How do you want your team to spend their time? You probably don’t want them to spend a lot of time creating estimates, juggling invoices, or chasing payments.
Yet, that’s often how it feels.
You’re not alone - 84% of small businesses still use manual accounting processes.
There are serious consequences to using inefficient methods like these. You might miss important contract deadlines, overspend your budget, or make critical errors in your bookkeeping. In other words, you risk the financial health of your business.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can free up your team’s time—and reduce the risk to your business—by automating your accounting.
What is automated accounting?
An automated accounting system is software that streamlines and integrates your company's financial processes. It can automate tasks like creating invoices, issuing payments, and recording transactions.
To give you a better idea of how it works, let's look at three ways automated integration of your accounting process can help your business.
Example 1: You're a home services company
Invoicing: Let's say you run a small painting business. Each time you finish a job, you have to create an invoice by hand and send it to your customer. With an automated accounting system, you can create and send invoices with just a few clicks. The system will even track which customers have paid and which ones haven't.
This means you can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time growing your business.
Example 2: You're a multi-location, HVAC company
Billing: You manage a team of field service technicians who work at different locations. Every time a technician completes a job, they have to fill out a paper form with the customer's information, job details, and payment amount. Then, they have to bring the form back to the office so someone can enter the information into the accounting system.
This process is time-consuming and error-prone. With an automated accounting system, your technicians can fill out digital forms on their smartphones or tablets. The system will then automatically generate invoices and bill the customer.
This means your team can bill customers quickly and accurately, without having to waste time on paperwork.
Example 3: You're a property maintenance company
Chasing payments: You manage a team of maintenance workers who provide services to apartment buildings.
After each job, you have to send an invoice to the property owner. But sometimes, the invoice gets lost in the shuffle. And even when it doesn't, it can take weeks or even months to get paid.
With an automated accounting system, you can set up automatic payment reminders. The system will send emails or text messages to property owners when their invoice is due.
This means you can get paid faster and spend less time chasing payments.
According to recent data, automating your accounting processes can save you 30-40% in time spent on tasks. This significant time-saving measure cannot be ignored, and can have a major impact on your business.
Now that you understand what’s at stake let’s evaluate the three biggest accounting workflow challenges that can be solved through integration and automation.
Challenge #1: Manual processes that don’t scale
Just when you think you have your work processes all figured out and running smoothly, your company hits a growth spurt. Suddenly, those processes that were just fine for say, a team of 10 are now being strained. You start to notice inefficiencies and bottlenecks, and things that used to work just fine now need to be completely revamped.
But this doesn't warrant immediately hiring a new team of employees. Instead, replacing your high-touch activities with a scalable option that increases each team member's productivity is often more effective.
So, how do you manage increasing workloads while decreasing the demands on your technicians?
Solution: Automate accounting sequence of steps for quotes, invoices and payments
Chances are your existing workflow looks something like this:
- Creating an estimate
- Sharing the contract
- Completing the service
- Invoicing for the work done
- Collecting payment
Now let's look at two common examples that may cause these workflows to stall.
When an invoice is not paid
If an invoice is not paid, this can cause a backlog of work as technicians are waiting for payments to come through before they can start on the next job. You can avoid this by setting up automated payments so that invoices are paid as soon as they are issued.
When a customer requests a change to the original estimate
If a customer requests a change to the original estimate, this adds extra work for the technicians as they have to go back and redo the estimate. By using an integrated software solution, you can quickly create a new estimate and send it to the customer without starting from scratch.
Challenge #2: Redundant payment activities that steal time
When your team is on the field, the last thing they want to worry about is collecting payments. But if you don't have a process in place, this can quickly become a time-sink for your business.
Picture this: A technician finishes a job and spends the next hour on the phone to generate an invoice. Or, even worse, the customer finally pays but the check gets lost in the mail and you have to start the whole process over again.
These are just a few examples of how redundant payment activities can steal time from your business. So how can you streamline payment collection and avoid any costly delays?
Solution: Auto-generate invoices from estimates
At the start of a job, your tech creates an estimate and sends it to the customer. Once the project is approved, the estimate can be easily converted into an invoice that can be paid online. This way, your tech can focus on their work and you can get paid faster.
Additionally, integrating with QuickBooks or other accounting solutions allows you to sync your paid invoice with your accounting software effortlessly, so there’s no need to spend hours reconciling invoices at the end of the month.
Challenge #3: Going back-and-forth with customers trying to collect payment
You generate an invoice and send it to your customer, and then you wait. Some customers quickly settle, but unfortunately, many customers get distracted, and the invoice sits. Days turn into weeks before someone follows up – with every follow-up stealing time from generating new revenue.
Did you know that businesses spend an average of 15 working days per year pursuing late payments? And the scary part is, that’s only an average – meaning many businesses are spending more time trying to get paid for the services they’ve already provided instead of servicing additional customers.
Solution: Schedule automatic payment reminders
You can schedule automatic payment reminders to be sent to customers based on when their invoice is due. This way, you can avoid the back-and-forth and give your customers the gentle reminder they need to pay their invoices.
You can also automate the process of charging a credit card on file for customers who have already given you their payment information, eliminating wasted time spent on chasing payments.
Here is a detailed video on how Automated Accounting works in Zuper.
The bottom line
With automation, your team can spend more time on productivity and growth. Whether linking your workflow to your calendar, syncing paid invoices to accounting software, or automatically collecting payments, Zuper lets you automate the tedious, manual tasks in your business so you can focus on what you're good at.
Learn more about automating invoicing and payment processes with Zuper