefits than full-time employees.

Classifying these employees correctly and keeping the proper records has become much easier than it once was. Using modern payroll software, you can easily add temporary employees and set them up to be paid accordingly.

2. Outsourcing to 1099 contractors

Like short-term and part-time employees, 1099 contractors are becoming a popular alternative to hiring full-time staff. There are some major differences between 1099 contractors and W2 employers, including how income tax is withheld.

Cloud payroll software allows you to classify contractors and employees correctly, so you can avoid issues with the people who work for you and the agencies you pay taxes to.

3. Staying compliant

Every business is required to provide specific information to the IRS in order to comply with tax regulations. And the responsibility has grown in the past few years with the Affordable Care Act taking effect.

The good news is cloud payroll software helps business owners with their tax requirements. It can calculate what you owe in taxes and auto fill the necessary forms for you. You can then e-file the forms online, often directly from the payroll software.

4. Connect payroll and accounting software

More and more businesses are continuing to adopt cloud software since different systems are able to connect and share data. For example, after your staff gets paid, your payroll software can automatically update the general ledger in your accounting software. It can also connect with your HR system and update the benefits accrued by each one of your employees.

5. Access for your staff

You’ve probably experienced employees asking about how many hours they’ve worked during the pay period or the number of PTO days they have available. Keeping track of these details used to be difficult for employees but they now have this information at their fingertips.

Your employees can access your payroll software and get a complete view of their hours, wages, benefits, and more. They’ll only have access to their own personal information so no sensitive company information is at risk.

6. Automate pay day

Paying your employees is traditionally quite the endeavor. You have to calculate the correct hours, wages, and withholdings for each employee and ensure everyone’s final pay is absolutely correct. You also need to meet very specific deadlines so checks and direct deposits are prepared in time for pay day.

The process is now much easier. Your employees can enter their hours into your cloud-based payroll system and it will automatically calculate everyone’s correct pay. All you need to do is review the details and make sure everything is accurate.

Advancements in technology are changing the way people work and get paid. By taking advantage of the capabilities of cloud payroll software, you can save time and have the confidence that your business is meeting its employment and tax responsibilities. You can also hire different types of workers that meet your business’s specific needs and know they’ll be compensated correctly without any extra work on your end.

BookKeeping Express (BKE) provides payroll services for small and medium-sized businesses. We can set up a modern, cloud-based payroll system for your business and help you manage it. Visit our payroll features page to learn more.