business tips

More Invoicing Tips & Tricks

  By Mariah Venus       Email Mariah

Today I want to talk through invoicing features and some other important aspects of invoicing.

Great Invoicing Features

Most invoicing modules have pre-built tools to gain efficiency and consistency.  Some examples of these tools are listed below:

  • Recurring invoices - most invoicing add-ons and accounting software applications have a recurring feature for invoices.  Utilize this for clients for which you do regular recurring services or have a monthly contract with.  This automation will limit your need for data entry and give you back valuable time!
  • Copy or duplicate - often you may find yourself creating invoices with the same basic items and descriptors.  Most invoicing add-ons and accounting software applications have the ability to copy or duplicate a previously created invoice.  You can do this either for the same customer who often has the same needs or across customers with similar sales.
  • Items - you can create pre-detailed items that include all the applicable data (name, description, price) or even create generic items that have some of the common info -- and allow you to fill in the rest on individual invoices.  i.e. - you provide a service that changes slightly from client to client but is always charged at the same rate. Create a generic item called Services, provide a generic description with room for you to modify it later and leave the price section 0.00.  When it is time to create an invoice, use this item, fill in the blanks in description and update price according to the agreement with your client.   
  • Job costing or business expensing - many tools will actually allow you to associate specific costs or expenses directly with a customer, making it easier to track the items you need to charge your customers.

Planning

Invoicing should be done in accordance with your company policies and processes.  You will want to decide how, what, and when before services even begin.  Keeping your invoicing consistent will not only make the process easier for you, it will keep your clients happier!

Remember, just because you’ve been managing your invoicing the same way forever, doesn’t mean you can’t go back and change settings and modify policies to get things ship-shape now!

 

Accuracy

Finally, check, double check and triple check your invoices before sending them to clients.  Data errors, misspellings, bad grammar or punctuation and/or incorrect totals will cause your clients to lose faith in you and actually make it less likely they’ll pay you quickly.  Remember, your invoices are samples of your business advertising and branding, and you want your invoices to be perfect.  Not only that, but as the communiqué that gets you paid, you want the terms and details to be perfect.  

 

Make sure to check out my first Invoicing Tips & Tricks, too. Subscribe to our posts to get updates sent to your inbox, or check back frequently. 

 

Happy invoicing!

Mobile Payments: What To Look For In The Near Future

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In recent history, payments have been making a change from the traditional use of cash, to payments with cards, to now using our mobile hand-held devices. The transition into mobile devices has been one that started off slow in 2011 with Google creating the platform Google Wallet, but now is increasing rapidly with the likes of Apple, Samsung and major retail stores getting involved, so much so that Forrester forecasts a 48% compound annual growth rate leading to this industry producing $90 billion in annual revenue by 2017. With so many options, you might wonder which product to use, how these products work and/or which would benefit you as a business owner/user. As with any growing industry, there are dozens of options to be aware of, with different ways of addressing the task at hand. We want to discuss some of the main players in the mobile payments market, based on their size and dominance, and their forecasted success based on their technology and accessibility.

The most popular option in the media has been Apple Pay. This is solely due to Apple’s marketing, not to their success in mobile payments thus far. In terms of their mobile payment strategy, Apple uses NFC (near-field communication) in their most up-to-date mobile devices (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, etc.) which can be read by certain point of sale machines. To use this, you wave your mobile device over the pad as you check out, and the system reads the payment information stored on the mobile device. Because this is a recent tool, it is exclusively offered on Apple devices and only 220,000 merchants (2% of all retail stores) have this sort of technology in their shops. In addition, it only has access to 90% of United States credit cards, excluding the smaller, local credit cards. This makes the tool less desirable in a retail market that prefers an all-or-nothing solution. Many different sources in the news have been claiming that this type of system will be more secure than simply using a card to pay, as there is a necessary fingerprint and pin access to use the NFC technology on a mobile device. But with all these benefits, you would think this system would rapidly expand: just ask Google Wallet, which has been attempting this use of NFC for three years with little response from the market.

Google was the first to introduce NFC, with their newest application for their Android platform. The major differences between Google Wallet and Apple Pay are that Google Wallet has a larger current user base (16.4 million, compared to Apple Pay’s 1.2 million as of October 2014) and their ability to integrate with more mobile platforms. Google Wallet does have an issue with the number of point of sale systems that can use the NFC technology, and some of the biggest chains disabling this system for their own sort of mobile payment. For example, chains such as CVS, Walmart, Target, Rite Aid and many others are opting for a different type of mobile payment known as Current C.

Current C has been described for almost three years as having the potential to become the next big mobile payment system. The biggest issue is that it is still a prototype, looking to come out as soon as early 2015. What makes it different is it uses QR codes, which are recognized by most checkout scanners and digital offers. It even has added benefits to the client, such as no swipe fees, which are the processing fee that retailers pay when an individual uses their credit card. The potential target demographic for Current C would be much larger than that of both the Apple Pay and Google Wallet NFC tools combined.

Another application that has some businesses intrigued is LevelUp, a program that offers discounts to customers but also no merchant service fees to businesses. Combining the best of both worlds, LevelUp uses QR codes to scan customer’s mobile device for their payment information and transfers it to the business’ point of sale system via the LevelUp scanner. LevelUp bases its revenue on a percentage of every discount it offers to customers: every time they have a special offer for a customer, LevelUp could see a large percentage of the revenue on that sale, making up for the fact they do not charge a merchant service fee to the client. Because every business needs to purchase the scanner that attaches to their point of sale system, only 14,000 locations have adopted this program, but they contain over 2 million customers. Other similar systems have been adopted by multinational chains such as Starbucks. Starbucks partnered with a major mobile point of sale service called Square in order to make it mobile payment services available in 7,000 of the coffee chain’s outlets. This type of service is slowly being implemented in other chains such as McDonald’s, but due to the cost of updated equipment, it has taken time to adjust.

The jump to mobile payment systems has been addressed by some major companies, and there are more in the prototype stage that could be something to keep an eye on, most notably PayPal and Samsung. PayPal has created an API (application program interface) called PayPal Here, which will allow businesses to connect credit card readers to their point of sale terminals in stores. This option will be more prevalent in smaller merchant shops, competing with the likes of Square. Samsung, the largest cell phone producer in the world, is in talks to acquire LoopPay, a startup which describes itself as the most accepted mobile wallet on the planet. This plan would give Samsung an edge over competitors such as Apple Pay, as they will have access to all credit cards and payment terminals from the get-go. This technology will not use NFC but a magnetic signal which simulates the swiping of the magnetic strip on a card. Its only downside is it lacks the security measures that are offered by NFC-based systems.

More competition, including smaller companies and start-ups, will continue to pave their way into the mobile payments market, making it tough to keep up with the latest technology. Business owners and customers alike should look into the two biggest successes thus far, being Apple Pay (after its major success with iPhone 6) and Samsung (with its acquisition of LoopPay) for their mobile payment needs. But don’t get attached to any of these systems just yet; the mobile payments industry is still developing and could take a new direction at any moment.

Digital Fraud: What It Means For You

Technology has allowed companies to evolve, grow and be more efficient. Unfortunately, with all that is great with technology there is still an inherent risk of fraud that comes with it. This guest piece "How Technology is Shaping the Fight Against Fraud" written by BookKeeping Express CEO Keith Mueller on Inc.com talks about those risks and what small to medium sized business can do to protect themselves from those risks. Some quick takeaways from the article:

  • Double edged sword of technology gets sharper
  • Improved information security will be a major priority
  • Employee theft and fraud will continue to be a serious threat
  • What can companies do?

Fraud will always be a concern for any company of any size. However, with the right processes in place and a proper management structure with the correct checks and balances will help protect against most risks out there that threaten your business.

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Tax season is upon us, are you ready?

Great Tax Tips

BKE CEO Keith Mueller offered up some quick thoughts on “Last-Minute Bookkeeping Tips Before You See the Tax Man” on Entrepreneur.com. We think checklists are especially handy when you’re trying to figure out what to do to make sure you have everything in place for tax prep. Some of his suggestions included:

  • File for an extension
  • Gather all fiscal records
  • Sort and categorize financial documents
  • Make sure all income is documented

If you want more great tips like this, read the full article ““Last-Minute Bookkeeping Tips Before You See the Tax Man” and make sure to sign up for the BKE Newsletter!

BKE's Keith Mueller Talks Employee Theft Prevention During the Holidays

It’s a fact that small to medium size business struggle with occupational fraud during the holidays. BookKeeping Express CEO Keith Mueller wrote "Preventing Holiday Season Employee Theft" in Small Business Opportunities. The article recommends that business owners safeguard their company during the holiday season and beyond with the following steps:

  • Pre-employment background checks
  • More than one employee overseeing the financial system
  • Limit employee access to back-office information
  • Spot-check audits
  • Outsource sensitive financial systems

Enjoy the full article and have a happy, safe and fraud-free holiday season!

Tips for Collecting on Invoices

Fox Business recently spoke with BKE's Scott Rumley for tips on collecting on invoices:

One of the worst things about running a business is getting delinquent customers to pay. For small business owners it’s made worse because unpaid bills can quickly spell a company’s demise.

“During the first five years of the life of any small business effective cash flow management is one of the biggest necessities and stressors of the business owner,” says Scott Rumley, owner of BookKeeping Express Franchise in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “For many organizations the possibility of having to close their doors is a reality they face if their customers are slow to pay their bills or if they chose not to pay at all.”

You may bristle at the thought of having to chase customers down to get paid, but it is a reality that happens all the time. The pain can be alleviated somewhat by laying out the payment policy upfront, billing quickly and often -- and by offering incentives to pay early or even on time.

Read more on the Fox Business Small Business Center.

Financial Reporting Do's and Don'ts

BookKeeping Express Founder and Chairman Greg Jones contributed to the November issue of Franchising World with this great article on Financial Reporting Do's and Don'ts - a testament to how sound financial data will help motivate everyone involved to implement strategic processes and drive toward growth. Click here to explore the digital version of the magazine.