QuickBooks provides multiple ways to get information about your customers, and their payments, and your company itself. The software’s Snapshots provide quick, thorough overviews.
What do you do when you need to get information in QuickBooks about customers or about payments they’ve made in QuickBooks? You have several options. You could, for example:
One of QuickBooks’ strengths is its flexibility. It helps you find the exact information you’re looking for in a variety of ways. Which one you choose at any given time depends on what screen you’re working on at the moment and precisely what slice of data you need.
A Home Base
The desktop version of QuickBooks doesn’t have a “dashboard,” like web-based financial applications do. Dashboards are like home pages on steroids. Rather than just providing navigational tools and menus, Snapshots display charts and grids and lists representing the data that you’d most likely want to see when you first log on, like account balances, summaries of income and expenses, and high-priority tasks, with links to related activity screens. You can usually customize these.
QuickBooks’ Reminders tell you what needs to be done either today or very soon. But they don’t reveal anything about your financial status. Snapshots do. There are three versions: Company, Payments, and Customer.
Figure 1: The QuickBooks Customer Snapshot sums up each customer’s activity and history in a one-page view.
Let’s look at the Customer Snapshot to see how these work. To find it, click on Snapshots in the left vertical navigation pane. When the window opens, make sure that the Customer tab is active; if not, click on it. Click on the arrow next to the CUSTOMER field in the center of the very top to select a customer.
You’ll see three columns of information here. The left pane displays some commonly sought numbers (like Total Sales) and some numbers that you might have trouble finding any other way (Average days to pay, etc.). In the middle, you’ll see Recent Invoices and Recent Payments. And the right section (not shown in the screen shot) includes two customizable graphs, Sales History and Best Selling Items.
This is the default layout, the information boxes you’ll see when you first open the Company Snapshot. To remove any of them, click on the X in the upper right corner. You can restore them at any time by clicking the arrow next to Add Content in the upper left and then clicking the +Add button next to the one you want.
You can also move the blocks into different positions on the page. Grab one by clicking on its header and holding it, dragging it to the preferred position, and releasing it.
Figure 2: You can add, delete, and move blocks of data around in the Customer Snapshot.
Users who have been assigned access to the data that each Snapshot contains can customize their own views by adding or deleting sections and rearranging them. So each employee can have his or her own unique-looking Snapshots, though the real-time data in all of them will be the same.
Note: If you’ve given employees besides yourself access to QuickBooks, it’s important that you assign permission levels to them. You probably don’t want everyone to be able to see and modify everything in your file. We can help you set these up.
The other two Snapshots are more complex, containing more data options. They can, however, be customized in the same ways that you personalized the Customer screen. The Payments Snapshot can give you a quick update on things like Recent Transactions and A/R by Aging Period.
The Company Snapshot lets you display up to 12 lists and charts, including:
This would be a good page to use as your dashboard (home page), especially since it can also show you your Reminders. With the Company Snapshot open, go to Edit | Preferences | Desktop View | My Preferences and click on the button in front of Save current desktop. Remove the checkmark in front of Show Home page when opening company file if one is there.
QuickBooks’ Snapshots can get you up to speed quickly on critical elements of your accounting file, but there are other reports that you should run regularly, including complex standard financials reports that require expert analysis. We can help you interpret these, which in turn will help you make smarter, more informed business decisions.
With the holidays and year-end over, you can turn your attention to catching up with your customers.
It would be nice if we could neatly wrap up every accounting month or quarter or year neatly, with all of our transactions completed. All current bills and invoices would be paid, physical inventory counts would match the quantities in our records, and all purchase orders would be fulfilled.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work like that. Businesses and individuals get caught up in the flurry of activity that occurs every December, and work gets delayed.
So it’s a good idea to take stock of your accounts receivable in January. Most people are back in the office and ready to take on the new year’s tasks. QuickBooks Online makes this catch-up work easier with its group of related reports.
It’s likely that you at some point have run one of QuickBooks Online’s accounts receivable reports, A/R Aging Summary, to see a list of past due invoice payments. But there are many other reports. Familiarizing yourself with them can help you throughout the year, not just in January when you’re trying to put your financials back in order.
To see the whole list, click on Reports in the left vertical toolbar. If the All Reports link is not underlined, click on it. Then click Manage Accounts Receivable.
Figure 1: This is a partial list of the accounts receivable reports offered in QuickBooks Online.
You probably don’t need to run every report in this group frequently, but there are some that can provide the insight you need when you’re trying to tie up loose ends and prepare for the rest of the year. They include:
Contacting customers in an attempt to collect past-due payments is probably not your favorite thing to do. Let us know if you want help customizing QuickBooks Online and using its other tools to minimize late remittances.
Seeing the Data You Need
QuickBooks Online’s report templates are constructed to display the data that most businesspeople want to see. You have tremendous control, though, over the columns that appear. Customization options on the site are quite generous.
Figure 2: QuickBooks Online offers countless options for the data that is displayed in its reports. We can help you work with these if you’re new to report customization.
Open the Customer Balance Detail report and click the Customize button in the upper left. There’s very little that you can’t modify in QuickBooks Online reports. Click on each link in the left vertical navigation tool to get a sense of what’s possible.
If you alter the options in a report and think you’d like to run it again in the future with the same modifications but refreshed data, click Save Customizations in the upper left after you’ve finished making your changes. Type a new name for this modified report in the field provided in the small window that opens. When you want to generate it again, go to All Reports | My Custom Reports to find it.
We strongly encourage you to customize at least some of your reports. This kind of zeroing in on the exact set of data you want can help you evaluate your current financial status — and make better business decisions.
Accounting is about more than just numbers. QuickBooks lets you make documents available from within the program itself.
You could call QuickBooks a “green” computer program. It can conserve reams of paper by storing customer and vendor records, for example, emailing transaction forms, and accepting online payments.
Most small businesses are a long way from being “paperless offices,” despite the predictions so many people made when PCs became commonplace. Even though you’re making an effort to be as digital as possible with your accounting files, not everyone else is yet. So you still have to deal with paper.
And you’re probably still consulting paper documents or stored computer files or scanned images that relate to your accounting data. QuickBooks makes it possible to keep this information close at hand, easily accessible from the software itself.
The Doc Center
QuickBooks provides a centralized area for managing the documents you want to keep close at hand. The Doc Center contains tools you’ll need to work with your documents. From here, you can:
Figure 1: You’ll use the tools in the QuickBooks Doc Center to work with the documents you want to have available from within the program.
There are probably times when you have supporting documentation for invoices or customer and item records, for example. In these cases, you can attach those background documents to the related QuickBooks forms.
It’s not difficult to work with documents in QuickBooks. But if you don’t have much experience working with file attachments or scanning paper forms, we can walk you through the process.
To get started, click on the Docs tab in the left vertical pane or open the Company menu and select Documents | Doc Center. You’ll see a screen that looks like the one pictured above.
Let’s say you have a special price list you often need to consult. Click the Add icon. A window then opens that contains a directory of all of the folders and files on your PC and any external storage areas. Browse to the pricing document you created earlier and double-click it. QuickBooks will return you to the main Doc Center screen, and you’ll see the name of your file and the time added in the first row of the data table there.
Figure 2: Once you’ve added files to the Doc Center, you can view and add details or open the original document.
Click in the box in front of the file name, and buttons in the lower right of the screen will light up. Click on View Details, and a small window opens. You can enter information in fields here to add a Title, Description, Keywords, and Comments. Click Save & Close when you’re done. Other buttons here let you Open the file or Remove it.
Note: To bring in documents, you can also drag and drop them from Outlook, folders, or your desktop. We can help you learn how to do this.
Scan a Document
You can also scan documents directly from your scanner into QuickBooks. Click Scan. The QuickBooks Scan Manager should open and locate your printer or scanner. After you’ve selected it and your other Scan Options, click the Scan button. If you’ve opted to see a preview, that page will appear for your approval.
Click Done, and you’ll have several options for working with the image. When you’ve finished, click Done Scanning and enter any desired descriptive details. Click OK, and the Doc Center will display again with your new scanned document in the list.
Attach to Forms
Figure 3: Many QuickBooks forms display the Attach File icon.
If you have supporting documentation for an invoice, for example, you can easily make it available from the form itself. Click the Attach File icon and select your file using the Doc Center’s tools. Once you’ve added an attachment to a form, the icon will display the number of documents that are available there.
Your computer’s storage space may be well organized, but you can still waste time trying to hunt down the document you want right when you want it. QuickBooks’ Doc Center can minimize your search time and ensure that important documentation is at hand.
An Introduction to the QuickBooks Online Customer Page
Your customers are the heartbeat of your business. QuickBooks Online helps you keep them happy.
Do you remember how you used to keep track of information about your customers before you started using a computer for your accounting? A file folder containing paper transaction forms and other communications? A card in your Rolodex? A list on paper?
It’s hard to imagine going back to those days once you start using QuickBooks Online. The site provides detailed record forms for your customers. It also offers multiple ways to get a snapshot of their current status with you. And there are numerous paths you can take to create sales forms for them.
Besides helping you complete the work you must do with each customer, all of these tools can help you achieve a key goal for your business: exceptional customer relationships. Here’s a look at what you can do to build those relationships.
A Central Clearinghouse
The easiest way to find these tools is to simply click the Customers tab in the navigation pane. This will take you to a comprehensive page that will eventually contain a list of your customers. To add a new customer, click New Customer in the upper right corner.
Note: If you already have a database of customers in an Excel or .csv format, you should be able to import it into QuickBooks Online. We can help you make this happen.
Figure 1: QuickBooks Online helps you create thorough profiles for each of your customers.
You’ll see an empty screen with predefined fields like the one above. Complete as many fields as possible can for your customer; you’ll be using this information later in transactions and reports.
When you’ve finished, look in the lower left corner, where you’ll see four tabs. You can use the blank screen that opens when you click Notes to enter miscellaneous information. Click on Tax info to supply a Tax Resale No. and select a Default Sales and Use Tax Rate. If you need to set up sales tax and haven’t yet, we can work with you on that.
Completing the fields in the screen under the fourth tab, Payment and billing, will save you a lot of time when you start creating transactions. Any of the customer’s current, unpaid obligations should be entered in the field labeled Opening balance…as of. You can also select default (preferred) Terms, payment method (cash? check? credit card?), and delivery method (print or send later). If you haven’t yet signed up for a merchant account, which lets you accept credit/debit cards and bank transfers, let us tell you what’s involved. You’ll find that invoices are paid faster if a customer can do so electronically.
Viewing and Acting
Once you’ve entered information for one or more customers, their names and some additional details will appear in the list that’s displayed when you click on Customers. You’ll see a horizontal colored bar at the top of the screen; this updates you on the status of your sales transactions. Below that is your table of customers.
Figure 2: You can do more than simply access information about each customer from the master page; you can also launch activity and transaction forms.
Select a group of customers and click the arrow next to Batch actions, and you’ll be able to send emails or create statements for them. When you’ve created records for multiple customers, the search box will come in handy.
Your list can also contain columns for each customer’s email and address; you’d make this change by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right corner. And when you click on the arrow next to Receive payment in the far right column, a drop-down list will display the other activities you can do from there, like creating invoices and sending reminders.
Critical Care Required
Keep your customer records updated whenever there’s a change. You want every detail of your communications with your customers to be correct — down to the spelling of their street names. Seemingly little things like this can have impact on your customers’ perception of their value to you.
Get Ready for 2016: QuickBooks Can Help
We’ll be ringing in the New Year soon. Will you have wrapped up your 2015 finances by then?
There’s something very satisfying about turning our calendars to January. It always feels like a fresh start. We resolve to develop new, better ways of using our work and leisure time. We reflect on what we accomplished in the last 12 months, and we look forward to achieving even more in the next 12.
But sometimes we have a nagging feeling that we forgot something. And it often has to do with our finances, both personal and professional.
You can take steps now to make New Year’s Day less worrisome. Doing some extra work in QuickBooks during December will ensure that you’ll start 2016 ready to move ahead, rather than scrambling to see what you missed on January 2.
Where to start? Depending on how conscientiously you entered transactions and ran reports, you might need to set some extra time aside in the midst of your other year-end and holiday-related commitments.
For example, did you instruct QuickBooks to “close your books” at the end of the year? QuickBooks will automatically make year-end adjustments if you entered December 31 as a closing date in Preferences. However, it’s not required, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to doing so. We can help you decide if this is the best decision for your company.
Prior to this, though, there’s another important task you should complete before the end of the year. It’s common sense, but not everyone thinks of it during the December rush: Make sure you’ve entered all transactions and payments that should be included in your QuickBooks file for 2015.
If anyone else on your staff works in QuickBooks, make sure they know that you’re trying to wrap up the year. If they’re holding anything back because of questions and comments, now’s the time to confer with you.
Taxes and Accounts
You may have already been working with us on tax planning for the 2015 tax year. If you haven’t, and you haven’t been doing so on your own, you need to look at your incoming and outgoing funds for the year before it’s over. Do you need to hold until 2016 some income and/or expenses that haven’t been recorded until 2016? This kind of question really needs to be resolved now.
Talk to us about your tax situation if you think this may be necessary. We can’t prepare your taxes yet, of course, but we can create some reports and advise you on any situations where you might want to put off – or accelerate – some actions. Is your income running high and your offsetting expenses low? If so, this may be a good time to make a fairly major purchase you’ve been considering.
Odds and Ends
How do you back up your QuickBooks company file? On a local drive or in the cloud? How often do you do this? Archiving your data is critical. Think about what would happen if you lost your customer records or a month’s worth of transactions or multiple payments. This is an area where we can provide guidance. Is there a better, safer way to ensure data security? Are there special backup activities you should do at year’s end?
Some companies wait until January to do a physical inventory count. Rather than being surprised in January, you may want to consider doing this now if it’s feasible.
And when you think you’ve entered everything but payments or transactions that may come in at the last minute (unless you’re going to defer these until 2016), all accounts should be reconciled. QuickBooks makes it easy to do this regularly.
It will be painful to open QuickBooks on January 2 if you don’t feel like you paid extra attention to your finances in December. We can help you ring in the New Year on a more confident note.