Friday, 19 December 2014

Avoid Forgotten Payments With Electronic Quotes and Invoices

Accounts Receivable is money that your business is owed, but does not yet have. According to The Telegraph, the average company is waiting 30 days longer for payments than was agreed under contracts. How widespread is this problem? According to Rocket Lawyers survey of 937 small businesses, the number of companies who have trouble collecting payments from customers is one in four. These cash flow delays can pose a serious risk to small businesses.

While there are cases where a client will intentionally put off paying an invoice, as a business you want to eliminate as much friction to cash flow as possibleyou do not want there to be an excuse. Maybe a late invoice was misplaced by the client and forgotten. Maybe the payment was sent out, but has actually been lost in the mail. (A cliche, but sometimes dogs really do eat homework.) It is even possibleespecially if you are dealing with paper invoices and chequesthat the invoice was misplaced in your mailroom and did not get cashed by your accountant.

OfficeBooks is designed to make sales and invoicing as frictionless as possible for your business and clients:
       Frictionless quotes and invoices: OfficeBooks allows businesses to electronically send quotes before the work begins. As soon as the client signs off on the quote, an invoices arrives. With OfficeBooks, lost in the mail is no longer an excuse.
       Frictionless payment: OfficeBooks integration with Stripe means clients have the option to pay immediately through link in the invoice itself. Stripe does not even require the business to have a merchant account.
       Frictionless integration: With QuickBooks integration, your accountant can have access to every sale you make in OfficeBooks. OfficeBooks is even available through Intuits App Center. 


Small business advisors agree that e-invoicing is better than paper. Does your business still have trouble collecting money from customers?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Five Reasons to Forget Paper Records

Did you know that British businesses print off 120 billion pieces of paper every year? Not only is over-printing paper records wasteful, it leads to other practical costs for businesses each year. If you are not already retiring paper records from your office, here are five reasons to make the switch.

1.     Paper records are not easy to organize. Have you ever tried to rearrange a filing cabinet at the snap of a finger? Paper records can only be retrieved through the system they were filed underif your staff remembered to file the records at all. This means that if your paper records were filed by name, you have to go through all of your records to see what was filed most recently, who your customer service team interacted with last, or by the largest accounts you deal with. OfficeBooks allows users to sort records by customer, due date, contact follow up, balance owed, and more at the press of a button.
2.     Paper records take up valuable office space. Not only are filing cabinets expensive, they take up expensive office space. According to The Cost of Managing Paper by KJ McCorry, if you are paying the average price of office space in the USbetween $15-20 per square footyour business is already spending $236-$314 per filing cabinet in space. OfficeBooks is a cloud service, which means we host the servers so you can get more done with a smaller office.
3.     Paper records are not secure. Offsite storage is smart because keeping one set of paper records is risky. In the event of a break-in, fire, flood, or anything an insurer would call an Act of God, the paper records you keep around the office are constantly at risk being lost or damaged. Could storage is offsite storage. If anything happens to your office, your records will be still be safe in the cloud.
4.     Paper records waste time. A paper by KMWorld suggests that 90% of time that knowledge workers spend in creating new reports or other products is spent recreating information that already exists. If an employee waste too much time looking for a record they are unable to find, they will waste even more time trying to duplicate the that information, even if it is information you already have. An effective record keeping system means your files are always on hand, easily searched and indexed, and do not require duplicating information that you should already have.
5.     Paper records can only be accessed in one place. If there is an emergency, and you are not at the office, you will not be able to look over your paper records first hand. Likewise, if an order comes in, paper records do not automatically send instant alerts to your manufacturing or inventory management team. With OfficeBooks, everyone on your team can access your businessrecords right when they need to. No mailing or faxing required.


Have you lost paper records recently? Feel free to share your story in the comments section.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Three reasons to get serious about procurement management


How does your business handle procurement management? There are businesses that stick with the same suppliers for years without shopping around, that do not take other factors from the business into account when managing purchase orders, and only ever order materials after their inventory runs dry. If that sounds like your business, here are three reasons to put more thought into procurement management.

1) Bad arrangements increase costs. 

When any business pays more than it needs to for materials and inventory, the extra cost will either hurt the company competitively or it will eat into profit margins. Either scenario will hurt your business in the long run. “70 percent of troubled projects results from commercial issues rather than technical issues,” according to a representative for the Global Contract Management Association, in an interview with Thomasnet. The first step of managing your procurement effectively is taking account of what your current procurement arrangements are and whether they meet the needs of your business. This requires organized bookkeeping and reports—not hundreds of loose invoices—to identify the volume and costs of your procurement. Once you have your requirements and current costs clearly laid out, your procurement manager will be in an informed position to either negotiate with your suppliers or shop around for more competitive arrangements.

2) Not all purchase orders are alike. 

An effective procurement manager’s job should not be limited to keeping your warehouses stocked. To earn their keep, procurement managers have to take into account a long list of factors that can save a business money and time. Factors that require attention from a procurement manager include shipments that have a high unit cost, an extended cost from purchasing in volume, significant lead time, and shipment rejection rates—these are just a few of the factors listed in Entrepreneur magazine’s guide to creating a formal purchasing program. A lack of planning can result in increased costs through inefficient purchase quantities, longer lead times, and lost sales.

3) Lead times have an impact on shortages. 

If your business is not on top of purchasing products which require significant lead time, you will be at a disadvantage when your business needs to meet time-sensitive goals. If you need to make a sale and your materials are on a barge in the middle of the ocean, your clients and customers will find another provider.

If you want to take procurement management seriously, you need give your team the tools they need to save your business money, time, and sales. Our OfficeBooks inventory management software was developed with procurement management in mind. In one cloud-based application, you can plan ahead by tracing the complete cycle of purchase orders, set minimum inventory triggers, send prompts to buy goods when sales orders exceed what is available in inventory, and save time with instant email notifications for your vendors. OfficeBooks is free to try for up to 5 users and 25 records. 

How have you changed the way your business handles purchase orders and procurement? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

3 Reasons Why Your Purchase Order System Should Be Integrated With Inventory Management

There are standalone apps available for managing purchase orders, inventory, and salesif you wanted to, you could even manage these tasks using paper spreadsheetsbut in business a siloed solution is rarely the best solution. We have collected the top three reasons why your purchase order system should be integrated with inventory and sales.

1.     Inventory should be collecting essential data needed to make purchasing decisions. In addition to unit cost, a purchasing manager needs to be aware of extended cost, lead time, and shipment rejection of each item to make intelligent decisions when evaluating the business supply chain. If you are unfamiliar with the terms, this means that to make purchasing decisions, a purchasing manger needs to be aware of how much of each item is used in manufacturing or shipped to customers, how long it takes for orders to arrive, and how many orders are rejected due to quality control issues. If you are not already collecting data from inventory, OfficeBooks collects purchase and inventory records through normal use.

2.     Delays in fulfilment cost customers. Depending on how suppliers handle shipments, if a purchasing manager reacts to an inventory shortage an hour late, it can put off order fulfilment by an entire business day or longer. These delays can lead to penalty fees and decrease customer retention. Because OfficeBooks integrates purchasing, inventory, and sales, you will be sent an alert the instant a sale results in an inventory shortage, which means you can place orders sooner.

3.     Automation saves time. The only response faster than an instant alert is automation. With OfficeBooks, purchasing managers can set minimum inventory amounts which trigger purchase orders. This level of automation relies on knowing that an order has been accepted in sales, that the order surpasses available inventory, and then requires access to supplier contactsit would not be possible without a system that integrates sales, inventory, and purchase orders, let alone paper spreadsheets.


Have you ever dropped a supplier because of delays? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday, 24 October 2014

5 Ways to Build an Eco-Friendly Office


tips for eco friendly paperless green office

If your business isn’t making an effort to go green, then you’re behind the times. More and more consumers are expecting the companies they support to in turn support our planet. And guess what? It’s easy. Here are 5 simple, affordable ways to make your business more sustainable.

Embrace the Cloud. 

Instead of printing reports, invoices and memos, save them in the cloud. By allowing your team to access and store information wherever and whenever, you eliminate the need for sticky notes, printed emails and wasted paper. 

Eat Green. 

At OfficeBooks headquarters, we have a Meat Thursday tradition but we try to keep it as green as possible. In your company’s kitchen, make sure to get rid of paper plates and cutlery, and invest in the real thing. You may have to do a few dishes, but it will save a ton of paper and plastic.

Power Off. 

Not using that meeting room for another hour? Taking the rest of the afternoon off from your computer? Unused lights, computers and personal devices should be turned off or switched to power-saving mode. And don’t forget to invest in eco-friendly light bulbs. As an incentive to motivate your team, consider offering a reward to the employee who most effectively saves power every month.

Be Paper-Smart. 

Reduce your paper use through double-sided printing. Never done it before? It’s usually an option under “Layout” when you’re printing. Make sure to recycle or reuse the paper once you’re finished with it. If you want to take it a step further, then invest in recycled notebooks and other supplies for your office.

Carpool. 

It’s a small world – chances are several people on your team live close by. Consider setting up a carpool system in the office so you can save fuel and money. 

How does your company reduce their footprint? Let us know in the comments. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

5 Ways Reports Help Your Business

Let’s be honest – no one jumps for joy when a report lands on their desk. But if you want honest, straightforward advice, then there’s no denying that data speaks. Next time you pick up a report, here are 5 reasons to stop skimming and start listening.

  1. Reports give you a different perspective. An effective reporting system will allow you to filter by different variables, so you can put every area of your business in the hot seat – from your products to your productivity. By looking at your company through a number of lenses, you can discover trends and changes that might surprise you.
  2. Reports are objective – and you are not. Our brains are selective, both in terms of what we notice and what we remember. Don’t rely on your own observations about the functionality of your business, or you might be fooling yourself. Reports offer unbiased, unavoidable numbers and facts.
  3. Reports save you money. No budget is complete without a report. If you’re wondering where to cut back and where to spend, reports help you understand where your money is going and whether it’s been effective or wasted.
  4. Reports help with Customer Relationship Management. Reports show you which suppliers or customers are especially beneficial for your business, and which have perhaps cost you money or resources. This allows you to foster closer relationships with those who are helping your business, and keep an eye on those who aren’t.
  5. Reports let you learn from yourself. Reports highlight areas of your business that are especially successful or need improvement. By understanding what’s working and what needs fixing, you can learn from your own successes and failures, and keep improving.

What do you find most helpful about reports? What could make them even more awesome? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Avoid Customer Service Failure By Empowering Your Staff With Useful Contact Information!

Avoid customer service failures by empowering your staff

Have you ever suffered through a customer service experience that was so grating and unhelpful, you wanted to hang up the phone and immediately contact a rival provider? Customers leave when they no longer believe a company can be trusted to solve their problems. If anyone on your team interacts with customers, it is their responsibility to convey that your entire company understands—in specific detail—what those customers need. Too many businesses do not give their client-facing staff access to the data they require to keep track of the information customers expect representatives to know.

Make no mistake, businesses lose customers when communication becomes inconsistent, fails to build a relationship, or when they feel they haven’t been listened to. The threshold for customer service failure is low. If you have ever repeated the same explanation, in full, to more than just one representative on a single call, you experienced all of these customer service pitfalls.


  • The first step to building a relationship with your customers is remembering who they are. Relationships never form between perpetual strangers. Your representatives need to understand what each customer needs, and how far along the business is at meeting those needs.
  • Consistency means that your customer service agents are able to provide the same details— the correct details!—for each client. If your customer-facing responses are not consistent, your business will seem amateurish.
  • Make your customers feel listened to by immediately keeping records of what they need! If any one of your employees are not able to call up this information, your customers will feel like their requests go in one ear and out the other.
Managers have a strong tendency to over-estimate their ability to delegate tasks. According to one 2013 study by Econsultancy, while only 30% of managers think they delegate well, only one-in-three of their subordinates considered those managers to be good delegators! When employees complain that they do not have the tools or resources to accomplish their tasks, their manager is not delegating effectively. If you need a subordinate to verify information with a supplier, they have to have access to the supplier and the information they need.
Providing staff the client info can avoid customer service issues


Our solution to avoiding a customer service catastrophe is to empower your trusted team with OfficeBooks. OfficeBooks is a powerful CRM in the manufacturing and hard goods industries because it is not just a CRM: it handles purchasing, sales orders, inventory, and reporting. OfficeBooks’ sales view compiles each contact’s sales history, and also allows users to record service events or even append documents to their contact card using Google Drive. There is no excuse to be caught unprepared, because OfficeBooks is a cloud service available to anyone on your trusted team with a modern web browser.

What is the worst customer service experience you have ever witnessed first hand? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

How to Choose the Right Software for Your Business


We are smack in the middle of a tech era and no business can operate without software. But with new programs popping up every minute, all with different abilities and price ranges, choosing the right software for your business can be a little daunting. Here are 5 helpful and important tips to help you make the best choice for your business, your team and your clients. 

  1. A fantastic program will accomplish two things; it will do a better and faster job than you. This sounds simple, but many programs only accomplish one at the expense of the other. When it comes to software, you should be able to have your cake and eat it too. Invest in a program that will not only produce accurate, high-quality work, but will save you time in the process.
      
  2. Chances are you wouldn’t hire an employee with just one skill – the same principle applies to software. Rather than juggling multiple programs for several different tasks, look for comprehensive software that can benefit multiple areas of your business. Not only do you get more bang for your buck, but your team saves time by only having to learn and utilize one program.
     
  3. Finding software without the occasional glitch is about as futile as hunting for a unicorn. And when something goes wrong, the last thing you have time for is waiting 3 days for a solution. Before investing in new software, take a good look at the support that comes with it. Find a company with multiple channels you can use to get in touch with them – Twitter, Facebook, an online email form, a phone number, etc. This allows you to reach someone quickly and easily, no matter where you are or what day of the week it is. Check out their standard response time, too. Some companies promise to get back to you in 24 hours – others in 3 business days. Try contacting them through one or two channels so you get a first-hand idea of the kind of support you will receive. Don’t invest in software until you’re confident you can expect timely, effective communication.
     
  4. Your business is constantly growing and improving – so your software should, too. Choose a program that is updated regularly, rather than stuck on Version 1 from 2010. It’s important to know your software can evolve with your industry, accommodate changes to your role, and become continuously more useful to you and your team.
      
  5. Don’t suddenly spring a new program on your team, or they might just opt to keep doing things the old way. Take time to explain why you chose this software, how it’s going to make their jobs easier and faster, and which support tools are available. Make sure you allocate a few hours for training, and give sufficient time for everyone to become comfortable with the program. After your team has been using the software for about a month, follow-up to see whether it has been helpful, successful and user-friendly. Most programs allow you to use a trial version for the first month, so at this point you and your team can evaluate whether you want to fully invest in the software or not. 
What’s important to you when choosing software for your business? Share in the comments! 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Manufacturing Companies: 3 Ways to Improve Your Inventory Control

Inventory control is essential to smoothly and successfully run a manufacturing company. But what’s the best way to go about it? Here are 3 simple times with big impact. 

1. Up-to-the-minute data

Improving Inventory Control for Manufacturers
We hate to say it, but when it comes to inventory control, your computer is actually smarter than you. Instead of relying on spreadsheets, lists and general confusion, find a program that will do the work for you. Invest in software that automatically adjusts your inventory levels the moment something changes, and alerts you when a work order is needed for components or sub-components. That way you don’t have to worry about human error, and you can get back to the meat of your business. 

2. Set minimums

Do you refill your gas tank when it’s empty, or when it’s nearing empty? We’re going to hope you said the latter. When it comes to inventory control, the same principle applies. If you wait until you run out of parts to re-order them, your clients won’t be too happy. Determine the minimum number of components you need to successfully run your business, and make sure you receive an automatic reminder when you’re reaching that number. This way, if you receive unexpected orders or there’s a delay in receiving new parts, you don’t have to sweat it. 

3. Keep everyone in the loop

Communication is key. There’s nothing worse than one person accidentally thinking someone else was going to buy or build new parts. Consider storing your inventory data in the cloud, so that your employees can access it from anywhere in the world. If your entire team is working with the same data on inventory, purchase orders, work orders and shipments, then you guarantee nothing gets lost in translation. 

Do you have any tips for successfully managing inventory? Share them in the comments!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Manufacturers: 5 Ways to Build a Successful Relationship with Your Customers & Suppliers

Manufacturers: 5 Ways to Build a Successful Relationship with  Your Customers & Suppliers
The manufacturing industry runs on inventory, labor, machines, tools – and people. Even with top-of-the-line equipment, if you don’t have a successful working relationship with your customers and suppliers, then you won’t have much luck overtaking the competition. Here are 5 tips to help your company create a trusting, personal and profitable relationship with the people who matter.

1.     Foolproof Inventory Control
Inventory control is the best way to build a reliable reputation with your customers and suppliers. Ensure you have a system in place that automatically tracks your inventory and notifies you when work orders are needed for components and sub-components. Make sure all your employees have access to this real-time data, so that your whole team is on the same page. A foolproof inventory management system will help every part of your business run smoothly so that you can meet deadlines and deliver on promises.
2.     Up-to-Date Communication
Timing is everything. Delivering prompt quotations, invoices and work orders, sending email updates, and tracking shipments makes it easier for your customers and suppliers to complete their end of the job on time, which in turn helps your business run smoothly. Not to mention keeping everyone in the loop builds their trust in your team and ensures they continue doing business with you.
3.     Successful Brand Image
Looks do matter. Consistent branding, slick looking forms, a clean website, and a recognizable logo all help establish your company as professional and personable, which will impress your customers and suppliers. Social media is another fantastic way to build your brand’s personality and establish yourself as an expert in your field; you can interact with your customers and suppliers on a conversational level, and keep them up-to-date on relevant and interesting industry updates.
4.     Effective Contact Management
When something goes wrong, the last thing you have time for is finding a phone number. Make sure you have a comprehensive contact management system that allows you to quickly and easily get in touch with your customers and suppliers. Allow your entire team access to this database, so that everyone can reach out directly to the people they need. With multiple employees making contact, it’s important to keep track of every interaction made with a customer or supplier; this way your team has every piece of the puzzle they need to assess the current situation and make the right call.
5.     Easy Online & Phone Support
Communication is a two-way street. Make sure it is simple for customers and suppliers to get in touch with you. List a phone number or email contact on your website and company forms, and ensure people receive a timely and personable response. It’s also a good idea to include your hours and holiday schedule on your website and answering machine, so that people know when they can expect to reach you.

How do you maintain a successful relationship with your customers and suppliers? Let us know in the comments!