Every now and then a piece of software comes along that makes your life significantly better. For us here at HPC, and our clients, that software is Xero. We are so on board with Xero that we became a Platinum Partner, meaning that we use Xero to do bookkeeping for hundreds of our outsourced accounting clients.I could wax poetic all day long about why I personally love this app, but you have families and responsibilities, so I’ll just give you a handful of reasons you should choose Xero for online accounting.
It’s Incredibly Simple to Use
Xero’s design is very thoughtful, which makes it easy to use for both us and our clients. Even if you don’t have formal accounting knowledge, you can quickly learn to use Xero to manage your day-to-day accounting tasks.
Other apps we’ve used in the past charged for each user within the organization, which gave us two options: pay a big monthly bill for all those users, or have several team members all use the same login. The first option is too expensive, and the second sets up an organization for major security risks.
Free Mobile Apps
Xero offers free mobile tools for most mobile phones and devices. The only thing better than convenience, is FREE convenience.
Xero continues to grow their already-extensive collection of add-ons. These add-ons allow businesses to do almost everything — from managing inventory, to collecting payments, to tracking and reimbursing employee expenses. Whatever the needs of your particular business, chances are Xero has an add-on.
Here are 7 of our favorite Xero add-ons we’ve used to help ourselves and our clients cut costs and increase revenue.
1. Receipt Bank
Receipt Bank makes it easy for you to scan or upload receipts and invoices. The important data (date, vendor name, amount, etc.) is automatically extracted, saving tons of time on data entry. We can then sync receipts and invoices into Xero as Bills or Spend Money Transactions, ready to reconcile with the statement lines downloaded from online banking.
At HPC, we include Receipt bank free for each client for up to 75 receipts per month because it saves us so much time.
Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll) automatically impounds and remits payroll taxes, then files payroll tax returns without the user having to do anything. The app also helps businesses pick the right healthcare plan (something most business owners find overwhelming) and get them signed up for worker’s compensation insurance. Currently, benefits and insurance are only available to California customers.
“I’ve been through three point of sales systems and three scheduling systems, but Gusto has always been a constant. It gives me peace of mind so I can move on and run my business.”
Company: Tin Pot Creamery
Becky Sunseri has been in love with ice cream since she was a kid. So it was inevitable that she’d want to open her own ice cream shop one day.
That day came in 2012 when she opened the Tin Pot Creamery as an ice cream of the month club. In 2014, she opened her first brick and mortar location. Soon she opened a second store and her staff nearly doubled to 32 employees.
Gusto’s employee self-onboarding feature is a huge time saver for Becky, who no longer has to fill in new hire information. Becky also appreciates that Gusto sends convenient email reminders when it’s time to run payroll so her staff can get paid on time, every time.
Expense reports are the bane of many people’s existence. But, if you have staff who travel often, they are inevitable. How much time gets wasted every day by business travelers who have to keep track of ALL of their receipts, then make sure they classify and categorize each expense correctly, then actually remember to submit the expense report on time?
Expensify simplifies this entire process (cue the singing of angels on high).
With the Expensify mobile app, you can take a picture of a receipt, then throw it away. Expensify connects to your online banking and matches the receipt image with the information from the credit card statement. Then it’s a simple matter to add an expense category and optional comment.
After you submit your expenses on a report, your accountant or bookkeeper can sync the expenses into Xero for easy reconciliation and even rebilling to clients. No more duplicate data entry. Expensify can even handle the reimbursement of cash to employees via direct deposit.
“For road warriors like me who have to deal with a ton of paperwork, the mobile app is saving us so much time and paper.”
Like many other companies, Spiceworks was using the traditional Excel spreadsheet with a bunch of receipts stapled to it for their expense reports. As the company started to grow, they quickly realized they’d have to adopt technology in order for everyone to report their expenses.
Kevin McKeown, VP of Sales & Business Development at the company, read an article in Fortune Magazine that listed Expensify as one of the best apps for business travelers and he decided to give it a try.
It wasn’t long before the entire company was using the app. Besides saving a lot of time, employees are being reimbursed for things they never used to submit for because they didn’t have a proper receipt; things like tipping a bellman or paying for a cab ride with cash. So employees are no longer losing money on the smaller transactions that can really add up.
4. Spotlight Reporting
Spotlight Reporting syncs up with Xero and generates beautiful dashboards and visual reports for users. These reports don’t just look good; they help businesses make well-informed decisions.
For example, Spotlight’s forecasting tool allows you to import (or manually enter) your budget data, and within minutes this data is converted into cash flow, profit and loss and balance sheet projections, so you can forecast growth and risk.
Back in the day, you sent an invoice to a client, then waited and hoped (and prayed) that they would pay sooner rather than later. Maybe half of your clients paid you on time and the others you’d have to chase. Even if you set up convenient payment services that allowed your clients to initiate an online payment directly from the emailed invoice, they’d still take their sweet time.
uCollect is out to eliminate the hassle of waiting for clients to pay. This add-on syncs with your Xero invoices and automatically collects payments from your client’s credit card or bank account (with their prior agreement) through a third party payment processor on the invoice due date.
“There is so much flexibility in uCollect”
Company: Maui Magazines
This is a case study straight from HPC’s own turbocharge vault.
When James Quine, the publisher of Maui Magazines (formerly The Gecko Group) reached out to HPC, he was overwhelmed with the complexities of collecting payment from more than 140 clients. Some clients were signed up for automatic payments, some wanted an authorization call each month before a charge went through, and some clients had multiple invoices because they advertised in multiple magazines.
James knew collections needed to be a priority, but he was also overseeing marketing, sales, distribution, and office staff, and collections kept slipping down on his priority list. And the desktop accounting software he was using, QuickBooks Pro, wasn’t making the job any easier. Each month he’d have to spend hours going through his billing sheet to see which clients were really far behind on payments, then get on the phone and start making calls.
James finally reached out to HPC and we convinced him to make the switch to Xero. We then got him set up with uCollect so he could begin receiving automatic payments from clients via credit card or ACH (electronic check).
The result? James was able to recover over $100,000 that had been previously sitting in Accounts Receivable on his balance sheet, and much of which had previously become uncollectable.
You can read the full case study here: Maui Magazines recovers over $100,000 with HPC + Xero add-ons
Ask any business owner what they’d love more of, and other than sales, the answer is probably “time.” Hubdoc is one of those add-ons that frees up lots of time, which makes it incredibly valuable to our firm.
Hubdoc lets users connect bank accounts, credit cards, and other billing accounts, and then automatically pulls bills and statements into one secure online document storage system each month.
This lets users view and manage documents from all of their accounts in one single location instead of having to spend time logging into different sites each month to gather statements. Hubdoc not only pulls new bills, but also pulls and stores all past available bills for easy reference.
And, because it syncs with Xero, users can easily publish all of their docs and data directly into their accounting software.
Zapier is like the United Nations because it makes different applications that don’t have their own native integration “talk to each other.” This means you don’t have to wait around for third party developers to create the SaaS integrations that will make life easier. You can often set up a “zap” that will do the job.
HPC uses Zapier to do things for clients like sync invoices from Infusionsoft to Xero, but you can pretty much use this add-on to automate any task you want. For instance, you can automatically send all incoming attachments from your Gmail account to your Dropbox, or automatically create new folders for new clients in Google Drive, or even post company activity to an online dashboard.
"I'm not sure how I could even run the business if I didn't have something like Zapier.”
Company: Urban Baby Bonnets
Colette Palamar is a busy mother and a sole owner and operator of Urban Baby Bonnets, an online store that sells baby bonnets, caps, winter gloves and dresses. Like a lot of small business owners, she started her company because of a passion she had for clothing design, but quickly learned that running a business required her to wear a lot of different hats – or in this case, bonnets. It also took a lot of her time; time she’d rather spend on designing new pieces.
How to Get Started with Xero and Add-Ons
If you’re looking to make the switch to Xero, or set up one or more Xero add-ons, HPC can help! As U.S. Xero Platinum Partners, we’re experts in Xero and the add-on ecosystem.
Our cloud accountants can switch from QuickBooks to Xero, or get set up from scratch. Then we’ll help you figure out exactly the right add-ons to increase efficiency and productivity in your business. Schedule a free consultation today to get started.