Do You Review Your Monthly Invoice?

I let this very important part of running a business slide…month after month and before I knew it over a year had gone by! How did this happen? I spent 30+ years in finance and reconciled soo many things each month this should be second nature to me, but it was too easy to let slide. And it cost me A TON of money! Hopefully my experience will keep you from making the same mistake.

Yesterday I glanced at the my invoice and something caught my eye. I’m not sure what it was but it caused me to take a closer look. Typically, I download my monthly invoices each quarter in CSV format and dump the data into an excel spreadsheet. I file it away in my yearly tax folder and ‘think’ I’ll get back to it later….but later never happens.

The part that caught my eye was $70 in Bold Listing Fees…WHAT!? How on earth did I create soo many listings with that tiny box under the title checked that I racked up $70 in fees for just September? It was easy for me to figure out the how because I was listing some items earlier this week and when I quickly highlighted my title to copy it and paste it in my description, if I did it too quickly I highlighted the text underneath the title bar and that triggered the “Stand out with a bold title in search results” at a cost of $4.00 per listing.

I usually catch these errors when I hit the “Update listing” button, I’m careful to verify the fees are $0.00….or so I thought! Turns out I’m not so careful after all!

I immediately went into reconciliation mode. The first thing I did was go to each listing were an extra fee was being charged and changed the listing so I no longer was incurring these charges…that was a quick $70 savings! Then I downloaded my last two invoices, created a summary spreadsheet and proceeded to reconcile my invoices back to January 2017. When I saw the listings that had this extra ‘feature’ added I realized that I created these listings last fall…ugh. Never mind that these listings were 13 months old and spending $4 each month to have a bold title in search didn’t seem to be helping get them sold, I had 13 months of fees that totaled $900 and I hadn’t even noticed. I was throwing money away each month and I didn’t even know it. MY BAD! For 13 months I was spending money I didn’t intend on spending and I was completely annoyed with myself. I know better!

This was not eBay’s fault at all, but I decided to give customer service a call and see if they could do anything about it. I’m happy to say they did! They gave me a credit to my account that I did not deserve! I thanked the CSR and vowed to review my invoice by the 5th of every month from now on. That’s what I would do if I were working in an office and accountable to a superior, therefore I should do nothing less where my business is concerned.

While downloading and sorting my nearly 10,000 line items on my invoice I noticed one listing that had a $1 gallery view fee attached to it…UGH. This is a $11 item that I’ve already paid $13 in fees for and it hasn’t even sold yet! I fixed that one and now know to scroll all the way down the list to check for any other fees.

If you’re not reviewing your invoices each month, I hope my lesson will motivate you to start reviewing them in detail each and every month.  I’ve added a reminder to my calendar and so should you. If you want help on how I downloaded my data to an Excel spreadsheet and sorted everything, let me know in the comments and I’ll make a post on how to do that.

New Year, New Game Plan

I’ve come to the realization that I can only do so much, get so much done in my 24 hour day. I’m pretty much a one-woman operation and there are things the I’m capable of doing but I’m not getting them done. There are things that I love doing, but they get pushed to the bottom of the list. There are things that I loathe doing and I never seem to find the time to get to them. I’ve decided that 2017 is the year of outsourcing and delegation!

I got a great start with this in the fall when I hired an accountant/CPA to get my books in order and file my taxes. I’m a bookkeeper and finance person by trade, but I never made the time to get my books in order and keep on top of things…the cobbler’s kids have no shoes, right? I had put this off for so long that I needed to pay to have someone dig me out of the hole I dug for myself. I’m doing that and I couldn’t be happier that it’s off my plate and getting done. I reached out to a fellow online seller who referred me to ‘his guy’. I messaged him, we chatted, we set up a conference call and I was off. I gathered up my documents, emailed them out and he and his team we on their way! I live in Arizona and my accountant/CPA is in New York, but he’s the best one for me because he has experience with and understands online sellers and their businesses.

They next thing want to do is look into hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) to outsource some of my mundane tasks. While this sounds like the answer to everything that’s wrong with my business, I’m going to approach this one with a bit of skepticism. Not that I don’t think it will work, but I think I wont’ give it the time to make it successful. Either way, I try it or I don’t, it’s on my list of things to try to improve in 2017.

In 2017 I’m going to dedicate myself to seriously reviewing my processes. Where can I cut down on time spent doing a task? How can I improve my efficiency? I know it’s a trite statement but I really want to work smarter and not harder. This is always in the back of my mind, but by putting it out there in the inter-web world, I’m hoping it will make me more accountable…time will tell.

What’s on your list of things to accomplish in the coming year? What are you doing to make yourself accountable?