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Efficient Time and Billing Management

Far too many offices and business fail to recognize the importance of strict time and billing management. This is especially true for small businesses, sometimes made up of only one person, selling a service. If you take a look at your office and see that billing has become lax, now is the time to get it back on track. Lost billing time is lost money, pure and simple. You need to implement changes right away, and watch how much more efficient and profitable your office becomes. Stress the importance of proper billing to all of your employees, and most of all, learn it for yourself. If you are not sure of the best way to go about changing or improving your billing system, read on for some tips. These strategies and programs have been used by some of the most efficient companies in the world to turn their time into money.

 

By The Hour

 

Different companies use different methods of billing for their time. If you are the type of office or self contained company that charges by the hour, billing should not be much of a problem. It is just a matter of keeping strict control over the amount of time that is being worked, and then collating that into a format in which you can charge correctly for that time.

 

There is robust software that can do this for you, and the best programs are not that expensive, so you should not hesitate to pick them up and install them. After all, the amount of money you will save being free from billing errors will undoubtedly pay for the software many times over. There is even some web based software that is free and does a pretty good job of handling hours billed. Once you get to the end of the month, you only have to transfer your billing information into your invoice program and everything else will take care of itself. You do have an invoicing program, right?

 

Charging by the Day

 

The software we discussed before can also help you out if you are charging by the day, or the half day rather than by the hour. Some companies find this a much more efficient way of billing, and even offer their clients discounts for accepting this type of billing system. The great thing about billing by the day or half day is that you can keep track of it using a spreadsheet program that is most likely already installed on your computer. If that program has been gathering dust for some time, now is the time to bring it out of the mothballs and put it to use. All you need to do is set up a spreadsheet for each client and keep track of the days worked, and how much this should bring to bear in the billing cycle. You can use this same spreadsheet to keep track of any expenses you’ve incurred for each client as well.

 

Outsourcing

 

If you find it would be less efficient or wise for you to handle your own billing, there is good news! There are many freelance billing specialists that can help you collate your billing system, and will not cost you an arm and a leg in the process. In addition to individual freelancers, there are established companies that do the same thing. These companies will likely charge you more, but you may have more peace of mind as to who you’re handing your records over to and entrusting the proper billing be done.

 

In order to choose the best company to do your billing, take the time to research and find out a bit about their practices. Make sure they have handled billing of your type in the past. If possible, get some references. In fact, if you have friends in the industry, it might be better to get a recommendation than to try to pick a company out of the phone book. If you decide to go with a freelancer, references are doubly essential. Talk to people and find out what the median pay is for these types of services so that you don’t wind up getting taken for a ride. On the other hand, you don’t want to hire someone who will do it for dirt cheap. There’s always a reason why someone is undervaluing themselves.

 

Whether you choose to do it yourself or outsource, billing and time management does not have to be an impossible mission. If you’re having trouble keeping everything tidy and on schedule, At-A-Glance makes quality desk and wall calendars you can use to get organized. Follow the steps above, and you’ll find that your company will soon be making the money it deserves.

3 Foolproof Ways to Clean Up Your Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping, properly done, is one of the most often overlooked aspects of a new business or office manager. It always seems like a task that can be put off, or perhaps never completed at all. After all, what’s really wrong with the way you are doing things now, right? Sure, it may be a little messy, and yes, you can’t always find what you need when you need it, but that’s still preferable to spending all day and night trying to organize all the clutter.

 

You may want to re-think this perspective on organization. You could be spending a large amount of manpower and time on chasing down receipts and paperwork, and you may not even realize it. Think about how much time has been wasted in the last month, for instance, looking for paperwork that should have been easy to find in seconds. Now multiply that by the amount of time you have been in business and see how this kind of wasted time can add up. And the worst part is that with a situation that you have now, paperwork and receipts can become easily lost. This paper trail is essential for a business. Imagine if you get audited by the IRS. It only makes sense to organize your bookkeeping, which is why we have devised a simple plan for you to do so.

 

Time is a Critical First Step

 

The first thing you need to do is set aside a chunk of time in order to accomplish this task. How long it will take will depend on how disorganized your bookkeeping is. No matter how messy your system has become, however, there is no reason it should take more than a day or two to set things right. If you need to, have one of your assistants come in on a Saturday and see if you can work as a team to get things in order in one day without interruptions. Grab a large three ring binder, such as those made by Cardinal, and get a hold of some divider cards to help make the transition smooth. Get some letter sized paper, a stapler, and some plastic folders. The only other thing you’ll need is your business receipts and paperwork. All of your invoices, scrap pieces of paper that important things are written on, and anything else you think needs to be better organized than it is. Head out to the coffee shop, grab a big cup, and set to the task of making your office run more smoothly, and making your life a lot easier.

 

Getting Organized

 

Okay, you’ve got your coffee, you’ve got your assistant, and you’re bravely taking time on a weekend to make things right. Trust us, it will be worth it in the long run (although your assistant may never see it that way, so hopefully you’ve bought him/her a coffee, too.) The first thing you need to do is organize your binder into separate sections. The first section will be for invoices that have not yet been paid. This will most likely be invoices from your suppliers or vendors. Write at the top of the invoices the date on which they are due and then organize them in such a way that the one that needs to be paid first is on top. The second section will be for your paid invoices. Receipts, in other words. Since many receipts and invoices don’t come in a handy letter size format, staple those that don’t to a sheet of paper for easier storage. Write at the top of each of the invoices the method you used to pay them. The next section is for unpaid invoices that you have sent out–money that is owed to you. Then a section for invoices you’ve sent out that have been paid. Finally, make a section for bank statements.

 

Keep It Organized

 

After you have accomplished this wonderful task, you do not want things getting back into disarray. This can happen more quickly than you might expect. You’ll want to set aside a day each month (or even more frequently if you feel it needs it) that you revisit your bookkeeping binder and make sure that things are still working in the way you set up. In fact, you may find it easier to simply gather your invoices and receipts in a folder and then add them to the binder on that scheduled day each month. Either way is acceptable, and the latter way may save you some time on a day to day basis.

 

Bookkeeping Basics

 

Now that you have everything nice and tidy and neat, you have two options at the end of the year. You can either take out that binder and use your own savvy and some accounting software to see where you are at, or you can just hand the whole folder off to your accountant. Either way, your new bookkeeping system should make things a lot easier to deal with come the end of the year, and come tax time.