Our Favorite Zaps: Turn Your Accounting App Into a Personal Assistant

Automate the tedious steps in your bookkeeping with QuickBooks Online and Zapier

Jill Duffy
Jill Duffy / September 27, 2018

Most business owners don't launch into their vocational pursuits thinking how much fun it will be to balance the books. Nor do they imagine long, grueling hours of data entry that keep the business running. Try not to picture Ebenezer Scrooge hunched over his ledger by candlelight as you calculate and log the commission of each sale made this week. Yet, such are the realities of keeping a business in good standing. There is a way to avoid some of the tedium, however, if you're willing to turn your accounting app into your personal assistant.

The way to do it is to use Zapier in conjunction with any accounting app it supports, such as QuickBooks Online, Xero, Freshbooks, or any other accounting app supported by Zapier. With Zapier, you can create commands so that when one common business action happens, such as "QuickBooks received notification of a payment," it triggers another action automatically, such as "send a thank-you email to the client with the outstanding balance noted." You don't need to know how to write code to do it, either.

"My best aha moment was realizing I could automate transactions between multiple QuickBooks accounts"–Heather Satterley, Satterley Training and Consulting

Seeing as my accounting skills are about as good as a squirrel's ("they fail to recover about 74 percent of the nuts they bury"), I asked QuickBooks expert Heather Satterley of Satterley Training and Consulting if she found any Zaps that were particularly valuable. "My best aha moment (I've had so many) was realizing I could automate transactions between multiple QuickBooks accounts, thus solving the tedious manual task of recording intercompany transactions."

I also asked Esther Friedberg Karp, another QuickBooks expert, not to mention president of EFK CompuBooks Inc., the same question. "If my clients have more than one company with intracompany loans, we could create Zaps to keep their intracompany accounts in sync," she told me by email. She added that when she takes on a new customer and creates a QuickBooks entry for them, she has a Zap that automatically creates a new Dropbox folder where they can upload and download shared files.

Below are a few more examples of automations you can create using Zapier and QuickBooks Online. I stick with QuickBooks as the example to keep this article simple, but again, you can use the accounting app for your choice, so long as it's in Zapier's network of apps.


Beginner: Add New QuickBooks Customers to Toggl as Clients

Freelancers and small businesses who bill clients by the hour often use a time tracking app to keep accurate records of time worked. While some time tracking apps include invoicing and accounting tools at various tiers of service, it's not uncommon for a business to use a time tracking app, such as Toggl, in tandem with a separate accounting service, such as QuickBooks. When you do, you need to log every customer in QuickBooks as a client in Toggl. There's no need to worry about copying over such information every time you work with a new client, as long as you set up this Zap: Everytime I create a new customer in QuickBooks, creating a matching new client in Toggl.

Beginner: Back Up Your Customer Contact Info From QuickBooks to Google Contacts

QuickBooks has some fantastic options for hooking up your email account directly to your QuickBooks account so that you can send messages to customers from inside the app. But what if you need to get in touch with a customer or client quickly and you only have Gmail at hand? Or perhaps you want to backup your entire client list and their contact information to another service. Whatever your reasons, you can create a command so that every time you add a new customer to QuickBooks Online, you duplicate that entry in Google Contacts automatically.

Beginner: Mail a Handwritten Thank You Card for Every Sale Closed

Let's say you run a business that depends on you going the extra mile with your high-value clients. When you close a sale with QuickBooks, you could automatically generate an email to thank them, or you can stand out by sending a handwritten thank you card in the mail, even if you don't have time to pick up greeting cards and stamps. There's an online service called Thankster that can write greeting cards and mail them for you. When you set up this next Zap, your clients automatically receive a personalized card from Thankster every time you mark a sale as closed in QuickBooks.

Intermediate: After a Purchase, Add New Customers to QuickBooks and Create a Receipt

Recently, Zapier profiled a small business called Total CSR that offers training to new customer sales representatives in the insurance industry. New clients typically sign up by purchasing some kind of training package through a WooCommerce sales portal on the company's website. On the back end, Total CSR has to create a customer entry in QuickBooks for the new client, as well as generate a receipt for the purchase.

Rather than do this rote bookkeeping by hand, the company uses a multi-step Zap, which means all the necessary steps that must happen after the new client makes the purchase get done automatically. When WooCommerce sees a new purchase (and you could swap WooCommerce here for Shopify or another supported ecommerce tool), the Zap checks whether the purchasing customer is already logged in QuickBooks. If not, it creates a customer entry. And in either event, it generates a receipt for the purchase. That's the kind of data entry that could take a few minutes each time it occurs. With the Zap in place, you'd never have to do it again. Here's how the automated process looks when broken into two separate pieces, just to make it easier to see:

Intermediate: Copy QuickBooks Invoices to FreshBooks and Alert Your Team

Here's another multi-step Zap, and this one is for teams that use QuickBooks as well as FreshBooks, plus Slack for communication. It starts when someone on your team creates a new invoice in QuickBooks. Automatically, a matching invoice appears in FreshBooks. Finally, Slack notifies the relevant people on your team, with as much detail about the invoice as you'd like to include.

Related Content

For more on accounting, see Zapier's list of the best accounting and bookkeeping software for freelancers. Or find out how FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Xero compare.

Look for new lists of our favorite Zaps each month, such as:

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