Unstoppable, Mobile Bookkeeping with Tangerine Cafe & QuickBooks
With Shoeboxed there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!
Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.
Lynn Platow: Two offices, Hurricane Sandy and a new bookkeeper. Not a beat skipped in expense tracking.
“I submit receipts anytime, from anywhere, and they all flow right into Shoeboxed. Then my accountant logs into my account and exports everything directly into QuickBooks. It’s an unbelievably streamlined, hassle-free process.”
Profession: Creative Director and Partner, Tangerine Cafe Design Group
LinkedIn: Tangerine Cafe Design Group
Location: New York City and Albuquerque, New Mexico
Shoeboxed: Hi Lynn! First, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and Tangerine Cafe Design Group?
Lynn Platow: Sure! I am a Partner and the Creative Director at Tangerine Cafe Design Group, a small design group that focuses on communication design, brand illustration and photography for clients across the country. We work primarily with small businesses but also serve as the art department for some larger, corporate clients. My partners and I have been at it since 2001 and I couldn’t be happier!
SBX: What a cool name! How did you come up with such a distinctive name?
LP: Well, when we first started the group in September of 2001 there were three of us: a designer, an illustrator and a photographer. We wanted to start a design group but only had one client and no money. As a result, for quite a long time we worked out of an internet cafe in the East Village. That cafe was our first unofficial office and served as a space where we could get together and collaborate, which we often did throughout the night. We always knew it was morning when they brought the tangerines in for breakfast, and that was our signal that it was finally time to go home and sleep. That’s how the name first came up, and we liked it. Everyone remembers it, so it stuck!
SBX: That’s a really neat story. So you started in New York cafes, how did you end up in Albuquerque? That’s quite a commute!
LP: After we got things humming in New York, our group landed in a project in Germany in 2003. I moved to Germany for three years and when it was time to come home in ’06 I decided that I wanted to see another part of the country. For no other reason than because it’s a place I’d never been, I shipped everything I owned to New Mexico. I didn’t even have an address at the time, just sent everything ahead of me. Then I booked a plane ticket to Albuquerque, bought a loft, fell in love with the place and have been here ever since. This spring will be year seven of my five year plan to experience Albuquerque.
It’s great to have offices in two places that are so different because it offers us the opportunity to bring some New York style and design to our New Mexico clients and vice versa. It’s always a fresh perspective for all of our clients across the country, regardless of location.
SBX: Sounds like you have the best of both worlds. Does this also mean you travel back and forth quite a bit?
LP: Absolutely. I travel a ton. Two offices means two homes, two sets of expenses and lots of back and forth. Between both offices and our various clients all over the country, I’m never in one place for very long. This is one of the reasons I love Shoeboxed. Despite all of my travel I keep my expenses in a single place that’s accessible anywhere. I also no longer have to worry about keeping track of receipts as I travel from place to place.
Before Shoeboxed, all of my receipts would get scribbled on, stuffed into an envelope, then eventually scanned and somehow transferred to my bookkeeper. While this process was full of holes, the worst part was that I was always a couple of trips behind on my expense tracking and never knew my real costs in a timely manner. Using Shoeboxed, I can be in NYC and my bookkeeper in California can access my receipts immediately after I submit them and then export them to QuickBooks. Plus I can generate necessary reports in real time, right from my phone. It’s mobile bookkeeping at its best!
SBX: Wow, that is music to our ears! So it sounds like you mainly use our mobile apps?
LP: Yes, I first discovered Shoeboxed when I was sitting in a cab searching through the app store for a way to deal with my receipts. I downloaded the iPhone app and was so excited that a few days later I decided to forgo my month-long trial. The service worked well and I wanted to set everything up and begin using it right away. I still use the iPhone app on a daily basis and since then I’ve also downloaded the desktop uploader. It’s a great way to quickly upload and store PDFs and other important business documents that I know I’ll need later.
SBX: Sounds like a great system. Where did all of those receipts and documents end up before you discovered Shoeboxed?
LP: Well, I would give envelopes full of receipts and other documents to an intern, who would scan everything onto the office computer with a scanner that I purchased. Then, once it was in digital form, I would go through and sort everything, send things to the correct people and store items in the proper place. It was a mess, it took forever, and a lot of times the scans would be blurry or incomplete. Since I found Shoeboxed I don’t have to worry about any of these things and, well, I no longer have an intern who has to waste the day scanning receipts!
SBX: Interns are a valuable resource! We’re glad we could take that work off their plate. You also mentioned using Shoeboxed with QuickBooks. How is that working for you?
LP: The QuickBooks integration is awesome, especially for my accountant. Essentially I submit receipts anytime, from anywhere, and they all flow right into Shoeboxed. Then my accountant logs into my account and exports everything directly into QuickBooks. It’s an unbelievably streamlined, hassle-free process. The QuickBooks integration not only saves the bookkeeper a ton of time, but also means that I still have access to all of the original files in my Shoeboxed account. This is important because I add keywords to all of my receipts and often need to find a particular receipt. Using keywords, it takes me five seconds.
SBX: Cool! Can you elaborate on how you utilize keywords?
LP: The keywords are my favorite part! Whenever I have a specific project I’m working on I add a code to any receipt I submit that’s associated with that project. Then I can quickly filter receipts by project, trip, client, or any number of different ways. This makes locating specific receipts, generating expense reports, and a whole host of other receipt-related tasks, instantaneous. Love the keywords.
Moreover, this process has also allowed me to accurately bill my clients for reimbursements in a timely fashion, instead of waiting to be paid later. It’s important for the whole company since we not only have greater cash flow, but also have a more accurate sense of our profit and loss in real time as we’re spending.
SBX: Well it sounds like you have a fantastic mobile bookkeeping system that’s saving you a lot of time and hassle.
LP: Absolutely. Actually, using Shoeboxed also gives me great peace of mind. Last month, when Hurricane Sandy hit, the building where our office is located was evacuated and we didn’t have access to our things for about a week. However, because almost all of our important business documents were in either Shoeboxed or Dropbox, things in our NYC office pretty much kept on humming like normal from a different location. It was really amazing!
Then, the following week I found myself in the market for a new bookkeeper. While this would have been a huge deal last year, now that all of my finances are in Shoeboxed all I need to do is find a new bookkeeper, give them a login to my Shoeboxed account and be on my way. Again, this peace of mind is invaluable and allows me to just focus on my business.
SBX: Wow, it sounds like you’ve had a rough month. That said, we’re all very glad that your NYC team is now safe and sound and it sounds like you should have a new bookkeeper in no time!
LP: Thank you! And thanks for making a product that’s so user friendly and mobile. At this point, as I’ve discovered over the past month, I couldn’t go back to managing my finances without it.
SBX: We hope you’ll never have to, Lynn. Please know how happy we are that you’re a Shoeboxed user. Thank you for your time and best of luck with the Tangerine Cafe Design Group!
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Until then, stay tuned… and stay organized!