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Your real-life customers are the companies or people who buy from you, like people who purchase products in your store, patients you treat at your medical office or donors who contribute to your nonprofit. In QuickBooks, you create a customer record to keep track of the information about one of your real-life customers. QuickBooks uses that information to fill out invoice fields, an e-mail for sending a message, or a customer contact report. You might also work on more than one project for a customer. Say you're an electrician who installs the wiring in houses that a general contractor builds.
In QuickBooks, you can create jobs and associate them with QuickBooks customer records. That way you can send invoices for each job to a different address if necessary, and keep track of how much you earn, how much you spend and the resulting profit for each job. When you create a customer, QuickBooks is hungry for information about that customer, but you don't have to fill in every box unless you want to. The Customer Center is a convenient place to create a customer. On the homepage, click Customers on the left side of the window.
On the toolbar, click New Customer & Job and then choose New Customer. The New Customer dialog box is chock full of boxes, but the only one you have to fill in is Customer Name. The Customer Name really is about identification. You can use an alphanumeric code, an abbreviation of the customer's name, or the full customer name. Customers appear in Customer Name dropdown list alphabetically. So the full name or an abbreviation makes it easier to find the customer you want.
You can create generic customer names, if you don't need detailed information. For example, you might create a customer called Cash Sale for every person who buys papers at your newsstand. The Company Name box is for a company or person's actual name. Although you can use the same name in the Customer Name and Company Name boxes if you want. Leave the Opening Balance box empty. The best way to get a customer's balance into QuickBooks is to create invoices for the money they owe you. That way, if they don't pay or if they have questions, you have the paperwork you need to follow up.
The rest of the boxes on the Address Info tab are pretty easy. Fill in your primary contact's name. QuickBooks copies the Company Name and Contact Name to the Address box. Fill in the rest of the address in the Address box. To use the mailing address as the shipping address, click Copy. If the address you entered is incomplete or unclear, QuickBooks opens the Add Ship To Address Information dialog box with fields for you to fill in.
When the address is complete, click OK. You can also fill in the person's contact information. Phone, Fax, E-mail, an Alternate Contact and so on. If the customer has more than one shipping address for example, the address for several branch offices, click Add New to add another shipping address. Then when you create packing slips you can choose the shipping address to use. I'll just cancel this for now. Click OK to add the customer to the customer list.
If you want to add the rest of the customer's information, you can always click the Additional Info tab, which you'll learn about later in this chapter. If you're ready to save the customer, just click OK and you'll see the customer take its place in Customer list as it does here.
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