Bookkeeping for Freight Brokers and the Most Common Mistakes Businesses Make
A freight broker is either a company or an individual who effects the transportation of goods by pairing up shippers with transportation services. The freight broker is not only responsible for pairing reliable and authorized transportation carriers with shippers, but also organizing the shipping needs for various organizations. Besides matching shippers with carriers, a freight broker is also responsible for ensuring each and every piece of cargo reaches its destination - and in good condition.
In addition to these tasks, freight brokers are also responsible for maintaining accurate bookkeeping records, and those who fail to keep meticulous accounting records are likely to lose money in the long run. In this post we've detailed what we believe are the most common accounting mistakes freight brokers make, and ways in which they can be avoided.No. 1: Attempting to DIY Your Bookkeeping Can Result in Costly Errors
Whether you handle the books yourself or delegate this vitally important job to an unqualified employee or even a family member, DIY bookkeeping is seldom, if ever, a good idea. Yes, initially you'll undoubtedly save some money, but your inexperienced bookkeeper's errors can ultimately become very costly to your business and result in expensive financing terms, increased bond premiums, and other unnecessary costs.
We strongly suggest you employ the services of an experienced bookkeeper who's qualified to deliver accurate accounting records, which will ultimately result in fewer errors and the job being completed quickly and efficiently.
No. 2: Postponing Important Bookkeeping Tasks Due to Heavy Workloads
It's not easy running a business, and anyone who finds themselves in this situation understands only too well just how difficult it can be to find the time to complete day-to-day time-consuming tasks. It's imperative that things like reconciling credit card and bank statements be completed each month because it's only through these reconciliations that errors can be found; plus of course it's how you determine out how much credit or cash you actually have.
As tempting as it may be to postpone these tedious tasks, you must ensure that your credit card and bank statements are reconciled every month, ideally as soon as you receive each statement. Keeping on top of statements means you can quickly identify any lost checks, missing deposits, or fraudulent charges, and be able to handle any discrepancies in a timely manner.
No. 3: Failing to Track Receivables and Invoices
Your business depends on you getting paid, and you won't be paid if you're not regularly and properly accounting for receivables. The lifeblood of your business is cash, which means the success of your business is entirely dependent upon you accounting for receivables. To put it another way, if the period of time between paying your carriers and receiving payment from customers is unnecessarily delayed by poor accounting practices, your business cash flow is going to be very strained.
If you're time-poor and realize you simply don't have time to track and collect invoices, then invoice factoring is the perfect solution for you. For just a small fee your applicable invoices will be purchased by the invoice factoring company, but the best part about invoice factoring is that you receive immediate payment! No longer will you have the time-consuming responsibility of trying to collect payments, thus saving an enormous amount of office time: plus, it leaves you free to take care of your own job, which is handling the day-to-day running of your business.
No. 4: Overlooking Liabilities Can Have Disastrous Results
When a surety inspects your business records to underwrite a bond, one of their first and most important considerations is whether your assets are sufficient to cover your liabilities. It's difficult for inexperienced bookkeepers to understand the full implications of accurate record keeping and sometimes DIY accountants record a liability but once the payment is made they forget to reverse the liability. This is a serious error because it understates net income while overstating liabilities, which makes your business appear less financially stable than it actually is.
The only way to avoid these unnecessary accounting errors is to hire an experienced bookkeeper. It's always handy to have another set of eyes, whether it be a CPA or an owner, to regularly review the balance sheet and check for discrepancies in account balances.
No. 5: Miscategorizing or Creating Unnecessary Expense Categories
All too often we see inexperienced bookkeepers either creating unnecessary expense categories or wrongly categorizing expenditures, either of which can be a huge red flag. Generally, each industry uses a standard set of categories for expenses and failing to follow this set of rules can signal to a surety or loan underwriter that an inexperienced person is handling your books; meaning that they may not be well prepared.
It's really important that your business's accounting software is correctly set up, preferably with the help of an accountant or experienced bookkeeper. Additional expense categories should not be added unless absolutely necessary. If you have any queries about how to classify expenses, don't hesitate to ask for guidance from your qualified accountant or CPA.
No. 6: Submitting Invoices with Insufficient Details
Don't try to save time by skimping on invoice details. Your customers' invoices should have detailed information on each line item; for example, do you invoice per mile, by weight, or by piece? Is the charge a flat fee? If there are additional charges such as fees or reimbursements for fuel, these should be listed as separate line items. The only way to avoid any confusion is to ensure that charges are properly detailed on invoices.
The last thing you want is for your customers to complain about charges they don't recognize on their invoices; and missing information can cause much confusion, resulting in delays in payment. All of these problems can be prevented by ensuring that your invoices have complete, detailed, and accurate information. Don't create unnecessary problems by trying to skimp on invoice details.
No. 7: Not Learning or Understanding the Full Functionality of Your Accounting Software
Getting a business up and running can be very expensive and time-consuming, and many freight brokers simply don't have time to learn how to use their accounting software package to its full capacity. This is not a problem if all your accounting and bookkeeping tasks are being outsourced; however, if you're using the software in any way at all, perhaps even just for entering checks and running reports, we strongly recommend that you learn how to use all functions of your accounting software package.
You can save so much time and have easy access to real-time information on the financial status of your business if you have the right accounting software and you know how to use it correctly. Having this information at your fingertips can help you make the right decisions to grow your business.