Hands-free Accounting

Earlier in the week, Chris Gilchrist's excellent post showed us how to integrate different applications to create an automated workflow from initial client contact through to project kick off.

If you're not quite at the stage of connecting your kettle with your accounting system (so you can auto-boil the kettle whenever an invoice is paid obviously!) then don't worry. In this post we'll look at some of FreeAgent's simple automation features that will save you hours and let your accounts run unaided.

1. Get the job

So a prospective customer has been in touch and asked you to provide an estimate for new work. Great start!

If you often do the same jobs for customers then creating a price list lets you choose from a list of predefined services or products to quickly build your estimates and invoices.

A picture showing how to duplicate estimates in FreeAgent

Or you can duplicate a previous Estimate if you've done something similar before. Boom, we're off!

2. Get working

You've won the job! Now, you can't wait to get started.

First thing to do is Convert the Estimate into a Project. This will create a brand new project and convert any estimate items into tasks. You can set billing rates for these items too.

A picture showing how to convert estimates in FreeAgent

Now you can track your time against these tasks. If you're on the move, use the FreeAgent Mobile timer to record the time you spend on work as it happens.

Don't forget to use FreeAgent Mobile to record expenses incurred during the project and upload image of receipts directly to your account.

3. Get paid

The job's done and it's time to get paid. Kerching!

Quickly create the invoice by automatically including all unbilled timeslips and expenses for the project.

If you haven't done so already, now is a good time to create an email template for New Invoices. Add some snappy content, customise the style and include attachments like Terms and Conditions docs. Do this once here and every new invoice email will use the template.

You can even set the invoice to automatically send on a given day.

The FreeAgent payment portal

Choose one of the online payment options and the client can pay the second they receive the invoice by PayPal, credit card or bank transfer.

If you're billing for the same work on a regular basis, create a recurring invoice profile and the invoices can create themselves and be emailed automatically. You won't even have to log in!

4. Get tough

So the invoice is due, but there's a problem: it doesn't look like the client has paid on time. It's time to get tough!

You've already set up late payment reminders right? In which case the client will be emailed automatically gently (or not so gently) prodding them to cough up. You can define different, and increasingly hysterical, reminders as time drags on.

5. Get lucky

Praise be, the client has paid.

Setting up Bank Feeds means the payment transaction will be automatically imported into FreeAgent just waiting to be reconciled. Once this is done then an automatic thank you email can be sent to the client thanking them for payment.

All that remains is to treat yourself to a night on the town. You've earned it.


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