Estimates, invoices, accounting, pictures, letters of dispute w/ebay, scheduling.

I'm trying to get organized but feel like I spend more time on paperwork than repair.

Anybody happy with the system they use for this stuff?


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Hi David:

One size rarely fits all....

Not to be negative here regarding business software for Lutherie businesses OR any business for that matter but this is something that I know some things about....  And because of the decades that I spent licensing software ranging from B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business) I have some tales to tell and rarely were the outcomes good for anyone....

Keep in mind too that in the last several years or so I have participated in the creation of two separate Lutherie businesses where the desires that you have and have specifically listed above were shared by the businesses that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of.

Here's the deal as I see it.  Although software can do many, many things, streamline processes, develop and maintain databases, reporting, invoicing, estimates, mailing lists, client profiles (including set-up preferences, string gages, action, types of tunes played, alternate tunings, etc.) it can be a nightmare to maintain and use.

Not far from me is a university that spent over $7,000,000 attempting to roll out big name ERP (enterprise resource planing software) before throwing in the towel and writing off the entire expense and then starting from scratch once again.  These stories are not unusual.  Small businesses such as music stores have struggled for years paying high support rates trying to make a one-size-fits-all software package work for them.

At the end of the day client satisfaction usually, most of the time, is very, very low.  Trust me.... I know having licensed nearly half a billion dollars of software through the decades...

Here's the rub:  If you are at all like me and greatly value the "relationship" between your very valued clients and yourself today's software offerings can actually damage this relationship in my opinion AND my direct experience.  Why?  Because at the end of the day there is no substitute and never will be in my view for human beings taking the time to directly interact, reach understandings, collaborate toward a common goal which of course is 100% client satisfaction and the compensation necessary to keep your shingle hanging high and proud for another day.

The very most common complaint that I have heard, directly, perhaps hundreds of times is that this coming from a software client who recently rolled out the latest and greatest offering of the day:  "This &*(*&^ is running us and we are no longer in charge of our own destiny because this software won't let us do business as we need to, wish to, must do..."

People become a slave to the software, updates, support and maintenance fees (annually), and updates that were never ready for prime time and can take down an organization and do from time to time when one upgrades to the newest version.

When we started Ann Arbor Guitars we looked into software once again even though I am negative to what's out there and we could not find anything that would do what we want to do without placing an undue burden on us that sucks time, stops the human to human interaction with a client in real time, and does not cost a fortune with more costs always around the bend.

What we ended up doing, for now..., is using paper and hiring a bookkeeper to once a month come and empty our "in" basket containing all of our receipts, invoices, etc. into Quickbooks (cloud).  Three hours at $25 an hour and I am free to interact with my clients at will, fix instruments (what I really want to do the most) and even waste time posting on forums (this one is not a waste by any means...).

Here is another example:  I have an elderly parent who unfortunately can be hospitalized from time to time.  In my neck of the woods we have many large health systems but two of them are the very largest and one of them has been from time to time the largest in the world.  While my family member was in one hospital this organization relied on "COWS" (computers on wheels) for everything.  The nurses rarely got in the face of the patient, held a hand of a scared older person, related as a human being because they were trained to use the damn COW for direction on all that they did.  The stupid thing even took up so much space in the room that additional artificial barriers were imposed limiting the provider/patient relationship every further.

The other large hospital nixed the cows for exactly the reasons that I am indicating here - they get in the way of humans understanding humans....  Instead it's old time nursing with the computer stations out of the rooms and elsewhere.  They still get used, everything gets charted, but not during the time that a nurse, doc, tech, etc. has the opportunity to relate to a perhaps scared, sick, elderly patient or anyone else for that matter.

In our business I want to directly interact with my clients face to face and I also want to see their reactions to my questions and have them see mine as well.  Most of all I want to be free to "listen" to them and not be worried about the next field that software is requiring that I enter....  If I am standing there saying "name," address, etc. my ability to ask them to play a tune for me so that I can have some clue what kind of action may work for them is diminished.  My own approachability is also restricted when a machine and it's code puts us all through a one-size-fits all routine with a defined beginning and ending.

So we use paper and very little of that too.  Three part forms available from office supply stores preferably not owned by venture capitalists do the trick for us.  A receipt is generated, a work-order of sorts too, and we are free to concentrate on the client relationship AND the work to be performed and not tied to software that does not fit our business model.

Quickbooks works for us, does not cost much, and when you hire someone else to do the data entry and excrete management reports it's actually a bonus and not an impairment.

So to me what's more important than selecting the software that will ultimately constrain your efforts...., cost big bucks, create an ongoing dependency on the provider who may or may not exist someday after you have invested thousands, is paying attention to client satisfaction, efficiencies, keeping promises, and the value proposition that you put forth.

What the real value of software, good software is is that it can automate highly repetitive tasks and will laugh at high volume requirements all day.  In a Lutherie business our volume although it can be a few thousand clients annually is not so great that writing up client info on a generic three part form takes very little time.

If you want your docs to be pretty Google Docs, Open Office have free offerings that can do this.  Then there is Microsoft Orifice, and IWork too if you want some higher powered and somewhat integrated stuff.

But if someone asked me if I would license a specialty software package for Lutherie my answer would likely be a resounding "no" and again from having licensed software personally to organizations such as USPS, US Air Force, GM, BoA, Citi, the UN...., and thousands more.  Happiness and software licenses seem to never be used in the same sentence...

So this software salesman dies and ends up in the waiting room with a guy at a desk and two doors behind him.... :)

The software salesman, our hero.... asks what's up to the guy at the desk and he tells the salesman that this is software salesman purgatory....  And today they are running a special where the salesman gets to open either door and look inside before deciding where he wants to spend eternity...

Our hero the salesman... opens door number one and sees a huge ballroom with the Rolling Stones playing live, tons of happy people all dressed up and partying, beautiful women, just one hell of a great looking time.  He takes note and then moves to door number two.

He opens the door and sees clear, blue skies with fluffy clouds and these people with wings and halos dressed in white floating on the clouds.  Everyone has a serene smile and looks as happy and calm as can be....

The salesman closes door number two and tells the guy at the dest that he has decided to take door number one for his eternal stay.  He is directed with a nod to go through the door, door number one... and he does.

Immediately the door closes behind him and the wall is replaced by a rock face.  He finds himself shackled in irons to a jagged rock face and his clothes are now gone and it's as hot as all get-out in there too.  There are fires burning all around him and then he sees this ten foot tall red dude with a pointed tail, pointed ears, and a pitch fork coming toward him.  Our salesman yells at the figure "wait a minute this is not the door that I decided to go into..."  He goes on to say "the door I picked had a party going on, the Stones, beautiful women, drinks, food, a great time..."

The ten foot tall red dude nods, smiles and says "oh that - that was our demo....."

I'm a newbie and don't yet have a system down, but I owned a busy recording studio for 10 years so I'm not totally in the dark. Here's some of the solutions I've come up with so far. Maybe I can also get some suggestions too.

Every few months I've looked for software. The only thing I've run across is Luthier's Workshop. It is for both building and repair:

I'm with Hesh on bookeeping. Keep it simple. Get a bookeeper or accountant to set up your accounts and documentation needs. It will save you time, headaches and tax liabilities.

I have a couple of 4-drawer file cabinets and some wall folder pockets for manila folders.  I use the 8.8 x 11" quad pads for taking notes, sketching ideas, drawing templates, bespoke parts, etc.

I use a PDF form with fill-in fields to do guitar evaluations that I created it in MS Word. I use a two-sided business card to give customers a receipt. The reverse side has date, description, etc. While the customer is in the shop I just take notes on a quad pad and transfer them to my PDF when they're gone. Unfortunately, while I take notes on this form as a repair progresses, I redundantly make an Excel Workbook with separate worksheets for each guitar.

I haven't found a good way to organize parts ordering, tracking and receiving.  I have a Mac widget by JuneCloud that tracks packages and updates arrival times hourly.  It would be nice to have software that ties parts orders, package tracking, guitar evaluation, invoicing, and bookkeeping. However, I've given up finding it and customizing some huge project accounting system doesn't make sense.

Walking Bird Music has a comprehensive set of Guitar Repair Invoices, Receipts, and Hang Tags. I don't use them but they come in triplicate:

Quote: "Anybody happy with the system they use"



 Hi David.

I work in a number of different fields at various times with various Manufacturer's and Organisation's as well as anything I need directly, and thus have some involvement with quite a few different solutions.

I'll tell you about those in a moment, but I'll start by suggesting that it's a good idea if you have a accountant or simply use one once a year, ask them if there's a solution they recommend, prefer or even usually default to.

Everything is much easier, if everyone is working together with a system they all know and understand best. If you think about it, many of the problems you face, your accountant will face himself, and is in a very good position to evaluate the solution, best suited to your precise business requirements.

I realise that this is standing everything on its head, but often the answers we get are better, if we direct and shape the questions and who we are asking them of, a little more precisely. Heshe's comments regarding one size rarely fits all are well made, and I although I could expand on that greatly, I have to be circumspect about what I disclose.



The large Companies I have an interest in utilise Saps Software Solutions. And to be honest, I have found it to be the best of the best once it is fully tailored to your needs. (Which can expand over time).


Over the years I have done quite a bit of Organising Huge Events, often Conducting at Concert Halls such as the Royal Albert Hall in the U.K. and the overwhelming majority of Concert Halls here. Usually it's to help Charitable Organisations that I believe in, know the Founders of, or will have some kind of kinship to or a relationship with them and want to strongly support them. 

Usually such Organisations, find it necessary to be able to actively demonstrate, extremely strict controls over every aspect of their finances and dealings in every respect.

For these I use SAGE Software Solutions. The backup support is unbeatable.


One such Charitable Organisation I supported in this manner, worked out of a small office when I began to work with them, and had no really suitable base of operations at all. They had to continually hire premises, for various reasons that were often not ideal for purpose.

By the time I finished working with them four years later, they were able to buy outright the property in the pictures below, and then completely refurbish it. Today it serves as a wonderful base of operations resource, that has enable the Organisation to consolidate and grow.






For any small business interests, perhaps most akin to the type of work you allude to in your post.

I would recommend Quickbooks Pro as the answer. Accountants used to small businesses, of the type to which I have connection, seem to default to this Solution more than any other I have found.


One final point.

Sometimes small businesses can try to skimp on Software Costs.

This is understandable, and here is a link to free business software for anyone that wants to.


However, there can be costs to not using an Optimal and Fully Up To Date Accounting Solution. Laws in relation to businesses can change, new regulations be brought in, alterations to the manner in which certain things are enacted can and are implemented.

A Good Software Package will keep you fully up to date on every relevant change you need to be aware of, automatically with regular updates, and advise you of their importance and necessity. This is not simply about selling services and updates, but can be about adhering to changes in the Law. And I think that's a point worth making.

The World's a big place. So look for a local solution anyone you interact with, will happily accept.



Hi Peter:

Thanks for your input as well but I have to tell you that Lutherie businesses are not General Motors, Ford, Lockheed-Martin, or Motorola and as such cannot bear the costs, time commitments, on-going costs... etc. of enterprise software such as SAP.

I know SAP well and have been involved in more SAP roll-outs then I care to remember....  You will also find numerous stories of failed enterprise software roll-outs including SAP all over the web.  These roll-outs can take years to complete as well.

Not to mention the fact that SAP was engineered for huge enterprises and in the last decade or so is being marketed to mid-sized and now smaller business but are you aware of the license fees?  In it's smallest iteration a SAP license alone, not to mention the required training, consulting services to roll it out, and on-going support and maintenance can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars... and more likely hundreds of thousands of dollars...  It used to be licensed by the "seat" but I have lost track of the business model these days.

What was always MOST important to me, even beyond securing a contract..., was endeavoring to really, really, really develop an accurate picture of my client's needs, capabilities, budget, goals, and value proposition.  In a nut shell.... I endeavored to get into the mindset of the businesses that I worked with so that I could have a good shot at understanding what their specific needs actually are/were.

It was not unusual for me to determine that what I offered was not a good fit and when that happened I said so in short order in so much as if it doesn't fit - you must acquit....  Ask OJ.... ;)  But I digress....

Here's what is very often the case in a Lutherie business.  It can be one, solitary guy (man or woman) toiling endlessly with chisel in hand to craft or improve a musical instrument.  Technology is not the primary thrust of these businesses by any means because ultimately it's all about fixing someone's guitar, mando, banjo, etc.  The revenue stream nearly always is dominated by billable hours AND completing the work in time and within budget constraints of the quotation and client's wishes, needs, and financial capabilities.  In case no one has said this at least in this thread - how do you make a million dollars in Lutherie?  Simple, start out with two million...

I know some larger Lutherie businesses with up to ten or so Luthiers but these concerns are also part of a larger musical instrument retail establishment and as such better candidates for a down-sized enterprise solution.  But can you see one of the largest stores, music stores interested in a quarter million dollar (all up) solution...

I spent my life peddling and developing software solutions and believe very much in the value prop of what we did and many still do.  But again - one size does not fit all and it's my belief that Lutherie businesses the vast majority of the time are not interested in a many month, expensive, solution that ultimately also has an "opportunity cost" of sorts in so much as the time invested in licensing a down-sized enterprise elephant, training, consulting, hardware...., etc. takes us, Luthiers away from our benches and ultimately the pursuit of economic gain by providing a highly skilled solution for players, pros, students, etc.

I would love to advocate software for Lutherie businesses but until the day that I see and try something specifically priced, licensed, etc. for the couple person shop it's back to good ole paper for me.

Here is something else that I find rather curious.  Six months ago when we started our business in a city of over 100,000 folks and 50,000 students we had big plans to renovate the shop space.  This is the same shop that has been a Lutherie shop for decades and the likes of some pretty notable Luthiers AND famous musicians had once graced this space.

Interestingly though for the last six months we have observed customer after customer emerge at the top of our staircase with mouths open scanning the walls where hundreds of sets of very old tone wood are stored along with molds for lutes, guitars, ethnic instruments, you name it....  And invariably what comes out of that open mouth is "this is exactly what I thought it would look like up here and this is amazing, awesome, etc."  Others say our space is like "walking back in time...."

Most importantly the impression is that the shop looks like what one might expect from an ole-world, craftsman centric pursuit.  We are not expected to have RFID, be able to print out pretty invoices from every conceivable location, or have an app for every client's need.

This is why I believe that although there are most certainly efficiencies with decent software packages the costs, opportunity costs, and ultimately the dependency on other organizations to excrete an invoice are not at all beneficial to what we do with Lutherie businesses.  And if one combines this with the notion that there is a client expectation as to what they will encounter when seeking a skilled Luthier perhaps, just perhaps - good ole paper, a stinkin pen, personal and direct interaction with every single client, AND most importantly listening skills may very well be the ticket.  If this turns out to be wrong I will let you know.

You all had me wondering if I had gotten in to the wrong site for a wile. All this talk of Buisness Software and the like and then I happend to read Hesh's reply and I new then that I was in the right place. I thought I was doing very well myself when I was able to put new siding on the shop last year .Then after my wife said if I soon din't start making some money on that hoby of mine i may have to move out there.Well I got a little nevrvous and put a new door on it this year.

Thanks, for the thoughtful replies everyone.

Hesh, It's ironic you mention the healthcare system in your example.

 My wife is an ICU nurse (doesn't every Luthier need a wife with a real job?) and I am well acquainted with the truly horrifying revenge effects of, "the new computer system". The nurses face ever increasing pressure to keep the computers happy. Often at the expense of critical care.

That said; when I have my car worked on I appreciate the well-organized receipt that lists both the repairs done and the ones outstanding. Or when I go to the doctor for a physical and he flips open my chart and quickly scans my medical," story". These are two examples I find seductive.

I have also interacted with business and felt as though all of my money must be going into their impersonal slick presentation. Customers want a warm and fuzzy,” Geppetto’s workshop” feel to their local luthier.

Surly one of America’s funniest home videos would have been my one day experiment with a headset and the Microsoft speech recognition ap on my computer. It seemed like a great Idea. I would be able to call out serial numbers, string gauges, and neck relief without ever having to put down the straight edge!

Even if it had worked, I don’t think the youngest, most progressive customer wants to see his/her luthier looking like a member of Seal Team Six.

Maybe it’s my advancing age with its Alzheimer like symptoms or my lack of previous experience with office type organization but this Geppetto was hoping technology could lift him from the need to be part oral historian, part secretary, part desktop publisher. Etc.

Because Instruments have stories that are useful to know, (” oh yeah!  I remember. This is the one with the popsicle stick, “sound post” holding the top up”) I recently fell down a clerical rat hole trying to track them better.

Robbie, you sound as though you system is working for you. But your description of it, Transferring hand written notes into a database later and files for sketches, sounds similar to what I find cumbersome. Again it may just be my lack of data entry skills.

I once tried writing basic set up information on the back of a business card with the words, “please keep in case” written at the bottom. The cards inevitably got lost or given away and it’s tough to fit all the relevant information on a business card. Time/ effort wasted.

I also like to use Photographs. Sometimes to illustrate problems. Like the old feeler gauge under the loose brace shot, or to help explain cost.” This is your instrument with seven hundred clamps on it in progress so even though it looks just like it did when you brought it in I really did do three hundred dollars’ worth of needed work on the inside.” I recently spent more time than I felt like I could justify producing a written report w/ photos for someone to submit to his insurance company for damage in a broken pipe flood. Perhaps this time consuming use of pictures is something I should just do without. What’s more valuable, the increased understanding from the pictures, or the lower cost and increased gipetto feel of a warm handshake and trustworthiness over the long haul?


At this point, after reading, talking with others, and some experimentation, I’m leaning towards the rolodex style. (Do they still make those?)

It’ just hard to believe that in the era of one click shopping and retailers tracking what my canned soup preferences are, there is still a need for my lost chicken scratch post it notes with contact info on Them.

Nonetheless, I will checkout the links you kind folks have listed and keep thinking/dreaming of better ways.

David...OCR has gotten a lot better and "trains" to your voice. I might give it a shot to help transferring data...just not "live."

I also email photos along with notes to keep clients up to date on repairs.

Here's a couple of forms I use that might be helpful. Feel free to alter to suit your needs. I email them as PDFs to my customers for their more lost business cards. Just open them in Work and Excel and save them as templates.  I could use some help in creating fillable PDF forms from these if you or anyone else has the skillset.


No direct experience with lutherie but a couple of experiences may be helpful.  Much of this is piling on to what's been said.

My daughter is an optometrist (eye doctor).  She associated with one practice that was deep into technology.  Everything was done on computer, including her treatment notes and charting of same.  The result was that she spent late nights and weekends charting (because notes on the fly don't always tell the whole story) and tidying up the complex records needed.  A lot of time was spent waiting for multiple screens to come up for the patient's particular medical complexity or coding for the patient's situation.  Not a lot of time was left for direct communication with patients.

Her next practice had computerized records but her daily office work was all initiated on paper forms and documents.  Data entry and coding for billing were done by professional office staff.  The result was that she saw more patients, had better interactions with them and came home at the end of office hours instead of hours later, with no weekend returns to finish data entry.  The extra staff was more expensive but it allowed her to maximize patient care and to utilize her professional skills for patient treatment--with higher revenues overall to the practice for her highly paid specialty.

When her practice was considering new software I asked my own family doctor how he liked the one his practice was using--laptop in hand at all times.  He had experiences similar to #1 above and said it meant he could see about 20% fewer patients.

Before I retired 3 years ago I ran a solo private law practice for several years using Quickbooks Pro for financial, billing and business record keeping.  It worked fine once I learned the program.  It had nothing to do with my professional output, however, which was kept in a separate file system with appropriate backup.  I also had the advantage of learning and using most of the electronic tools I was using when I worked in several practices throughout my career.   I never used a laptop in a client interview.  I took careful handwritten notes and transcribed them later or had them transcribed for the client files.  Nothing distracts attention quicker than trying to operate a computer while giving full attention to a client's story.  Miss something critical and it's deep doo-doo.  Sort of like texting while driving... .

I've spent many years of my life working on other people's computers. Right now, we have nine computer running in our house plus a couple of tablets/smart phones and game consoles. I say this to tell you that we are "Geeks".  I also say that to confess that this geek always keep a stack of index cards next to his main computer because it almost always easier and faster to write something down than it is to open an application and type it in.

 Computers can and do speed things up but it's not usually with quick entry of small bits of data. People that do "data entry" spend a LOT of time mostly filling out he same electronic forms and they can usually do it at blinding speeds because they do it all day every day.  

I've found that it's usually faster, if not more efficient, to use some computer time to build forms that can be printed as needed and kept handy on a desk or bench so that information can be hand written as it comes in then added to a data base later. It's not the most efficient way to handle data BUT it's usually the quickest way to deal with the people unless you have a staff specifically assigned to data entry and keeping the equipment running. There's nothing wrong with writing it down now and doing your data entry later.  Besides that, it gives you a hard copy to backup your electronic files and trust me when I say that the value of backup cannot be over estimated.  Most people don't have a clue about what constitutes good practice in business file backups and it not uncommon for small business to have nothing of any real value when the time comes. It always does.  

Bookkeeping is not something I feel comfortable making recommendations about. I know people that use specialized apps for their industry, and in some case, say a doctor's office, that may be the best solution because of the unique and escalating legal demands on their record keeping.  I know people that use Intuit's line of software too. I can't say that I've ever met anyone that was completely satisfied with what they use. I think the idea that has been forwarded here already that you will all need to work out what is best for you is the best advice you will find but the bottom line is that nothing will work if you can't or don't keep it up regularly.

I have see the problems associated with computers in hospitals first hand since, for many years, I was one of the people installing and maintaining systems for a couple of hospitals. In addition to that, my wife is a Nursing Informaticist for a large university hospital. One thing that must be remembered when looking at computers in a nursing environment is that an alarming number of hospitals in our country are just now getting around to doing this. The introduction of computing  into the patient care areas of a hospital is usually pretty traumatic to the staff since few of them are trained in this approach to records keeping and it can, for a time, become the focus of their work load BUT over time, most of them adapt and become comfortable with it which allows them to return to what they do best, patient care. It's not desirable to have this disruption but it is essential to the continued operation of health care in this country.

It's been my experience that most of the patient care staff will not realize just how much they come to depend on the computer system giving them access to the latest data on their patients and having continuity of that data until the system goes down. They REALLY don't line having to return to their old, paper drive, systems to keep records until the system is backup again.  Ultimately, a well implemented computer system in the patient care area will allow better patient care and a better  overall experience for the patient.  Frankly, if I'm ever in an ICU , I will be alarmed if there isn't a data terminal at least right outside the door if not actually in the room. I want the staff to have as quick access to my data as possible should they need it and the data in the system is most likely the most up to date information available.  Charts on the end of the bed are what we are use to seeing but they must be updated to be reliable. This just doesn't happen nearly as often and it may be needed. Besides, computer records can include the latest updates from the pharmacy and even food services. 

Once the system is in place and the staff becomes accustomed to it, a computerized system in your hospital room can go a long way towards insuring that your stay is shorter and more effective and may possibly save your life.

 BTW One of the Patient Kitchen supervisors I knew, told me that almost no one is going to like the food, it's flavored for the average person, and the average person doesn't exist.   

There was a software package specifically developed for Luthiers by Pete Brown who lives in Oz.  I know Pete from the OLF and although I have never met Pete in person I consider him to be a friend and a very decent guy.

Mind you I have never vetted this software and from my research just now I am not even sure that Pete is still involved with the software but here is a link to the company marketing this application:  Luthier Software  Thanks to Robbie for also bringing up Pete's solution.

Pete is a great builder, a very smart guy, and I think that he does repair work too.  Might be worth a look.  I never pursued this solution because it is PC (primitive... computer) based and these days I tend to be a Mac snob... ;)  

Ned I speak geek too.... :) back around the turn of the century (the last one.....) I was building highly over clocked, water cooled (actually I used scotch in my radiators....) PCs so that I could game online and beat the crap out of snot nosed brats in FPS games.....  I still am addicted to Call of Duty....

In my home there is a computer in very nearly every room with iPads, iPhones, WiFi, routers and even a micro-tower all over the place in my pursuit of brain damage.  Perhaps I have already succeeded on the brain damage front...

What I wanted to expand on here is that I love technology and always have.  If I can make it work AND fit it's my go-to direction.  But if using a technological solution takes more time, makes me lose bench time, impersonalizes the client contact, who needs it?

We have a very busy shop with demanding hours and demanding clients.  We don't have the luxury of getting bogged down in administration if we wish to please as many clients as possible and we most certainly do.

David I particularly enjoyed your last post and thank you kindly for it too!  You have direct experience with software being an impediment to one doing their job with the health care example.  I too am big on photos and use them frequently to document damage upon intake that I don't want to get blamed for upon pick-up....

I also like what Robbie is doing and we have a specific problem that can be solved by Robbie's approach.  It goes like this:  We are not a retail store but occupy a space were an iconic music store existed for decades.  As such and with psychological "buying styles" of clients they are still coming up looking for strings, cords, picks...., and occasionally a strap or case humidifier.

Since we are busy with three benches in use often when someone climbs our two staircases and emerges, again with open mouth... in our shop they often want strings, or even one, stinking high e string.  Now for me to drop what I am doing and enter the order in a computer, IPad, IPhone, or even on paper there is an opportunity cost and a rather large one too.  I am no longer getting our hourly rate working on some Martin but now fully engaged in string selection, some advice at times, being the friendly, caring guy that I am :)... and all for a string sale.  Many of our strings are $6.... six stinkin dollars...  But I also understand in the big picture that supporting client needs no mater how seemingly distracting or trivial they may be at times is part of being in business and part of being a "one-stop" for all of our client's musical needs.

So it's a necessary evil and again we recognize this.  So out comes the receipt book, open goes the change drawer, sales tax is calculated, three part forms are used, and everyone, but me... is happy.  Next I have to pay our bookkeeper and ultimately an accountant at rates of $25 and $250 per hour to keep track of that $6.36 cent sale.....  This is real life for us and happens frequently every day...  The opportunity cost alone is even greater so ultimately we lose our arse selling strings and chump-change stuff.

What I have come up with is to make preprinted, standard receipts for repetitive purchases.  Forms if you will, perhaps four on a page since I tend to be a cheap bastage..... that can be quartered on a paper cutter that we have and left in a pile to hand to a string client.  No data entry (except for the bookeeper but he can batch these once a month as an aggregate and not waste time with individual entries).

Nonetheless with the mark-up on strings, having to leave our benches, even with pre-printed receipts we likely still lose money but again it's important to us to support all of our clients needs.

If you Google "Luthier Software" you will find some discussions regarding the package that we have linked to.

Lastly, for now, we went with Quickbooks because both our bookeeper and accountant suggested it and who wants to pay some consultant for a learning curve on some other package?

If I could get the fillable PDF forms on the iPad I'd be in heaven...especially if I added drop-down menus for the usual items. If it could put it in a "wrapper" app so I didn't have to open iBooks or Kindle each time and could save it, email it, or put it in dropbox I'd be livin' large.

The service invoice I uploaded, BTW, needs to have the formula in the far fight column copied to the middle rows. I they don't have a red triangle they need the formula. 

Hesh...I've got a water-cooled, rack-mounted computer upstairs in my office. The rack has battery backup, power conditioning, a recording interface (RME Fireface UFX), and a mic preamp (Avalon VT-737sp). The water-cooling in not for over-clocking, but stability. It also keeps the heat down in the rack. It looks like something out of Battleship Galactica.

99% of my time is on the Macbook Pro, hence I haven't looked at Luthier's Workbench either. Glad I jumped ship before Windows 8. If I was Ballmer I'd retire too.

I've used Quickbooks for Mac since 2003. I know it pretty much inside and out, but I occasionally use the services of a local QB Advisor to keep me on my toes. I found that by really taking the time to learn QB it works surprisingly well for everything I ask it to do. I pay an accountant to do payroll, however, as it's much more cost and time effective for me. I upgrade around every three years, and all the data and inventory get carried forward. If anyone chooses to use QB, I'd highly recommend a QB Advisor to do the setup of the initial company file. 


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