Invoicing in your Database for your Service Business
Databases can have many complimentary or auxiliary functions. In this article we will discuss integrating a database system with invoice generation for service orientated businesses. Almost all service businesses need to bill customers and generate invoices. This includes contractors, mechanics, repair persons, technicians, handymen and more. In these roles not only do you need to keep track of your customer, you also need to track materials inventory and labor, and all related taxes and surcharges.
Why generate invoices using a database?
If you are in a service industry, you are probably already using a database to keep track of your customers or jobs. Adding invoicing into an existing database system is a natural extension, as a lot of the information that you need to display on an invoice is already found in your database. For example, if you have database of customers, it would already contain your customer’s name, address and other contact information. When you generate an invoice for this customer, you will more the likely want this contact information to appear somewhere on the invoice. If your database has integrated invoicing functions, this customer information can be automatically added onto the invoice.
Also, your database is probably already structured to keep your customers separate. When invoicing features are added to your database, the features can use this predefined structure to automatically assign the correct invoices to the correct people. This organization will allow you to quickly look up customer history. This is a big benefit over paper invoices, that may be stored in a haphazard manner.
Commercial Invoice Components and Templates
When you are looking for a database with invoicing features, you want to make sure that the invoice contains everything that you need. There are certain obvious items you are going to want to put on your invoice including invoice number, date of service, labor and materials charges. Additionally, there may also be a host of other items you want to include on your invoice. For example, there may be discounts you may wish to offer your customer. Other additional charges may include provincial or state taxes, harmonized taxes, environmental fees and other government-imposed surcharges. Making the situation even trickier taxes may or may not apply depending on the line item. For example, some states do not tax labor time. Before you select a database with an invoicing system you should make sure that it is capable of handling your jurisdictions tax laws and regulations.
For discounts, you need to make sure that your invoicing system can automatically calculate any type of discount you may want to offer your customer. Different types of discounts may be a percentage off, a dollar amount, a free part, free labor etc. If you routinely offer discounts to your customers, make sure that your selected invoicing system is capable of automatically calculating the type of discount you would like to provide.
In addition to your charges, discounts and fees, you will also want your invoice to reflect your customer’s payment methods and outstanding balance. Ideally your invoicing software will keep track of how much your customer has paid towards an invoice. If your customer is on a payment plan the software should also be able to generate reports showing you when the next customer payment is due. Obviously, you want to follow up with customers that have an outstanding balance, and your software system should support you with these efforts.
In addition to financial information, you may also want your invoice to contain your contact information, logo and other job notes and warranties. Again, if you have specific requirements about what you want printed on your invoice, you should make sure that your selected system supports all of the functionality that you need.
In our Tracker Ten database system we can create custom invoices for our database products suited to your exact specifications. Please contact us for details.
Exporting Invoice Data
If you use an accounting system like QuickBooks, you should make sure our database system supports the export of invoices. In particular you want to make sure that you can export all sales data for a particular date range, to assist with tax returns and other account activities.
Estimates vs Invoices
Depending on the business you are in you may also want to generate written estimates for your customers. The information on an estimate can be very similar to the information on an invoice. However, there are a few important differences. First if your estimate includes materials, you probably want them listed on the estimate. But unlike an invoice you will not want the estimated materials to be automatically deducted from your inventory. Second, when you are doing any sort of financial reporting you will not want your estimates to be bundled with your completed sales data. Therefore, you want to make sure that your system can distinguish between estimates and completed jobs, when you are generating any reports.
Tracker Ten Invoicing Software
Many of our Windows desktop Tracker Ten database products offer built in invoicing features. Here are some examples:
All of the above products let you enter materials, supplies, labor time and taxes to an invoice. You can also add your company logo, contact information and additional notes.