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How to Create Accounts for Vendors Who are Also Customers

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What happens when a vendor becomes a customer? You get to make sales from someone who you usually owe money!


Unfortunately, QuickBooks (Online and Desktop) has limitations when it comes to duplicate account names – you can only enter a person’s name once, even if they are on separate lists. One name, one account.


This duplicate name restriction applies to your customer, vendor and employee lists, as community member @yopotransport discovered trying to change a regular employee account into an independent contractor (“vendor”) account with the same name.


Don't let this deter you from growing your network!


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There are several simple workarounds for this minor technical setback so you can create separate accounts and track separate expenses for anyone who is a vendor and a customer (or some other combination). Keep in mind, the display name is what the invoice recipient actually sees on an invoice or email – what we’re solving for is the internal database limitation.


My preferred method is to leave the vendor account entry as is and add a (c) to the “suffix” field of the customer name. This way, at a glance, I know exactly which account I am dealing with. Adding the (c) to the suffix, rather than the title or name data fields, also ensures the name still shows up alphabetically on my Customer List.




Alternative methods: 

  • You can always create two accounts, one with a middle name (or initial) and one without. 
  • Some users suggest using a nickname for one of the accounts (“John Doh” becomes “Jonny Dough”). Keep the legal name on the vendor account.
  • Another trick is adding an [ (.) ] to one of the account names, which makes the variation more visually distinct and subtle on a name list.

These methods work, but without the context of lists, they may cause confusion or introduce unnecessary complications on reports or emails.


 Getting started


Simply go to the Sales Tab, edit your customer's profile and add the (c) to the suffix data field. Then, go to the Expense Tab and create the new vendor account.




Remember, once you’ve set up multiple accounts for a single individual, treat them as separate accounts – don’t mix different types of transactions.


If you have your own method that works, keep using it -- make your QuickBooks work for you!



What's your experience?


Do you have customers who have become vendors? Are there any challenges or opportunities when someone is both?