Do you have an end of financial year headache?
When I was a campsite owner, my accountant once told me that my role was to do the bookkeeping and that she would take care of the accounts. There’s a difference between the two apparently and all I needed to do therefore, was to make sure that every purchase had an invoice and at the end of the year, payments for bookings matched up. As we managed bookings with a paper diary and a cool Excel spreadsheet this advice seemed simple enough to follow.
Sadly, as each year’s end approached, I always had a list of bookings that seemed to have no payments and payments that had no bookings and my accountant was never very happy.
Every year was the same but with a campsite full of guests, a bar to run, catering supplies to purchase and a thousand and one other things to do in high season, it always seemed to be the bookkeeping that was left till last or simply ignored.
In the summer, I always thought that I would remember next January why I had credited Mr Brown with £43 or why pitch 24 was charged an extra £60. There was also at least one family that appeared to have holidayed on site for free!
The consequence of poor bookkeeping in high-season was countless hours in the winter, trawling back through bank statements, card payment accounts, the cashbook and hundreds of emails, to try to reduce the accountant’s query list. We were smart business people but there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to attend to the detail.
Then, in 2013, we set-up an online booking system for the campsite. The system meant I was no longer answering emails at 11pm. I was no longer sending payment requests for overdue balances. I was no longer logging on to online banking hoping that a guest had sent a promised payment. Instead, and most importantly, every booking now had an online payment (or 2) recorded against it as it happened, in real time!
Online bookings and online payments produce audit trails of what occurred – the who, what and when of every single booking was finally in one place and the data could be accessed online from anywhere by anyone.
Reports were available, analysis was possible and most importantly each January thereafter, time with the accountant was spent discussing where the business was going, not where we thought it had been six months previously.
A happy accountant is probably not the first thing you would consider when thinking about moving bookings and booking management online but the output of an automated system really can result in excellent bookkeeping, financial control and an accountant who loves working with you.
And in the end, a happy accountant means you can concentrate on happy guests.
The Tales of a Retired Campsite Owner