QuickBooks Pro Menu Reference  
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Customers Menu Reference

Customers Menu Commands

GENERAL DISCUSSION

These are the menu commands under the Customers Menu. Please note that some of these menu commands may be worded slightly differently, and some menu items not even appear on your menu simply because the QuickBooks menu will change depending upon how many times you've opened the file, how long you've been using that particular version of QuickBooks, and how you have your preferences set.


For example, when you first install QuickBooks, they will try to sell you a number of their other services by placing these items on the menu. These other services include creating a Website, buying postage online, etc. As you use the program over a period of time without signing up for these services, the menu items will stop appearing.


Another factor that will influence what menu commands appear on your menu is your preferences. For example, if you turn the Navigator off under the preferences, then the Navigator menu commands will not appear on your menus.


If you think all of this is confusing, you should try to write a manual about it.


Customers Menu Commands
Menu Description
Customer Navigator

This menu command will start the QuickBooks Navigator Customer page, which is a specially designed screen that attempts to bring menu commands related to the Customer menu (Estimates, Invoices, Receive Payments, etc.), activities (Send Forms, Write Invoices, etc.), and some related memorized reports.

Now, don't get me wrong here. If you like using the Navigator, then use it. However, for me personally, I find it useless and a bit cumbersome, largely because everything displayed in the Navigator is already available on the regular menu bar, so why would you want to wait for it to load up and anyway why do you need a second way to access the same commands?

Customer Center

This menu command will open the Customer Center, which is a specially design screen that provides a nice snapshot of all your active customers, specifically who owes you money and how long it's been due.

If you find the information to be helpful then use it. Personally, I find it to be a bit simplistic, and all the same information can be readily viewed just by looking at the various customer reports.

Customer Detail Center

This menu command will open the Customer Detail Center, which is a specially design screen that provides a nice snapshot of a specific customers, including their contact information and outstanding invoices.

Create Invoices

You should be using this function all the time.

You should use this function to create invoices for every payment you receive from a customer or in behalf of a customer (like bank draws). There are NO exceptions to this rule.

Creating invoices will allow you to track your draws against the draw schedules, track your allowances and extras, and allow you to use the Statements to summarize your transactions with your customer during an at the end of the project.

For a complete description of the nuances of creating invoices and the strategies behind their use, please read the QuickBooks Users Guide or the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Enter Sales Receipts

You do not need this function.

This function that allows you to enter a customer sale directly into your bank account and write a receipt, thus by-passing the Accounts Receivable.

You do not want to use this function because you want to write invoices because you want every transaction with your customers to go through Accounts Receivable specifically because you want the transactional history to be on the customer's statement.

Creating invoices will allow you to track your draws against the draw schedules, track your allowances and extras, and allow you to use the Statements to summarize your transactions with your customer during an at the end of the project.

For a complete description of the nuances of creating invoices and the strategies behind their use, please read the QuickBooks Users Guide or the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Create Estimates

This function allows you to create Estimates, which we use to enter Draw Schedules which then allows us to use the Progress Billing Feature in QuickBooks.

Please do not use the Estimates function to actually perform estimates for construction projects. The reality is that the Estimate feature is not powerful enough for estimating construction projects, especially considering that the typical construction estimate has 100 or more line items.

If you are a subcontractor, such as a plumber, electrician, drywall contractor, etc., then you may consider utilizing the Estimates feature to prepare your estimates. The reason this is possible is because many subcontractors, whose businesses are centered around a single trade, can effectively create unit cost/price items on their Items list, and subsequently use those same items to create Estimates and Invoices for their customers. Consider an electrician's estimate that would contain 55 duplex outlets at $35.00 each, plus 6 paddle fan outlets at 38.50 each, and so on. During construction, the invoices for the draws could simply be a percentage of the entire estimate.

For a complete description of the nuances of creating invoices and the strategies behind their use, please read the QuickBooks Users Guide or the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Create Credit Memos/Refunds

This is the function you use to issue Credit Memos and Refunds to your customers, primarily as a result of some concession your gave to them or because a miracle happened and they didn't actually use an entire allowance amount.

Please DO NOT use this function to enter credit memos or refunds from your suppliers.

Detailed instructions for using the Create Credit Memos/Refunds function can be found in the QuickBooks Users Guide and in the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Enter Statement Charges

This menu command will open your Accounts Receivable ledger displaying only those invoices and payments for one selected customer, from where you can select, view and/or edit any of the transactions.

This feature is a nice improvements to previous versions of QuickBooks, where in earlier versions if you wanted to see the customers transactions in debit and credit columns you had to first review a customer statement, then identify the transaction, and then hunt down the transaction to be modified, the after you modified it you would then have to re-create the statement to view the changes to the customer's outstanding balance. With this feature you can see all the statement transactions, but you're still in the A/R register, so you can edit them right there.

Create Statements

You should be using this function all the time.

The Create Statements function will allow you to preview and print statements that summarize all your activity with one or several customers. This is a great tool for helping your customer understand where they are in the draw schedule, what extras and change orders they have paid for, what their allowance balances are, and what they currently owe you, especially at the end of the project when you want to settle the contract.

Detailed instructions for using theStatements function can be found in the QuickBooks Users Guide and in the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Assess Finance Charges

It's doubtful that you will ever get to use this function.

Use this function to enter finance charges for late payments or interest on overdue accounts. To use this function, you must first setup the Finance Charges preferences. The function is automatic in that it will calculate finance charges on all your customers and then create additional invoices for the finance charges/late fees as per your preference settings.

The reason that it's doubtful that you as a Builder will ever use this function is because I've never met a Builder who successfully got a customer to pay any interest or late charges on past due charges, but I guess anything is possible.

In the event that you do not use the automatic feature, but you are faced with a situation wherein you are entitled interest or similar fees, then you can simply write an invoice for the additional amount due.

If you are a subcontractor or supplier, and you can and do regularly assess finance charges and late fees on overdue accounts, then you might make use of this feature.

Receive Payments

You should be using this function all the time.

This function displays a dialog box that allows you to record the details of the payments you receive from customers or in behalf of customers (like bank draws), apply the payments to one or more open invoices, and deposit the payment into o a bank account. This is the other side of the Accounts Receivable process.

Detailed instructions for using the Receive Payments function can be found in the QuickBooks Users Guide and in the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Accept Credit Card Payments

This is an attempt to sell you additional services.

This is just another tiresome attempt by Intuit to sell you additional services, in this case it's trying to get you to setup a Credit Card Merchant Account through them so you can accept credit card payments from your customers.

I have a Credit Card Merchant Account for my software and seminar business, so I though I'd at least check out their offer, which leads me to make a couple of observations:
  • Nowhere in any of their written material, including an extensive FAQ section, do they mention what the fees are. This of course leads me to suspect that they're going to be high. You know the rule: It's what they don't brag about that's going to hurt you, and their Website is full of all the benefits of having a merchant account with nothing about the fees.
  • They have a delay of approximately 7 days between the time you run the credit card payment and they actually deposit the money into your bank account. This is not typical, the standard procedure for every Credit Card Merchant Account I've ever heard about is that the funds are credited to your account daily.
  • QuickBooks is not the actual credit card processor: They have contracts with a couple of banks who approve the applications and subsequently process the credit card transactions. Of course, what this means is that QuickBooks is merely the agent who will get a percentage of the fees generated from your transactions. I had this arrangement when I first opened my credit card merchant account through my local bank under the mistaken belief that that's what I needed to do. After paying an additional point on all my transactions for the first couple of years, and after learning something about how the system works, I re-opened my account directly with the actual credit card processor and cut my fees by 25%.

It's doubtful that any of this will make any difference to you as a Builder, unless you're in the handyman or repair business, simply because in the construction business there are few situations where your customers would want or need to pay you by credit card.

Time Tracking

You do not need this function.

This function will allow you to enter time-based activities, presumably your employee's time, against a customer's job, upon which you can then use other functions to bill the customer for said time. This function is only useful in Cost-Plus projects.

Nevertheless, we do not use this function because it requires you to use Items in QuickBooks. I know that this is directly contrary to the advice given in the QuickBooks Manual, but the rational is grounded in careful research and experimentation.

You may achieve similar results by attaching a copy of your employees timesheets to an invoice with the total hours and extended costs, or you may consider using our TimeTrax program that will process your employees timesheet information, provide you with real payroll costs by project and cost code AND perform all your cost-plus billing, including creating a complete report to be attached to your invoice.

For a complete dissertation on the purpose of Items in QuickBooks, please read the QuickBooks Users Guide or the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Customer:Job List

This menu command will open the Customer:Job List, where you can add, edit or delete customers and jobs under customers.

For a complete description of the nuances of entering your customers and the strategies for numbering your projects and using jobs under customers, please read the QuickBooks Users Guide or the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Item List

This menu command will open the Item List, where you can add, edit or delete Items.

Generally speaking, your use of Items should be limited to a few Items that are connected to Income Accounts for the purpose of writing invoices. I know that this is directly contrary to the advice given in the QuickBooks Manual, but the rational is grounded in careful research and experimentation.

For a complete description of the nuances of entering and using Items, please read the QuickBooks Users Guide and the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.

Change Item Prices

You do not need this function.

This menu command will open a dialog box that will allow you to globally change the prices in your Item List by a given percentage.

You don't need this function because you are not going to use the Item list to do your estimating or create invoices. I know that this is directly contrary to the advice given in the QuickBooks Manual, but the rational is grounded in careful research and experimentation.

For a complete description of the strategies for using Items, please read the QuickBooks Users Guide or the Template Manual, both of which are included in the printed manual and the PowerTools Software Website.




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