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Running a business

Why this woman-owned business migrated to QuickBooks Online to save time and money

“I didn't take a QuickBooks class. I was just kind of thrown into the deep end,” Aimee Downing says, recalling her first week working in QuickBooks Desktop on MS DOS at her father’s outdoor cleaning business more than 25 years ago. “I had a couple days of training from the person who was overseeing the books. She gave me a printed list of commands and showed me how to get from screen to screen.” 

When Aimee and her husband Rob followed in her father’s footsteps and started Wash Pros of Illinois, a residential and commercial cleaning company, in 2016, they decided to stick with her family’s tried-and-true accounting software. After all, QuickBooks Desktop has evolved a lot since the days of DOS.

“I was really comfortable with what I was doing,” Downing says about her work in QuickBooks Desktop. 

But the Downings’ bookkeeper, Teresa Hoffman, disagreed. She felt that Aimee and Rob needed to move Wash Pros over to QuickBooks Online, where they could view their business data in real time and manage their accounts more efficiently.* And while it took the Downings time to make the decision to move to QuickBooks Online, in the end, they couldn’t be happier that they did.

Wash Pros’ growth and success prompts a migration to QuickBooks Online

As the business started to grow, the Downings experienced growing pains. The biggest challenge was particularly for Hoffman, their bookkeeper. 

“Teresa was running a file for Wash Pros on QuickBooks Online, but I was using QuickBooks Desktop,” Downing explains. As a result, every accounting entry had to be done twice; once by Downing into the Desktop program, and once by her bookkeeper in QuickBooks Online. “After I had everything entered, I would send Teresa all of my coded credit card statements and my bank statements. Then she would basically have to recreate it,” says Downing. 

This duplicative process was inconvenient for Hoffman, especially because she knew migrating to QuickBooks Online would actually save Wash Pros money in the long run: “Teresa told me that if [her firm] continued to have to do that much work as our company was getting bigger and bigger, our bill for them was going to go higher and higher,” Downing recalls. “It came to the point where QuickBooks Online was going to be so much cheaper than having to pay them to do double bookkeeping.”

By 2019, the Downings had decided: QuickBooks Online was the way forward. 

“When our bookkeeper showed us the latest version of QuickBooks Online and how it worked, it made sense for us to migrate,” Downing notes. “It was such an easy transition between Desktop and Online; how everything would be imported; how my credit card statements could just speak to my balances in real time; how I could have my bank charges come up in real time. It just became obvious that this was the best decision for us.”

“The transition is a lot easier than you’re thinking. The layout of QuickBooks Online is so easy to learn. It's not a difficult thing whatsoever,” she adds. “As a business owner, you could have much more control over your business finances. Things are easier in real time, and your books are just going to stay so much cleaner. And now our books match our bookkeeper’s!”

Real-time accounting helps business co-owners stay on the same page

Aimee Downing heads up Wash Pros’ sales and finance departments. Being the legal owner of the business is a major source of pride for her: “Wash Pros is a woman-owned company, since I own the majority of it.” Her husband Rob oversees operations and production. “My husband and I, we're the best of friends. We love spending time with each other and our daughters.”

But their close partnership doesn’t mean the Downings are always on the same page when it comes to business expenses. “He is a spender and I am a saver, so it’s been very helpful that I can show him our [QuickBooks Online] account in real time,” she says. “I can say, ‘I realize that you want to purchase this, but did you see that this is how much we've spent on that category already this year?’ It's actually helped to change the way that he views spending, because he can see what's going on.”

Another benefit to getting those real-time business insights, Downing says, is that it helps her stay organized during their busiest time of year. 

“I think what's most important to me is knowing in real time where we are. And QuickBooks Online helps us know where we are in real time. I'm not surprised by things, and I'm not having to play catch-up. I used to have to spend so much time playing catch-up.”

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QuickBooks Online helps us know where we are in real time. I'm not surprised by things, and I'm not having to play catch-up.

For Wash Pros, April, May, and June are the busiest time of the year. Downing isn’t in the office much because she’s out in the field, meeting with clients and putting together estimates. 

“When we had QuickBooks Desktop, even though my accountant was getting credit card statements and whatever, I wasn't able to take care of our accounting in real time,” she says. “I would get this huge backlog of stuff to where, when I finally was able to get to my office, my inbox was so huge. Transactions were already three, four months old, and I kind of had no clue as to where we were.”

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Back then, Downing says she had some idea of the business’s cash flow, but that was about it.

“Now I have my banking transactions right there, and I can select them without having to physically type them in.”

For Downing, being able to quickly group transactions by category and type is a major benefit of QuickBooks Online. “I can use it easily with my budget to pull reports and see where things are going,” she says. “It is really nice to see things in groupings. I feel like QuickBooks Online is an easier tool to use.”

Being able to group transactions is one of the ways QuickBooks Online is giving both owners of Wash Pros more transparency into their business. “We can see trends and how things are going. So we may have budgeted that we're spending 8% on advertising, but then when you actually see the advertising charges come through and it's more like 12%, we’re going, ‘Oh, okay. Let's figure out what's going on here.’” 

It’s those kinds of business insights that help the Downings not only be better business owners, but better business partners. 

QuickBooks Online solves for remote work and offseason accounting

As a cleaning company, Wash Pros of Illinois is capable of handling just about any outdoor cleaning need, from mossy pavers and moldy concrete to stained fences and clogged gutters. What they can’t handle are freezing winter temperatures: “You cannot spray water outside in January and February,” Downing says of her Illinois home’s hard freeze. As a result, Wash Pros shuts down during those months.

Although Wash Pros is technically closed, the Downings still do some work remotely from Florida during the winter. For years, that small detail posed a big problem when it came to accounting.

“When we had QuickBooks Desktop, it wasn’t just that everything was on the desktop—it was literally on a PC that sat at my [office] desk. So every time we would leave, we would have to back up the file, then we would have to install it into whatever laptop we had, hope we didn't mess anything up,” says Downing. “At the end of the two months, we’d bring it back, and hopefully everything was okay when we would reinstall it. So that was a huge selling point for why we decided to switch to QuickBooks Online.”

It was equally—if not more so— frustrating for their bookkeeper. “Teresa would have to wait until we returned to get answers to many of her questions,” Downing adds. “She was always very kind about it, but I received lots of nudges via email asking if I had the information yet.”

Now, the Downings can take care of their accounting needs anywhere there’s an internet connection, and their work is never lost from one computer to the next.* Plus, they’ve made their bookkeeper very happy. 

With 25 years of experience managing her businesses’ accounts in QuickBooks, it’s safe to say Aimee Downing knows a thing or two about the products. She also understands what it’s like, as a business owner, to feel like changing technologies is more hassle than it’s worth. But in regard to migrating from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, she says other business owners just need to take the leap. 

Live insights from your accountant: Invite up to two accounting professionals, such as your accountant or bookkeeper, to access your data. Once they accept your invitation, they will automatically be signed up for QuickBooks Online Accountant, allowing them to access your data.

Anytime, anywhere access: QuickBooks Online requires a computer with a supported browser (see System Requirements for a list of supported browsers) and an Internet connection (high-speed recommended). Mobile experience requires QuickBooks Online mobile app (access included with QuickBooks Online subscription), iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets (devices sold separately), and data plan (subject to cellular/Internet provider network availability and occasional downtime). Not all features available on mobile app and mobile browser. Product registration required.

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