Tips to Increase Retail Sales for Your Small Business

This past year has been incredibly hard on retailers, especially small businesses. Retail sales plunged more than 20% between February and April last year, but with pandemic restrictions easing, the industry is starting to recover. As folks are venturing out more, it’s the perfect time to refresh yourself and your sales associates on tips to help increase retail sales and work towards building your business back up!

Make your customers feel safe

Many people are finding it tough to return to their pre-pandemic selves quickly and are still moving with caution. Help them feel at ease by reminding them they are safe in your shop. Take note of what protocols major retailers are following. For example, make hand sanitizer available at the entry and the register. Use signage to share your mask policy, your cleaning protocol, and any policies on the dressing room or how to use ‘tester’ products. The safer customers feel, the more likely they are to make a purchase which will help increase your retail sales.

Curbside pickup and local delivery

 Many stores began offering curbside pickup and local delivery in 2020, and most customers have become accustomed to these services. Keep in mind that today’s customers value convenience,  so continue to offer these alternative methods moving forward. 

Train your staff

While you’re refreshing your team on cross- and up-selling, make sure they are up to speed on the basics, too. For example, do they need a reminder on any specials or promotions you’re offering? Ensure they are experts on your store’s products and that they are as informed as possible on your customer service expectations. Encourage them to think ahead to how they might answer specific questions customers might ask, including all frequently asked questions. If your staff can put your customers at ease, they are more likely to purchase from you than your competitors.

 

A sales woman upsells a product to a customer at checkout

Cross-selling and up-selling

The savviest sales associates know how to cross-sell and up-sell. When a customer is interested in one particular item, the savvy salesperson suggests a corresponding item to go along with it. “If you like that, you will love this, too!” Up-selling is suggesting a more expensive alternative to the item the customer is already interested in buying. “Oh, that one you have is great, but have you seen this (more expensive) version?” If your customer leaves with an item that they will enjoy more and feel like they got a great deal, they are more likely to be a repeat customer which can further help increase retail sales.

Merchandising

Make the way you merchandise or display your products a priority. Keep your displays fresh and regularly move merchandise around the store, which creates a sense of newness and will have your regular customers looking at products they may have otherwise passed. Feature new and seasonal products near the entrance. Keep everything clean, organized, and make sure it’s easy to navigate the store. Keep popular and inexpensive items near the registers to encourage impulse purchases during check-out. You should also keep up on your inventory accounting to ensure that those displays have enough product on them.

Make it personal

 80% of companies are more likely to purchase from a company that offers them a personal experience. So how might your store offer a personal touch? Branded items are a great way to creatively connect with your customers – make sure your logo or taglines are on bags, receipts, and automated email receipts. Consider slipping an extra treat into shopping bags, too. Perhaps a small button or magnet with your logo and website. And the best way to get personal is to really connect with your customers. Make it a priority to chat, remember their names, and take note of the types of products that interest them.

Loyalty programs

Customers love loyalty programs! Many small businesses still enjoy using classic “buy 10, get 1 free” style punch cards, but there are great digital-focused loyalty programs, too. Options like Loopy Loyalty and Smile.io encourage customers to shop with you again and engage with your brand. And get creative! These programs offer ways for you to customize the program to match your branding and speak to your customer. As you build your loyalty program, make sure you aren’t creating an unattainable goal. Earning $5 for every $25 you spend feels much more exciting than earning $1 for every $50 you spend, right!?

Make time to analyze

Small retail store owners are notoriously stretched for time, but it’s essential to set aside time to review what sales tactics are working and what aren’t. Look at the numbers and strategically think about what might have led to increases or dips in sales on any given day. This is where having professionals like the team at Xendoo manage your retail bookkeeping can go a long way. Through accurate and timely reports, you can quickly review the numbers and figure out what sales strategies are most effective.

It’s an exciting time for retailers to have a fresh start! Seize the opportunity and train your staff on new sales tactics, refresh your inventory offerings and displays, and get creative with new ways for your customers to engage with your brand. By outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting to the team at Xendoo, you’ll save time and money, and you’ll finally have the data you need to be more strategic about how to increase retail sales and remain profitable.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

A retail shop displays an open sign in their window.

How to Make a Budget for Your Retail Store

As you look to grow your retail business and ensure you can maintain long-term stability, you will need to create and follow a retail budget. It’s one of the most important tools in small business retail management and can guide you as you make decisions, navigate unexpected changes, and work towards increasing cash flow and optimizing your profit. 

Your budget is something you make annually and adjust regularly based on actual expenses. This is where a skilled bookkeeper or accountant comes in handy! They can help make sure your budget predictions are accurate, and assist you in adjusting it throughout the year.

Being able to handle unexpected expenses on the fly is perhaps a budget’s greatest strength. A small retailer might face anything from windows suddenly covered in graffiti overnight to a global pandemic that forces them to temporarily close their doors. Budgets can help you hope for the best while planning for the worst. Here are the most common expenses a small business owner should consider when making a retail budget. 

Staffing

Everyone knows that retail business owners must regularly budget for their sales associates and store managers’ compensation, but don’t forget to plan for the associated payroll taxes and employee benefits including their time off. Additionally, consider additional labor costs for marketing, graphic design, inventory buying, facility maintenance, and order fulfillment and shipping. Keep in mind that Xendoo can help cut costs here by providing retail bookkeeping and accounting at a lower rate than on-staff employees.

A retail store front with a bike leaning against a post in the foreground

Photo by Sherzod Max on Unsplash

Facility Costs

When you first open your brick & mortar retail business the list of expenses associated with getting your physical space up and running is long. Painting, installing new lighting and hardware, choosing merchandise fixtures, installing electrical outlets, and a security system. Landscaping, adding in new vinyl graphics for your doors and windows, and don’t forget about signs. And there are more costs to maintaining your facility than one might expect. You will need to budget for unexpected expenses like plumbing problems, roof leaks, and ongoing maintenance such as replacing lights, signs, and store fixtures as needed. If your business has a second location you’ll need to make sure you budget separately for each space.

Marketing

Your annual marketing budget will change throughout the year. As you plan it out, keep in mind what times of year are best for sales – around holidays like President’s Day and Memorial Day, and as the seasons change. Plan to budget for paid social media and influencer marketing throughout the year, as well as any email marketing expenses you may incur. And don’t rely solely on digital marketing – your business may get great exposure by marketing through community partnerships, events, and even by mailing postcards to your customers.

Inventory

Inventory buying is one of a retail businesses’ most important and strategic costs to budget for. Retailers must prioritize inventory accounting, and keep a variety of things in mind like current trends, seasonal changes, and what sold well this time last year versus what didn’t. You’ll need to consider discounts and deals your vendors offer throughout the year, as well as freight charges. An excellent tool to consider using as you budget for inventory is an open-to-buy plan. An open-to-buy plan is an inventory management system that shows you how much inventory you can buy throughout the year.

Security

Even the smallest of retail businesses need to budget for loss prevention. Keeping your inventory numbers accurate will help you determine how much shrinkage affects your business. Do you need to increase your security? Perhaps you need to invest in security cameras or loss prevention training for your employees. According to the National Retail Federation, retail shrinkage is on the rise —totaling $61.7 billion in 2019, which is up from $50.6 billion the year before.

Technology

As you plan and review your budget, look for spots where technology might be able to save you money. Are the systems you are using, like an eCommerce platform, credit card machine, and merchant services, or your accounting software too expensive? Are there cheaper solutions? Spend a bit of time researching options and you might find better solutions. Some of your providers might even work together, for instance, Xendoo customers get a discount on Xero and Quickbooks software.

 

Trust us, we know that staying on budget is often easier said than done, especially for small business owners who are stretched for time. A quality bookkeeper or accountant like the team at Xendoo can help you plan and stay on budget, as well as find areas where you can save money through accurate, timely reports and advice. Become a budgeting pro with Xendoo today.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Bringing Home the Bacon: A Profit Growing Guide for Restaurateurs

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

It’s no secret that the restaurant business is tough, even in the best of times. Really tough. Even before the COVID-19 shutdowns, industry analysts estimate the failure rate for new restaurants in the first year was somewhere around 60%, with another 20% shuttering the doors before the 5-year mark. That’s only gotten worse during the pandemic, with hospitality being one of the industries hardest hit by shutdowns and restrictions. However, as bleak as that reality may seem, the restaurant industry is still viable, and there are things you as an owner can do to help increase restaurant profits and make sure you stay in the 40% that do well.

Understanding Profits: Gross vs. Net

When discussing how to increase restaurant profits, it’s important to distinguish between gross profit and net profit. Gross profit for a restaurant is defined as the price of the item minus the cost of goods sold, i.e., food cost. For example, if your signature lasagna dish sells for $20 and the ingredients to make it cost $7, your gross profit on that item is $13, and your profit margin is 65% (13 divided by 20). Industry norms and best practices suggest that food costs should run somewhere around 30%, which means that if your total sales for the month are $100,000, you should be spending roughly $30,000 with your foodservice vendor. Food costs that run higher than that can often be an indicator of excessive waste or theft (often referred to as shrinkage), so it’s essential to know your gross profit margin.

Net profit is the amount left over after ALL operating expenses are deducted, not just food costs. That includes expenses such as labor, food cost, rent, utilities, equipment repairs or leases, insurance, etc. Because it consists of a much more expansive list of expenses than gross profit, net profit will necessarily be a much smaller number. Typical net profit margins have shrunk in recent years but typically hover around 3-5%.

It’s critical to stay on top of your books and know exactly what your margins to increase restaurant profits because if you’re playing catch-up bookkeeping, you’re flying blind. Generally, when discussing how to increase restaurant profits, most people mean net profit because it’s the one that keeps the lights on for your business. With that in mind, there are two ways to boost your bottom line – you can increase sales or lower expenses. So let’s look first at ways to boost your sales numbers and increase your average ticket price or cover the average.

View of a restaurant menus with prices set for increase in profits

Review Your Menu Pricing

As we noted above, your food cost should be around 30% of your menu price, so you’ll need to calculate the plate cost of each menu item to help increase restaurant profits. To do this, first, make a list of each ingredient required to prepare the dish. Next, choose which unit of measure your foodservice vendor uses for the items (e.g., do you buy it by the pound, gallon, dozen, etc.) and identify your unit cost from your vendor. There may or may not be a yield percentage for the item, which would be waste from trimming or peeling the item before use. For example, certain cuts of meat may require trimming away fat or gristle, which reduces its useful yield. These can usually be found in standardized yield charts available from many vendors. 

Finally, do a similar calculation for the way you prepare the dish:

1.  Select the correct serving unit, which is usually as simple as the unit of measure that your recipe calls for.

2. Calculate the serving unit cost by dividing the cost per measure by the number of serving units per measure. The cost per measure for items with no yield is the unit purchase price, and for items with a yield, the unit purchase price is divided by the yield percentage. For example, if you buy ground beef for $4 per pound and your serving unit is ounces, the serving unit cost would be $0.25 per ounce ($4 divided by 16 ounces to the pound).

3. Select your portion size, which is the quantity called for by the recipe.

A simple plate cost for a hamburger and fries might look like this, assuming four potatoes to the pound and six slices per tomato:

Ingredient Purchase Unit Purchase Unit Cost Yield Actual Unit Cost Serving Unit Serving Unit Cost Portion Size Portion Cost
Ground Beef Pound $4.00 N/A $4.00 Ounce $0.25 5 $1.25
Bun Dozen $6.00 N/A $6.00 Each $0.50 1 $0.50
Tomato Pound $1.89 N/A $1.89 Slice $0.31 2 $0.62
Mustard Gallon $13.00 N/A $13.00 Ounce $0.81 1 $0.81
Potato Pound $2.00 .81 $2.46 Each $0.62 1 $0.62
$3.80

So we can see that the plate cost for this hamburger and fries meal is $3.80. Sticking to the rule of 30% food cost, the menu price of this item should be $12.50. If it’s less than that, it’s probably eating into your bottom line.

Identify Your Menu Hits and Misses

Now that you know your plate cost for each item on your menu, it’s time to compare those to some sales reports from your point-of-sale (POS) system to see where your profit is coming from. Create a spreadsheet with four categories and label them “HIGH PROFIT/HIGH SALES,” “HIGH PROFIT/LOW SALES,” “LOW PROFIT/HIGH SALES,” and “LOW PROFIT/LOW SALES.” Then, put each item on your menu into one of those categories to see where each item falls. Dishes that fall into the “LOW PROFIT/LOW SALES” category are candidates for removal in favor of more profitable offerings. Also, consider running daily specials that combine high-profit, low-sale items with big sellers to help move those lower selling items to get that incremental revenue.

Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Effectively

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of staff training in proper selling techniques to increase restaurant profits. Train your service staff to offer customers an appetizer or cocktail before starting their meal, and train them to make quality recommendations. If you are a full-service restaurant and serve alcohol, educate your staff about wine types and selections that you carry. Distributors will often send a representative to do this training for you at no cost. Armed with that knowledge, the staff then knows that the new full-bodied cabernet that just came in yesterday goes wonderfully with a steak dinner and can offer that to a customer considering the steak. The result is a happier customer with a higher ticket who will tell his or her friends about your knowledgeable staff. Run contests to reward the servers with the highest average ticket for the week to encourage up-selling.

In addition to some general restaurant bookkeeping tips, let’s look at some specific ways to manage your operating expenses and keep your bottom line healthy.

Watch Your Invoices Closely

Food prices constantly fluctuate due to various factors, with some items varying wildly. It’s important to know exactly the current price of a pound of shrimp. If that price begins to rise due to an oil spill, hurricane, or another event that causes a shortage, it might be prudent to take the shrimp cocktail off the appetizer menu for a little while if the price gets too high. Also, some food service vendors will try to get your business by initially offering you low prices that they can’t sustain with the intention of creeping the prices up slowly in the hope that you won’t notice. This practice is called “speeding.” Be sure to regularly compare pricing from different vendors to ensure that you’re getting the best price when your food truck comes in.

A server sets tables at a restaurant.

Manage Your Labor

Along with food cost, labor is the other big variable expense that operators can control to increase restaurant profits. Labor is often a very fine line to walk. Too much labor during slow times is an unnecessary expense and may dilute tips among servers and affect their morale, while too little staffing can result in poor customer service and quickly land your business in Yelp hell. Many modern point-of-sale (POS) systems include advanced scheduling that uses sales history to predict how many servers you will need at any given time. Many POS systems can even suggest your best-selling servers on your busiest shifts for you. If you have such a system, take advantage of these features to keep your staffing lean and mean. If you don’t, it might be cost-effective to consider upgrading.

Stick to Multi-Purpose Ingredients

When planning out your menu, try to avoid items that require ingredients that aren’t used in any other dish. For example, if nothing else on your menu uses shrimp, you should probably avoid putting the shrimp cocktail on your appetizer menu because shrimp is expensive and has a short shelf life. But if your menu includes a grilled chicken salad and lemon pepper chicken, the chicken quesadilla pinwheels might be a better appetizer for you. By sticking to ingredients that are used in multiple dishes, you can cut down food costs and waste significantly.

Take Regular Inventory

Taking regular inventory is one of your best tools to detect waste and theft, so set a schedule to take a detailed inventory regularly. Compare it to your sales report to see if the sell-through rate matches what you expected from your sales report. That way, you know which items are moving and which are sitting on the shelf too long, and whether you might have some product walking out the back door at night. Have it conducted by at least two people to ensure that it’s done accurately and honestly. 

Get a Handle on Your Bookkeeping

Good bookkeeping for restaurants is essential, and as a restaurant owner, you probably don’t have the time to be doing your books. Your focus needs to be on doing what really matters – growing your business and improving your bottom line. That’s where a partner like Xendoo can help by offering a full suite of business bookkeeping products and services to help you know where every dollar is going. Outsourcing is more affordable than you might think, and it can pay for itself very quickly. Economists call it “opportunity cost.” It’s the hidden cost of foregoing one opportunity in favor of another because you don’t have time to do both. Yes, assuming you have the knowledge, you might save a few dollars in accounting fees by doing it yourself, but how much will your business operations suffer because you’re spending all your time on that?

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Time for a Makeover: Ideas for How to Increase Profits for Hair Salons

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Just like your clients, your business operation needs a good makeover every now and then to help increase profits for your salon and keep your bottom line healthy. Unfortunately, we sometimes let ourselves get into a rut, keeping the same systems and processes in place mainly because they’ve always been good enough. But is “good enough” really good enough in an ever-changing marketplace? Do you really ever have enough revenue?

Here are ideas on how to increase profits for your hair salon.

Implement a Revenue Management Plan

Is your salon backed up with more business than you can handle on Saturday but full of tumbleweeds on Wednesday? If so, maybe you need to take a look at scalable pricing instead of just charging the same flat price to everyone. Unless you’re ready to expand your business, you have a fixed amount of capacity each day because you only have so many chairs and so many stylists. That means the one tool you have at your disposal to manage supply and demand is your pricing. Don’t be squeamish about raising prices where you need to. If you’re turning away business because you don’t have enough capacity, that means you aren’t charging enough. If you don’t have enough business to fill the day, that means you might be charging too much. In a perfectly balanced supply and demand scenario, you should be running at close to 100% capacity and not turning anyone away because you don’t have open slots. Charge a premium price on high-demand days like Saturday and run discount offers on slower days to incentivize demand and pick up that incremental revenue.

A salon owner checks her profit marginson a tablet

Outsource What You’re Not Good At

Your accountant doesn’t do hair, so you shouldn’t be doing tax returns. There’s a saying in effective management training: only do what only you can do. Stick to what you’re good at and outsource other things that aren’t in your wheelhouse. Those things are time-consuming and draw your attention away from what you should be doing – growing your business. At the top of most lists of tasks to outsource is bookkeeping for hair salons because it’s both complex and time-consuming. An accountant is an expert and can probably do in an hour what might take you an entire day, so it doesn’t make sense to waste your productivity on that. This is where a partner like Xendoo can help you because we specialize in small businesses like yours for a flat price that’s often less than what you would pay an hourly accountant. 

Do a Sales and Inventory Analysis

Do you know the sell-through rate of everything you keep in your inventory? If not, you should. Are you keeping enough of the right items in stock or too much of the wrong things? If you’re not sure, you might have too much money sitting on the shelf month after month doing nothing for you, so you need to do some homework. Print out some sales reports from your point-of-sale (POS) system and see which items are your best sellers. Most good salon software systems also have some inventory control features, so take a look at those to see how to increase profits. One key calculation you need is the sell-through rate, which is the ratio of inventory sold during the month to the inventory added in the same period. If your POS doesn’t have inventory control features, it might be worthwhile to look at upgrading to one that does. 

A stylist talks to her customer about additional services

Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Aggressively

When people hear about up-selling and cross-selling, they often have thoughts of trying to sell clients products they don’t need, but that’s not the case at all. Clients come to you for your expertise. As a salon owner, part of your job is to educate your clients about products and services they need but don’t realize they need. For instance, if a client comes in wanting a particular color treatment that you know from experience will be harsh and make the hair dry, you might recommend a conditioning treatment to help mitigate that effect. Once the client understands and sees the value proposition, it becomes a win-win: the client gets better service, and you get more money.

Spend the time to make sure that everyone on your team is intimately familiar with every product that you carry and can discuss them with clients appropriately. Also, encourage your staff to use the products you sell and promote them in conversation with friends and social media. People trust their stylists and often feel like they’re getting a little inside scoop by using the stylist’s same products. 

Get Creative with Marketing

At the risk of stating the obvious, marketing is key to how to increase profits for your hair salon, and your strategy needs a refresh occasionally. If you’re in a mall or other high-visibility setting, create a nice-looking display in the window where passers-by can see it easily. Stock it with high-margin products you want to promote and put the most important items at eye level. Research has shown that “eye level is buy level.” That’s fairly traditional marketing, but don’t be afraid to get creative with it. Have you noticed that almost every store you visit these days wants to sign you up for a rewards program? Well, there’s a reason for that—they work. Customers love rewards and free things. Consider creating a loyalty program for your return customers and give them a $25 coupon after ten visits. Word of mouth is one of your most powerful marketing tools, and you can leverage that. Implement a referral program where an existing client who refers new business gets a discount on the next visit.

These are just ways on how to increase profits for your hair salon, but Xendoo can help you increase your profit in other ways, too. Contact Xendoo today to start your free trial and get your business on the road to maximum profits.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

How to Change from an LLC to an S Corporation

Remember back when you had to decide on a name to register your new business, forming a limited liability company—LLC? Now your small business has grown up thanks to your hard work and dedication. You may have outgrown your current legal status and it’s time to change from an LLC to S Corp to gain additional tax benefits that you’ve earned! Since determining the status of your business is important to its success and potential, we’ll break it down for you.

What is an S Corporation?

Define and describe what it is. Describe how S Corps. Are better for small businesses

Under “S” corporation status, the small business owner’s income, losses, deductions, and credits “flow through” to you and are reported on your personal tax returns and assessed at your individual income tax rate. S Corp status is great for small businesses because you have the LLC protection from losses beyond your capital investments, while still providing you with the flow-through taxation.

How is an LLC Different from an S Corporation?

As an LLC owner, you could lose everything you have invested in the business, but your personal home, bank account, and other assets are protected. The main differences between an LLC and an S Corp are:

  • An S Corporation isn’t a business entity like an LLC—it’s an elected tax status.
  • LLC owners must pay self-employment taxes for all income. S corp owners may pay less on this tax, provided they pay themselves a “reasonable salary.”
  • LLCs can have an unlimited number of members, while S Corps are limited to 100 shareholders.

A small business team discusses changing from an LLC to an S Corp

Why you should consider changing from an LLC to an S Corp

Here are three great reasons to change from an LLC to an S Corp:

Self-employment taxes

S Corp distributions aren’t subject to FICA/self-employment taxes. This is one strategic way to minimize self-employment taxes, making it a great business structure for consultants, sole-proprietors, and more. If you have an S-Corporation and are active in the business, you must pay yourself a market-rate salary for your work The IRS won’t let you pay yourself entirely in distributions to avoid self-employment tax.

Tax-preferred retirement savings 

You can contribute more to retirement accounts with an S Corp than an LLC because with an S Corp you can set up a Solo 401(k) in addition to a Roth IRA.

Easier to scale

S Corps allows for a smoother transition from a C Corp. Stockholders are required to report their percentage of the profit/loss whether or not they actually receive that money as a distribution. If you own 100 percent of an S Corp and it makes X dollars in profit, you can keep that money in the business to make purchases next year. You are still required to report the profit on your individual tax return. If you anticipate keeping a significant amount of money in the business, you may be better off as a C Corporation.

How do I change from an LLC to an S Corporation?

If you decide to change from an LLC to an S Corp for federal tax purposes, you can simply make an election for the LLC to be taxed as an S Corporation. All you need to do is fill out a form and send it to the IRS. Once the LLC is classified for federal tax purposes as a Corporation, it can file Form 2553 to be taxed as an S Corporation.

With this approach, you don’t change the actual entity type, only the federal tax classification. Even though the IRS classifies the LLC as S Corp, it is still an LLC and may be taxed as such by the state where it is formed.

To change the actual entity structure you must formally change the LLC to an S Corporation with the formation state. If the simple conversion process is not allowed by the formation state, then you can do the following: 

  • send the IRS a letter informing them of the structural change
  • choose to be an S Corporation by filling out IRS Form 2553
  • cancel the LLC while filing with the state for a new corporation

Is Switching from LLC to an S corp right for my business?

When you’re ready to change from an LLC to S Corp, we recommend that you consult an accountant or tax preparation services to make sure there are no mistakes that could cause you to lose your money-saving tax status. Your Xendoo team of small business accounting experts can help you find the right solutions for your small business, and take the hassles of tax prep and filing off your shoulders. Whether it’s the 1120S,  1120, or 1065,  Xendoo’s CPAs will file the right return for you, right on time.

With bookkeeping, tax consulting, and tax filing all under one roof, your U.S.-based Xendoo financial team is here to answer all your questions and to file your business and personal taxes. We’ll do what we do best — and let you get back to doing what you do best to make your business a success. Sign up today.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

A business owner integrates her accounting software for her eCommerce site

How to Setup Your Online Store to Integrate Accounting Software

You’ve set up your online store set, and orders are starting to come in. But in your rush to pack, ship, and sell, there’s a good chance you haven’t made time to integrate accounting software with your eCommerce software. By downloading a third-party app plug-in, you are just a few clicks away from saving time and money by automatically sharing data between your accounting and eCommerce programs. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s simple!

Most popular online accounting software options like QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks all have a menu where you can search for compatible app plug-ins. And most popular eCommerce programs like Shopify, Squarespace, and WooCommerce have a corresponding app available from a third-party software developer. So you can easily install an app to sync the two programs! 

What to Look for E-Commerce Accounting Software

As soon as you begin spending or making money, it’s time to set up your eCommerce bookkeeping and start accounting. There are many affordable online eCommerce accounting software options available. Programs such as QuickBooks Online or Xero store a business’s financial data in the cloud and are always connected to the internet. In addition, they automatically receive and update your data by connecting to your bank accounts. Sounds easy, but not all accounting programs are the same, and there is a lot to choose from. When deciding which program is best for you, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Compatibility – Does the program work with all of the devices you plan to use? How many users can be simultaneously logged in? Can your international team members log in, too?
  • Cost – Many options have a free plan, but the pricing goes up as your business scales and grows.
  • Support – What are the customer service options? Does the program offer expert bookkeepers and accountants you can hire to take on the work when you are ready to delegate? Can they help you file your taxes?
  • Additional Services – All of the programs offer basic bookkeeping and financial reporting, but what kind of extra offerings does the software have? Some eCommerce trends include hefty employee management solutions to help with payroll, time tracking, and benefits, while others may offer project management tools. Some offer payment processing through third-party partnerships.
  • Integrate accounting software with your eCommerce program – Make sure the two programs sync so you can limit the amount of data entry you are doing. Ideally, you will be able to eliminate manual data entry of sales, invoices, customers, products, and more. 
A woman sits at her computer setting up her eCommerce site

Syncing Your Accounting and E-Commerce Programs

Most popular eCommerce software options, such as Squarespace and Shopify, integrate easily with third-party app plug-ins compatible with accounting programs like QuickBooks and Xero. Once synced, your inventory, orders, customers, and shipping can be automatically updated and will stay accurate. And getting started is easy! Most of these integrations only require a quick authorization and a few clicks to import your eCommerce data into your accounting program.

Below is a list of some popular eCommerce platforms that offer integrations with popular online accounting software programs. Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive, but these are the most popular eCommerce platforms that easily integrate with accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks Online. 

Integrating your accounting software with your eCommerce platform can help save you time and money. You’ll be able to get an instant view of your financials, allowing you to plan your sales strategy more effectively. 

A open laptop with a screen showing an eCommerce store.

What Else do I Need to Know About My Accounting Software Integration?

As your eCommerce business grows and you decide to sync your eCommerce software with your accounting software, there are many aspects of eCommerce and accounting that you will want to keep in mind for this integration. For example:

  • Inventory Management – You will want to be able to connect multiple sales channels such as your brick & mortar’s Point of Sale, your Online Store, and your Pop-up location to ensure stock levels always stay up-to-date.
  • Choosing the correct payment gateway – Does the available option match your needs? Will international business be supported?
  • Tax settings – How does the software help you with your sales tax reporting? What role does it play in monitoring important tax deadlines? 

Why You Should Outsource Your E-Commerce Bookkeeping and Accounting

As your eCommerce business grows, you will want to outsource your bookkeeping and accounting to professionals. Even though app integrations with the best accounting software for small businesses are great, many automatic tools such as your monthly reconciliation can be inaccurate. Even a minor error in your bookkeeping can have a ripple effect and lead to everything from your financial reports being inaccurate to your marketing budget and your tax payments. It’s best to have an experienced set of eyes on it! These professionals can even find tax breaks you were missing and help you save even more money! Spend more time growing your business and less time crunching the numbers by working with the team at Xendoo. 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

How Outsourcing Accounting Can Help Grow Your Small Business

Small business owners are notoriously short on time. They manage everything from sales and marketing to employee scheduling and benefits, not to mention being an expert in whatever good or service it is that their business offers. And there are hurdles every step of the way as you try to grow your business. Hiring an outsourced accounting service can help you tackle many of these including ensuring you don’t pay too much in taxes, that you have time to focus on sales and marketing, and that you are able to prepare thorough financial reports for investors.

Why is an accountant important in a business?

Accountants consider the big picture strategy needed to keep your business strong and growing. They can answer your questions about financial reports, cash flow, depreciation, and more. They can give tax savings advice, such as when to make capital purchases, what you can deduct, and how to reduce taxes on capital gains. They can identify opportunities to improve profit margin and business growth and keep you legal – preventing missed deadlines and noncompliance penalties. 

When you’re looking to grow your business but don’t have the time or resources to do so, hiring an outsourced accountant or outsourced accounting service like Xendoo can free up your time and provide insights and ways into how you can increase your cash flow, strategically prepare for your taxes, and focus on what you do best.

Closeup of two plant sprouts growing

How does outsourcing accounting help your business grow?

It’s not just keeping track of your financials. Outsourcing an account can help your business grow in the following ways:

Accountants help save money

We can tackle the reinvestment more in detail here and use the tax preparation anchor here. 

Accountants help small business owners save money in many ways, including through strategic tax preparation. They help you make smart decisions on your operating expenses, when to make big purchases, and what deductions you can make. Many small business owners spend too much money on taxes – an accountant can help you prevent overspending on taxes and help you strategize on how to cut costs in every area of operation. The money you spend on an accountant is an investment into your business and will help you grow by saving you money in the long run and leaving you with more money to invest back into your business. 

Accountants help save you time

Time can be spent on marketing and other business growth while they look into the books.

Small business owners have enough on their to-do list – when you’re looking to outsource some of the work and focus on growing, outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping services are the best choices. Bookkeepers and accountants will do a better job at a quicker pace than a small business owner who is strapped for time and whose talents might lie elsewhere. You’ll be able to focus on sales, marketing, and all of the other ins and outs of growing your business when you aren’t worrying about accounting.

Outsourced accounting services are scalable

As you grow so can your services without the need to hire FTE. 

Your outsourced accounting team can easily grow as your small business does. You won’t need to hire a full-time employee to handle your accounting when you have a scalable outsourced accounting team on board. You can skip the hassle of hiring and managing a full-time employee as you grow (and save on the need to offer expensive benefits, too!) by hiring outsourced accounting services like Xendoo.

Better business analysis

Gives you accurate insights into your business strengths and weaknesses, which is important if you want to expand. Investors will want to see accurate books. 

As you grow you will continuously need better analytics on your business. An outsourced accounting team can provide accurate insights into your business strengths and weaknesses, helping you strategize on how to grow. And when you’re ready to take on investors or apply for a line of credit the banks and investors will want to see accurate and detailed financial reports. By having an outsourced accountant on your team, you will be able to show investors and banks precise, up-to-date records and prove you take your finances and the growth of your small business seriously.

Help increase cash flow

Keep track of outgoing and incoming money. Can find ways to help you save money long term with paying on time or ahead, and chasing down delinquent invoices. 

A key strategy to growing your business is taking charge of your cash flow. Outsourced accounting services like the team at Xendoo can keep track of your incoming and outgoing money and can help you find ways to save money in the long term – through strategic tax preparation, cutting operational costs, and paying your bills on time or even ahead of time! And they can help you chase down delinquent invoices from clients who are behind on paying you. Your accounts payable and receivable will be closely monitored and managed without you ever needing to worry about it.

Outsourcing accounting can help you grow your business.  By outsourcing your accounting, you can save money on hiring a full-time accountant, plus, it will give you more time to focus on running your business and creating value for your customers and your employees.  Xendoo is all about providing timely and accurate financial information to business owners allowing them to make strategic decisions. If your business is struggling, know that there is a better way and Xendoo can help. 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Five Customer Loyalty Tricks for Fitness Franchisees

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

As a fitness franchise owner, you know very well the challenges of getting new members through the door, even in the best of times. It’s never been easy, but the fitness industry has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, with value brands representing the largest share of losses in the industry. Major gym franchises like Gold’s Gym have filed for bankruptcy protection, and others may soon follow. Polling has shown that as many as 60% of Americans either have canceled or are planning to cancel their gym membership due to financial hardship or concerns about safety. Simultaneously, the growth of digital and at-home fitness products has added to the pressure on gyms, with Peloton doubling its sales in 2020. 

So, in that environment, how do you get new customers through the door and convince your existing customers to remain loyal? We can start by taking a cue from one outlier in the value gym segment that has shown more resiliency than its competitors through the pandemic. The Anytime Fitness franchise has rolled out a comprehensive COVID-19 policy to protect their members’ and staff’s safety and begun offering advance reservations to secure a spot when capacity is limited. When customers have confidence that you are genuinely looking out for their best interests, they are more likely to remain loyal.

But beyond just building trust among your members, there are some other things you can do to encourage customer loyalty in this most challenging of times.

Loyalty Rewards Program

Have you ever noticed that it seems like every store you go into wants you to join their rewards program? Well, there’s a reason for that – it works. Create a rewards program for your loyal customers with some nice little freebies to help keep them engaged. This might take the form of a free t-shirt after ten visits, or maybe a free post-workout smoothie with every 10 purchased. You can get very creative with this, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Never underestimate the power of free swag for customer loyalty. Everyone wants to feel special.

Frequent Customer Discounts

Many gym members, particularly in the value segment, care just as much about the size of their wallets as the size of their jeans, so giving them a discount on a product or service is a great way to boost customer engagement. This might be a discount on a personal training session within the next month, or possibly a coupon for deals on gym apparel. Gym apparel is a particularly desirable thing to encourage because, in addition to the revenue from the sale, you get the added benefit of free advertising for your fitness franchise every time the customer wears it.

Three women stand besides each other at a gym

Referral Rewards

Let’s face it – we all have that one annoying friend who can’t stop going on about how great his or her fitness studio or workout program is. Well, that’s exactly who you want to be your customer, so you need to create a compelling reason for that person to be your customer. Create a referral rewards program and offer a membership discount for each new customer brought in on a referral. You’ll soon find your membership roster – and your bottom line – growing steadily.

Premium Memberships

Take a cue from companies with the most loyal followings and offer VIP or premium membership packages. Do a little up-selling. The key here is to create a value proposition that’s compelling enough to entice your customers to pay a little more without eating into your bottom line. If a member is already paying $30 per month for a basic membership, he or she would probably be willing to pay $35 or $40 to add free tanning or a free monthly workout with a personal trainer. It can be tricky to find the right balance for your package, but this is a great way to reward your most loyal customers if done right.

A man holding onto rings tries to beat a record for a gym contest

Run Contests

Contests can be a great way to keep your members engaged with the club and create valuable rewards for members who participate. You might run a contest with a free gym t-shirt or duffel bag to the member with the most visits during the month, or possibly a “Biggest Loser” type contest with a free month of membership as the prize. You can also incorporate social media into your content strategy by encouraging people to share, like, and comment on your content. Give members who complete one workout and check in on Facebook during the next month a raffle ticket to a drawing for a free duffel bag or another prize.

Focus on Your Core Business

Business owners are notoriously bad at time management, spending too much time on things that others can do and not enough on what an owner should be doing – growing the business. Offload time-consuming administrative tasks to employees or an outside firm. Consider outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting, which is one of the biggest time vampires in an owner’s day. By getting those off your plate, you can have time to spend on thinking up creative ways to engage with your members and drive loyalty at a time when you need it most. 

 

So what’s the best way to boost customer loyalty at your gym franchise? Start by taking your own gym’s advice and just do it. Set a goal and commit to seeing it through. Start with these tips, but don’t just stop there. Be creative and come up with other ideas, and then let us show you how Xendoo can help your fitness franchises become more profitable with a free trial. Let’s start building that customer loyalty muscle together!

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

A blue notebook with numbers onthe cover rest on table near a laptop

Time to Play Catch Up: Catch-Up Bookkeeping Services for Small Businesses

Nearly 25% of businesses are behind on their books and nearly 41% of business owners try to do their bookkeeping themselves. It happens easily— you fall a month or two behind, then by the time you look up, an entire quarter has gone by, and your books haven’t been updated. With inaccurate and out-of-date books, you might have late invoices, end up over-extending your small business, and not be able to dial in your operating cash flow. You might even be in danger of being non-compliant with the IRS. Perhaps nothing bad has happened yet, but you know it’s time to catch up on bookkeeping

One of the most essential services a bookkeeper can provide for a business owner is to keep the company’s books accurate and up-to-date. Being able to quickly and easily review the status of your finances is crucial to short and long-term success for any business owner. When you know the health of your finances, you can make quicker decisions concerning everything from who to hire next to what marketing strategy recently worked best.

Reasons to catch up/reconcile

Besides being a smart business practice, catch-up bookkeeping provides additional benefits grow growing companies. Such as:

  • Smart/quick decisions: A bookkeeper will review vendor payments and record expenses to manage your spending, helping you manage your cash flow. A bookkeeper will track your sales, so you know what’s most profitable and can focus on what works.
  • Tax compliant: With up-to-date, accurate records, a bookkeeper can assist you during tax season – helping you maximize deductions and stay compliant. 
  • Loan: As you grow, you may want to borrow money or open a line of credit. Your lender will want accurate financial statements, and ideally, you aren’t scrambling to create them right then and there.

What is catch-up bookkeeping?

A bookkeeper will review source documents such as your monthly bank and credit card statements, invoices, payroll, receipts, and record basic accounting information for you, such as your monthly reconciliations, in your company’s books.

 

Finacial documents in a assorted colored folder fan across a table.

How do I catch up on my bookkeeping?

To get ready to catch up on your bookkeeping, you’ll need to get organized and get ready to reconcile!

Gather your paperwork

Some of the paperwork and documents you will need to gather for your bookkeeper are:

  • Receipts
  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Invoices
  • Debt collections
  • Business expenses
  • Vendor accounts

Reconcile your bank accounts

  • Each month you need to reconcile all of your bank and credit card accounts. First, make sure all transactions for the month have been entered. Using your bank statements, you can make sure all of the transactions in your books match the transactions in your statements. This allows you to find any errors in your books and ensure your records are accurate.
  • It’s easy to fall behind on reconciliation, especially if you come across reconciliation errors that need fixing. If you are too far behind on your monthly reconciliations, the bookkeeping team at Xendoo can help you get organized, reconciled, and caught up.

Collect W-9s, 1099s, and W-2s

  • W-9s are IRS forms that all business owners must keep on file for any self-employed workers (such as freelancers and independent contractors), to keep track of their external team members. If you employ subcontractors, you’ll need to make sure you are collecting these important forms.
  • When a small business pays an independent contractor $600 or more in a given year, they must report these payments to the IRS using a 1099 form for the contractor. 
  • A W-2 form shows the amount of money an employee made, and the amount of taxes that were withheld from paychecks throughout a calendar year.

Go digital

  • Reduce the amount of paperwork you have to keep up with by choosing to have paperless bills and bank statements. 
  • A good choice for the environment, too.

 

Tow colleagues discuss as they sit at a table with their laptops open

How much does catch-up bookkeeping cost?

Starting at just $150, your dedicated Xendoo team will catch you up and set you up for success with a solid bookkeeping system, or you can utilize our ongoing bookkeeping services. Once you know how good that feels, you’ll want to sign on for a monthly bookkeeping service package that fits your business needs. 

You’ll never worry about falling behind again, knowing your dedicated financial team is on it, your up-to-date records are always available, and there’s an expert at your fingertips to answer any questions. You can count on using your books to make quick, smart decisions – leaving you with a healthy, growing business.

Leave catch-up bookkeeping to the professionals

It’s overwhelming to discover a pile of late invoices and frustrating when you can’t dial in your operating cash flow or realize you’ve over-extended your business expenses because of inaccurate books. Then tax time sneaks up, and you realize you’re non-compliant with the IRS and need someone to organize your financial data quickly. If you’re time-starved and neglecting your bookkeeping, it’s time to enlist Xendoo for your catch-up bookkeeping service. 

Let a professional sort your books for you and develop a bookkeeping system that will serve you well now and for the future. Xendoo can quickly and accurately catch you up, setting you up for success.

Always know your company’s financial status and sleep soundly at night with Xendoo’s expert support.

A Prettier Profit and Loss Statement: Up- and Cross-Selling Techniques for Salon Owners

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

If you’re like most salon owners, the chances are good that you decided to start a hair salon because you love meeting new people and helping them feel more beautiful than when they walked in your front door. It’s only natural because everyone loves a rewarding job. Focusing on sales techniques, like up-and cross-selling for salons probably wasn’t high on your list of “pros” when you got into the salon industry.

But for better or for worse, persuading clients to purchase products or services that they didn’t initially come in for is an essential part of your marketing strategy and can boost your profit and loss statement. That doesn’t mean selling them products they don’t need. Cross-selling and up-selling are selling them products they need but didn’t know about. It’s part of your job to educate the client, so let’s take a look at how up-selling and cross-selling for the salon business can be less faux-pas and more moo-lah, and why salon owners already have a head start. 

Two women in pola dotted dresses work at a hair salon

The Difference Between Up-Selling and Cross-Selling

Up-selling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a more expensive item than they had initially intended. We do this by creating value for the customer in the more expensive product. Often, the customer just needs someone to point out the extra value. Depending on the type of salon, if a client is scheduled for a regular mani/pedi at retail price, check-in staff can create value for the customer by offering a deluxe spa treatment for just a slightly higher price. You might even be able to have your salon software automatically remind staff to offer the upgrade at check-in. If the customer is already spending $50, it’s easy to justify upgrading for just $10 more because it represents a good value.

Cross-selling for salons is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase other products or services that complement the original sale in some way. Sometimes customers don’t know what they need, and it’s your job as the expert to educate them about it. Effective cross-selling for salons might look like this: If a dark-haired client has decided to go blonde, you as the stylist know that those harsh chemicals can damage and dry out the hair, but the customer may not know that. You can explain this and encourage your client to buy a conditioning treatment to help offset that damage.

Why Cross-Selling and Up-Selling Are Important

 The bottom line is that up-selling and cross-selling for salons are critical to your bottom line in several ways. If you’re not doing it, you’re leaving money on the table. If you have a low-margin product that’s selling great and a high-margin product that’s not selling so well, an excellent cross-selling technique might be to bundle the two together and get that extra profit. But even more importantly, it allows you to create additional value for your customers, which is crucial to maintaining customer loyalty and trust. After all, value is why your customers come to you to begin with and what makes a successful salon. When deciding whether a sales opportunity is right, ask yourself, “Will this improve my customer’s life? Will it help them feel more beautiful?” If the answer is yes, you know what to do.

A woman hair stylist chats with a client.

So What’s This Head Start?

Salon business owners have a special trust relationship with their clients, which gives them an edge in ideas to increase profits. Stylists don’t just know their customers’ names; they know everything going on in their lives —their children, jobs, and health. They open up their entire lives to you, which puts you in a unique position of influence with your customer. To put it more bluntly, if they trust you enough to let you bring sharp blades around their heads and irreversibly alter their appearance (for a few months, anyway), they will trust your recommendation on special products and services. Remind your team that they have this superpower because it’s critical to your business, but don’t abuse it by selling customers things they don’t need. That will almost always backfire and damage your relationship.

OK, I’m Convinced. Now What?

Now that you know the importance of upselling and cross-selling for salons, here are a few things you can do right away to get the ball rolling.

  • Get effective inventory management and accounting system for your salon if you don’t already have one to know exactly which products are moving and which aren’t, and what the margin on each one is. Good accounting for hair salons is a must, and if you don’t have that information at your fingertips, you’re flying blind.
  • Create an attractive display with high visibility where customers can browse it easily. Never put it behind the counter because curious customers will feel like it’s inaccessible. Keep it organized, and well-stocked with the products that you believe are strong candidates for this strategy. Remember: eye-level is buy-level. Research has shown that products placed at eye level get 35% more attention than products placed at lower levels.
  • Ensure your staff is using the products you sell and posting them on social media. The best advertisement for a product is being able to see the results in real-time on a person’s natural hair or skin. Remember the trust relationship; if the stylist uses the product, it gives the customer confidence that it must be good. It’s almost like giving away a little trade secret. Purchasing salon-quality products that stylists actually use makes your customers feel like they have a leg up in their beauty routine.
  • Give your staff the tools to make cross-selling for salons easier. At a minimum, everyone in your salon should be familiar with every item you sell and be able to describe it to customers. But knowledge of the products is only a start. Your team needs to be trained in effective cross-selling and up-selling techniques and incentivized to use them. Be creative in coming up with ways to encourage selling, like contests with prizes, bonuses, or other incentives.

Remember, you may not see the benefits of cross-selling for your salon business right away. Sometimes the customer may be in a hurry or on a tight budget, and you have to respect that. Just remember that by maintaining the customer’s trust, there will always be another opportunity down the road. Do that consistently, and you’ll begin to grow your business and watch your bottom line trend up.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.