Product Questions


Proforma Invoices


Posted: 7 April 2010

Hal, it is time for me to bug ya! Ok, the more I use MF the more I like it. There is a lot to it for sure. Now we use Q-Books for invoice. I do 65% of the estimates. So what happens is I give a price and get the job. The customer comes in and wants to pay for the job up front. Now it is easy to do in MF and I am at my desk. So I just do the invoice and give to the counter girls. Now the problem is the job is locked out. I can no longer track it or print a duplicate job ticket if something happens. Spilled coffee or coke. Not that that happens here.

Next is the deposit. We require one on new customers and custom jobs. We are gearing up to put MF at the counter. So that is where the Invoice comes in. We want to get away from hand written copies. Will make things a bit faster and better records. I am not sure if that makes your end a bit more complex.

Can there be a pre copy? Not sure what to call it. Payment copy! The thing is it automates the system and makes it faster with better records. Maybe the invoice could have a final button and that is when it locks out. All could work up to that time.

Maybe i could put Q- books on my computer and others. Not sure the book keeper would like that.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Hi Jerry, Good points. Although the part about the lockout is only half true: Even after a job has been invoiced, you can still print a duplicate job sheet or job ticket. Notice that the print button is enabled. But you're right, you can no longer track the job.



What we would need to install is the ability to issue a "Proforma Invoice" that would keep the job active until the final invoice has been issued. That first invoice would have to be say Proforma to keep customers from paying it twice (like that's going to happen, right?). In that regard, there's no difference between full and partial prepayment, aka deposits.

The tricky part is integration with QB. Might want to discuss that with your bookkeeper. In the meantime, I'll take a look at the job tracking portion. Thanks for bringing it up.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Ah yes, a Proforma invoice may just work. My thinking was it would have a field that was for deposit and it would show. When you use this form it will really just record the payment done, but will not lock anything out. That form could show under the print invoice tab. Then when the job is really done it could be invoiced from the proforma. It would show amount paid and what is now due. QB is easy because we just go off the MF invoice. We enter deposits and amount due and it does the rest. We put the MF number in PO on QB and it is done. We really do not want MF to get to heavy on the book keeping end. That is what QB is for. MF has the right idea.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Excellent topic Jerry! I agree with the "premature" lock-out once a job has been invoiced. The Proforma option sounds like the proper way to go.

. . . . .  Craig

Good, glad I am not alone. You know Hal has nothing better to do anyway. We will have to see how hard this will be to do. I want to streamline my order desk a bit more. We have too much extra paper work going on. MF seems to be the way to go for us.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Generating a proforma invoice is easy enough to include in a future update. Ditto for the deposit field. Recording partial payments from within the program, that's another ballpark altogether - that's AR. When you go there, you can't be just a little bit in, you have to be all in. Once you record a partial payment, you have to create files to save that payment, then track it against the invoice and the customer's balance, synchronize that with QB, cancel any balance when the customer goes belly up ... you get the idea.

When I get the proforma done, I'll post a screenshot to see whether that's what you had in mind. It'll be down the road a bit, though. At the moment, I'm checking out my old Ryobi 3302M 2-color with only nine million impressions that I sold to a local print shop three years ago. Sadly, the owner passed away and the shop closed its doors and the press came home like a little puppy and is now crowding my collector cars. I know what you're thinking, Jerry, but it's not going to happen - I'm not getting back into the printing business! I'm not!

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

I like the idea of a proforma invoice. For collecting deposits, I printout the acknowledgment (because it has the total plus tax) and I hand write the deposited amount on it. For most people, that works fine. They don't need anything super fancy or "official," just something.

So far, using MF invoices has been a HUGE help with cash flow and getting paid. I haven't had any problems. The only thing I'm wondering about is customer credit limit. Is there a way to beef-up MF's credit allowance. What I mean is, a warning when any job or total number of open jobs exceeds a given amount. I know I've seen a warning before, but I think it only occurred when a single job went over the credit limit.

So Hal, you have a press for sale ...?

. . . . .  Keith

You're right, Keith, the warning only pops up during order entry when a single job would exceed the customer's credit limit. Since there's no provision for accepting payments in MF (which would once again put it into the province of AR), the program has no way of knowing how much a customer owes at any one time.

I was afraid you were going to ask me about the press. Still thinking of jumping into offset, are you? As I recall, I tried my best to talk you out of it. I loved running that little Ryobi. But guess what, I like running our user manuals unattended on a Xerox 5500 even more. Times, they're a'changing.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel


... even if MF just looked at all the open job tickets for any given customer? So if a customer has a $1000 limit and two jobs in house at $400 each, MF couldn't warn you when you tried entering a $300 before one of the other two were marked delivered or invoiced? Obviously, MF wouldn't have any way of knowing if any job marked delivered or invoiced was actually paid or not. I'm sure there is something there on why it does not or should not do that.

MF won't let me delete a customer - it gives me a warning about "being attached to orders" or something. Is there a reason on why I would not want to delete a customer? Even if they really ticked me off? I was able to mark them "Suspended". They cost me money and were PITAs.

You did do a good job of talking me out of an offset press. You gave me a nice visual - me standing in the corner of my shop in front of a fire throwing $100 bills in it. Seriously, whenever I think about an offset press, I see that. Plus, I have more fun running a business instead of a machine. And you're right, running a job unattended is nice. While my Xerox DC252 was printing post cards, I was gluing note pads. Inkjet is the next big thing (and part of the future), I'm keeping my eye on that. But what I really need right now is a solvent based wide format printer and a new guillotine cutter.

. . . . .  Keith

Unfortunately, MF couldn't warn you when you tried entering a $300 order before one of the other two orders were marked delivered or invoiced, Keith. Two reasons. First, it would give a false sense of security. As long as you're aware that the over-the-limit warning applies only to the order you're about to enter, my hope is that you're going to check the customer's account in QB to see how much else is out there. Second, the only meaningful measure is the customer's total receivables balance, not what you invoiced or delivered. And as you pointed out, MF has no way of knowing that.

This being printing, we don't have the luxury of unpacking a pending shipment to a deadbeat customer and then selling what's in the box to someone else. Yet another reason to envy those wineries.

Glad I was able to use my persuasive selling skills to talk you into not buying my Ryobi. What else can I interest you in?

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Ok, ok. you win. The account limit warning is fine the way it is. I had a rough day and needed to make a joke.

So how 'bout this -

When exporting a customer list, is it possible to include the name of the primary contact? I hate having to go through the exported contact list and deleting the extra contacts. I don't know maybe it's not so bad. Just sometimes it feels wasteful sending a post card to all six people in the office. Well, maybe it's fine the way it is.

But how 'bout a little extra information, like, the last order placed (product and date)? Or maybe the most frequently ordered product. Or a similar product? ("If you like our letterhead, how about some envelopes!"). I haven't really thought it through so I am posting this in the hopes of getting some feedback (Craig?). MF is an awesome MIS system - it does estimates, order tracking, makes sandwiches and does all the heavy lifting. I think it would be mind blowing if it did a little ... customer retention? Marketing? It has all this information, we just need to mine it. And just think, you could probably charge more for the Gold Edition!

. . . . .  Keith

Terrific idea, Keith! The only challenge I see is how you'll use the information once you've extracted it. For e-mail marketing, that's not a problem. All e-mail Service Providers let you insert custom tags into the HTML code or template.

But what about the postcards you mentioned? Is a standard CSV file good enough for your VDP software? If this gets traction, I'll probably move it into a new thread. You've hit a soft spot, Keith. I get excited whenever the discussion turns to marketing. Thanks for the suggestion.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

AWESOME! The info could be used a number of ways:

1. A reminder that pops open on start up and notifies you of estimates that need follow up. (I think that alone would be extremely powerful! Bet I could increase my sales by 10% if I simply called and asked about an inquiry!).

2. This would take more information to be entered for new customers- their birthday? You can export the data and order it by birthday and send the customer(s) a card with an offer.

3. This one has been on my mind for awhile - "Time to Reorder" cards/labels. When a packing slip/invoice/shipping label is printed perhaps you can have the option of printing a small card that contains a reorder number (the current job ticket number?) and the keyword.

4. Like I said in my earlier post, the most frequently ordered product or last one ordered. Perhaps both? I think a data field with the product name would suffice. You could export the list and send them a card reminding them to order more product X. This suggestion sounds similar to number 3.

A CSV file would be perfect. Can I offer a suggestion? MF is a little clunky with the actual exporting. It only puts it in the C: drive. Is it possible to make that interface a little smoother with a drop down list for where you want the file to go?

I'll take a look around and see what other MIS systems are doing. I read about this stuff all the time in the trade magazines and thought MF should be able to do it too.

We can call it "Ground Control".

. . . . .  Keith

Hey you got me thinking on this. I like the follow up on quotes idea! We could have a form letter and e-mail it. Maybe we get a reminder after 10 days. It could be a number we can set to our preference.

We have jobs we print on a automatic time table. Say every 5 weeks as example. It could tie in here. It would remind you the job is due to print. Time to reorder! We could track how often jobs are ordered and call or e-Mail to let them know. It could be a form letter we print and send. Seems like some good stuff here and good points.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Thank you Jerry! It's stuff like that that I have in mind but have difficulty articulating. But I didn't even think of an upcoming job reminder. I print a semi annual newsletter. Six months out is very easy for me to forget. It would be awesome to contact them first and offer assistance in the file prep!

Hal, I think it's time for a new thread!

. . . . .  Keith

Keith said "MF is an awesome MIS system - it does estimates, order tracking, makes sandwiches and does all the heavy lifting."

Holy Crap, Keith! How did you get MF to make sandwiches!

Great minds must think alike cause I been thinking about the same thing, getting MF to give me the marketing info to do follow-ups.

I think Keith brought this up once, the more I use Invoicing the more I would like to be able to email the invoice directly from MF just like an Estimate. We are finding more of our larger customers require their invoices emailed vs snail mail.

Also I thought it would be smoother to be able to make an invoice from the Job Tracker window. I'm already there marking the order as completed, why not one more click to create an invoice vs having to close Job Tracker, Open Invoice, find the customer, click on the job...... get the drift?

. . . . .  Craig

Yea, we need to move to the secret room! We do not want our ideas taken by the big guys.

Craig, I run an invoice in advance because they want to pay up front. That is good but if you do it you will notice some issues. One is MF treats the job like it was done. Yet it may really be in Graphics Dept.

Not a bad idea having invoice on the tracker window, too. Then when job is done you just hit invoice and it is all done. Speaking of the tracker we need a ready-to-pick-up button. I have a lot of jobs that are on the shelf ready to pick up. They are still here but not delivered. Then you need to call after job is copied or printed. A called button would be a plus on the tracker, too. Not sure how much you guys use the tracker but it is nice. As we use MF, more and more small things come up.

Hate to do this but one more thing. As I get more and more customers and enter an order I find it is getting harder to find the right ones at times. I use the Rolodex and have to scroll a lot of customers. My list gets bigger and bigger as the days go by. Do you find it to be time consuming at times? I hate it when the customer is here or calls and you have to be fast at it. Under pressure!

Hal I guess we need to start some new threads. They are getting a bit carried away.

. . . . .  jerryjfm

Jerry, there have been so many good suggestions in just the last few days on this thread that, yes, time to start a new one. Tomorrow, I'll try to put together a summary and show what's doable. In the meantime, here are shortcuts to help with your last point.

For quotes, it's usually easier to not enter the customer's name first (if it's a phone quote, you probably don't need the name anyway), but just click the Ok button at the bottom of the quote window. That will pop up a search box where you can then enter a single letter to get to the customer. If the first letter isn't specific enough, keep typing until the right customer shows up. One of Morning Flight's hidden talents.

The Rolodex has a similar feature. Instead of scrolling, just type the first letter of the customer you're looking for and MF will pinpoint the name that starts with that letter.

Note that the radio buttons are dynamic. They're constantly updated to show you your most active customers.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel



Got it. Works sweet!

. . . . .  jerryjfm

I use that search function ALL the time. If I forget a customers name or can't remember their business name, I go to File>Customer list or File>Customer Contacts, type the first letter and BAM! There it is. It's even more powerful when doing invoices! Instead of typing the first letter (in the write invoice window) to get to the first one on the list that starts with that letter, you can keep typing till you get exactly the customer you want! Use it all the time!

. . . . .  Keith

Keith, I'm about a day behind in posting the summary. Lots of suggestions, most of them doable (I think - still have to check out a few things).

Not sure I understand the problem with the drive selection. MF lets you export to any drive on your machine. The e:\ in the example points to a flash drive.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel



Ooops. How is it that I suggest something as cool as marketing and then follow-up and blindly overlook something that's already there?

. . . . .  Keith