Before we discuss the areas to consider when establishing a bookkeeping system, it’s helpful to understand exactly what bookkeeping is, and how it differs from accounting. Bookkeeping is the day-to-day process of recording transactions, categorizing them, and reconciling bank statements. Accounting is a higher level process that looks at the business’ overall progress and will make decisions based on all the information collected by the bookkeeper.
You will need both, but may decide to reach out to an accounting professional. Again, your time as a dietitian is valuable and it may be an opportunity cost if you try to do it all yourself. If you find you are staying up late or working through the weekend to keep up with the financials of your business, then you aren’t showing up fully for your clients, your revenue source. Doing too much causes stress which leads to burnout.
Keeping the books
Here are some of the key tips to keep in mind:
- You can make use of software such as QuickBooks, or simply use an Excel spreadsheet.
- If this is not your area of expertise or you are new to the software, this is an opportunity to hire a part-time bookkeeper. Another idea is to take a course on how to use QuickBooks.
- Any transaction that occurs will need to be recorded. This includes payments from clients and insurance companies, rent, utilities, payments to yourself and all other expenses. If you are keeping your own books as you continue to grow, it might be helpful to do this several times a week.
- Save receipts from all the purchases you make. Also make copies of any checks you write. Then file them in chronological order. This will make doing the business’ taxes much easier.
- You should log any vehicle miles that are work-related, including to the following locations:
- Business lunches or dinners
How to track your revenue and referral sources
Maintaining a good understanding of your marketing referral sources is key to maximizing your efforts. The first step is to identify your most profitable referral sources by keeping track of how each client finds you.
The best referral source will maximize the number of people you reach with the least amount of effort. Use analytic tools, such as Google Analytics or Facebook Ads to keep track of what is generating website traffic or client revenue for you. If a source isn’t producing many referrals, ask yourself:
- How could it be improved to drive revenue?
- Can you shift your efforts to a more profitable source?
If you accept health insurance, it is incredibly important to check the status of the claims you have submitted. It is inevitable that you will have to deal with denied insurance claims and it can be quite frustrating. Even when you do everything right on your end, the claim does not always get paid according to the eligibility check.
If a claim has been denied and was not paid correctly, you need to investigate why and how it can get paid correctly. If you are not aware of claims that aren’t getting paid, a client could see you multiple times and their balance will continue to grow. For more discussion around this topic, check out "9 Additional Tips for Accepting Insurance" in Module 3.
Tracking the status of claims and investigating denied claims can be extremely time-consuming, so one option is working with a claims processor, such as Healthy Bytes, who can help alleviate some of this effort and stress off your shoulders for a fee.
Be sure to keep track of any client unpaid balances. Send monthly invoices for unpaid balances. Charge interest each month and give a time frame for when the balance must be paid in full.
Example: In my practice, I charge 1.5% interest each month a balance goes unpaid in order to keep my clients accountable. The client has 3 months to pay their balance. I do have a statement about this on my policy form each new client signs at the initial consultation.