Tag Archive for Accounting

4 Tips for Successfully Managing Accounts Payable

4 Tips for Successfully Managing Accounts Payable

Laura A. Ehle | February 18, 2015| LAE Business Services, Inc.
 

APNo what matter what size your business is, paying bills will always be part of it. Whether it’s the monthly operating expenses, an occasional order to pay or a fully staffed accounts payable department managing hundreds or thousands of invoices.  By implementing best business practices you can streamline your accounts payable process and be prepared for future growth.

 

Below are 4 tips to help you successfully manage your accounts payable:

1. Simplify Your Accounts Payable Process

  • Reduce the number of check runs to every other week.
  • When the accounting staff prepares check runs, they should have the invoice, any backup (packing slips, pod’s, etc.) ready and invoices approved by the appropriate department heads before coming to you for signatures.
  • Make Accounts Payable aware of any cash disbursement ceilings for each check run so they can then select the most important invoices to pay if cash is tight during that payment cycle.
  • Empower your staff with decisions that will make your life easier and are not dangerous for them to make. The decision to make partial payments on larger balances, or delaying payments to vendors who have a higher tolerance on due dates are a couple of examples.

2. Use Technology

  • Analyze and reduce errors such as paying incorrect amounts, incorrectly entering check numbers used to pay vendors, and paying too early or too late.
  • Make sure your accounts payable module is set up correctly so that transactions flow properly. You may need to use a consultant to make sure your accounting software and accounts payable module are correctly configured, or you could cause more problems than you solve.
  • Have Accounts Payable staff enter terms for each vendor in which the system can default to, such as Net 30, Net 60, etc. Terms are often provided by the vendor, and are usually printed on the face of their invoice.
  • If they don’t send them already, require your vendors to send monthly statements to ensure you’re not missing any invoices.
  • Run aging reports so you know what is in the pipeline.  You may have a small check run this period, but could have a large one coming up that you didn’t know about until looking at these reports.
  • Use laser printed checks, which will update the system automatically, marking which invoices have been paid and with what check numbers.

3. Vendor Terms May Be Negotiable

  • Usually invoices will come with set terms-Net 30, Net 60, 2%10 Net 30, etc.
  • Give you vendors a schedule of when your check runs are so they know when to expect payments.
  • Regardless of the terms given, you can call your vendors and negotiate terms for your own company.
  • Vendors will often give discounts or special terms to customers that purchase large volumes and on a regular basis.
  • Even if the normal terms can’t be changed, if you run into an issue and must pay late, it’s best to call and discuss it with your vendor rather than avoiding them. Follow the phone call up with an email with what was discussed to there is no miscommunication.

4. Reduce CFO Impact to Verification & Signature

  • Typically the CFO signs checks or in the case of small companies, an owner will often sign the checks, but should not be assembling the check run.
  • Accounts Payable should run the aging, choose which invoices to pay, assemble the invoices, print the checks, and verify that all invoices are approved before bringing them to the appropriate party for signature.

Regardless of the size of your company, start managing your accounts payable process more efficiently to save time and money.

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How to Handle A Returned Check

How to Handle a Returned Check

For most any business, accepting checks is a service to its customers. Unfortunately, banks every so often return checks, and dealing with them can be a frustrating process. If you are the receiver of a bad check, you can take several steps to recover the money you lost on the sale, as well as the fees you incurred from your bank.

Handle the return check on your books:

The first thing you will need to do is record this returned check in your accounting system. You don’t want your accounts receivable and bank account to be misstated.  If you don’t have this item set up already in your QuickBooks you want to create a new item “other charge” for your Item List: Bounced Check.  Leave Amount at zero, tax code as non, and for the Account choose your checking account.  Also create another “other charge” item: Bad Check Charge — no amount, non-tax, and for the account set up an income item named “returned check charge”.  Then create an invoice to your customer using these two items.  Invoice for the amount of the check on item Bounced Check and for the bank charge on the Bad Check charge item. (Include a description of the NSF ck# number, date.)  This will have the effect of backing out the deposit and will match to your bank statement.   When you receive a replacement check from your customer, receive it as you would any other payment.

Now for the handling of the check with your customer:

Do not redeposit the check without first speaking with your customer. This will avoid additional bank fees if the check still isn’t good.  Call your customer. Good people make mistakes too, and giving your customer a call, and letting him know what happened often can solve the problem. Let the customer know the check number and dollar amount, as well as any fees your bank assessed you. The oversight might embarrass many people, and they will want make good on the check and then your problem is resolved.

If you don’t get anywhere after speaking with the customer, send a certified letter. Bad check laws vary from state to state but many State guidelines typically require you to send a certified letter to the check writer asking for payment of funds. Ask for payment to be made by a certified check or money order; request the check writer to pay bank fees you incurred because of the returned check. State law requires the check writer to respond within a certain number of days to your letter. Check with your state before sending the letter.

Place a follow-up call to the check maker. You are within your legal rights to go directly to small claims court if payment is not received. However, if you contact the check writer again and they pay restitution in full, then a court appearance can be avoided. Explain to the check writer that you will file a police report or take them to small claims court if they do not pay what is owed to you.

If none of the above actions are getting you anywhere, notify the police. If the check writer lives in your area, file a complaint with your local police department. You will need to fill out a police report and include copies of the bounced check, your certified letter, related receipts and document your attempts to recover the funds. Ask the police to pursue the check writer and bring forth charges.

Hopefully it will not come to the final step and you are able to recover the payment in full. But if not, it’s good to know there are steps you can take. The events might make you, the company; more cautious of whom you accept check payments from in the future.

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Parenting and Accounting

Parenting without a sense of humor

is like being an accountant who sucks at math.

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Bookkeeping Tip #185 Segregation of Duties

Segregation of Duties: the “rule of two”

Meaning that any task involving the finances of your small  business should require  at a minimum two people to complete.
Here’s a few examples
1. Bookkeeper records all receipts, Accountant reconciles all accounts to make sure what’s recorded in the books  matches what happened in reality (as shown on the bank statements)
2. The secretary photocopies checks from clients, gives the photocopies to the bookkeeper to record, then the secretary completes the bank   deposit with the actual check
3. The bookkeeper prints checks to pay vendors, and the owner signs and mails them
 
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