Job-Costing Done Right

Ed Wenck | Apr 23, 2019
Susan Sipe has identified one of the biggest issues for integrators using Quickbooks: “The software is, out of the box, set up for retail applications, not contractors.”
Sipe, who’s part of multiple companies (including the one most relevant to this material, Salez Toolz [saleztoolz.com]), had 30-odd years in the custom integration business before turning her attention to other ventures. She’s developed a course that’s being presented at CEDIA Tech Summits and the 2019 Expo in Denver, “Job-Costing for Integrators Who Don’t Like Accounting (Namely, ALL Integrators).”
The fundamental problem: Quickbooks’ default settings are designed for a cash business; Sally works eight hours, sells two dozen t-shirts, hourly labor was fixed, cost to the retailer for the shirts was set – simple stuff. Figure out the sales tax, cost of the physical space, and so on, and you’ve arrived at a fairly simple profit and loss statement.
A trade like systems integration has a vastly different set of circumstances. Deposits come in during February, gear is purchased in March – one monthly P&L shows a firm solidly in the black, the next, wildly in the red. By learning how to adjust one’s approach to Quickbooks, Sipe shows attendees how to get accurate statements that give an integrator a real picture of how and where they’re making (or losing) money during jobs that can span for weeks or even years.
Tracking what everyone’s doing – down to how much wire they’re using – is one example. “We were doing three million dollars a year,” Sipe says of her old firm in Seattle. “I audited our books and we realized that change orders we hadn’t tracked properly had cost us $100,000.”
“We asked ourselves ‘What are we doing?’ It was like we left the back door open with a sign that said ‘FREE CABLES.’”
Sipe has learned how to adjust her approach to Quickbooks, and the philosophy she’s developed is pretty simple: “Learn how to apply the software to the business, and not the business to the software.”