How to Use QuickBooks Custom Fields to Identify Your Ideal Client

What information could help you better identify your ideal customer or product/service? One of the most powerful yet under-utilized tools in QuickBooks® and Point of Sale (POS) is Custom Fields. You can use Custom Fields for Customers, Vendors, Employees and Items. I found when looking closer at my ideal client that I needed to track additional information. So, I set up Custom Fields to help me.

Start by asking what characteristics your ideal customers have in common – do you even know? For instance, you might want to know how they found out about your company (such as newspaper, radio, flyer, referral, Facebook or LinkedIn), their industry, favorite team, favorite product, region, type of car, pet, demographic information (like gender, nationality, education level, homeowner/tenant or marital status) or even why they found you (i.e., what problem, need or desire brought them to you – shopping, emergency, specific product or product line …).

When examining your ideal product/service (or mix of products/services), you may find you need to get more specific. Perhaps you might want to track color, size, type of material, consignor, whether this is a monthly service or an emergency type of service, etc.

There are a few differences with Custom Fields between the different versions of QuickBooks.

  • In Pro/Premier (Figure 1), you can have up to 7 Custom Fields for a Customer and 5 for Items. In Enterprise Solutions, you can have up to 12 Custom Fields for Customers and 15 for Items.
  • In Enterprise (Figure 2), Custom Fields can be required, which guarantees that employees fill in certain data.
  • In Enterprise, you can specify the type of data. This is a huge benefit for owners who use Custom Fields. You can even have a drop-down list so employees can simply choose from a set list. This eliminates inconsistent data entry. Just think of how many ways a person can enter a date, phone number, or name. (Date could be entered as June 15, 2012, June 15, 2012, or 6/15/12). Any time the data is entered differently, it’s treated as a different entry. Drop-down lists ensure uniformity so that data is not entered in different ways and can speed up data entry.

To create a Custom Field for a Customer, click on the Additional Info tab, click on Define. Type in the name you want to appear on the label for the Custom Field (e.g. birthday). Click which list this is for (Customer, vendor, employee); you can use it for all three.

To create a Custom Field for an Item, double-click on the Item then the Custom Fields button then, click on Define. Type in the name you want to appear on the label for the Custom Field.

In Point of Sale, go to your Company Preferences. In the General Section, you can change Field Labels for whatever you need, just be sure to check the Use box so it shows up in your screens.

If you have lots of Customers or Items to edit after you set up the Custom Fields, consider using the Add/Edit Multiple Lists feature.

For more powerful information, use these Custom Fields in transactional documents (such as Estimates, Sales Orders, Invoices, Sales Receipts) and reports.

  • If the data is entered in the Customer/Item record, then when you add that field to an invoice, Sales Order or Purchase Order, the data will automatically fill in. If you enter that information when creating the document, it will not be stored with the Customer/Item record.
  • You use Custom Fields in the headers of Invoices, Purchase Orders, Sales Orders for Customers or as a column for the body of the document for Items.
  • To get sales dollars associated with the Custom fields, you MUST use them on your Invoice or Sales Receipt (does not need to show on the customer copy). Then you can get data to help you analyze your top Customers, Products/services. So, if “region” was a Custom Field for your Customer and it was used on the header of an invoice, you could generate a report that breaks down sales by region reports.
  • When used in Customer/Item records, you can pull in the Custom Fields on List reports.