I recently read an article in our local paper that details a pretty standard embezzlement case. In this case (Wilsonville bookkeeper gets theft conviction), the bookkeeper charged at least $17,000 of personal charges to a company credit card. She also wrote convenience checks off the credit card to pay personal bills. She is believed to have stolen at least $30,000.
When you don’t have any internal controls in place and you give one person access to everything, it’s easy for this to happen. What are you doing to ensure your cash and credit is secure? At a minimum, you should ensure bank and credit card accounts are reconciled monthly, preferably not by the person paying the bills. The owner should also regularly review bank and credit card statements.
Read more internal controls tips on this post: Internal Controls, Protect Your Business From Embezzlement
The latest post over on the People Positive Culture blog is “Throwing money at candidates?”. Steve Potestio delves into the difficult subject of new recruits who require more than a company needs to or should pay. Steve points out that if you have a place where people want to work, pay won’t be the only factor prospective employees take into account when considering an offer. Let’s take this one step further. Not only does having a great place to work have the potential of saving dollars on salary, it introduces other savings as well.
In creative environments, the amount of time it takes to complete a project directly impacts your bottom line. More hours = less profit. You can hover over a designer all day, but that’s not going to make the creative process any faster. You’re not churning out widgets, so you have to look at things a little differently in project and financial management. In creative agencies, it becomes important to invest in the business culture to foster the creative process. Spending on comfortable work environments, engaging in some non-billable fun time, and generally making the “work” easier not only builds a great culture, it will also reduce your costs in the long run.
Having a great company culture also reduces turnover. Having a place your employees want to work means they won’t be easily poached by competitors. Do you know how much employee turnover costs? Turnover costs include the costs of: interviewing and hiring a replacement, training, lost knowledge, increased unemployment rates, and lost productivity during the transition. That can get pretty expensive; it’s far less expensive to have happy employees.
One of the biggest compaints about QuickBooks for Mac has been that it didn’t have multi-user functionality. Complain no more! The 2011 edition is multi-user friendly. Hooray! Checkout all the great new features in 2011 here: QuickBooks for Mac 2011 Press Release.
Everyone has a ton of passwords these days and they can be hard to keep track of. There are add-in’s for your web browser that work great for personal use (I have used RoboForm for Windows and 1Password for Mac), but I haven’t found much for sharing.
Enter Passpack. I was made aware of this nifty little program last week and it solves a serious problem. In business, employees are creating passwords all the time, but they are the only ones who know the password. What happens if they suddenly leave the company? What if the business owner is suddenly hospitalized? These things happen and the show must go on. Wasting time hunting down passwords is not ideal.
With Passpack, you and your employees can share your passwords with others on an as needed basis. Share the appropriate passwords with your bookkeeper, your clients, etc. Have all of your employees share their passwords with an administrator. Now you don’t have to call people on vacation to get their passwords.
I was recently asked to compile a list of information needed prior to terminating a bookkeeper. I’ve compiled a list of things that you may need to retrieve from your bookkeeper, controller, or office manager below.
Even if you have no plans to terminate, pretend like you are firing your bookkeeper or controller and start getting access to anything you currently don’t have access to or cannot easily obtain without the help of the person you are terminating. It’s important to have control over this information. What happens if the office manager gets hit by a bus tomorrow? Your business needs to keep humming along regardless of who is sitting in the bookkeeper/office manager/controller chair.
Termination Retrieval Checklist
It’s common for small business owners to measure their financial health based on their income statement or bank account balance and deem their business “fit” if the bottom line looks good. To reveal why this approach can be deceptive, let’s apply a dieting metaphor.
Only looking at the bottom line is the equivalent of “sucking it in” when you look in the mirror. Sure, it looks like you’ve lost some weight, but what happens when you exhale? You might appear skinny for a moment, but that version of the situation isn’t accurate.
I have recently acquired a new hobby. I bought a glass kiln and I’m experimenting with fusing glass. On Saturday, I went to the local glass shop with the intent of purchasing a mold to slump a vase. I walked in the door and was immediately greeted by the owners who asked what I was looking for. I told them I needed a handkerchief vase mold and they responded that they didn’t think they had any. A look on the shelf confirmed it.
That’s it. The end of the story. I REALLY wanted to buy a mold. I had money in my pocket and I was ready to hand it over to them. They had great service until they didn’t have the inventory item that I needed. Then they dropped the ball. They sent me to a competitor. No, they didn’t say “try our competitor” out loud, but they didn’t offer me any other options. They could have said: “we can order one for you” or “the next shipment is due on XXXX”, but they didn’t.
I’m certain this local mom & pop shop needs my business, but they are lacking some pretty basic customer service skills. The absence of those skills is costing them money. I witnessed this very thing happen to another customer on my previous visit. I wonder how much revenue they’ve inadvertently given to their competitors.