Software That Adds Up
Employ the Right Accounting Option for Your BusinessKris Hirschmann, Writer
Whatever the industry, accounting is the backbone of your company. Good accounting practices allow you to record transactions accurately, plan and budget resources, prepare taxes and gauge your financial position at any moment in time.
Jenny DePoint, finance coach at the consultancy firm Contractor Coach PRO, believes that the importance of good accounting can’t be overstated.
“When you have a good financial system, you as the owner can grow your business and have accountability over your people by using your numbers,” she explains. “Basically, the numbers don’t lie, as long as they’re accurate. In the contractor space, what I see so often is that companies are really good at sales or production. But the administrative and numbers side is so important to manage your business.”
The first step in setting up an efficient, effective accounting system is choosing and implementing accounting software. Some software is general in scope and can be used in any industry. Others are specifically geared to contractors and offer targeted functionalities. Complexity, accessibility and cost vary widely from program to program.
Here are six popular choices that might be a good fit for your business:
An estimated 7 million customers use QuickBooks globally. Offering a comprehensive accounting solution, QuickBooks excels at providing basic, user-friendly functionality across a broad range of industries.
What’s great about it: Small- and medium-size businesses can find most everything they need in QuickBooks, including accounting, estimating, tracking transactions and a handy easy tax-time summary.
Cons: Lacks industry-specific features and strong customer support.
Price: Offers four plans ranging from $12.50 to $299.99 per month; some features, such as automated payroll, are available at an extra cost.
ZipBooks is a basic accounting solution that is hosted in the cloud, offering anytime, anywhere access to unlimited users. Although the program is not specific to the construction industry, it does have basic project accounting capabilities, which makes it a reasonable entry-level choice for contractors.
What’s great about it: The biggest benefit is the price — or lack thereof. The basic version is free and offers full, if unsophisticated, accounting features. Upgraded versions with more features are available for a small monthly fee.
Cons: Lacks complexity and customization options.
Price: Three plans range from free to $35 per month, depending on the features you want.
Formerly known as Sage Master Builder, Sage 100 Contractor is a popular choice among small- and medium-size contractor businesses. It offers full accounting functionality along with a slate of industry-specific tools including job costing and project management.
What’s great about it: The user interface is simple and intuitive. An excellent customer support network helps users with any trouble they may encounter.
Cons: High degree of customization can make setting up the program-specific needs a challenge.
Price: Starting from $115 per user, per month.
ProContractor is a powerful program that integrates accounting, estimating and project management functions. Construction-specific payroll that addresses the needs of unions and certified reports is a handy feature.
What’s great about it: ProContractor can be installed on-site or run through the cloud, allowing easy on-the-go access. Different functions can be purchased separately, so you can start with just the accounting feature, if desired.
Cons: The program’s complexity, while offering additional functionality, can make it less user friendly than others.
Price: Highly variable, depending on the features chosen. Flat fee and monthly subscription plans are available.
Premier Construction Software takes accounting to the next level for businesses that are ready to step it up a notch. The program can handle multi-company, multi-division and intercompany financial transactions, while also offering drill-down capabilities to view business details.
What’s great about it: It’s a complete solution for all aspects of a contractor’s business. With more than 20 years of experience, the developer knows how to target contractors’ needs.
Cons: Geared more toward subcontractors than general contractors.
Price: Starts at $199 per user, per month.
If your business is ready to go big, COINS might offer the accounting solutions you want. Serving more than 60,000 corporate customers in 21 countries, this software is custom implemented to address specific company needs.
What’s great about it: Information is drawn from real-time project data at multiple sites simultaneously, providing up-to-the-minute accuracy.
Cons: Offers more “oomph” than smaller businesses are likely to need.
Price: Highly variable, depending on the features chosen.
A Professional Opinion
All of these programs — and many others as well — are used with success by different roofing contractors. The choice depends on many things, including the size and complexity of your business, the level of accounting expertise on your staff and your desire for complementary bells and whistles within your accounting and management software.
In DePoint’s opinion, most businesses need look no further than QuickBooks.
“I personally feel like QuickBooks offers the right combination of cost and functionality,” she says. “There are much more robust accounting programs out there, but they’re more expensive, and they’re quirky. QuickBooks is, in my opinion, the leader for small to midsize and even fairly large businesses.”
Some people like the contractor-targeted features of fancier software packages. But according to DePoint, businesses can get good results by syncing QuickBooks with CRM (customer relationship management) plug-ins.
“Allow QuickBooks to provide the accounting functionality, then get a CRM to do some of the more industry-specific pieces,” she says.
Whatever accounting program you choose, DePoint says the key is to maximize it.
“Get to know the software you’re using so it can work for you, and you can actually utilize what it offers,” she says.
In other words, get all the accounting power you need — but don’t bite off more than you want to chew. If your accounting program keeps your numbers straight and does everything you need it to do, you’ve made the right choice.
About Jenny DePoint
Jenny DePoint, Contractor Coach PRO’s finance coach, is ready to take on any challenge, headache or finance puzzle you throw at her. With over 10 years of experience in the construction industry alone, she’s seen it all and loves being able to solve new problems to make your business world less chaotic.
About Contractor Coach PRO
Contractor Coach PRO is the ONLY contractor coach or consultant that takes a holistic approach to your business. Whether you need help with Leadership and Culture, Process and Systems, Marketing and Sales, or Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding, ContractorCoachPRO’s expert coaches have the experience and knowledge to help you make your dreams a reality.