Helpful tips from a leisure entrepreneur for automation of the accounting process! By: Harrie Kerssies | 13-08-2018.
Being a leisure entrepreneur, I get a real kick from automating my business processes. It has helped me to combine my work for Recras effortlessly with the work for my recreation company: Taribush. Automation sometimes requires a lot of time and hard work, but when you are able to replace manual business processes by automated actions, it has always proved to be worth the effort.
One of those business processes is the financial accounting. After more than 10 years of entrepreneurship, I was still very dissatisfied with the accounting process and, in collaboration with fellow entrepreneurs, I decided to make some drastic changes. It took a while, but in the current set-up I am up-to-date every day, I no longer have to import / export data manually, and more importantly: I do not have to re-type anything anymore. In this article I would like to show, based on my own recreation company, which steps I have followed and to what result this has led.
But first, we would like to clarify that this article mentions some programs and/or organizations that are – at this point in time – only active in the Netherlands. We are fairly certain there are similar parties in foreign countries, that help to achieve the same or even better results.
In order to understand the way in which the automation of the accounting process has helped me and my company, it is important to have a picture of our business ‘Taribush Uitjes’:
You decide (not your accountant)
My first year as an entrepreneur I kept track of the complete accounting process in an Excel file. That and the help of a clever friend of mine was enough at first, but as the number of bookings increased, we realized that this no longer was manageable without the help of a bookkeeper.
After we approached an accountant, he indicated what his working method was and what adjustments we had to make to fit this method in our workflow. After a few years we were not still completely satisfied and we approached another accountant.
He then told us that we had to adjust our working method again and once again we followed up on his advice. Over the years, a number of accountants have come and gone and each time this led to a different working method, which each time we were not entirely satisfied with.
It was only after having worked with many, many bookkeepers that I realized I needed to switch roles: I would work out my ideal working method completely and then look for an accountant that fit my description. This realization formed – as it turned out afterwards – the starting point for the automation of our bookkeeping and led to Taribush virtually no longer being dependent on our accountant.
My ideal workflow
Requirements for the accounting package and the accountant
Because of my work for Recras, I had already taken note of several extensive accounting packages. However, it remained difficult for an entrepeneur with accounting knowledge at the SME level to understand how these packages work, not in the least because they are designed for accounting firms and companies with a large financial department. I was looking for a low-threshold, complete and compact package, in the cloud and therefore available to connect with other systems. Other requirements were: the automatic processing of incoming invoices / receipts, the automatic import of Recras’ invoices, the possibility to connect with my bank and the creation of a Sepa file for the payment of payment batches.Based on these requirements, only a handful of accounting packages remained, of which Moneybird – mostly based on user assessments – turned out to be the most suitable.
Next, I needed to look for an accountant who had experience with Moneybird, was active in the same region as we were and had the same goal: to collect data ‘in the cloud’ as much as possible. Since we – with the help of Recras – are able to organize our own accounting, the cooperation with our accountant consists mainly of checking and advising on our accounting and the preparation of the annual bill.
Fewer categories, fewer ledger numbers
In some accounts, a large list of general ledger numbers is used – often unnecessarily. In my experience, it is best to use as few categories (the term for ledger numbers in Moneybird) as possible. This has led to the following compact overview of categories for Taribush:
|Turnover 21%||Interest costs|
|Revenue – Tourist tax||General costs|
|Deprecation costs||Food and drinks|
|Maintenance and inventory|
|Other personnel costs (due to labor costs scheme)|
|Deposit in transit|
Moneybird is a basic accounting package with many possibilities, but at the time it was relatively young and therefore did not have many connections with other banks. Here is where bunq comes in handy: the bunq bank already had a connection to Moneybird. The first test exceeded all of my expectations. As soon as you make a payment with the bank, it will appear realtime in the accounts! In addition, you can immediately pay all outstanding invoices from Moneybird by confirming these payments via the bunq application. It took a while before we were able to switch completely from our former bank to bunq, but we are now very content with the result: we save a lot of time and stress every week since we automated this process.
At the time we received many invoices by mail or were forced to download and open them from one of our email systems. We have come up with a solution for this, which has led to us encountering new invoices for the first time from inside our accounting package. Furthermore, we have created a special email address for incoming invoices (firstname.lastname@example.org), then set up a redirect so that all emails sent to this address automatically end up as a new invoice in Moneybird (via go2UBL).
Tangible invoices and receipts
We came up with a different trick for all invoices received by mail. These could be uploaded to a folder in Google Drive at the push of a button. Via Zapier, an online tool that connects many applications, we have established that an email – with an attachment – is automatically sent to our financial address as soon as a new file appears in the Google Drive folder. We have also installed a scan application on our phone, which allows us to make a scan of the receipt in the store and – via Google Drive – automatically transfer it to our accounting package, even before we have left the store!
go2UBL converts standard invoices into UBL invoices, after which they are forwarded to an e-mail address that you have chosen beforehand. This ensures invoices to always be correctly recognized and that the corresponding amounts are correct when the receipt has been added to the accounting package.
At the moment we are checking Moneybird for an overview of new invoices / receipts, before only having to carry out the following actions:
- Check whether the receipt / invoice is linked to the right contact
- Select The right category / ledger number
- Prepare the payment
- Send a payment batch to the bank at the push of a button
- Confirm the payment with only 1 press on your smartphone
Accounting has been a part of our workflow ever since and only takes a few minutes a day. The most important benefit: we are never behind on our finances. In addition, double receipts and attachments are automatically filtered out and we always have a clear financial overview in Moneybird at our disposal. This means we are no longer dependent on the overviews of our bookkeeper.
Now the challenge was to transfer the sales invoices from Recras fully automatically to Moneybird. Moneybird has, just like Recras, a link with Zapier through its own API. In Zapier, such a link with an application is called a ‘Zap’ and so we have created the following Zap for this situation:
Whenever a new final invoice is created in Recras,
- Zapier becomes active,
- an invoice is created in Moneybird
- and it is determined in which categories this invoice ends up.
Important to know:
- You can only register on one category per VAT rate in Moneybird.
- All invoices are collected under one contact, named “Recras Invoices”, in Moneybird.
- The invoice numbers are correct, so matching the incoming amounts on your bank account with the outstanding invoices in Moneybird only takes a few seconds.
In our manual for transferring Recras to Moneybird, we take you step by step to explain how this can be arranged via Zapier.
Actions in Recras
Recras shows in the form of a blue button on the home page that payment terms for invoices have expired. After matching the last payments received from our accounting package with the outstanding amounts in Recras it becomes clear to which customers a semi-automatic reminder should be sent.
In addition, the statistics relating to the bookings can easily be found in Recras within the extensive statistics module. Visitor number totals or the turnover per product (group) for example. Therefore, this data does not need to be exported.
We make use of Loonloon for the payment of our staff members’ salary. Here we can enter every registered hour of every staff member in a secure online environment, on a monthly basis. Payslips can be downloaded within a day and automatically forwarded to our accounting software package, from where we pay these wages. We also collect all documents and pay slips in this accounting package.
It took us quite a few days of work to reorganize our process, but the results are overwhelming. At this moment we are completely in control of our accounting with minimal effort. In addition, the complete workflow at Taribush Uitjes does not involve the responsibility of only one person. The tasks are simple and therefore can be performed by several employees. This minimizes the individual workload and reduces the dependence on employees and therefore results in a lot of rest.
In the current set-up, we are happy with our bookkeeping every day, we pay incoming invoices from our accounting package, our receipts appear in the accounts before we leave the store, invoices – sent from Recras – are automatically transferred into the right accounts, no manual import and export operations are needed and the data for the annual accounts and VAT return are up-to-date at the end of each day.
Overview of programs and costs
|Program||Number||Unity||Amount per unit||Annual costs|
|Moneybird||12||per month||€ 25||€ 300|
|go2UBL||800||per converted receipt||€ 0,35||€ 280|
|Zapier (for Work)||1||per year per account
(up to 1000 actions per month)
|€ 190||€ 190|
|Accountant||1||per year||€ 2.300||€ 2.300|
|Loonloon||140||per payslip||€ 7||€ 980|
|G Suite (Google Drive & Google Mail)||12||per 5 users per month||€ 25||€ 300|
|bunq||12||per month (average)||€ 28||€ 336|
|Recras||12||per maand||€ 270||€ 3.240|
|Total costs per year||€ 7.926|
|Total costs per month||€ 661|
The programs / parties we use for this are all young parties from the new online era, without any history outside ‘the cloud’. This has been a very conscious decision. The advantage of these organizations is that there is always a possibility to connect parts with other online parties.
I am satisfied with the current state of affairs, but there is always room for improvement. An example of this would be when Moneybird could automatically match the incoming payments with the outstanding invoices. Or when Moneybird can pass these payments via Zapier through to Recras, after which Recras in turn processes the payments automatically. In the ideal scenario, no intervention of human actions would be needed, but it remains the question how long it takes for this is possible. After all, it remains extremely difficult to determine automatically to which category certain costs should be processed.
I hope that by means of this article you have started to think about possible improvements for your accounting processes and that the article has made you aware of your own influence on internal workflows. After all, the solution lies with you and not with your accountant.
Perhaps you have a ncie tip for me and other recreation entrepreneurs that has led to improvements in the accounting process within your leisure business. If so, please let us know! We would like to improve the accounting for the entire branch altogether with you.