Chapter 4. Setting Up Customers and Jobs
You may be fond of strutting around your sales department proclaiming, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something!” As it turns out, you can quote that tired adage in your accounting department, too. Whether you sell products or services, the first sale to a new customer can initiate a flurry of activity, including creating a new customer in QuickBooks, assigning a job for the work, and the ultimate goal of all this effort—invoicing your customer (sending a bill—a.k.a. invoice—for your services and products that states how much the customer owes) to collect some income.
The people who buy what you sell have plenty of nicknames: customers, clients, consumers, patrons, patients, purchasers, donors, members, shoppers, and so on. QuickBooks throws out the thesaurus and applies one term—customer—to every person or organization that buys from you. In QuickBooks, a customer is a record of information about your real-life customer. The program takes the data you enter about customers and fills in invoices and other sales forms with your customers’ names, addresses, payment terms, and other info. If you play it safe and define a credit limit, QuickBooks even reminds you when orders put customers over their limits.
Real-world customers are essential to your success, but do you need customers in QuickBooks? Even if you run a primarily cash business, creating customers in QuickBooks could still be a good idea. For example, setting up QuickBooks records for the repeat customers at your store saves you time by automatically filling in their information on each new sales receipt, so you have time to do more important things. (If you have a point-of-sale system, like QuickBooks POS, you can track customer sales there instead and leave customers out of QuickBooks completely.)
If, on the other hand, your business revolves around projects, you can create a job in QuickBooks for each project you do for a customer. To QuickBooks, a job is a record of a real-life project that you agreed (or perhaps begged) to perform for a customer—remodeling a kitchen, designing an ad campaign, or whatever. Suppose you’re a plumber and you regularly do work for a general contractor. You could create several jobs, one for each place you plumb: Smith house, Jones house, and Winfrey house. In QuickBooks, you can then track income and expenses by job and gauge each one’s profitability. However, some organizations don’t track jobs, and if your company is one of those, you don’t have to create jobs in QuickBooks. For example, retail stores sell products, not projects. If you don’t need jobs, you can simply create your customers in QuickBooks and then move on to invoicing them or creating sales receipts for their purchases.
This chapter guides you through customer and job creation. It also helps you decide how to apply QuickBooks’ customer and job fields in your business.
Creating Customers in QuickBooks
Alas, you still have to convince customers to work with your company. But once you’ve cleared that hurdle, creating those customers in QuickBooks is easy. The box on Making Customers Easy to Identify provides some hints on keeping customers straight in QuickBooks.
The Customer Center (Figure 4-1) is your starting point for creating, modifying, and viewing customers and jobs. QuickBooks gives you four easy ways to open the Customer Center window:
From anywhere in the program, press Ctrl+J.
On the left side of the QuickBooks Home page, click Customers.
On the icon bar, click Customer Center. (If you don’t see a Customer Center item on the icon bar, see Customizing the Icon Bar to learn how to add it.)
On the QuickBooks menu bar, choose Customers→Customer Center.
Creating a New Customer
QuickBooks is quite accommodating when it comes to creating customers. If you run a mom-and-pop shop and don’t add customers very often, you can create a customer when you create that customer’s first invoice. The handy <Add New> menu command in every drop-down list of customers and jobs is your ticket to just-in-time customer and job type creation.
If you sign new customers up all the time or you want to copy customer data into QuickBooks in a jiffy, creating customers in batches is much more efficient. With the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries feature (Adding and Editing Multiple Customer Records), you can paste data from Microsoft Excel or copy values from customer to customer. The New Customer dialog box also lets you create several customer records in one session without closing the dialog box in between each customer creation.
QuickBooks doesn’t care if you create customers and jobs without any forethought, but it pays to take the time to set them up properly. For example, you can create customers and jobs without classifying them in any way. However, you might want to categorize your customers and jobs so you can send customized communications to each type or determine which types are the most profitable. If you want to categorize your customers from the get-go, turn to Categorizing Customers and Jobs to learn how to set up customer and job types and different ways to use them.
Here’s the short and sweet method to creating a customer in QuickBooks:
In the Customer Center toolbar, click New Customer & Job→New Customer.
The New Customer dialog box opens (Figure 4-2).
In the Customer Name field, type a unique name or code for this customer, following the customer naming convention you’ve chosen, as described in the box on Making Customers Easy to Identify.
The Customer Name field is the only field you have to fill in—the rest are optional.
To save that customer’s record and create another one, click Next.
To save that customer and close the New Customer dialog box, click OK instead.
To create a job for a customer, you have to close the New Customer dialog box and open the New Job dialog box. So unless opening and closing the New Customer and New Job dialog boxes gives you a feeling of accomplishment, create all your customers first and then add the jobs for each one.
The box on How Many Names? tells you how to prevent your QuickBooks’ customer list from growing out of control.
If you turn on QuickBooks’ multiple currency option (Multiple Currencies), the Currency box appears below the Customer Name box. QuickBooks automatically fills in this box with your home currency, so you usually don’t have to change this value. If the customer pays in a foreign currency, choose it in the Currency drop-down list. QuickBooks creates a separate Accounts Receivable account (Viewing Account Names and Numbers) for each currency you use.
Entering contact information
If you plan to bill your customers, ship them products, or call them to make them feel appreciated, address and contact information is important. You record this info on the New Customer dialog box’s Address Info tab. Here’s a guide to the tab’s fields and what they’re good for:
Company Name. Unlike Customer Name, which acts as an identifier, the Company Name field is nothing more than the customer’s name as you want it to appear on invoices and other forms you create. QuickBooks automatically copies what you type here into the Bill To box below.
Contact. To address invoices, letters, and other company communications, enter the primary contact’s salutation or title, first name, middle initial, and last name in the appropriate fields. QuickBooks automatically copies the salutation and name you type in these fields into the Bill To and Contact boxes.
Your primary contact may not be the go-to person who reliably gets things done. If this turns out to be the case, you can always make this dependable resource your primary contact (by entering her info in the First Name and Last Name fields) and make the figurehead your alternate contact (by entering his name in the Alt. Contact field).
Bill To address. To complete the address for invoices, click the Edit button below the Bill To field, and then type the street address, city, state, country, and postal code, or copy that info from another program (Adding and Editing Multiple Customer Records). In the Edit Address Information dialog box, QuickBooks automatically turns on the “Show this window again when address is incomplete or unclear” checkbox, which tells the program to notify you when you forget a field like the city or when the address is ambiguous. For example, if the address of your biggest toy customer is Santa Claus, North Pole, QuickBooks opens the Edit Address Information dialog box so you can flesh out the address with a street, city, and arctic postal code.
Ship To address. If you don’t ship products to this customer, you can skip the Ship To field altogether. If the billing and shipping addresses are the same, click “Copy>>” to replicate the contents of the Bill To field in the Ship To field. (The greater-than symbols on the button indicate the direction that QuickBooks copies the address—left to right.) Otherwise, click Add New and fill in the Add Shipping Address Information dialog box.
You can define more than one Ship To address for a single customer, which is perfect if that customer has multiple locations. To add another Ship To address, click the Add New button below the Ship To box and fill in the boxes. Once you’ve added shipping addresses, you can choose the one you want in the Ship To drop-down list. When the shipping address you use most often is visible, turn on the “Default shipping address” checkbox to tell QuickBooks to pick that address automatically. Click the Edit or Delete buttons to modify or remove a shipping address, respectively.
Other contact information. QuickBooks gets you started by copying the contents of the First Name and Last Name fields into the Contact field. If you plan to look up info like phone numbers and email addresses in QuickBooks rather than in a contact program (Outlook, for example), fill in the other fields on the Address Info tab to specify the contact’s phone, fax, and alternate phone numbers, email address, and an email address to carbon copy.
Specifying additional customer information
The New Customer dialog box’s Additional Info tab (Figure 4-3) serves up several fields that categorize your customers and simplify your bookkeeping. Although they’re optional, some of these fields speed up entering transactions down the road by storing the values you use most frequently. Other fields appear or disappear depending on the preferences you choose (preferences are the topic of Chapter 23). For example, if you charge sales tax, you need to turn on QuickBooks’ Sales Tax preferences if you want the Additional Info tab to include the Tax Code, Tax Item, and Resale Number fields.
Here are the fields you might see on the Additional Info tab and some ways you can use them:
Type. Categorize this customer (see Categorizing Customers and Jobs) by choosing from the Type drop-down list, which displays the entries from your Customer Type List, such as government, health insurance, or private pay, if you run a healthcare company.
Terms. What you select here represents the payment terms the customer has agreed to. The entries you see in this drop-down menu come from the Terms List (Vendor Type List), which QuickBooks uses for both payment terms for your customers and the ones you accept from your vendors. QuickBooks lists several of the most common payment terms, such as “Due on receipt” and Net 30, but you can choose <Add New> at the top of the drop-down list to define additional payment terms in the Terms List. If you leave this field blank in a customer’s record, you have to choose the payment terms every time you create an invoice for that customer.
Rep. Choosing a name in this field links a customer to a sales representative, which is helpful if you want to track sales reps’ results. But reps don’t have to be sales representatives: One of the best ways to provide good customer service is to assign a customer service rep to a customer. When you choose <Add New> to create a new Rep entry (Sales Rep List), you can select existing names from the Employee List, Vendor List, and the Other Names List, or even add a new name to one of those lists to use as a rep.
Preferred Send Method. Choose E-mail, Mail, or None to identify the method that your customer prefers for receiving information. If you choose E-mail, QuickBooks automatically turns on the E-mail checkbox when you create forms (such as invoices) for this customer. The Mail method uses an add-on QuickBooks service to mail invoices. Choose None if you typically print documents and mail them the old-fashioned way. You can’t add a new entry to the Preferred Send Method list, so if you use carrier pigeons to correspond with your incarcerated customers, you’ll just have to remember that preference.
Sales Tax Information. The Sales Tax Information section appears only if you turn on the Sales Tax preference (Sales Tax). If the customer pays sales tax, choose an entry in the Tax Item drop-down list, which specifies the tax rate percentage. See Setting Up Sales Tax for instructions on setting up sales tax items and Entering Invoice Line Items for the full scoop on charging sales tax.
Customers who buy products for resale usually don’t pay sales tax because that would tax the products twice. (Who says tax authorities don’t have hearts?) To bypass the sales tax, choose Non (for “nontaxable sales”) in the Tax Code drop-down list, and then type the customer’s resale number in the Resale Number field. That way, if tax auditors pay you a visit, the resale number tells them where the sales-tax burden should fall.
Price Level. More often than not, customers pay different prices for the same product. Consider the labyrinth of pricing options for seats on airplanes. In QuickBooks, price levels represent discounts or markups that you apply to transactions. For example, you might have one price level called Top20, which applies a 20 percent discount for your best customers, and another price level called AuntMabel that extends a 50 percent discount to your Aunt Mabel because she fronted you the money to start your business. See Price Levels to learn how to define price levels.
Custom Fields. QuickBooks offers 15 custom fields, which you can use to store important info that QuickBooks didn’t see fit to give you out of the box. Because custom fields don’t use drop-down lists, you have to type your entries and take care to enter values consistently. Hiding Entries has more about custom fields.
Entering payment information
That’s right: The New Customer dialog box has still more fields for storing customer information—but you can skip them if you want. The Payment Info tab, shown in Figure 4-4 is the place to indicate how the customer pays and how much credit you’re willing to extend.
You can use the following fields to specify the customer’s payment info:
Account No. Account numbers are optional in QuickBooks. Large accounting programs often assign unique account numbers to customers, which greatly reduce the time it takes to locate a customer’s record. In QuickBooks, the Customer Name field works like an identifier, so you’re best off reserving the Account No. field for an account number generated by one of your other business systems.
Credit Limit. You can specify a dollar value of credit that you’re willing to extend to the customer. If you do, QuickBooks warns you when an order or invoice exceeds this customer’s credit limit, but that’s as far as it goes—it’s up to you to reject the order or ship your products COD. If you don’t plan to enforce the credit limits you assign, don’t bother entering a value in this field.
Preferred Payment Method. Choose the payment method that the customer uses most frequently. The drop-down list includes several common methods such as Cash, Check, and Visa, but you can add others by choosing <Add New>. The payment method you specify appears automatically in the Receive Payments window (Receiving Payments for Invoiced Income) when you choose this customer. If a regular customer forgets her checkbook and pays with cash, you can simply replace Check with Cash as you create the sales receipt in QuickBooks.
Credit card information. For credit card payments (see Importing a Delimited File to learn about QuickBooks’ credit card processing service), you can specify the customer’s credit card number, the name that appears on the card, the billing address for the card, the Zip/postal code, and the expiration date. (You can enter only one credit card number for each customer.) But before you enter this sensitive and valuable information into QuickBooks, check for government and merchant card provider restrictions on storing credit card numbers. For example, QuickBooks doesn’t let you store the card’s security code (the three-digit code on the back of the card) as a security precaution. Even if you can legally store the numbers, consider whether your security procedures are sufficient to protect your customers’ credit card information.
The New Customer window includes a Job Info tab, which (not surprisingly) has fields for job-related information. If you don’t track jobs, you could use the Job Status field to store the overall status of your work for the customer, although a contact-management or project-management program is probably more useful. And if a customer hires you to do more than one job, skip the Job Info tab, since you’ll create separate jobs to track their info, as described on Exporting a text file.
Customer Data Entry Shortcuts
If you frequently add or edit more than one customer a time, filling in the New Customer dialog box isn’t only mind-numbingly tedious, it also wastes time you should spend on more important tasks like selling, managing cash flow, or finding out who has the incriminating pictures from the Christmas party.
Chances are you store customer info in programs other than QuickBooks, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) program that tracks customer interactions or a word-processing program where you create mailing labels. (Choosing the Right Edition of QuickBooks tells you where to learn more about Intuit’s CRM product.) If your other programs can create Excel-compatible files or delimited text files, you can avoid data entry grunt work by transferring data to or from QuickBooks. (Delimited text files are nothing more than files that separate each piece of data with a comma, space, tab, or other character.) In both types of files, the same kind of info appears in the same position in each line or row, so QuickBooks (as well as other programs) can pull the information into the right places.
In many cases, you’ll want to add (or edit) more than one record, but less than a gazillion. QuickBooks 2010 introduced the perfect tool for that: the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries command. When you’re creating customers, vendors, or items, you can use the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box to paste data from Excel into QuickBooks. Or, to edit existing records, you can filter or search the list to show just the customers (or vendors or items) you want to update and then paste Excel data, type in values, or use shortcut commands to copy values between records.
When you want to transfer a ton of customer information between QuickBooks and other programs, importing and exporting is the way to go. By mapping QuickBooks fields to the fields in the other program, you can quickly transfer hundreds, even thousands, of records in no time.
Adding and Editing Multiple Customer Records
The Add/Edit Multiple List Entries command lets you add or update values in the customer, vendor, and item lists by pasting information from an Excel spreadsheet directly into a table in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box. Other commands, for copying or duplicating values between records, make short work of changes like updating the new billing address for a customer who sends you job after job. Typing values into cells works, too, if you notice a typo in one of the records in the list. And you can customize the table in the dialog box to show only the customers you want to edit and the fields you want to modify.
This command goes by different names depending on where you find it in QuickBooks. Choose it in any of these locations to open the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box to the customer list:
On the Lists menu, choose Add/Edit Multiple List Entries.
In the Customer Center toolbar, click New Customer & Job, and then choose Add Multiple Customer:Jobs.
In the Customer Center toolbar, click Excel, and then choose “Paste from Excel”.
Selecting a list to work with
QuickBooks automatically selects Customers in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box’s List drop-down menu (unless you open the dialog box from the Vendor Center or the Item List window). You can switch lists by choosing Customers, Vendors, or Items from this menu.
If you set up jobs for customers, the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box’s table includes rows for both customers and jobs. The Name column contains the customer’s name for a customer row and the job’s name for a job row. Usually, you can spot job rows by looking at the Company Name field, since all jobs for that customer will have the same thing listed here.
Filter the entries. The View drop-down list includes several choices for filtering the customer list. Choose Active Customers if you want to make changes to only active customers in your company file. Inactive Customers displays customers that you’ve changed to inactive status (Hiding and Deleting Customers).
To filter the customer list to your exact specifications, choose Custom Filter and fill in the dialog box shown in Figure 4-5. For example, if you want to divide your government customers into local, state, and federal customers, you can filter the list to show only records with Government in their customer fields. Note that QuickBooks only displays list entries that exactly match what you filter for. For example, if you type (555) to look for the 555 area code, records that don’t have parentheses around the area code won’t show up.
Because QuickBooks doesn’t save the changes you make in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box until you click Save Changes, you can select Unsaved Customers to see all the entries you’ve edited but not yet saved. Choosing “Customers with errors” displays entries that contain invalid values, like a customer type or tax code that doesn’t exist in your company file. In fact, if you click Save Changes when there are records with errors, the dialog box automatically filters the list to the “Customer with errors” view, so you can see what you need to correct before you can save your changes. See Saving changes to learn how to spot and fix errors.Figure 4-5. In the Custom Filter dialog box, you can type a word, value, or phrase to look for, and specify the fields you want QuickBooks to search. For example, type Government in the For field, and search common fields (all the fields listed in the “in” drop-down list) to find customers with the Government customer type.
Find entries. Typing a word, value, or phrase in the Find box is similar to applying a custom filter to the list, except that QuickBooks searches all fields. For example, if you type 555 in the Find box and then click the Search button (which looks like a magnifying glass), QuickBooks will display records that contain 555 anywhere in the record, whether it’s in the company name, telephone number, address, or account number field.
Customize the columns that appear in the table. To paste data from Excel in a jiffy, you can customize the table’s columns to match your Excel spreadsheet. (If you’re an Excel whiz, you may prefer to rearrange the columns in your spreadsheet before pasting data.) Click Customize Columns to open the Customize Columns dialog box. The tools for customizing columns are straightforward, as Figure 4-6 illustrates. To add a column, select the field you want in the Available Columns list and then click Add. To remove a column, select it in the Chosen Columns list and then click Remove.
Sort the list entries. To sort the entries in the table, click the column heading for the field you want to sort by, and QuickBooks sorts the records in ascending order (from A to Z or from low to high numbers). Click again to sort in descending order.
Adding or editing list entries
Whether you want to add new entries or edit existing ones, you can paste data from Excel, type in values, or use commands like Copy Down to copy values between records. (When you want to add a new record, you have to click the first empty row at the bottom of the list before you can enter any data.) Here are the various ways to enter values in records:
Type values in cells. This method is straightforward: Click a cell and make your changes. Click within text to select the text up to where you clicked. Click a second time to position the cursor at that location. Click the right end of a cell to select all the text in it. Drag over text to select part of an entry.
Copy and paste values. If you’re a fan of copying and pasting (and who isn’t?), you can copy data from an Excel spreadsheet (a single cell, a range of cells, one or more rows, or one or more columns) and paste it into the table. The only requirement is that the rows and columns in the table and in the spreadsheet have to contain the same information in the same order. You can rearrange the rows and columns either in the dialog box or in the spreadsheet, whichever you prefer. When you paste Excel data into existing records in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box, QuickBooks overwrites the existing values in the cells. To paste Excel data into new records, be sure to select the first empty row in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box before pasting the data.
You can copy and paste data from one cell in the table to another. For example, if a customer with several jobs has relocated its main office, you can copy values from Bill To cells and paste them into the cells for the customer’s jobs. When you copy and paste data within the table, you can copy only one cell at a time. If you want to copy several cells, it’s quicker to make the change in your Excel spreadsheet and then paste the data from Excel into the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries table.
Duplicate a row. To create a new record that has many of the same values as an existing record, right-click the row you want to duplicate and then choose Duplicate Row from the shortcut menu. The new record appears in the row below the original and contains all the same values as the original record, except that the value in the first field begins with “DUP” to differentiate it from the original. Edit the cells in the row that have different values. Then, edit the Name cell to reflect the new customer or job’s name.
Copy values down a column. You can quickly fill in several cells in a column using the Copy Down command. Because this command copies data into all cells below the cell you select, it’s important to filter the list (Selecting a list to work with) to show only the records you want to change. Then, right-click the cell you want to copy down the column and choose Copy Down from the shortcut menu. QuickBooks copies the value in the selected cell to all the cells below it in the column, overwriting any existing data. For example, if you want to change the contact name for all the jobs for a particular customer, filter the list to show all the records for that customer (in the Find box, type the customer’s name, and then click the magnifying glass icon). Next, type the new contact into the first Contact cell. Then, right-click the cell and choose Copy Down.
Insert line. If you want to insert a blank line in the table (to create a new job for a customer, for example), right-click the record where you want the blank line, and then choose Insert Line from the shortcut menu (or press Ctrl+Ins).
Delete line. If you created a record by mistake, you can get rid of it by right-clicking anywhere in its row and then choosing Delete Line.
Clear column. If you want to clear all the values in a column, right-click in the column and then choose Clear Column from the shortcut menu.
After you’ve completed the additions and modifications you want, click Save Changes to save those list entries. QuickBooks saves all the entries that have no errors and tells you how many records it saved. If it finds any errors, like a value that doesn’t exist in the Terms list, it displays those entries in the table in the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries dialog box and changes the incorrect values to red text. Click a cell to see a hint about the error. If the problem is a list entry that doesn’t exist, the “<list name> Not Found” dialog box opens, where “<list name>” is a list like Terms. Click Set Up to add the entry to the list. Fix the errors and then click Save Changes again.
Importing Customer Information
If you have hundreds of customer records to stuff into QuickBooks, even copying and pasting can be tedious. If you can produce a delimited text file or a spreadsheet of customer info in the other program (Importing a Delimited File), then you can match up your source data with QuickBooks fields and import all your customer records in one fell swoop.
Delimited files and spreadsheets compartmentalize data by separating each piece of info with a comma or tab, or by cubbyholing them into columns and rows in a spreadsheet file. An exported delimited file isn’t necessarily ready to import into QuickBooks, though. Headings in the delimited file or spreadsheet might identify the field names in the program that originally held the information, but QuickBooks has no way of knowing the correlation between those fields and its own.
But don’t worry: You can help QuickBooks understand the data you’re importing. QuickBooks looks for keywords in the file you’re importing to figure out what to do, as shown in Figure 4-7. So, you’ll need to rename some headings to transform the file produced by the other program into an import file that QuickBooks can read. QuickBooks’ customer keywords and the fields they represent are listed in Table 4-1. Fortunately, Excel and other spreadsheet programs make it easy to edit headings. When your exported file looks something like the file in Figure 4-7, save it in Excel 2010 by clicking that program’s File tab and then choosing Save (if you’re using Excel 2007, click the Office button and then choose Save). The box on The Easy Way to View Data describes how to use spreadsheets for other data task
To see how QuickBooks wants a delimited file to look, export your current QuickBooks customer list to an .iif file (Exporting a text file) and then open it in Excel and check out the field names it uses.
(Required) The Customer Name field, which specifies the name or code that you use to identify the customer.
BADDR1 – BADDR5
Up to five lines of the customer’s billing address.
SADDR1 – SADDR5
Up to five lines of the customer’s shipping address.
The number stored in the Phone Number field.
The customer’s alternate phone number.
The customer’s fax number.
The customer’s email address.
Despite its confusing keyword, this field is the name or number of the account stored in the Account No. field. (To set up a customer as an online payee, you have to assign it an account number.) The NOTEPAD keyword (later in this table), on the other hand, represents the notes you enter about a customer.
The name of the primary contact for the customer.
The name of an alternate contact for the customer.
The customer type category. If you import a customer type that doesn’t exist in your Customer Type List, QuickBooks adds the new customer type to the list.
The payment terms by which the customer abides.
Y or N in this field indicates whether you charge the customer sales tax.
The code that identifies the type of sales tax to charge.
The dollar amount of the customer’s credit limit with your company.
The customer’s resale number.
The representative who works with the customer. The format for a rep entry is name:list ID:initials, such as “Saul Lafite:2:SEL.” Name represents the rep’s name; list ID equals 1 if the rep’s name belongs to the Vendor List, 2 for the Employee List, or 3 for the Other Names List; and initials are the rep’s initials.
The name of the type of tax you charge this customer. What you enter has to correspond to one of the sales tax items on your Item list (on Sales Tax Items).
This field is where you can wax poetic about your customer’s merits or simply document details you want to remember. To see this imported data in QuickBooks, in the Customer Center, select the customer’s name, and then click the Edit Notes button on the window’s right side.
The title to include before the contact’s name, such as Mr., Ms., or Dr.
The name of the customer’s company as you want it to appear on invoices or other documents.
The primary contact’s first name.
The primary contact’s middle initial.
The primary contact’s last name.
Custom field entries for the customer, if you’ve defined any. To learn how to create custom fields, see Hiding Entries.
This field is set to N if the customer is active in your QuickBooks file, or Y if he’s inactive.
The customer’s price level (Entering payment information).
Exporting Customer Information
QuickBooks lets you do lots of cool things with customer info, but say you have a mail merge already set up in FileMaker Pro, or you want to transfer all of your customer records to Access to track product support. You have to export your customer data out of QuickBooks into a file that the other program can read and import.
To extract customer info from QuickBooks, you have three choices:
Export your customer information directly to Excel if you’re not sure what info you need and you’d rather delete and rearrange columns in a spreadsheet program. QuickBooks exports every customer field. Then, you can edit the spreadsheet all you want and transfer the data to yet another program when you’re done. (The one downside to this approach is that the spreadsheet includes blank columns between each data-filled column.)
Create a report when you want control over exactly which fields QuickBooks exports. By creating a customized version of the Customer Contact List report, for example, you can export the same set of records repeatedly, creating delimited files, spreadsheets, and so on. (Chapter 21 covers QuickBooks’ reports in detail.)
Export a text file of your customer data if you need a delimited text file to load into another program. The delimited file lists each customer in its own row with each field separated by tabs.
The following sections explain all your options.
Exporting to Excel
In QuickBooks, exporting the Customer List to Excel is a snap. To export all the customer data stored in QuickBooks to an Excel file, in the Customer Center toolbar, click Excel, and then choose Export Customer List to open the Export dialog box (Figure 4-8). The Excel menu also contains commands for exporting transactions and for importing and pasting spreadsheet data into QuickBooks.
Customized exports using the Contact List report
By modifying the Contact List report’s settings, you can export exactly the fields you want for specific customers. For example, storing email addresses in QuickBooks is perfect when you email invoices to customers, but you probably also want them in your email program so you can communicate with customers about the work you’re doing for them. Exporting the entire Customer List is overkill when all you want is the contact name and email address; that’s where exporting a report shines.
Out of the box, QuickBooks’ Customer Contact List report includes the Customer Name, Bill To address, Contact, Phone, FAX, and Balance fields. Here’s how you transform this report into an export tool:
Choose Reports→Customers & Receivables→Customer Contact List.
The Customer Contact List report window opens.
In the report window’s toolbar, click Modify Report.
The “Modify Report: Customer Contact List” dialog box that appears lets you customize the report to filter the data that you export. (See Customizing Reports to learn about other ways to customize reports.)
Click the Display tab (if you’re not already on it) and, in the Columns section, choose the fields you want to export.
The Customer, Contact, Phone, and Fax fields might be good ones to export. Then again, they might not. You can add or remove whichever fields you want by clicking a field’s in the Columns list to toggle that field on or off. If there’s a checkmark in front of the field’s name, the report will include a column for that field; if there’s no checkmark, it won’t.
To produce a report for only the customers you want, click the Filters tab. In the Filter list, choose Customer. In the Customer drop-down list that appears, choose “Multiple customers/jobs” to select the customers you want to export.
QuickBooks displays the Select Customer:Job dialog box, with the Manual option selected; that’s what you want. In the list of customer names on the right side of the Select Customer:Job dialog box, click each customer you want to export, and then click OK. Then, in the Modify Report dialog box, click OK.
You see the report with the modifications you’ve made.
In the Customer Contact List window’s toolbar, click Export.
The Export Report dialog box opens. To create a new Excel workbook, simply click Export. Your computer launches Excel and displays the report in a workbook.
Saving the modified report reduces the number of steps you have to take the next time you export. Memorizing Reports explains how to memorize a report.
Exporting a text file
To create a delimited text file of the entire Customers & Jobs List (or any other QuickBooks list), choose File→Utilities→Export→“Lists to IIF Files”. The first Export dialog box that appears includes checkboxes for each QuickBooks list, described in detail on Exporting Lists and Addresses. Turn on the checkboxes for the lists you want to export, and then click OK.
Creating Jobs in QuickBooks
Project-based work means that your current effort for a customer has a beginning and an end, even if it sometimes seems like the project will last forever. Whether you build custom software programs or apartment buildings, you can use QuickBooks’ job-tracking features to analyze financial performance by project.
If you sell products and don’t give a hoot about job tracking, you can simply invoice customers for the products you sell without ever creating a job in QuickBooks. On the other hand, suppose you want to know whether you’re making more money on the mansion you’re building or on the bungalow remodel, and the percentage of profit you made on each project. QuickBooks can tell you these financial measures as long as you create jobs for each project you want to track.
In QuickBooks, jobs cling to customers like baby possums to their mothers. A QuickBooks job always belongs to a customer. In fact, if you try to choose the Add Job command before you create a customer, you’ll see a message box telling you to create a customer first. Both the New Customer dialog box and the Edit Customer dialog box include tabs for customer info and job info. So when you create a customer, in effect, you create one job automatically, but you can add as many as you need.
Creating a New Job
Because jobs belong to customers, you have to create a customer (Creating a New Customer) before you can create any of that customer’s jobs. Once the customer exists, follow these steps to add a job to the customer’s record:
In the Customer Center, right-click the customer you want, and then choose Add Job from the shortcut menu.
You can also select the customer in the Customers & Jobs tab, and then, in the Customer Center toolbar, choose New Customer & Job→Add Job. Either way, the New Job dialog box appears.
In the Job Name box, type a name for the job.
This name will appear on invoices and other customer documents. You can type up to 41 characters in the box. The best names are short but easily recognizable by both you and the customer.
QuickBooks fills in most of the remaining job fields with the information you entered for the customer associated with this job. You can skip the fields on the Address Info, Additional Info, and Payment Info tabs unless the information on these tabs is different for this job. For example, if materials for the job go to a different shipping address than the customer’s, type the address in the fields on the Address Info tab.
If you want to add info about the job type, dates, or status, click the Job Info tab and enter values in the appropriate fields.
If you add job types (Vendor Type List), you can analyze jobs with similar characteristics, no matter which customer hired you to do the work. Filling in the Job Status field lets you see what’s going on by scanning the Customer Center, as shown in Figure 4-9. If you want to see whether you’re going to finish the work on schedule, you can document your estimated and actual dates for the job in the Date fields (the box on Specifying Job Information has more about these fields).
To change the values you can choose in the Job Status field, modify the status text in Preferences (see Jobs & Estimates).
After you’ve filled in the job fields, click Next to create another job for the same customer, or click OK to save the job and close the New Job dialog box.
Modifying Customer and Job Information
As long as you enter a customer name when you create a new customer, it’s fine to leave all the other customer fields blank. You can edit a customer’s record at any time to add more data or change what’s already there. Similarly, you can create a job with only the job name and come back later to edit it or add details.
QuickBooks gives you a few ways to open the Edit Customer or Edit Job dialog box when the Customer Center window is open:
On the Customers & Jobs tab, double-click the customer or job you want to tweak.
Select the customer or job you want to edit on the Customers & Jobs tab and then press Ctrl+E.
On the Customers & Jobs tab, right-click the customer or job and then choose Edit Customer:Job from the shortcut menu.
After you select a customer or job, on the right side of the Customer Center, click Edit Customer (or Edit Job).
You can also modify multiple customer and job records at once, as described on Adding and Editing Multiple Customer Records.
In the Edit Customer dialog box, you can make changes to all the fields—except Current Balance. QuickBooks pulls the customer’s balance from the opening balance (if you provide one) and shows any unpaid invoices for that customer. Once a customer exists, creating invoices (Creating Invoices) is your only way of reproducing the customer’s current balance.
Similarly, all the fields in the Edit Job dialog box are editable except for Current Balance. Remember that the changes you make to fields on the Address Info, Additional Info, Payment Info, and Job Info tabs apply only to that job, not to the customer.
You can’t change the currency assigned to a customer if you’ve recorded a transaction for that customer. So if the customer moves from Florida to France and starts using euros, you’ll need to close that customer’s current balance (by receiving payments for outstanding invoices). Then, you can create a new customer in QuickBooks and assign the new currency to it. After the customer’s new record is ready to go, you can make the old record inactive (Hiding and Deleting Customers).
Unless you’ve revamped your naming standard for customers (Merging Accounts), don’t edit the value in a customer’s Customer Name field. Why? Because doing so can mess up things like customized reports you’ve created that are filtered by a specific customer name. Such reports aren’t smart enough to automatically use the new customer name. If you do modify a Customer Name field, make sure to modify any customization to use the new name.
Categorizing Customers and Jobs
If you want to report and analyze your financial performance to see where your business comes from and which type is most profitable, categorizing your QuickBooks customers and jobs is the way to go. For example, customer and job types can help you produce a report of kitchen remodel jobs that you’re working on for residential customers. With that report, you can order catered dinners to treat those clients to customer service they’ll brag about to their friends. If you run a construction company, knowing that your commercial customers cause fewer headaches and that doing work for them is more profitable than residential jobs is a strong motivator to focus your future marketing efforts on commercial work. The box on Categorizing with Classes explains how you can analyze your business in even more detail.
If you take the time to plan your customers and jobs in QuickBooks in advance, you’ll save yourself hours of effort later, when you need information about your business. You can add customer and job types (as well as customers and jobs) anytime. If you don’t have time to add types now, come back to this section when you’re ready to learn how.
Understanding Customer Types
Business owners often like to look at the performance of different segments of their business. Say your building-supply company has expanded over the years to include sales to homeowners, and you want to know how much you sell to homeowners versus professional contractors. In that case, you can use customer types to designate each customer as a homeowner or contractor to make this comparison, and then total sales by Customer Type, as shown in Figure 4-10. As you’ll learn on Specifying additional customer information, categorizing a customer is as easy as choosing a customer type from the aptly named Customer Types list.
Customer types are yours to mold into whatever categories help you analyze your business. A healthcare provider might classify customers by their insurance, because reimbursement levels depend on whether a patient has Medicare, major medical insurance, or pays privately. A clothing maker might classify customers as custom, retail, or wholesale, because the markup percentages are different for each. And a training company could categorize customers by how they learned about the company’s services.
As you’ll see throughout this book, QuickBooks’ lists make it easy to fill in information in most QuickBooks dialog boxes by choosing from a list instead of typing.
When you create your company file using an industry-specific edition of QuickBooks or the EasyStep Interview (About the EasyStep Interview), QuickBooks fills in the Customer Type List with a few types of customers that are typical for your industry. If your business sense is eccentric, you can delete QuickBooks’ suggestions and replace them with your own entries. If you’re a landscaper, you might include customer types such as Lethal, Means Well, and Green Thumb, so you can decide whether Astroturf, cacti, or orchids are most appropriate.
A common mistake is creating customer types that don’t relate to customer characteristics. For example, if you provide consulting services in several areas—like financial forecasting, investment advice, and reading fortunes—your customers might hire you to perform any or all of those services. So if you classify your customers by the services you offer, you’ll wonder which customer type to choose when someone hires you for two different services. Instead, go with types that are more useful, like Homeowner, Contractor, General Contractor, and Commercial Construction.
Here are some suggestions for using customer types and other QuickBooks features to analyze your business in different ways:
Customer business type. Use customer types to classify your customers by their business sector, such as corporate, government, and small business.
Nonprofit “customers.” For nonprofit organizations, customer types such as Member, Individual, Corporation, Foundation, and Government Agency can help you target fundraising efforts.
Location or region. Customer types or classes can help track business performance if your company spans multiple regions, offices, or business units.
Services. To track how much business you do for each service you offer, set up separate income accounts in your Chart of Accounts, as outlined on Creating an Account.
Products. To track product sales, create one or more income accounts in your Chart of Accounts.
Marketing. To identify the income you earned based on how customers learned about your services, create classes such as Referral, Web, Newspaper, and Blimp, or enter text in a custom field (Entering payment information). That way, you can create a report that shows the revenue you’ve earned from different marketing efforts—and figure out whether each one is worth the money.
Customer support. You may find it handy to use classes to categorize customers by their headache factor, such as High Maintenance, Average, and Easy To Please (as long as you’re careful to keep the class designation off of the invoices you send out).
Creating a Customer Type
You can create customer types when you set up your QuickBooks company file or at any time after setup. Here’s how:
Choose Lists→Customer & Vendor Profile Lists→Customer Type List.
The Customer Type List window opens, displaying the existing customer types.
To add a new type, press Ctrl+N or, at the bottom of the Customer Type List window, click Customer Type, and then choose New.
The New Customer Type dialog box, shown in Figure 4-11, opens.
Type a name for the new type in the Customer Type box and then click OK.
If you want, you can set up a customer type as a subtype of another type. Figure 4-11 explains how.
To create another customer type, click Next.
Lather, rinse, and repeat. When you’re done, click OK.
Jobs are optional in QuickBooks, so job types matter only if you track your work by job. So if your sole source of income is selling organic chicken fat ripple ice cream to health-obsessed carnivores, jobs and job types don’t matter—your relationship with your customers is one long run of selling and delivering products. But for project-based businesses, job types add another level of filtering to the reports you produce. If you’re a writer, then you can use job types to track the kinds of documents you produce (Manual, White Paper, and Marketing Propaganda, for instance) and filter the Job Profitability Report by job type to see which forms of writing are the most lucrative.
Creating a job type is similar to creating a customer type (described in the previous section): Choose Lists→Customer & Vendor Profile Lists→Job Type List. When the Job Type List window opens, press Ctrl+N to open the New Job Type window, and then enter a name for the job type. If you want to create a subtype, turn on the “Subtype of” checkbox and choose the job type this subtype belongs to.
Adding Notes About Customers
Attention to detail. Follow-through. These are a couple of the things that keep customers coming back for more. Following up on promises or calling if you can’t make your meeting is good business. But sending reorder brochures after customers have made purchases can just make them mad. If you use another program for managing customer relationships, you can track these types of details there. But if you prefer to use as few programs as possible, QuickBooks’ notes can help you stay in customers’ good graces by tracking personal info and customer to-do lists.
To add a note to a customer or job record, follow these steps:
In the Customers & Jobs tab on the left side of the Customer Center, select the customer or job to which you want to add a note.
The customer’s or job’s information appears in the right pane of the Customer Center.
In the right pane, click the Edit Notes button.
The Notepad window (Figure 4-12) appears and displays all the notes you’ve added for the selected customer or job, with the insertion point at the beginning of the text box, ready for you to type.Figure 4-12. To add a reminder of what you want to do for a customer and when, in the Notepad window, click New To Do. In the New To Do dialog box, type your reminder and choose a date in the “Remind me on” box, and then click OK. The to-do item shows up on the QuickBooks Reminder List (page 585) on the date you picked. Of course, QuickBooks reminders work only if you open QuickBooks on that day and you remember to look at the Reminders List.
To keep track of when conversations happen, click Date Stamp before typing a note.
If you’re adding a note about something that happened on a day other than today, you have to type in the date.
Type the note you want to add.
To add information somewhere other than the very beginning of the text field, first click to position the insertion point where you want it.
When you’ve added the note, click OK.
QuickBooks adds the note to the Notes area in the Customer Information (or Job Information) pane on the right side of the Customer Center window.
Merging Customer Records
Suppose you remodeled buildings for two companies run by brothers: Morey’s City Diner and Les’ Exercise Studio. Morey and Les conclude that their businesses have a lot of synergy—people are either eating or trying to lose weight, and usually doing both. To smooth out their cash flow, they decide to merge their companies into More or Less Body Building and All You Can Eat Buffet. Your challenge: How to create one customer in QuickBooks from the two businesses, while retaining the jobs, invoices, and other transactions that they created when the companies were separate. The solution: QuickBooks’ merge feature.
Here’s another instance when merging can come in handy: If you don’t use a standard naming convention as recommended on Merging Accounts, you could end up with multiple customer records representing one real-life customer, such as Les’s Exercise Studio and LesEx. You can merge these doppelgangers into one customer just as you can merge two truly separate companies into one.
When you merge customer records in QuickBooks, one customer retains the entire transaction history for the two original customers. In other words, you don’t so much merge two customers as turn one customer’s records into those of another’s.
Merging customers in QuickBooks won’t win any awards for Most Intuitive Process. The basic procedure is to rename one customer to the same name as another. Sounds simple, right? But there’s a catch: The customer you rename can’t have any jobs associated with it. So if the customer you want to rename has jobs associated with it, you have to move all those jobs to the customer you intend to keep before you start the merge. Your best bet: Subsume the customer with fewer jobs so you don’t have to move very many. If you don’t use jobs, then subsume whichever customer you want.
If you work in multi-user mode, you have to switch to single-user mode for the duration of the merging operation. See Switching Between Multi- and Single-User Mode to learn how to switch to single-user mode and back again after the merge is complete.
To merge customers with a minimum of angry outbursts, follow these steps:
Open the Customer Center.
In the QuickBooks icon bar, click Customer Center or, on the left side of the QuickBooks Home page, click Customers.
When the cursor changes to a four-headed arrow, drag the job under the customer you plan to keep, as shown in Figure 4-13, left.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each job that belongs to the customer you’re going to subsume.Figure 4-13. Left: When your cursor changes to a four-headed arrow, you can drag within the Customers & Jobs tab to move the job. As you drag, a horizontal line between the two arrowheads shows you where the job will go when you release the mouse button. Right: After you reassign all the jobs to the customer you intend to keep, you can merge the now-jobless customer into the other. When the merge is complete, you see only the customer you kept.
On the Customers & Jobs tab, right-click the name of the customer you’re going to merge and, on the shortcut menu, choose Edit Customer:Job.
You can also edit the customer by selecting the customer’s name on the Customer & Jobs tab and then, when the customer’s info appears on the right side of the Customer Center, clicking the Edit Customer button. Either way, the Edit Customer dialog box opens.
In the Edit Customer dialog box, edit the Customer Name field to match the name of the customer you intend to keep. Then click OK.
QuickBooks displays a message letting you know that the name is in use and asking if you want to merge the customers.
Click Yes to merge the customers.
In the Customer Center, the customer you renamed disappears and any customer balances now belong to the remaining customer, as shown in Figure 4-13, right.
Hiding and Deleting Customers
Hiding customers isn’t about secreting them away when the competition shows up to talk to you. Because QuickBooks lets you delete customers only in very limited circumstances, hiding customers helps keep your list of customers manageable and your financial history intact. This section explains your options.
You can delete a customer only if there’s no activity for that customer in your QuickBooks file. If you try to delete a customer that has even one transaction, QuickBooks tells you that you can’t delete that record.
If you create a customer by mistake, you can remove it, as long as you first remove any associated transactions—which are likely to be mistakes as well. But QuickBooks doesn’t tell you which transactions are preventing you from deleting this customer. To delete transactions that prevent you from deleting a customer:
View all the transactions for the customer by selecting that customer in the Customer Center, and then setting the Show box to All Transactions and the Date box to All, as shown in Figure 4-14.
You can also view transactions by running the “Transaction List by Customer” report (Reports→Customers & Receivables→Transaction List by Customer).
In the Customer Center or the report, open the transaction you want to delete by double-clicking it.
Choose Edit→Delete Invoice (or Edit→Delete Check, or the corresponding delete command).
In the message box that appears, click OK to confirm that you want to delete the transaction. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for every transaction for that customer.
Back on the Customers & Jobs tab, select the customer you want to delete, and then press Ctrl+D or choose Edit→Delete Customer:Job.
If the customer has no transactions, QuickBooks asks you to confirm that you want to delete the customer. Click Yes.
If you see a message telling you that you can’t delete the customer, go back to steps 2 and 3 to delete any remaining transactions.
Hiding and Restoring Customers
Although your work with a customer might be at an end, you still have to keep records about your past relationship. But old customers can clutter up your Customer Center, making it difficult to select active customers. Hiding such customers is a better solution than deleting them, because QuickBooks retains the historical transactions for that customer, so you can reactivate them if they decide to work with you again. And hiding removes customer names from all the lists that appear in transaction windows so you can’t select them by mistake.
To hide a customer, in the Customer Center, right-click the customer and then, from the shortcut menu, choose Make Customer:Job Inactive. The customer and any associated jobs disappear from the list. Figure 4-15 shows you how to unhide (reactivate) customers.