Xero Tips and Tricks

Having just attended the Xero Roadshow I thought this week a good chance to take a look as some of the coolest Xero features.

We have been Xero Partners since 2015 and now support approximately 80% of our businesses on Xero. Becoming a Platinum Xero Partner this year (the highest possible level) was really exciting and the reason I love the package so much is its versatility and focus on cash flow.

Xero really does seem to know the pain points for SME’s and how to manage them within the software.

I thought it might be helpful for me to list some of the top features that we explain to our new Xero users over and over again. These may be useful to some of you out there as well. I apologise in advance if this is long but once I start I can’t stop! Ha ha.

Maybe just skim to the ones that interest you?

Overdue Email Reminders – Don’t spend time on the phone, get Xero to do the collecting with emails first up and then you chase those that are left via the phone.
Settings>General Settings> Invoice Settings>Invoice Reminders

1. Turn on invoice reminders for all customers, include pdf attachment, set the over amount that will send an email (eg under $150 you don’t want an invoice sent)
2. Edit Reminder templates (words in email body) and customise the # overdue days that they will be sent out to suit you
3. Delete extra reminders or add more than the three default ones if you like
4. Go to any customers that you DON’T want to send reminder emails and turn off invoice reminders using the ‘options’ button

Chasing Over dues via the phone – Xero is geared to get your cash in fast. Cash and time are the two main things that business owners need.
Xero shows overdue invoices as red on your front dashboard. Click on this red area to chase those that are overdue quickly and easily.
Once you click through you will be looking at the “Awaiting Payment” tab in sales and it is already filtered for you to see only those that are past their due date.From here:

1. Click on the line items and send an email reminder manually
2. Click the + under “Expected Date” to gain access the contact person and phone number to call
3. Once you have talked to the delinquent customer add the expected payment date and add your comment then save
Xero will keep record of all your collection comments at the bottom of the invoice screen for you.

At my office, if no expected payment date and comment is shown then my staff have not chased the debt in the first place. My debt collection staff know to get a payment date from any overdue customers (if they don’t pay over the phone using the payment services below) this gets the invoice off their TO DO list …..Until that expected date has passed again.

Payment Services – Along the lines of getting cash into your bank. One of the best ways to do this is to give your customers plenty of options to pay.
Go to “Settings>General Settings>Invoice Settings>Payment Services”

If you click on the “Add Payment Service” button, you can see there are lots of services that integrate with Xero. Common ones chosen are PayPal, Stripe, eWay and ezidebit.

Choose your payment service and then contact the provider directly to get an account setup at their end. Once you have the account setup you can then return to this area of Xero and link your payment services account to Xero.

When you have added a payment service to Xero, send invoices to customers who can then click on the payment options at the bottom. They will be able to pay via PayPal, credit card, Amex etc.

Coming very soon to this area – BPay and Apple Pay, yes you will be able to pay for a use these options at the bottom of your invoice soon. Customers will have no excuse at all not to pay you now!

Cash Summary Report – Yes cash flow is a major factor right now for many of our clients. I just wanted to point out this report in case any of you have not yet found it. If Xero can tell you what your average cash costs are then you can quickly estimate what your cash in the bank will be over the next say 12 months.

To create a quick cash flow forecast:

1. Go to “Reports>Cash Summary (in favourites)”. Customise this report to show a good average trading period for your business.
2. Look at the report, it shows income banked (inflows) less expenses out of the bank, less assets purchased (outflows) and then GST movement in/out of the bank. The Report Summary then shows cash at bank movement at the bottom for you
3. I would generally then send this to excel, use the average inflows and outflows column as my starting point. Adjust as needed (eg might take a different period of the report for a good income average than the period for good expense average).
4. Add an opening bank balance at the top and then work out the closing bank balance at the bottom, copy forward 12mths, plot super, BAS and loan payments in more detail. Add estimated changes to forward months (eg new car loan or additional staff estimates)
5. After say an hour of checking details you could have a good 12mth forward projection cash flow….or ask Carbon Balcatta or your bookkeeper to do you one.

You ARE going to cheat and get someone else to do this for you aren’t you…

Attach files to Xero – We always promote paperless bookkeeping here at Carbon Balcatta. This feature is very popular with our clients who love anywhere, anytime access and no paper ARCHIVING!

1. Find your Xero email address – Your Xero has a folder at the top right near your name next to the plus sign, click on the folder then copy the very long email address. Paste the email address into the body of an email to yourself and send. (or download a V card)
2. Add the email to your phone as a contact –
a. From your phone, Open the email that you just set
b. copy the email address,
c. Setup a new contact on your phone, eg call it ‘Xero Files’ and add the email address to it.
3. Take pictures of invoices with your phone and send to the ‘Xero Files’.

Pictures of all receipts can now be sent to this email address via your phone. Very handy and much more likely than standing next to a scanner to do this. Snapping receipt pics with your phone is a breeze.

You can also manually upload pdf files to Xero from your desktop. The idea here is to send receipts to Xero as you are working then when you get time, go to the files folder in Xero and start to code transactions to the correct expense account – or let your bookkeeper code them.

Extra tip – you can even upload pics of your completed job and attach to a sales invoice that you are sending.

Send Invoices to Groups – This is a magical feature if you bill the same amounts to many customers each week or month. An example would be hire fees or rental type agreements.

1. Add a new Group through the contacts area
2. From the customers contact area, tick all customers that belong to the group then “Options>Add to Group” – your group is made!
3. To send an invoice to these customers. Go to the sales section, click on “New>Invoice to Group”. Type up just one invoice and “create as draft”. This will create a draft invoice exactly the same for each customers
4. To record all at once go to the drafts tab, tick all and “Approve”
5. To send all at once, go to the Awaiting Payments tab, tick all and “Email”

Customise / Edit a Report – The new reports that Xero has been producing allow you to edit the layout of the report quickly. I have only explained a couple of simple options below but there is much, much more that you can do. Use the Xero HELP menu for more and the videos are excellent as well.

1. Display a new style report with the “new” badge. Eg Profit and Loss
2. At the bottom left of the report screen you can see the button “Edit Layout”. Click here
3. Take a look at the tools at the top of your screen.

Unfortunately I can’t put a screen shot to show you but just hover over each one to read what they do

“T” Add a foot note
“Pic with 2 columns” Add a budget or comparison period to the right column. You can also add a formula column (eg variance from budget). Even add a profit centre tracking column next to the full P&L

Don’t have time to do this yourself?

Don’t forget your friendly bookkeeper is there to assist you in your business by providing up to date, accurate data with relevant reports.

This leaves you free to do what you wanted to do all along – run a successful business!

I hope these tips will be helpful to both business owners and Xero bookkeepers alike.

Keep reading my blog as I do have many more tips to come!

Until next time,