How to Tame the Paperwork Monster for Your Equestrian Business

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

BY PAMELA N. SAUL, CB

You are having a nightmare and the horror scene has you drowning in a sea of paperwork. It’s in piles on the office desk, exploding out of the glovebox of your truck, and stuffed into your tack box. You jolt awake and realize it’s true! Let’s look at some easy ways to tame the paper beast and get it under control on the road and at home.

Problem: Receipts on the Road

The most onerous of all paperwork is the dreaded receipt! They (should) come with every transaction from gas purchases, tolls, meals, parking, and that’s just the ones while traveling! And once you get to where you are going, there will be receipts from vendors for supplies or services, or in the show office for shavings, night watch and entry fees to name a few. While having to deal with all the receipts is a pain, it is a necessary one, so don’t be afraid to ask for a receipt for records.

Solutions

Buy a zippered wallet or pouch from the office supply store and stick a pencil or pen in it (they cost about $4.00 each). Get one for each vehicle and keep one in your briefcase or planner. If you have an employee that is authorized to make purchases, get one for them as well. When you get the receipt, make sure you note what it is for…”Gas for truck/trailer to XYZ Show,” or, “Food for staff on Saturday,” or “Double end clips for buckets.” If you buy something specific for a horse or client, make sure you note that so that it can be billed later. It’s much easier to quickly write a note than try to remember what it was for a week or so later. The date and amount should be on there as well and make sure you circle both to make it easier to see. This pouch will also help keep them dry and clean because who doesn’t get wet and dirty at every single show? When back off the road and in the office, take a regular envelope to put all the receipts in, then mark on the outside what show it’s for. This will really help when billing out the show, so all expenses are accounted for.

Photo by Lauren Mauldin

Problem: Receipts at Home

These receipts usually come from vendors that deliver to the farm. These include sawdust delivery, feed company, hay delivery, the lumber yard, even the company that fills the gas tank slips a receipt into the handle of the tank.

Solutions

Ask vendors if they will do an electronic receipt; especially for something that is purchased on credit (meaning it doesn’t get pay for when delivered). If they say yes, they should be able to send a statement or an electronic invoice to pay through snail mail or e-mail.

If electronic receipts aren’t an option for all vendors, you can use the zipper pouch for at home receipts as well. Put everything acquired during the day in the pouch and then take to the office. Keeps from having the receipt go through the wash because pockets weren’t emptied. Oh, the receipts (and checks) that have been washed…paper doesn’t like the spin cycle!

Another solution for handling receipts both at home and on the road is to take a picture using the camera on your smart phone. Courts have upheld pictures of receipts as valid documentation, especially since many receipts are on paper where the ink disappears after some time. The receipts can also be stored using the scanner on the copier.

If you use QuickBooks for your bookkeeping, it now has a function that allows receipts to be attached to entries in the register. For example, the truck/trailer is used for hauling and you get diesel fuel on the road. The credit card statement shows the name of the gas station, location, and total amount of sale. To that entry in QuickBooks, you can now attach a copy of the actual receipt you got at the pump that shows the cost per gallon and verifies the purchase.

Another way to use this feature is for general business paperwork. Or commonly referred to as “Stuff that gets put in the important place that I can’t find at the end of the year, stuff.” These include:

  • Purchase of Fixed Assets (think buying a tractor, drag, mower, manure spreader, trailer, etc.) Take that receipt and put a copy with the entry in QuickBooks when you record the purchase. Then, you’ll always have a copy available to look at without having to search the files.
  • Recording a loan – put a copy of the loan document with the deposit of the check or wire into the system. If it’s a payment plan, put a copy of that document in the system.
  • Loan payoff (Yippee!). On the final payment, put a copy of the closing document from the company in the system.
Photo by Lauren Mauldin

Our firm works with many clients that have this issue and we customize our services to specifically help take this burden off their shoulders. One client is on the road constantly and couldn’t track expenses. We set up a system where receipts and bills are sent by iPhone as a picture to our office. The bill payment is recorded and a copy of the invoice is attached in the system. The receipts are attached when the credit card charges come through the account. No longer is the cupholder in the truck filled with crumpled up receipts. Our client gets the bills paid, the receipts recorded and the truck stays clean. Well…at least the cupholder is clean!

All of these may seem a little annoying to do, but it has several advantages. Expenses are accounted for and billed out because all the receipts are recorded. Means $$ in your pocket instead of out. No more searching for the receipt to close out the year. Means saving time gathering information for tax purposes. And best of all, the nightmares go away because your paperwork monsters are tamed!

Pamela N. Saul, CB
Farm & Equine Business Services, LLC

3031 Mt. Carmel Cem. Rd.
Brookeville MD 20833
Cell: 301-520-3937
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.farmandequinebusiness.com

Pam Saul is a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) and the founder of Farm & Equine Business Services (F&EBS) and Saul Bookkeeping, residing in the Agricultural Reserve in Montgomery County Maryland on her family’s 200-acre Rolling Acres Farm. Hailing from a longtime ‘horse family’, Pam is part of the family-run team behind Rolling Acres Show Stables; her sisters, Patty Foster and Mary Lisa Leffler are two of the top Trainer/Rider combinations and her parents, Samuel & Janice Nicholson have run Rolling Acres Farm for over 46 years.  Pam’s background led her to start her own bookkeeping business having first-hand knowledge of how challenging it is to keep finances for the equestrian business. 

Pam’s background gives her a unique understanding and insights that clients routinely benefit from.  Using cloud-based services, F&EBS can work with any small to medium-sized business located in the United States.  For businesses that are not equine focused, Pam draws on her 20 years as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and her national standard as a Certified Bookkeeper operating Saul Bookkeeping to care for the bookkeeping needs of those business as well.

This article is not to be construed as financial advice. It is given for educational and informational purposes only.