Sandra Harris’ kids are her inspiration. When she saw how much trash her kids’ lunch packaging produced, she grew concerned … and when she learned how toxic some of that packaging was, she decided to do something about it.
Five years later, Sandra and her colleague and Faryn Davis, manage ECOlunchbox, a thriving business that sells reusable lunch boxes, food containers and bags. Located in Lafayette, Calif, the company has two full-time employees and two part-time employees, one who helps with social marketing and another, a satellite bookkeeper who helps manage the books.
All in the Bag With QuickBooks
QuickBooks® Online has been the tool of choice since the beginning, helping them keep track of financial information and manage the business.
“QuickBooks is a very user-friendly application,” said Faryn, who serves as operations manager. “I mostly taught myself how to use it.”
The company designs products at their headquarters in California, and works with artisan manufacturers in India and Thailand to manufacture their goods.
“We keep track of all our vendors and manufacturers in QuickBooks,” she said. “We work mainly with three factories that we have very good relationships with.”
Selling Like Hotcakes
ECOlunchbox products have become so popular that it’s been hard to keep up with demand. But, with the tools available in QuickBooks, Faryn says managing demand has been a piece of cake.
“I use the reports in QuickBooks to forecast our production needs for the next 12 months; the ‘Sales by Item’ report is the report I use most to plan our orders.”
Faryn finds that the electronic records in QuickBooks also makes calculations easier, especially for reviewing purchase orders.
“We email our purchase orders to our suppliers,” said Faryn. “It’s very easy to go through old ones to check when we’ll be receiving shipments and calculate lead manufacturing times on different products.”
A Flexible Management System
At one point, their number one seller, the ECOlunchbox Three-in-One, was so popular that they had customers on a six-week waiting list. Faryn used QuickBooks to make sure she could minimize the wait time.
“I can easily see in QuickBooks who ordered what first, that way I can make sure people are getting served on a first-come, first-served basis,” explained Faryn. “I can hold onto items to make sure that the people on backorder get them first, while I continue to place orders for future shipments.”
If there are any changes in the orders that arrive, Faryn makes quick work of them by easily correcting errors.
“Our fulfillment center receives the goods, counts them and then lets me know if there were any errors. It’s very easy for me to go into QuickBooks and modify the purchase order to the correct amount, if I need to. I never worry that our payments don’t match up to what we received.”
Sales Management Easy As Pie
For online sales, the small business relies on Yahoo Merchant to ensure a secure, user-friendly online shopping experience for their customers.
“Yahoo Merchant takes care of credit card processing, and holds our item information on our website,” said Faryn. “I export all the order information into an Excel spreadsheet, and then import that spreadsheet into QuickBooks to update the sales information.”
The automatic import of information is a huge time saver for the company.
“All those items are automatically broken out by item number, which makes it so much easier. If I had to go in and input every single order myself, it would take me a week.”
More Time for Strategy, Less on Manual Labor
QuickBooks also helps Faryn analyze current sales patterns, so that they know the best place to put future sales and marketing efforts.
“I created categories to track the different types of customers we have, whether they are wholesale, retail, e-tail, international or even the type of store,” said Faryn. “I check our Profit and Loss report and the Balance Sheet to see how many orders are coming in, by which category.”
Because Faryn and Sandra are able to minimize the amount of bookkeeping and manual labor, they can put their efforts to where it matters most: developing the business.
“We look at those to help us know where we should be putting our efforts next – maybe more direct-to-consumer, international e-tailers or certain types of wholesalers,” she said. “It’s really helped us, as we develop our sales and marketing strategies.”
The result: More sales with less work involved. For Faryn and Sandra, it sounds like they can have their lunch … and eat it, too.
“QuickBooks is an important part of our business because it allows me to do things like dedicate myself to building relationships, or reaching out to new and different types of customers,” said Faryn. “Because it’s so efficient, it has helped us grow exponentially.”
Benefits of QuickBooks:
- Helped company grow exponentially with greater efficiency in the office.
- Minimized time spent managing production cycles.
- Provided analysis for strategizing on sales and marketing.
- Reduced time spent entering financial data with automated imports.