Frustrated by hidden fees associated with desktop accounting software, this Utah glass shop made the switch to FreshBooks and hasn't looked back.
It had long been Keri Smith’s dream to run his own glass shop. An experienced tradesperson, he already had more than 15 years of experience working in construction as a glazier.
So, when the opportunity presented itself to purchase a glass company in 2016, Keri jumped at it. Local Glass was born, specializing in residential and commercial doors, windows, showers, and mirrors in northern Utah.
Keri wasn’t alone in his business venture. His wife, Heidi Smith, stepped up to help with the administrative aspects of running Local Glass, including the bookkeeping. Although she initially fell into the position “by default,” she’s now the owner of the company.
“It’s really helping him live his dream and do what he loves,” says Heidi.
Realizing a dream doesn’t come without its learning curves, though. After becoming increasingly frustrated with the hidden fees associated with their desktop accounting program, Heidi made the switch to FreshBooks in 2021. It’s a decision she wishes she made earlier. Thanks to FreshBooks’ intuitive platform and automatic reconciliation features, she now has more time to focus on other aspects of the business that require her expertise, like submitting project bids.
We caught up with Heidi to find out how switching to cloud-based accounting software has affected her business for the better.
Did you have any accounting experience before you started keeping the books for Local Glass?
Heidi: My first job was working for my grandma, who owned her own company. My dad also owned his own business. So, as a youth, I would help him enter all his receipts and do his books. I guess it’s just in our blood. We’ve always been entrepreneurs.
I’m so old school that I don’t even know how to use a spreadsheet unless you give me an old-fashioned accounting book and I write it on my ledger.
I don’t have to set up special accounts and buy additional hardware like a card reader for my guys to be able to take payments in the field. They just need a FreshBooks login.
Why did you decide to make the switch to FreshBooks?
Heidi: When I got involved with my husband’s business, I was just like, “Oh my gosh, he needs some help.” He was using Xero and although it was fine, it wasn’t enough. He was trying to hotspot off his phone to run his computer on job sites.
At the time, I said, “You can’t use this Internet-based software. We don’t always have the Internet. We need desktop accounting software.”
I was more familiar with QuickBooks, which is what we got—but then I realized, “Oh mercy, what did I get us into?” You buy this expensive desktop program, and then you have to renew it every couple of years. There’s another fee every time you turn around. It really bothered me that they just “fee” you to death.
And the program is not so user-friendly. I went to 3 days of QuickBooks training and came back with enough information to hobble through. I knew I wasn’t using everything it was capable of—but I didn’t need all that for my small business. And I was getting sick of all the fees, so I started looking for other options.
What attracted you to FreshBooks, specifically?
Heidi: When I called and talked to FreshBooks, reaching someone right away who was knowledgeable was very comforting to me. When you’re frustrated and trying to figure something out with your bookkeeping software, the last thing you need is a communication barrier. Since then, I’ve actually called a couple of times and said, “Hey, how do you do this?” FreshBooks’ support people have been really helpful in finding solutions to help me do what I was trying to accomplish. That sold me on FreshBooks.
The ease of being able to run my reports for my quarterly sales tax was the other thing that convinced me I made the right decision. I was probably spending 4 hours every quarter trying to remember how to get the right report to print through QuickBooks, so I could do my taxes.
You initially weren’t sold on cloud-based accounting. What changed your mind?
Heidi: My guys are in the field. What I really like about FreshBooks is that I don’t have to set up special accounts and buy additional hardware like a card reader for my guys to be able to take payments in the field. They just need a FreshBooks login.
You mentioned your old software was costing you a lot of time. How has FreshBooks been more efficient?
I love being able to pull up my expenses really quickly. I can see all my FreshBooks payments and bank fees in there. So, I look at that, and see how simple it is.
And I get accurate reports quickly. I save several hours just with the feature that when someone makes a payment, it automatically enters it for me. QuickBooks didn’t do that.
Is there anything that’s surprised you about using FreshBooks?
Heidi: I love the little bell feature that gives me notifications and messages like, “Someone paid their bill, send them a thank-you.” I didn’t think I would use it very much, but I use that all the time. And the fact that it tells me a client has looked at their invoice. Well, then they can’t tell me that they haven’t seen it.
We started using FreshBooks in the middle of the year, so 50 per cent of my stuff for 2021 has already been entered into QuickBooks. My plan is that as of January 1, 2022, everything will go into FreshBooks and I’ll start having my team enter expenses on the job site, too. I’m looking forward to weeding QuickBooks out so that I don’t have to use it at all.
about the author
Jessica Wynne Lockhart is an award-winning journalist and fact-checker, who splits her time between Canada and Australia. She has bylines in the Toronto Star, Chatelaine, and The New Zealand Herald. She writes about e-commerce, personal finance, health, and travel. Learn more about her work at jesslockhart.com.