Congratulations, you’ve landed a new customer! Or, perhaps you prefer the term “client.” Either way, you should be excited; in this particular climate, sparking fresh interest in any kind of business can be challenging. Yet, you did it, and now comes the next part: What to do after you have officially landed that customer/client.
The following essential list of to-do’s will help ensure you not only keep your customer happy but that you KEEP them—period! Take a look; you will discover the list can apply to everyone and anyone.
- Welcome Your New Customer
A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Remember, with today’s competition, it is more important than ever to stand out. Nothing will help you stand out more than by showing appreciation to any new customers. Make sure to welcome them and thank them for choosing you/your business. This can be done in person, via card, or even email. Though, written form will likely make a lasting impression. Also, reinforce all of the benefits of choosing YOU!
- Make a Smooth Handoff
If you think about it, this new customer has joined your family—let them know that! Introduce them to your staff (i.e. their new family and friends). Specifically, make sure they are acquainted with their person of contact and ensure it is a good fit by all involved parties.
- Get Them Onboarded in a Fun Way
During the initial meeting—orientation, if you will—give your customer all of the vital information they will need to easily navigate your business and get the most from your services. This information could include passwords to access certain areas, emails, phone numbers, a glossary of keywords, etc. If you could present this information in the form of a video, even better! Videos are much easier to understand and leave a lasting effect!
- Be Their New Best Resource (Goodies Added)
Do you have a new client kit? You should! This kit can include anything pertinent to the relationship with your new customer (i.e. relevant paperwork, files, contact information, etc.). Spice up this kit with some goodies, though! Everyone loves goodies. Make sure to properly read your customer to get a better understanding of their likes, but in general, these goodies could include candy and sweets, candles . . . You get the idea.
- Connect with Them on Social Media
Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, almost everyone is on at least one social media platform. Connecting on social media will not only allow you to know your customer/client better but is also a great way to network with “friends” of your customer.
- Meeting with the Customer for the First Time
There will come a point when you have that first review meeting with your customer. Be sure to deliver value and explain the service you’ve performed so far. The most essential take away from this step is that your customer feels comfortable and knowledgeable. This is a perfect time to verify any information that may seem unclear or complicated; encourage questions during this meeting.
- Ask for a Referral or a Review
The best way to drum up more business is word of mouth. You can ask immediately or want until your relationship has blossomed and become strong. Asking for a referral or a review (or both!) is completely acceptable and a good business practice.
Incorporating these seven items into your new customer onboarding process will get your relationship off to a great start. By showing your customer they are important, you stand a better chance of securing their future business and attracting even more potential customers.
Custom fields in your accounting software are data fields that you can define yourself. They are typically associated with customers, vendors, employees, and items, and they can help you store and categorize additional information about these stakeholders and your products and services in your business.
An example custom field that can be associated with customers is their anniversary date with you. You could also decide to store their birthday, their spouse’s name, their favorite color, or their shoe size.
Custom fields add functionality to your accounting system. Here are a few examples of practical uses for custom fields:
- Staff contact for customer – if customers are assigned a particular staff member, you can add their name in a custom field
- Frequency of service – daily, weekly, monthly
- Warehouse location
- Type of customer; for example, hospitals, pharmacies, retirement homes
- Referring physician
- Preferred method of contact: email, phone, fax, text, chat
- License number
Some software allows you to choose the type of custom field you want to add. In some cases, this allows for cleaner data as the data can be limited to a certain type or certain values upon entry. Here are the most common types:
- Free form text – this is the default type; it can come as a single line or paragraph
- Check box – choose one or more values from a limited number of choices
- Radio button – choose only one value from a limited number of choices
- Drop down – choose a value from a dropdown list
- File upload – add an attachment
- Image upload – upload an image that will be displayed
- Date/time – enter a date or time
- Number – enter a number; it can be currency, integer, or another mathematical type of number
Custom fields allow you to meet your company’s unique needs over and above what the software provides by default. It’s a great way to make your data more meaningful. If you have some ideas for custom fields in your accounting software and want help setting them up, feel free to give us a call anytime.
Does your business ask your customers for their credit card numbers at any time during the sales process? If so, it’s essential that you honor the privacy of your customers’ private data as well as stay in compliance with the Payment Card Industry rules.
Every business that has an account with a merchant services vendor is required to follow PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance when collecting and storing credit card data. There are many different levels of compliance depending on the technology you use to capture and store credit card data. These levels depend on whether you use a point of sale terminal, the customer hands you their card, orders are entered through an online shopping cart, or a combination.
In all cases, there are several no-no’s that you’ll want to share with your staff to make sure they are properly trained:
- Never ask a client to send a credit card number via unsecure email.
- Never take down a credit card number over the phone on paper before entering it into your system. If you do, you need to shred the paper immediately.
- Don’t ask clients to take a photo of their credit card to send to you.
If you need to use credit card authorization forms in your business, you’ll need to consider the proper collection of these forms as well as the proper storage. Storing a credit card outside any system requires you to follow further PCI compliance steps.
- After a client has signed and completed the credit card authorization form, you will need to provide a secure, encrypted email connection for them to send it back to you. Alternately, you can set up a private client portal for them using Box, DropBox, ShareFile, or another generic portal or file transfer app. Just sending a pdf via email is not a great idea unless the PDF is password-protected and the password is sent via secure, encrypted email.
- Once you’ve received the form on your end, you’ll need to keep it in a secure place. If you print or download it, you’ll need to follow physical building security protocols to stay in compliance with PCI as well as to protect the customer data.
It’s not a surprise that so many credit cards get hacked each year. It’s inconvenient to customers and vendors when their credit card gets compromised, and much of this can be prevented through proactive and safe measures. Respect your customers and help them keep their credit card data safe.
When you pay a bill in your business, are you 100 percent comfortable that the bill payment is correct and justified? Is there ever a chance that that bill is fake or fraudulent? What about duplicates? With so many fake bills being mailed to businesses these days, it makes sense to think about controls you can put into place to reduce the risk that you might write a check out of your hard-earned profits that should never be written.
Accounts Payable Controls
In the accounting profession, the term “internal controls” refers to processes, procedures, and automations you can put into place to reduce errors. In accounts payable, there is a specific subset of rules and controls you can put into place to reduce risk in this area. Here are just a few ideas.
All bills should be approved by the appropriate level of staff in your business. Sometimes a bill gets approved that is fake or shouldn’t be approved, especially in areas where the approver doesn’t have technical knowledge of what they are buying. Be sure to read the fine print on the bill and make sure you know what you are paying for.
2. Segregation of duties
The person who pays the bill should be different from the person who submitted the bill. These people should be different from the one who signs the check. This reduces employee fraud.
3. Receipt confirmation
A packing slip or other confirmation of receipt of the goods or services should be matched to the invoice, line item by line item.
4. Math check
A prudent step is to check an invoice’s math, at least for reasonableness.
5. Duplicate payments
If a vendor emails their bill as well as mails a hard copy, controls should be put in place (usually automated) to avoid duplicate payments on the same bill.
If there are a significant number of transactions between you and a vendor, an accounts payable reconciliation should be performed each month via a statement.
7. Missing check numbers
Most systems provide a missing check numbers report that you can use to make sure all checks are accounted for.
8. Bank reconciliation
A bank reconciliation is a sure way to see exactly what checks cleared your bank account.
Coding each transaction to the correct expense account, inventory, asset, or cost of goods sold account is an essential part of the process.
10. Income statement review
Each month, a review of the balances in your expense accounts as well as a disbursements ledger review for reasonableness can provide added peace of mind.
11. Purchase order
Requiring purchase orders is another control you can add to your process. Purchase orders should be matched to packing slips and invoices before payment or approvals are made.
12. In-depth knowledge of your business’s numbers
The more you get to know the numbers in your business, the greater chance you’ll have of accurate accounts payable handling.
And if you’d like to discuss your accounts payable function with us and how it can be improved, we’re happy for you to reach out any time.
One of the most important parts of managing a business is making sure there is enough cash to keep the business going. As a business owner, you probably have a very good idea how much cash you have in the bank at any time. The smaller your business is, the more likely you are to keep a close eye on cash.
Checking your cash balance is a daily function you should be on top of. Yet there is another often-overlooked responsibility that many business owners don’t spend enough time on, and that is managing your future cash, especially in light of unplanned situations. Looking ahead helps reduce your business risk and allows you more time to correct any upcoming dip in your cash balance.
Having enough cash is akin to having a safety net for your business. It can sometimes even mean the difference between staying in business and going out of business. To plan how much you might need for your safety net, you can use a few different methodologies.
One way to plan your safety net is to prepare for the worst-case scenario. How long would your cash hold out if no revenue were to come in but all expenses kept going out? Some questions you might ask:
- At what point will your cash run out? How many weeks or months of cash do you have?
- Do you have a line of credit you can tap at a bank?
- Do you have other loans or sources of cash that you can tap quickly in case of emergency?
- What expenses could you shut down without hurting your business if you had to?
Another way to plan your safety net is to do what the average business does: acquire the amount of cash you need for two to three months’ worth of operations and keep it on hand. Alternately, you can make a plan to liquidate that much cash on a very fast basis and only put your plan in place if it’s needed.
An easy way to get these numbers is to look at your bank statements in conjunction with your average accounts receivable and accounts payable balances. If that’s all Greek to you, no worries. Feel free to contact us and we can help you figure out a safety net number that you’ll feel comfortable with and that will keep your business risk low.
Once you have a safety net in place, you’ll gain peace of mind for your business. It’s one step in an overall disaster preparedness plan that you can make for your business.