While you are building and growing your fix-and-flip business, one of the major factors that will contribute to your success will be your ability to prioritize, organize, automate and delegate the daily tasks that eat into your precious time as a business owner/operator.
The more successful your real estate investment company becomes, the more you will find yourself delegating day-to-day responsibilities to others on your team, freeing you up to focus more of your time and effort on expanding operations and optimizing your fix-and-flip company's per-project and overall ROI.
However, no matter where you are in the process of growing your fix-and-flip business, whether you are still very "hands on" in every aspect of finding, evaluating, purchasing, rehabbing and reselling your properties, or if your team handles much of that day-to-day workload, chances are you still accumulate stacks and stacks of receipts associated with your fix-and-flip properties and with the overall operation of your business.
The old school method of dealing with these important little strips of paper might consist of a stack of shoe boxes handed over to your accountant at the end of the year, but with the many convenient technological advances of the 21st century -- one of them being your smartphone -- a shoe box filled with receipts is definitely so last century.
Below are three of the top apps that can help you with organizing your receipt-keeping and simplifying your fix-and-flip project accounting as well as your company's overall book keeping processes.
1) GOOGLE KEEP
Google keep is 100% free and extremely easy-to-use. Once you've set up your preferred labels in the app, using it to file receipts while you're on the go requires no typing and only a few button presses. You simply open the app, select a label (for example "PROJECT: 123 Main St." or "OPERATIONS: Office Supplies") photograph your receipt and it is saved to the cloud for easy access later. This app is perfect for the business owner who does not need to automatically generate expense reports, but just wants to quickly file receipts while on the go.
Google Keep also gives you the option to create color-coded categories, further simplifying the retrieval of receipts later. For example, you could use the color green to categorize RECEIPTS, and all labeled receipts would live there, easily retrievable under that tab by you or your accountant at a later date.
An added plus with Google Keep is its easy-to-use OCR (optical character recognition) function (also free) called "grab image text, " with which the app can instantly recognize and pull out any text on your receipt, making the saved receipt searchable by keyword, date, or dollar amount.
NOTE: The Google Keep OCR function is not restricted to receipts. It can also be extremely helpful in other areas of your business, such as organizing business cards, flyers and other documents. You can quickly select a label (for example, "BUSINESS CARDS") and snap a photo of the item with your smartphone. After you grab the image text with the OCR feature, you can easily find the card or document later by label, category, or with a simple keyword search.
2) SMART RECEIPTS
Smart Receipts is a popular receipt management app that can generate reports and visualizations from your receipts. This app also has an expansive variety of customization settings to give you more options for organizing your receipts according to your needs and preferences.
Unlike Google Keep, Smart Receipts is not free, and after two free scans you are asked to purchase a subscription for $9.99 per year for unlimited scans. Reviews are mixed on Smart Receipts OCR function compared to other apps, with some reviews reporting the OCR is not completely accurate at detecting numbers and text on uploaded receipts. The app does allow for editing of the text and numerical values, but if this extra step is required too often, it defeats the purpose of paying for the unlimited scan option.
Of course, having an app that auto-generates graphs and reports from your data can be a useful feature, keeping you up-to-date with your fix-and-flip project costs in real time.
Expensify is an award-winning app that automates the entire receipt and expense management process with uper convenient one-click receipt upload and one-click OCR.
As with Google Keep and Smart Receipts, the best feature of Expensify is the ability to simply snap a photo and have your receipts upload automatically. Expensify has what it calls a "concierge" OCR service that extracts the details of your snapped receipt, checks them against previous entries and predicts where to categorize it for you. You can easily edit any errors that happen with the OCR process, but if your receipt is in decent condition, the OCR is extremely reliable.
Expensify goes far beyond Google Keep and Smart Receipts in complexity in several key areas. A few of Expensify's best features include:
-- A "track mileage" feature that integrates with your smartphone's GPS.
-- The ability to import credit card transactions and intuitively categorize them.
-- Integration with external accounting software such as QuickBooks, Bill.com, Oracle or NetSuite.
For a small business owner, Expensify is an excellent resource for coordinating expenses with employees and other team members, and also for tracking payments to subcontractors and vendors
This is a paid app, which at this printing costs a basic user $4.99 per month for unlimited receipt scans. The small business version for companies that need expense reporting, card management, expense approvals, and expense reimbursements is $9.00 per user per month.
READY TO DITCH THE SHOEBOXES?
The bottom line is, whether you're keeping receipts for tax purposes, business accounting,expense tracking or some combination of all of these, holding onto all those little bits of paper is a big headache, for which there is a simple cure. Give yourself the gift of convenience, and try one of these new smartphone apps--you'll be glad you did.