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Basic Inventory Management

7 fundamental steps to successful inventory control

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” Jim Rohn

Any successful business stands upon a solid, well-structured foundation. For inventory-based businesses this means ensuring that their inventory management system is well organised, efficient and effective – which means getting the basics right.

Whether you are a small, one person operated retail outlet or a multinational company servicing customers across the globe, if the systems driving your inventory management protocol are being poorly implemented, or worse, if the systems in place are themselves flawed and ineffective, then your business is being driven straight into trouble.

It is a maxim stressed across all disciplines – from sports and martial arts to business and finance – you need to master the basics if you hope to achieve success. Build a solid foundation and your inventory management system will not only be able to scale as your business grows, but it will be one of the major factors driving your business growth and success.

Success leaves clues Toby Robbins

Whilst the level of simplicity or sophistication of your inventory management system will differ considerably based upon the type and size of your business, a successful inventory management system – be it big or small – always leaves clues, or indicators, which are clearly apparent and apply across the board, whether it be a lemonade stand selling beverages on weekends or a global multi-brand distribution company selling worldwide.

Here are 7 fundamental steps your business needs to cover to ensure that its inventory management system will operate at optimal capacity.

1. Label storage locations clearly

Your staff needs to be able to locate stock quickly and easily. Clearly labeled storage locations with demarcated indicators like arrows or spot tags will help staff accurately pack, store and retrieve the correct items. This will keep the costly and time-consuming errors that arise from incorrectly identified stock to a minimum.

2. Make Inventory labels large, simple and easy to read

Avoid complex and vague terminology when labeling locations. Labels must be easily identifiable, readable and distinct. No two locations should be easily confused because of vaguely labeled location names. Keep it simple, keep it bold and keep it coherent.

3. Keep item numbers short and sequential

KISS – Keep It Short and Simple – is not just a clever acronym. It is a code that inventory managers adhere to religiously when it comes to using item numbers. Short, distinctive item numbers lie at the basis of all well-organised inventory systems – both online and offline.

4. Create product descriptions that stand out from the crowd

A good product description is one that allows a worker to instantly know exactly which item is being referred to. Clear and distinct item descriptions mean that your workers know exactly which item they are dealing with and confusing one item with another becomes an obsolete issue altogether.

5.  Clearly define and state your units of measurement

Whether it be pcs, boxes, kg’s, cartons or ea. defining your inventory quantity accurately is very important. It enables fast, accurate calculations of your stock and makes for simpler, more proficient ordering

6. Start off with a rock solid start count

If you are implementing a new inventory system or simply upgrading your current one, it is vital to conduct a thorough starting stock count. The best time to conduct a stock count is AFTER completing steps 1 through 6 above. Attempting to do a stock count before this is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

7. Invest in a good inventory management software solution

From work at home mum stores to global distribution powerhouses, there are inventory management software solutions to cater to every business type, size and need. Investing in the right inventory software solution for your business will be the smartest decision you make as a business owner.

Nowadays, cloud-based inventory management software solutions afford businesses total control and instant access to their inventory – meaning less time pulling spanners out of the profit generating machinery of their business and more time proactively planning and growing their companies.

Whichever inventory management approach a business opts to go for – be it cloud based, integrated inventory management or the more traditional approach – the importance of building a solid foundation by sticking to the basic steps outlined above is essential.

For more information about setting up an inventory management system in your business, please contact us today.

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By |May 15th, 2015|Business Management, Technology, Xero|Comments Off on Basic Inventory Management

New Subcontractor Required

Are you located within a 20 minute drive of Moonee Ponds, Victoria?

Are you a certified Xero Bookkeeper with a minimum of 5 years bookkeeping experience?

Are you tech savvy and enjoy looking after ‘the details’?

Then you may be the subcontractor for us!

We are looking for someone to go onsite for one of our clients and assist the client in scanning and uploading their receipts into Receipt Bank via Dropbox. We also need someone to navigate the POS system to export the sales and payment data to import into Xero. We’ll also need your help in setting up the in-house systems moving forward, so the client can maintain the “source document system”.

So what do you get out of it?

You get to work with us! Seriously though, client relationships are our focus and we believe in giving 200% to all clients. You’ll be paid an attractive subcontract rate (but no travel) and we may have more work for you later down the track. In fact, this once off role may turn into a weekly thing – we just don’t know at this stage. Being located in sunny Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast in NSW, it makes it difficult to just pop around to visit this client and get them started. We will be relying on you to be our eyes and ears, to follow our instructions and to get the job done correctly and efficiently the first time. The sheer volume of documents to be scanned means you MUST go onsite.

So who shouldn’t apply?

If you don’t have a business owner’s mindset then please don’t apply. We don’t want to hold your hand or teach you how to use the software needed to get the job done. You should already know this ALONG with know how to use Xero inside and out. If you can’t work from 8am to 5pm or rely on public transport then you shouldn’t apply either. We’re sorry if this sounds harsh but this job needed to be done yesterday and we just don’t have the time to babysit you.

So if this sounds like you…

If you feel that you have the skills to do this job, have the right mindset and can get this job done ASAP then please fill in the form below. Unfortunately, if we don’t contact you – then you didn’t get the role. We’ll do our best to answer everyone but due to the tight time-frame we may not get back to you straight away if you were unsuccessful.

Thanks!

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By |March 31st, 2015|About Us|Comments Off on New Subcontractor Required

The tools we use

This week I’ve been in Brisbane while my mum recovers from Breast Cancer surgery and I was lucky enough to meet one of our new clients yesterday. We had a lovely chat and we ended up discussing  many of the tools my team and I use every day but take for granted. Tools that enable me to run my business from the side of my mum’s hospital bed in Brisbane while my team and clients are based between Brisbane down to Melbourne.

It’s funny how we do what we do – we just get on with getting our work done but it didn’t occur to me that other business owners would be interested in the tools we use and how they could possibly help in someone else’s business.

I’m bit OCD when it comes to setting up systems and procedures so right from the beginning, everything was done paper-based and systematically. I had a white board the length of my office on the wall and a combination of a paper planner and individual notebooks for each client to track all of the work.

It became very clear to me I would need to use an electronic system when I brought on my first subcontractor who was based in Kentucky in the US. I needed a way to have conversations with team members, to delegate the work with all the necessary information from both me and the client and I needed a way to track the progress. So we trialed a few different cloud job management packages.

However, the last 2 – 3 years we’ve been using Workflow Max (WFM) which is now under the banner of Xero and is now called Practice Manager. It tracks our leads, quotes, jobs, time and we do all our invoicing from there. WFM is integrated with Xero so all the invoices are published into Xero as soon as they are recorded which is very handy indeed. We also do all our BAS lodgements via Practice Manager!

With our team in both Melbourne and Port Macquarie now, it’s become more important than ever to have a phone system that works and works well. For this we use Alltel for our hosted PBX system and for our 1300 phone numbers. If you would like to save money on your phone calls or would like to have a phone system where it didn’t matter where the team member was located then I suggest you give Alltel a call.

Roughly two years ago, we finally did away with the server in the office and replaced it with Office 365 and use it for emails, calendaring, contacts and document storage. Simply put, it means that no matter the device, you delete it on one and you delete it on all and you can access your files any time any where! Never has this been more important than this week. I’m either at the hospital or working from my niece’s spare room so having access to my emails and my files are a must!

receiptbankOur final key tool is Receipt Bank – clients upload their source documents to Receipt Bank (either via the app on their phone, by forwarding an email, by uploading directly into the website or by saving a document into Dropbox) so no more waiting by the letterbox or PO Box for receipts. Once uploaded, Receipt Bank extracts the data and depending on how you’ve set up the rules, it can autopublish into Xero as a purchase or as a spend money and it includes a copy of the receipt attached to the transaction in Xero. You can map payments back to specific bank accounts (say you have two different Visa Debit cards on the one business bank account – you can map the last 4 digits of each card back to the same business bank account), you can also set the expense account for your suppliers and you can also upload receipts that have been paid, are unpaid or need to be reimbursed. Overall – it would have to be one of our favourite add-ons.

These are just a few of our favourite tried and tested tools but I’m sure there are many more out there that you prefer to use. If so, I’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions, just contact us.

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By |February 10th, 2015|Business Management|Comments Off on The tools we use

Why we work 100% in the cloud 100% of the time

I started my business from home 8 years ago (almost 9 now!), 34 weeks pregnant with my third child. There was no such thing as social media and to be honest, the idea of not having a server in the office to manage all business systems including bookkeeping and job management was simply unheard of. Was it the most efficient way to manage your business? At the time – sure, but as technology changed and business changed with it, working this way soon inefficient and expensive. It also meant that 95% of bookkeepers were going on-site to manage the bookkeeping for their clients.

Having such small children aged 6, 3 and newborn when I started my business it just wasn’t possible for me to work on-site for my clients. There was very little face-to-face networking without hours of travel to find clients so I turned to the internet and Googled my little heart out on how to build my business online so I could continue to work from home. Needless to say my head exploded but I was able to successfully build my business online servicing clients across Australia and the rest of the world.

I’ve been very lucky in that my husband is also my IT guy and I’m sure I’ve frustrated him over the years with my various requests for tech and software setup but for the most part, I found that what I needed and what I wanted to run my business efficiently from home with just did not exist. I was at least a few years ahead of what was out there and because I’m not a programmer or software developer I had to wait for someone else to get the same idea and build it. I ended up creating workarounds, I made mistakes and I went ‘back to the drawing board’ so many times it wasn’t fun anymore.However, as technology seemed to explode, I became an early adopter and jumped in with two feet.

convert to Xero bookkeeping softwareI have to admit though that when it came to jumping on board with Xero – I wasn’t an early adopter. I did sign up for a trial account many many years ago but with my workload, time simply got away from me. I was also hesitant about putting my name and reputation on the line with a new bookkeeping software package that was so revolutionary in it’s approach and how it was built that seemed too good to be true that I was a little afraid of backing it and therefore recommending it to my clients and associates. I ended up continuing to use various desktop software packages that of course still had it’s own set of issues with working remotely with clients. I watched and I waited.

Then in late 2011 the worst thing a bookkeeper could have imagined, happened. We were storing a client data file in Dropbox so we both could access it and unfortunately one of the computers connected to the folder storing the data didn’t have an up-to-date plugin installed. It overwrote the file and we lost 20 hours of bookkeeping work. I couldn’t prove the issue wasn’t mine so under my guarantee the mistake was ours and we re-did the work at no cost to the client. I still had to pay my employee her time to redo the work and as you can imagine, it didn’t just cost me money but it damaged the relationship with the client to the point where they cancelled the contract. I then knew I had to put on my big girl undies, stop making do with my workarounds and get serious about using cloud bookkeeping software.

So in March of 2012, I reactivated my trial account and re-created my books for the 11/12 financial year. I taught myself the in’s and out’s of Xero, made mistakes, watched as many webinars as I could. Then I did the certification training and became Xero Certified. After only a few hours of using the software I KNEW Xero would dramatically change how we worked with our clients. The benefit to our clients were numerous but it meant that they were on a single ledger system, everyone could access it anytime on any device but more importantly it was going to save them money.

Over the next 6 months we gradually converted all our clients to Xero. We had a meeting with each client to assess their software needs and to make sure that it would benefit them and not just us. Choosing a bookkeeping software package should always be about the client’s needs and not the bookkeeper or accountant so that was extremely important for us to determine that for each client.

Xero BookkeeperFast forward to 2015 and ALL of our team members are now certified Xero Advisors and Xero Payroll Specialists. After trialing other cloud accounting packages we are now a 100% Xero bookkeeping practice and have helped our clients transition to a office through the use of Receipt Bank and cloud storage solutions.

We no longer have a server in the office and in fact, when I replaced my laptop last week it took me less than 30 minutes to get up and running. I wasted more time in learning how to navigate Windows 8.1 than I did in connecting to all my cloud services for my mail/calendar/contacts, job management, bookkeeping software and file storage.

These days, all I need is my laptop and a reliable internet connection and I can work from anywhere. In fact, when we moved from Melbourne to Port Macquarie in December 2014, I only took a few days off to unpack our things. Getting back to work was as simple as opening my laptop, connecting to my new ADSL account and I was ready to get back to work again.

So if you’re feeling frustrated with your current bookkeeping system and would like to find out more about converting to Xero and connecting it with the rest of your business systems or even your website, why not give me a call or send me an email? Our initial consultations are obligation free and will only cost you your time and maybe a cup of coffee!

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By |January 14th, 2015|Bookkeeping Tips, Xero|Comments Off on Why we work 100% in the cloud 100% of the time

So how do you work with a Virtual Bookkeeper anyway?

Time to Adapt - ClockOne question we hear a lot of when new clients come on board is ‘how do you work with us from your office instead of mine’ and to us the answer is quite simple. However, for some business owners the idea is very foreign and it is a genuine question that we are more than happy to answer.

How we manage source documents

Receipts/Bills

There are a few ways to do this but our preference is to use a combination of Receipt Bank and the files area within Xero. With Receipt Bank, we ask our clients to install the app on their smart phone or tablet and to upload receipts as they make the purchase. In doing it this way, it only takes literally 30 seconds and we don’t have to chase them up for it later. Once the receipt is uploaded the client can then shred or trash the hard copy. For most clients they receive most of their supplier bills via email as a CSV or PDF file. For these expenses we ask the client to forward the email attachment to a specific email address that we give them. Clients also have the opportunity to scan and upload via the Receipt Bank website too.

Bank Statements

With most bank accounts you can opt in to receive your statement electronically which we advise all our clients to do where possible. We then use the file functionality within Xero to upload and store bank statements ready for us to reconcile. For clients who are still receiving paper statements, all they then need to do is scan and upload to files via the Xero website or via the special email address from Xero.

So how do you know what we’ve done for you?

In our service agreement, it is very clear what is included in our hourly rate or monthly fixed fee packages. There are no surprises and we only do what we’ve been contracted to do. If we find errors or major issues, our first step is always to call you to discuss why it’s an issue and how it can be fixed. The decision is then yours as to whether we move ahead and fix the errors or not. We also ask that our clients maintain their own Xero subscription as this means you are the legal owner of the subscription. We  then teach each of our clients how to navigate Xero (even if we’re doing all the work for you) so you know where to print your reports and how to read them. You can also check out the audit trail report as Xero keeps a full audit trail of who did what and when which is why it’s extremely important for all users to have their own username and password. You have unlimited number of users with Xero anyway so you might as well make the most of it. I’m a big believer in clarity and disclosure. We always act ethically so we guarantee we do what we say we’ll do (or have done). For most of our clients we have what we call monthly account meetings. These meetings only last for about 15 minutes but it’s a chance for client and bookkeeper to catch up on the phone, to ask questions of each other and for the bookkeeper to clarify verbally anything the client is unsure of. Sometimes, no matter how well we write out an email, it’s best for both to talk it through on the phone to prevent any misunderstandings. In using cloud based software such as Xero and Receipt Bank we’ve managed to eliminate a lot of the issues we used to experience in the past with sharing data-files between computers. There’s no need to update software anymore and everyone is using the same version.

But how can you show me something or train me on how to use Xero?

We use another awesome bit of software called Team Viewer. At an appointed time you simply click on the link that we’ve already emailed to you, ensure your speakers and microphone are on and working, have a coffee, notepad and pen ready and we’re ready for your training session.

If you’d like to find out more about how we work, please feel free to contact us. We’d be more than happy to have a chat with you.

 

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By |July 18th, 2014|About Us, Bookkeeping Tips|Comments Off on So how do you work with a Virtual Bookkeeper anyway?

Xero Release: 23 June 2014

I have to admit, what I love the most about cloud accounting packages and in particular Xero, is the regular updates that they do where I do NOTHING to take advantage of them. In the not so distant past, when my desktop accounting software had an update, they would post the update to me and I would then have to upgrade every single computer in the office. Then I would work out what data files I could upgrade and the files that had to be left alone (as the client didn’t have the latest version and still needed to be able to access the data file). Sooo by the time all that was done, I usually just left the software patches (AKA updates) in the too hard basket.

With Xero – there is none of that ‘upgrading’ angst!

Today the awesome team at Xero showed us just how hard they’ve been beavering away to release to us these fab updates.

  • Smart Lists
  • 4 decimal places for unit prices
  • New payment service – Authorize.Net
  • New consultant permission as an alternative to staff
  • Practice Admin role renamed Principal
  • Default accounts and tracking for contacts
  • Archive and restore tracking categories
  • New tax rates – EC Acquisitions and Reverse Charges (UK)
  • Import default branding theme for contacts
  • Improvement to repeating invoices
  • Improvement to the file library
  • Improvement to the Find & Match function in bank reconciliation
  • New login screen
  • Improvement to Budget Manager

To read more about these updates, click here. And if you’re a sticky beak like me and want to see what they are still working on, you can click here.

On a side note, if you’ve been thinking about converting across to Xero and want to leave the set-up to the experts (aka ME) then get in contact with me today. As a Silver Partner with Xero I have access to ‘magic’ codes. The current code will give you two months of your subscription with Xero for Free.

By |June 23rd, 2014|Software, Technology, Xero|Comments Off on Xero Release: 23 June 2014

So when is it a good time to convert software packages?

xeroIn one word…. anytime!!

We have had the pleasure of helping more than a few clients with making the move to Xero and the cloud over the last two years and one question I am always asked is, when is it a good time to convert my bookkeeping software. My first recommendation will always be the beginning of a financial year or the beginning of a financial quarter however, if you are behind in your bookkeeping, don’t start thinking you have to wait until next June before you can make the switch to Xero. You can make a start on it right now!

Converting your bookkeeping package from the shoebox, spreadsheet or desktop software is an excellent opportunity to go through your data and clean it up. When you convert with us, some of the questions we’ll be asking you include:

  • Are all your contacts current and up to date?
  • Are there any we can archive and therefore NOT import into Xero?
  • Let’s look at tidying up your chart of accounts, do you really need that many or can we use categories instead?
  • Where are the inconsistencies and does everything balance?

If we don’t need to bring it across to Xero why should you?

One of the biggest selling points of Xero in my humble little opinion is the bank feeds. Once your financials are converted to Xero and we have set up the bank feeds, getting that backlog caught up is usually quick, easy and very simple.

So if you’ve been thinking about making the switch to Xero and would like your subscription to the end of November 2013 for FREE, contact me today and start doing beautiful business today!

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By |June 13th, 2014|Xero|0 Comments

Congratulations Jarna!

I’m very happy to announce that one of our team members, Jarna Cherry has completed and passed her Xero Certification. Congratulations and well done!!

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By |March 4th, 2014|Xero|0 Comments

Collections can be the key to improving your cashflow

When a business is experiencing cash-flow problems there could be a number of reasons why.

  • Delays in payment by clients/customers
  • Low profit margin
  • Too much stock on hand
  • Bad financial habits

Aust_MoneyWhen left unchecked, bad or lack of cash-flow can not only cripple a business but cause it to fail. We’ve all heard the term, cash is king but how many of us actually pay attention to that?

Since using Xero, one of my favourite reports is the Executive Summary and in particular the section right at the bottom – Position. The reason being is that it shows how many days it takes before invoices are paid. This section of the report is one of the first things I check when a client tells me they don’t have enough cash to pay the bills.

What I look for in particular is the number of days it takes before payment is made. If your invoice terms are net 7 days and you’re waiting an average of 21 days then you have an issue here that needs to be looked at and fixed.

The first step to getting your collections under control is to write yourself a simple collections policy. What are you going to do and when then script it out. For example:

  • Day 7 after invoice:
    • Email statement
  • Day 14 after invoice:
    • Call client – follow up script 1
    • Send confirmation email on what was discussed
    • Update invoice history in Xero.
  • Day 21 after invoice:
    • Send debt to collection agency

Now this may seem harsh, but to put it bluntly, you did not start your business to be someone else’s bank and you are definitely not their mother. If a client or customer has engaged your services or purchased a product from you then they are aware that payment in a timely manner is expected.

The second step to getting your collections under control is to make it transparent and very clear what your terms and conditions are. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Get your service agreement signed PRIOR to commencing work,
  • Have your terms and conditions written in plain easy to understand language,
  • Don’t make your service agreement too wordy – they won’t read it,
  • Have your terms and conditions on your website,
  • Customise your invoice in Xero to include the terms and conditions on a second page if need be.

And thirdly, stop offering credit, especially if you are selling product rather than a service.

If you need assistance in taking control of your collections, give us a call or send an email. We’d be more than happy to talk to you.

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By |February 21st, 2014|Bookkeeping Tips, Business Management|0 Comments

Superannuation Guarantee Rate Changes

There has been a lot of advertising on television of the increase in the Superannuation Guarantee Rate increasing from 9% to 12%. This has led to much confusion for employees; from the 1st July 2013 the rate is increasing to 9.25%. It is not until the 2019/20 financial year the rate becomes 12%.

To what amounts is the 9.25% applied to?

  • 9% applies to all pay physically paid before 30th June 2013.
  • 9.25% applies to all pays physically paid after 30th June.
  • The new 9.25% rate is applied to salary (OTE) amounts paid after 30th June 2013, irrespective of when those amounts accrued.

Employers have an obligation under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 to pay the superannuation guarantee charge (SGC). The SGC is calculated as 9 %( to 30June 2013) or 9.25% (from 1 July 2013) of the total salary & wages (OTE) paid by the employer to the employee. Ordinary Times Earnings (OTE) is earnings in respect of ordinary hours of work.

IMPORTANT: Check your payroll programs and make sure they are changed to include the increase of superannuation guarantee (9.25%) before any payments are made in July. This might put extra pressure to finalise the year’s wages and close off/rollover the software earlier than you normally do. Start reviewing your systems now. Check you have all the correct details for your employees such as; address, DOB, FBT information, RESC information.

Impact on June & July 2013 Payroll

  1. Consider paying the super before 30June to get the tax deduction.
  2. Check whether salary packages need to be re-engineered
  3. In order to get a tax deduction for the 30 June 2013 year the business must have PAID the superannuation out of their bank account into the superfund or at least the clearing house.
  4. Check salary packages. Many employees are engaged on a salary package with a total amount which includes the SGC.
  5. Review your employment agreements, industrial agreements, minimum wages and awards for direction whether the super increase can be adjusted within the current package or must be added to the package.
  6. Start reviewing your End of Year payroll adjustments NOW, talk to us and we will help you through the process.
  7. Tax File Number Declarations
  8. Are you confident you have all the correct details of your employees. Now is the time to check as completing End of Year Payment Summaries is just weeks away. Make sure you have Tax File Number Declarations.
  9. Make sure you have current contact details and correct current address.

For more information or assistance, please contact us.

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By |June 3rd, 2013|Bookkeeping Tips|0 Comments