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Accounting, simplified

Mar 24, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* QuickBooks 2004 makes smooth work for floormaker

When Steve Lauer was laid off from Nortel 18 months ago, the network executive expanded his side business – creating replicas of historic wide plank flooring – into a full-time venture. The trouble was, Historic Floor Company grew so quickly, Lauer’s accounting software couldn’t keep up.

The business was born 10 years ago while Lauer and his wife were restoring a turn-of-the-century home in St. Louis. When they failed to find anyone to replicate the period flooring, Lauer developed a six-step process that replicates the patina, making the floors look like they’ve aged naturally for a century or more.

When the business was small, Lauer kept the books with Peachtree software. But as it grew, Lauer found himself spending more time wrestling with the program. On a friend’s recommendation, Lauer decided to try QuickBooks Premier 2004.

Because Lauer’s no accountant, data entry and line-item errors were inevitable. But Peachtree was unforgiving. “We found it very difficult to subtract mistakes and make amendments. But with QuickBooks, it’s very easy,” he says.

Before QuickBooks, Lauer spent $1,000 per month on accounting services. But because QuickBooks helped Lauer streamline his company’s accounting, he was able to cut that cost in half. “Now we’re spending half the time and half the money on accounting,” he says.

The company has also cut the time it spends reviewing records at tax time. During a recent two-day year-end record review, Lauer was matching contractor receipts to checks paid and found several receipts were missing. But because QuickBooks integrates into Outlook, Lauer selected a check, and without leaving the program, e-mailed a contractor requesting documentation for the check numbers and dates worked. In Peachtree, the same task would be “a wild goose chase,” Lauer says.

Historic’s floor aging process has even proven worthy enough to franchise. Lauer has already sold two franchises to operators in Colorado and northern California, with more on the way. But Lauer was leery of integrating the franchises accounting into his system. Initially, he maintained separate paper records, but eventually bit the bullet and moved them to QuickBooks. Now he can track his franchise activity same as he does his primary business. By using a special wholesale code, Lauer keeps franchise records as a separate line item, which allows him to run reports on operators’ payables and receivables.

Lauer is now pushing his franchise operators to use the product. “A lot of the guys we seek out for franchises are craftsmen, not business people, and QuickBooks makes it fairly easy to understand how to run a business,” Lauer says.

Intuit offers a variety of QuickBooks packages ranging from $99 for QuickBooks Basic 2004 to $3,500 for QuickBooks Enterprise Edition.