Brian Martin, owner of Master’s Craft Construction, in Hatfield, Pa., who had a field employee who routinely lost, forgot, or didn’t properly code receipts, recently raised the issue on LinkedIn’s Construction Owners Business Group. Maybe a missed receipt seems trivial, but on a monthly basis it can become a larger problem.

Old-School organization

Sometimes a system — any system — helps employees, says Fred Burby, a 37-year remodeling veteran from Charleston, S.C., who responded to Martin’s post. Burby found that without a system, each of his lead carpenters recorded receipts in his own way, and things fell through the cracks. Burby suggests the following:

  • Create a project-specific worksheet that stays with each job folder.
  • When the LC makes a purchase, he should number each receipt so it’s clear whether it’s the first, second, etc., trip to the store.
  • Provide space on the worksheet to staple the receipts and have the LC record the amount spent, the supplier, and the track­ing number.

Burby reinforces the system by requiring the project sheet to be turned in with the employee’s time sheet. “It gives the [employee] responsibility,” Burby says. He has never had to penalize anyone, and, he adds, “the form makes overall customer documentation simple.”

New Wave

Is there an app for this? Of course there is. Angelica Julissa Albanese, president of The Segment Group, a small construction management company in San Antonio, uses Expensify, a mobile application that can be accessed by iPhone, iPad, Android, Web OS/Palm, or BlackBerry. It’s free for individuals but companies that choose upgrades such as a link to QuickBooks, for example, pay $5 per user per month. (Chase Bank recently introduced a similar system called Jot, for Chase customers only.)

Using Expensify, Albanese tracks all business credit and debit card purchases. She signed up online and entered her bank, debit, and credit card information on the secure site. She can view the information anytime and electronically note which are business expense entries.

For cash purchases, users upload a photo of the receipt onto their mobile device. “I can do a monthly expense report in less than 20 minutes,” says Albanese, who also uses the app to organize information for her taxes.

Martin says that he’s taking cues from Burby’s suggestions but thinks that if his company gets larger he will have to change the procedures. “[Tracking receipts] has not been a huge issue; we’re a small company and can track things down, but we want to nip it in the bud right now as we start to grow.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.