Recommended Transaction and Reporting Procedures

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There are probably as many different ways of handling transactions and requirements for reporting as there are campgrounds, so we've made Campground Master as flexible as possible.  However that can also lead to confusion as to what the "best" method is.  Here we attempt to outline the recommended procedures for getting the best results from Campground Master's transaction handling and reporting.  


The details on how to do the various functions are covered elsewhere -- this will be just a basic outline of when to do what, and why.


Note: The examples below primarily apply to short-term reservations.  Some details will be different for long-term (e.g. Monthly/Annual) reservations, although many of the same concepts apply.



Advance Deposits, Charges,  and Confirmations


The "Deposit" transaction in Campground Master is intended only for "Advance" deposits, i.e. part of the rent paid prior to their stay, which may or may not be refundable according to your policies.  This should be used when the customer has made a payment but you don't want the amount (or at least not all of it) to show as earned income on reports yet.  For instance, lets say they make a 4-day reservation for next month, and you take a 1-day deposit or perhaps payment for the full 4 days.  Depending on your accounting practices (and/or local laws) you may not want any of that deposit to be considered income yet (especially if it's fully refundable), and most certainly don't want the entire 4 days to be considered income since you haven't been paid for it yet.


Optionally, Deposit Definitions can be set up so that the amount of deposit required can be filled in automatically when entering the Deposit, whether it's through Reservation Transactions using the Deposit button, or when Guaranteeing and continuing to Enter a Deposit Transaction.


Note: When we mention adding "charges" here, this also commonly includes Discount and Tax transactions in addition to Charge transactions.  It's usually done with Select Rates so that you're using your Rate definitions -- however it could also be automatic through Auto-Rates or you could be adding Charge/Discount/Tax transactions manually.


Note: Don't confuse "Advance Deposit" with a "Security Deposit" (e.g. for loss & damages).  Security Deposits are simply another type of Charge -- see the Security Deposits section for details.



Avoiding any of the Deposit being considered as earned income immediately:


In this case the only transaction you should enter is the Deposit transaction, for whatever amount needed.  No charges should be entered yet -- otherwise the Deposit will be "Applied" and will therefore be categorized as income.  So, how do you handle that?  There are 2 completely different options available now:


Standard method


First you will probably need to know how much Deposit should be taken, if it's not an easy fixed amount.  One way to do that is to use the "Check Rates" function while you're still in New Reservation.  You can select a single day to calculate for, if that's what you need to know, or at least just look at what the daily rate is.  Another way is to use "Quote/Confirmation" from Reservation Details. (Some of the details depend on whether you're using Auto-Rates, covered elsewhere.)


Next you need to enter the actual Deposit (which is basically a Payment, but treated specially).  This can only be done in Reservation Transactions.  Add the amount of Deposit (which should be the only Transaction you see at this point, until they check in).


Now you may want to print or E-mail a confirmation letter.  That can also be done from Reservation Transactions -- but if you want to include the total amount for the stay (and perhaps the balance due), then you should use Quote/Confirmation (so you may need to back out of Reservation Transactions to Reservation Details, then click Quote/Confirmation).  The difference is that the charges added in Quote/Confirmation will only be shown temporarily so you can create the confirmation, and won't be saved as income. Again, you don't want the reservation to have charges yet, or else they will be counted as income.  So once you've entered the charges in Quote/Confirmation, then you can print or E-mail a confirmation showing the charges and balance, then click Done -- the charges will be removed so you're left with just the Deposit again.



Alternate methods (as of version 10) -- Post-dating Deposit Applied and Charges


What is described above is the original way of doing things to avoid counting the deposit as income -- add the Deposit only, and don't add charges until check-in. As of version 10, however, there is a completely new option available to automatically "post-date" the Deposit Applied and optionally even the Charges, so you can still add the charges immediately (either manually or through Auto-Rates) without then appearing on any reports until the reservation is actually checked in.  You will see the transactions on the reservation (in gray text to indicate post-dating) and the post-dated transactions will on receipts and confirmations by default (see Printing Receipts for a way to avoid showing them on receipts), and they still affect the reservation's balance.  However in terms of reporting they don't exist yet, so they won't count as "income" yet.


There are a couple primary advantages to this:


1. If you're not using Auto-Rates, but need to show the charges on a confirmation (or to calculate a Deposit amount), the Standard method requires you to enter the charges twice -- once when making the reservation, and again when they check in.  Sometimes it might even come out differently.  Using post-dated charges, you can enter the appropriate charges when they make the reservation and they will be "saved" until check-in.  No more double-entry or worrying you might forget what you charged them.


2. The Deposit and Confirmation procedure can be streamlined.  Instead of going to Quote/Confirmation to get the total amount first, then New/Edit Transactions to enter the Deposit, and then maybe even back to Quote/Confirmation to print or E-mail a confirmation letter with the charges showing, you can do it all in one place.  No matter whether you start in one or the other, you can enter the charges and the Deposit all at once (assuming you also enable the option to save transactions done in Quote/Confirmation).


To enable post-dating, see Program Options / Transactions. The different options are explained below:


There are actually a few different options for post-dating as well.  All of them keep the income off of at least some of the reports, but which configuration you choose may depend on your preferred reporting and reservation entry procedures.  In the examples below, we're assuming you make an advance reservation, e.g. take a reservation in May for an arrival in July, and take a Deposit for it.  They also assume that you're adding the Charges immediately when you take the reservation (or at least need to see what they will be), since there's usually no reason to post-date if you wait until Check-In to add the Charges anyway, or use Auto-Rates to do that, and don't need to know what they will be for the Deposit amount.


Method 1 -- Only post-date the Deposit Applied.  With this method, charges will show the date they're added, but the Deposit Applied is post-dated.  So the charges will show immediately on "Charges by Category", and would be exported to QuickBooks if you use that function. They would still show as A/R until the check-in date.  However the "Receipts by Category" report would show only the Deposit until after check-in, when it would finally be moved to the appropriate categories.  You can also choose whether they appear on the Shift Report if you're using that functionality.


Method 2 -- Post-date both the Charges and the Deposit Applied, but Quote/Confirmation transactions are still temporary.  With this method, charges will also be post-dated.  So the charges will not show on "Charges by Category" or "Receipts by Category", as if they have not yet been entered (as if using the standard method above to not enter charges yet).  Again, you can also keep them off of the Shift Report if preferred.  However, if you want the charges saved and you're not using Auto-Rates, you need to enter them through New/Edit Transactions rather than Quote/Confirmation.  You would still have the option to use Quote/Confirmation if for some reason you wanted to experiment or otherwise give a temporary quote without making any real transactions, post-dated or otherwise.


Method 3 -- Post-date both the Charges and the Deposit Applied, and Save Quote/Confirmation transactions.  As with method 2, charges will be post-dated and will not show on "Charges by Category" or "Receipts by Category".  Again, you can also keep them off of the Shift Report if preferred.  However, in this case Quote/Confirmation acts almost exactly like New/Edit Transactions -- you can enter Deposits, Memos, etc and it's all saved along with the (post-dated) charges.  Quote/Confirmation still has a useful difference, though -- it has a different default receipt format (usually the Confirmation Letter), for instance.  


Changing options/methods -- if you decide to change which options/method you want to use, it will only affect transactions added after that point.  It will not automatically go back and make all charges for future reservations post-dated, for instance, or vice-verse.


Note: Deposits, Memos, Payments, Refunds, and Transfers are never post-dated no matter what options you choose or where you enter them.



Making post-dated transactions "real"


Post-dated transactions will automatically become "real" transactions when a reservation is checked in or canceled.  If necessary, the date will be adjusted to the current date at that time, which may be different than the original check-in date of the reservation.  This cannot be undone.


They will also become "real" if you manually change the date for some reason, regardless of whether you change it to a past or future date.  Even if a transaction's date is changed to the future, it's not considered "post-dated" for purposes of reporting (but may still show gray on the reservation's transaction list).



Counting the Deposit as earned income immediately:


Now let's assume you do have to count the Deposit as earned, since you have to pay the state & local taxes on it (or perhaps it's non-refundable).  While this is not commonly the desired situation, it's actually the easier method.


In this case you would enter the Deposit as above, but you would go ahead and add the charges through Reservation Transactions, and print or E-mail the confirmation from there.  The Deposit would be fully Applied immediately, and for reporting it would automatically be categorized proportionally to the categories charged (more on that in the Receipts by Category documentation).  



Finalizing Charges and Payments (Check-In)


At the time the customer Checks In, their reservation will generally only have a Deposit transaction or possibly a Deposit and the Charges, as described above.  Now you would add any remaining charges (or adjustments due to last-minute changes), and final payment.  That's done through Reservation Transactions of course.  After all charges/adjustments are added you will probably have a balance due -- so then you would add the Payment transaction.


Make sure you always add the charges before the Payment -- otherwise the payment will become "uncategorized" on reports (more on that in the Receipts by Category documentation).


So now the reservation should be fully charged and paid, and will have a $0.00 balance, and checked in.  You're done until they Check Out.



Handling Balances After Check-Out (or Cancellation)


Things don't always go so smoothly, and you end up with the customer owing money, or with you owning them a refund for an overpayment.  This could be after check-out, but could also be due to a cancellation, or any time during an extended stay.


If they owe you money that you don't expect to ever receive, then you need some way to zero that out.  The recommended method is to simply Reverse the Charges or enter Discount transactions to return the balance to zero.  Also see the Bounced Checks information.


If you owe them money and you give them a refund, then that's simple enough -- see the Refunds section for details.


If you owe them money but you want to hold that for a future stay, then the way to handle that is with a Payment Transfer or Deposit Transfer (see that section for details).



Reporting -- Cash Basis


This is the most common reporting done.  You should use the Quick-Reports "Receipts by Payment Method" and "Receipts by Category".  You will probably not need any of the other transaction reports.  Note that for sales tax reporting, do not use "Taxes by tax category" since that's an accrual-basis report.  Instead use "Receipts by Category" and look at just the Tax categories.   See "Taxes Setup" in the Maintenance Functions chapter for setup and reporting procedures.



Reporting -- Accrual Basis


If you do reporting on "accrual" basis, i.e. you want to count any Charges on accounts to be considered Accounts Receivable, you should use the Quick-Reports "Receipts by Payment Method" and "Charges by Category".  You will also likely use the "Accounts Receivable" report, and you can use "Taxes by Tax Category" for sales tax reporting.  See "Taxes Setup" in the Maintenance Functions chapter for setup and reporting procedures.



For more details on transaction reporting, see the Transactions tab view information.


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