The Forestry Forum

General Forestry => Sawmills and Milling => Topic started by: Dustin on January 12, 2020, 05:07:36 PM

Title: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Dustin on January 12, 2020, 05:07:36 PM
I have been doing a lot of reading and searching, but have yet to find some answers.  I have a question for the guys that are portable milling and not selling lumber. I'm hoping this summer I can finally get a sawmill and start milling part time. What do you guys use to keep track of expenses, and what things do you keep track of for each job?  I'm thinking of getting an iPad that will have an Excel spreadsheet to take to a job site. Does anyone have a good spreadsheet already made out? Does anyone print a receipt for the customer when the job is complete or hand write a receipt? I think I can also create a check list on the iPad to make sure I pack everything in the truck before a job. 

I have seen some of you like to use QuickBooks to keep track of things for the tax man. I don't have any experience with it, but I'm sure I can learn. Is there anything out there that is better than QuickBooks? I'm hoping to get everything set up before I get the mill. Any help anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: SawyerTed on January 12, 2020, 05:29:22 PM
i don't know of anyway for a non-accounting minded person to handle expenses better than Quickbooks.  But I'm a non-accounting minded kind of person.  It works well as long as I record my receipts and expenses faithfully. 
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Dustin on January 12, 2020, 06:16:03 PM
I took some accounting classes back in high school if that counts for anything.:D  I'm no pro at Excel either, but I do have a good grasp on it.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Mike W on January 12, 2020, 06:37:18 PM
I agree on Quickbooks, its a great tool and easily integrates with import/export of excel and also turbotax if that is the direction you are going all said and done.  My better half does all this type of stuff in the business, I am just responsible for putting the work into place, she handles the important side of things.  No matter what you end up going with, it is directly proportionate with the quality of input for quality of output on any platform.  I get hounded regularly (like daily) on the lack of providing the paperwork side of things she needs for a quality input as it were, you would think after 30 years she would have come to grips with it, however being a stickler over it isnt going to  change anytime soon or ever I  dont believe, glad she holds true to the importance of it all, sure it has saved us more then I  could ever imagine it has throughout the years.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: WV Sawmiller on January 12, 2020, 06:49:32 PM
Dustin,

   I am pretty low tech - I scan my receipts and put them in a folder on my laptop by date and I zip and send them to my accountant/tax guru on 31 December every year. I have a couple of excel spreadsheets I use to record the various categories of expenses (Insurance, fuel for mill, supplies, equipment, donations, etc.). I sort and subtotal them at the end of year and send to tax guru. It is basically a mirror image of my receipts except I also note small expenses where no receipt was given. I have an exel spreadsheet listing my mileage I total send at the end of the year. I have a sawing tally listing the sizes of lumber sawed with bf and prices and tally for mileage, blade damage, etc for that job. I can print and or send this to the customer as a receipt for his tax needs if he wants it. All my spreadsheets have formulas built in do the math for me such as computing the bf, calculating math and taxes, etc. I have another spreadsheet for income I record every sawing job or sale which I also use to calculate my sales tax at the end of the year.

   I will be glad to send them to you if you would like to pm me an e-mail address to use. I tried to send in a pm but this system does not seem to allow me to attach documents to a PM.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: terrifictimbersllc on January 12, 2020, 06:56:57 PM
I use Quickbooks too, desktop version, and like it. I use Quickbooks for Mac, I've had the 2007, 2010, 2016 and now the 2019 versions.  Still significantly cheaper than using their web product. At the beginning the Mac version was like an afterthought for them, but now they seem solidly behind it.  The reason I have had different versions was because QB would not keep upgrading each version to keep up with changes in the Mac operating systems.  

I've found the QB/Intuit phone help pretty good. Just two or three times, but once was last week they spent over an hour on the phone with me to fix a problem which was my fault.

The windows version of QB is an industry accounting standard but the OSX is pretty good.  

I dont think you can run QB on your ipad without subscribing to the more expensive online version.

I have carried a mobile printer (HP100) but after breaking two of them I stopped. Now for most jobs I take my laptop and do the invoice in QB, print it to a pdf file, airdrop this file to my Iphone,and email it to the customer.  Sounds complicated but only takes about 2  minutes once I know at the end of the day, what the charges are.

Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: WV Sawmiller on January 12, 2020, 07:58:50 PM
  PM sent. As I mentioned I just take my laptop with me to the job. I don't use a smart phone or IPad of such. I open to the tally sheet and hand the customer the tape measure and I record the numbers he gives me and the spreadsheet does the tally and computes his cost, including taxes. I don't have a portable printer yet but can download a copy to his flash drive or I can e-mail or snail mail him a copy if he wants when I get home. I have simple hand written receipt I can give him with a carbon back up. I do have a small Neat scanner that runs off the computer power I can scan up to 2 pages anywhere but receipts are not generally that time sensitive I just scan them every night when I get home.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: NotEnoughTime on January 12, 2020, 08:29:15 PM
Sounds like WV Sawmiller has built a good template for the at-the-job quote and receipt.  You will need something custom like that (whether paper or electronic) which won't come from Quickbooks for job estimating.  

You will still want an accounting software tool like Quickbooks to track your expenses, bills, income, etc. come tax time.  Can't go wrong with Quickbooks.  Unless you want to hire a book-keeper (who will likely enter all the paper you provide them into Quickbooks).
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Dustin on January 12, 2020, 08:40:38 PM
Thanks for all the great information so far! WV Sawmiller thanks for sending the spreadsheets. You guys make it seem so easy. Iím more nervous about getting the books setup and keeping track of the expenses than actually sawing for someone else. I would guess that will change real fast on the first job. My excitement to get this going though is driving my wife bonkers. 
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: WV Sawmiller on January 12, 2020, 09:04:17 PM
Dustin -

  2 rules for stress management 1) Don't sweat the small stuff. 2) Remember it is all small stuff.

  I honestly don't know what an accounting program would do for me that my 4 excel files provided plus my folder of scanned receipts don't do for me. I am real diligent about recording each sale or receipt at the end of every day. Once I scan the receipt I toss it as it in my electronic folder forever. I let my tax accountant worry about depreciation, fuel/road tax credit for fuel used for off road purchases, etc. I just record and forget it then autosum at the end of the year.

   I used to work jobs with a lot of travel and had to turn in expense reports. They were on our laptop so every day I just recorded what I'd spent that day and I'd total in the airport on the way home and send it in and get paid. I'd see my co-workers in the office working on their last month's expenses, most of which they had already paid, before they could get reimbursement. I'd already filed and been reimbursed plus no telling how much they had lost or forgotten in the interim period. The key is prompt, daily recording and just don't let it build up. Good luck.

Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Magicman on January 13, 2020, 08:51:04 AM
I use a two part (customer gets a copy & I keep a copy) handwritten lumber tally/invoice which is added to my Excel spreadsheet as incurred.  For mileage and travel expenses I use a separate two part invoice.  These along with my fuel, blade, and other expenses are tallied quarterly and added to the Excel spreadsheet.  At the end of the year, this Excel spreadsheet contains all of my income/expenses and goes to my CPA.  

EDIT for clarification:  I update the Excel as jobs are done and update the expenses quarterly, but nothing goes to the CPA until after the end of the year.  My CPA does not get an electronic file, he gets a printed copy.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Beavertooth on January 13, 2020, 01:17:27 PM
I give customer a hand written receipt out of receipt book and I keep carbon copy on which I write my mileage for that job. I put all receipts from diesel, blades, parts and any labor I pay out in a big Manila envelope and at the end of the year take them out and total them all up. And take my receipt book with my income and mileage and total it all up.  Then I have everything done and totaled up in one setting. Take less overall time than logging stuff in to a program everyday or week. I bought a program to use one time and figured out pretty quick it was quicker to just do it all at one setting. At least that is the way it works best for me. Everyone has their preferences so one way necessarily any better than the other.  
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Dustin on January 13, 2020, 01:20:12 PM
Magicman do you have a two part receipt printed up with your own business info on or do you use a blank one and fill in the info?

WV Sawmiller I like the idea of adding things to a spreadsheet as soon as the job is over. If I tried to remember it all after a few days I would definitely forget things. Maybe a new laptop would be better than an iPad. 
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: YellowHammer on January 13, 2020, 01:52:21 PM
I don't do portable sawing, but do did quite a bit of custom sawing at our mill and now sell our own.  I certainly understand keeping track of things, and I would recommend, if you haven't already done so, talking to a CPA about what is an expense, and what else you have that is deductible.  Depending on your business, there are several different categories of things that are considered deductible or can be depreciated that you probably already own, as well as the things you will be getting in the future for your business.  You probably already own a chainsaw, axe, mallet, toolsets, log chains, fuel tanks, clothing, pressure washer, leaf blower, etc.  The way to look at it, if sawdust touches it for the purposes of your business, it is a deductible expense, whether you have it already (and its a first time deduction) or buy it new.

So we do things in stages, a multiple pocket binder for each category of expense as they are incurred, and at least once a week, we enter them electronically in their proper categories.  Some CPA's will give you a discount in your software if its the same they use, as it makes their job easier.  Of course, whatever software you use is deductable also, as well as the CPA's fees.  Some of the deductions have limits, some do not, so its nice to easily be able to track real time .  

Spend some quality time looking for a good business CPA and have these discussions with him.  If you are going into business, then one of the important things about a business is running it like a business and not leaving money on the table.  Certainly, there are a lot of unknowns yet, but you seem very proactive.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Magicman on January 13, 2020, 03:34:17 PM
Magicman do you have a two part receipt printed up with your own business info on or do you use a blank one and fill in the info?


(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/20011/IMG_6982.JPG?easyrotate_cache=1578947450)
 
Nothing fancy here.  Just the standard "off of the shelf" invoice books.  The one on the left is for sawing the the smaller one on the right is for mileage because it fits in the truck dash console.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Stephen1 on January 13, 2020, 09:55:08 PM
I have preprinted invoices with all my charges listed. I fill in what I have done that day, calculate it on the phone, and get paid from the customer. A regular customer will get an electronic invoice that he will pay by etransfer. I always fill out the paper invoice after every job. 
We use quickbooks.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Dustin on January 14, 2020, 07:14:59 AM
Are there many customers that want to etransfer or use paypal? For me, Iím wary of taking a check, but cash is king.  I want to be prepared as most jobs wonít be close to home. 
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Magicman on January 14, 2020, 08:11:59 AM
I have a PayPal account just in case, but I have never been asked if I take any form of "E" money.  Probably 90% of mine is checks, and I have no hesitation about accepting them.  After completing 17 years of sawing, I have never gotten a bad check and never failed to be paid for any sawing done.  I also have never had a customer argue about any sawing charges.

EDIT:  I forgot that I also have a Square reader.  Swipe and Chip, but I have never used it either.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: YellowHammer on January 14, 2020, 08:40:10 AM
Bad checks are a fact of life, but I'm glad to hear that some folks don't get deadbeat customers, I seem to get them somewhat routinely.  Maybe it's the type of business, selling wood from a stationary mill vs portable?  I don't know.

I had a guy attempt to buy my Angus bull by writing me a bad check just a couple months  ago.  He actually started writing it and I told him that I don't accept personal checks.  He got upset and I said I'd take cash or plastic.  He said he didn't have the cash on hand and didn't "do" plastic, (which means he has bad credit).  He said he'd go to the bank the next day and get me the cash.  He called me up later and said he just didn't have the money to buy the bull.  Right.

Last week, a business customer of ours complained he had just gotten his first a bounced check.  He was having to go to court, I told him to forget it, its lost money.  Even if he wins in small claims court, the deadbeat is ordered, but not required to pay the money back under any kind of penalty.  He is now using Square.  No checks unless business checks.  

My friend lost $400 on a hay sale personal check to his neighbor a few years ago, went to court, won, never got a dime.

Go to any convenience store, look on the back wall, and there will be a bulletin board of bounced checks.

I know a guy on this forum who was working a big job, one big enough to need two payments, who was told in the second part of the job to cancel the order because his customer had backed out, and was sure that if he had been written a check, the owner would have canceled it.  Since he was paid the deposit with a credit card, it was a non issue.  He got his money, the job got canceled, nothing came of it.  

My point is that for $15 or less you can get a Square reader, even less if you open a business account with your bank.  They will issue you a phone card reader tied to your business account.

You take a check, you take a chance.  If you accept cash or a credit card, you have your money before anybody leaves.

I tell people straight up, if they don't have cash and they don't have a debit card and they don't have a credit card, then I sure don't want their check.  Sorry.



 

Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: WV Sawmiller on January 14, 2020, 08:53:42 AM
   I take cash or check. Only got one bad check - guy wrote it on an old closed account by mistake. I called him and he immediately made it good. I don't use a smart phone and my $15 AT&T pre-paid cell phone would not accept square. I looked at credit card systems and they were not worth the cost for me. 

   I think there is likely more risk from your sales than your sawing services which quickly become pretty personal when you drive to the customer's house and get out there and put in a couple day's hard work with him. I consider most of my customers real salt of the earth and we leave as friends. Good luck.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: SawyerTed on January 14, 2020, 02:45:31 PM
I take checks and have only had one issue, so far.  The customer didn't have enough cash for the whole order.  He paid the difference by check.  Two days later I got a frantic call from him.  He pleaded for me not to deposit the check if I hadn't.  I had not. I usually make deposits on Mondays.  I told him he could have the check back if he brought cash.  He did and he got his check back.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Magicman on January 14, 2020, 04:13:59 PM
You reminded me of what has happened a few times with me.  I have been asked if I could hold the check until whatever day then next week.  I always have and they have always been good.  These instances have been with businesses who transfer money into a different account to pay labor, etc.

Another instance but this time with cash.  Since very early on I carry a "till" which is ~$200 in 20's, 10's, 5's, & 1's.  More than once I have presented a sawing bill for a bit over $300, $400, etc.  The customer pulled out only hundreds indicating that he did not have smaller bills maybe thinking that I would round it down to the even hundred.  I reach for the till telling him that I can make change and amazingly they all of a sudden have smaller bills in their wallet.  Maybe trying to pull a slick one, maybe not.  Gotta always cover all of the bases.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: WV Sawmiller on January 14, 2020, 04:26:18 PM
   I would agree with Lynn on that - if the guy calls and says hold it then it will likely be good on the day he promised. The guy who plans to cheat you will never call and will avoid you like the dickens after you find the check has bounced. I only had one customer who split a payment after I finished sawing. He then told me he did not have all the pay but paid part and said he'd send the rest next week when his check came and he did. I was a little miffed about that one and would have greatly preferred he had just told me up front but it all worked out in the end.

   I tell my customers I expect payment at the end of the job or weekly, whichever comes first. I often have customers offer to pay at the end of every day if we don't finish in one day. I usually tell them just wait but likely should take what is offered when offered. 
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Magicman on January 14, 2020, 05:20:14 PM
For the past three years when sawing my "sand box" job, I have regularly waited for funds to transfer before I could deposit checks.  Sometime they were for two weeks sawing and in the $3,000 to $8,000+ range.  No argument from me.  ;D

My sawing contract states when the payment is due and is agreed to by my customer before sawing begins.  As I previously stated, I have never had a payment issue with a customer.


Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: DPatton on January 14, 2020, 05:41:07 PM
Another instance but this time with cash.  Since very early on I carry a "till" which is ~$200 in 20's, 10's, 5's, & 1's.  More than once I have presented a sawing bill for a bit over $300, $400, etc.  The customer pulled out only hundreds indicating that he did not have smaller bills maybe thinking that I would round it down to the even hundred.  I reach for the till telling him that I can make change and amazingly they all of a sudden have smaller bills in their wallet.  Maybe trying to pull a slick one, maybe not.  Gotta always cover all of the bases.
:D :D :D In your case Lynn I usually offer to round up to his nearest $100.00. As you indicated the client often suddenly finds the ten or twenty dollar bill he needed to make the correct payment. I always try to have some cash on hand to make change with, but itís not usually needed. 
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Dustin on January 14, 2020, 05:44:09 PM
Magicman I have read about your ďtillĒ in several threads. I am already planning to get one to keep in the truck. 

The information you guys share is invaluable to newbies such as myself. Thanks for taking time out of your day to help me. 
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: Magicman on January 14, 2020, 06:51:12 PM
In your case Lynn I usually offer to round up to his nearest $100.00.
;D

This would bring us to another subject; Tip.  I have never asked for nor encouraged getting a tip but I will always enthusiastically accept a tip.  I say enthusiastically because I want to accept a tip in the spirit in which it was given.  Declining a gift would be very bad manners.  The largest tip that I have ever gotten was $180.00.  :)   Most of my tips fall into the $25-$50 range.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: SawyerTed on January 14, 2020, 09:08:29 PM
Yes a tip is a customer's way of recognizing professionalism, quality and effort.  Tips are more frequent now than early on and often it is the customer "rounding up" even though I am prepared to make change as well.  

It takes a few portable jobs to settle into a business routine and fee structure that you will be comfortable with.  I also provide a written invoice to my customer including the board feet sawn even if it is an hourly job.  I don't provide a copy of the tally sheet but am happy to review it with a customer.  I usually record the number of logs and board feet (lumber dimensions and qty) sawn as I go. 

I did wait in a guy's yard for a little over an hour once to get paid.  He went into the house "to get his money".  Went he came back he started trying to negotiate my price (I'm thinking his wife put him up to it).  I told him to pay what he thought was fair based on our agreement before I started sawing but if what he paid didn't cover the invoice, I had a crew on the way to load enough lumber to make up the difference.  He paid in full.  He won't be a future customer.
Title: Re: Question for the portable sawyers.
Post by: WV Sawmiller on January 14, 2020, 09:26:29 PM
  I show and will send, by e-mail or snail mail, a copy of my tally sheet if requested since I can't currently print on site. I have no problem with the client double checking the math and confirming our numbers. Usually he measured and counted and I recorded his figures and my spreadsheet with formulas does the math. Once I shorted myself and sent a corrected copy to the customer and he sent me a check for the difference. Another time a customer realized he had double counted several rows on a stack from the day before and I computed the overpayment he had already made and sent him a check the same day. I am confident both will call me again if they need more sawing.

 The best tip I have gotten so far was $70 for a walnut tree I cut Thanksgiving week. The customer and his BIL unloaded the 3 logs off his trailer and we cut the butt log which was about 60% of the order on Tuesday, they could not return the next day so I finished the rest alone Wednesday based on his instructions and my experience and they picked it up Thanksgiving Day and he took it all back to Texas Sunday. We all had a lot of fun, he had some real pretty wood and was very happy with the results.