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 often initiates 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 an invoice for what you sold 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 moniker to every person or organization that buys from you: customer. In QuickBooks, a customer is a record of information about your real-life customer. The program takes the data you enter about customers and uses it to fill in invoices and other sales forms with your customers’ names, addresses, payment terms, and other info.
Real-world customers are essential to your success, but do you need customers in your QuickBooks company file? 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.
If 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, if your company doesn’t take on jobs, you don’t have to create them 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.
Even before you start receiving payments from customers, you’re going to do business with vendors and pay them for their services and products. The telephone company, your accountant, and the subcontractor who installs Venetian plaster in your spec houses are all vendors. The information QuickBooks needs about vendors isn’t all that different from what you specify for customers.
This chapter guides you through creating and managing customers, jobs, and vendors in QuickBooks. It also helps you decide how to apply the program’s customer, job, and vendor fields to your business.