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Dealing With Vendor and Customer Data Fields in QuickBooks Online

The importance of using the data fields in the QuickBooks Online Customer and Vendor records goes beyond just the name.

Oct 28th 2019
Owner FitBooks Pro
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In my experience, clients may usually set up new Customer or Vendor records directly from the bank feed in QuickBooks Online, once they see the name in the Description field, but the information is rarely complete.

A friend and client of mine got in a car accident this week. While visiting him in the hospital, he asked me to contact a few of his customers, to cancel some upcoming appointments.

When I looked in his QBO file to get the phone numbers or e-mails, I discovered he had never entered them.

Vendor Information

So what’s the big deal about vendor information? Let’s say your client is in QuickBooks Online, and an expense appears in the bank feed from a new Vendor - one not already setup in QBO. For example, a large nationally known Vendor like an office supply store. QuickBooks Online will often show the Vendor name in the Description field of the bank feed, as it pulls that info from the Bank Text or Bank Description. But the Payee field is blank.

The client sees the name of the store in the Description field and thinks, “Oh, that was for office supplies” so they enter Office Supplies Expense in the ‘Category or Match’ field and click Add. What they’ve just done is post an expense to the proper expense account, but with no Payee or Vendor name.

Later, if they pull up the Vendor record (Expenses | Vendors | Office Supply Store), they will not see that transaction in the Vendor’s history because the transaction was posted with no Vendor name. 

So, getting back to my original thought, when you see a new Vendor in the bank feed, you can enter the name in the Description field (the Vendor/Payee field) and click Tab or Enter. A popup window called “New Name” appears, and Type:Vendor.

At this point, most people just click “Save,” but Best Practice is to click on the “Details” blue link. This link takes you to the full Vendor record, where you can record the Vendor name, address, phone, e-mail, enter payment Terms, an account number, check whether or not the Vendor is a 1099 Vendor, and even add some Notes or attach a document. 

So many people skip entering all the data, thinking they are saving time, or really not thinking about it at all. I suggest that having the full Vendor data is valuable for many reasons, such as:

  • You may need to call or email the Vendor at some point – it’s so easy to lookup their contact info in QBO.
  • You run an Accounts Payable report because you want to see who you owe/how much you owe/when payments are due. If you have not completed the “Terms” field in the Vendor record, your A/P report due dates are less meaningful.
  • You want to prepare 1099s at year-end, but discover none of the “Track payments for 1099” boxes have been checked for your Independent Contractor Vendors. Now you have to open and edit each one to add the check box.

Customer Information

Now let’s look at the Customer information fields. Sure, you can create a new Customer record by just entering the Company name in the first box. The best practice is to complete all the fields, including First and Last name, full address, e-mail and phone fields.

Look at the other fields and decide if they are useful, such as Preferred Payment Method, Preferred Delivery Method, Terms, and more. Did you know you can add Attachments to a Customer record, such as a signed contract? Use the Notes field to enter directions to their office, or their office manager’s name. 

Having full Customer record information has many uses:

•    In case your bookkeeper or accountant needs to contact the customer to tell them you are in the hospital.

•    A completed Terms field will auto-calculate the Due Date on an invoice. 

•    The Tax Info field is useful if they are a Sales Tax exempt customer.

•    The Language field allows you to send invoices in different languages. 

•    The Attachments field allows you to add useful docs to the Customer record. 

•    The Additional Info tab has a “Customer Type” field which can be useful for custom reporting.

Conclusion

Train your clients to take the time to create fully complete Vendor and Customer records. The time spent will be worth the effort in unexpected ways. 

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Jody Linick is an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper, a QuickBooks® Certified Pro Advisor, and a member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer network.  Her company, FitBooks Pro (formerly called Linick Consulting), specializes in remote bookkeeping services for professional services firms using QuickBooks Online. You can find her series of Blog posts here.

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