Monday, February 1, 2010

Computerizing my pet care sheets and client contact information

I have been playing with several ways to put my pet sitting records on the computer. It’s time to graduate from a notebook full of handwritten sheets that aren’t even alphabetized. In the end I purchased the database program Bento for contact management.

Quickbooks

I tried to set up my care sheets in Quickbooks, but it just wasn’t working. Each client record has several windows, and a lot of fields I don’t need and can’t delete. I can add fields and get all the information I need into the client pages, but couldn’t print it all at once on one sheet. I could only print the notes section separately. I didn’t find a way to structure a report to do this for me, though I am still exploring.

I can add my clients to my address book from Quickbooks, but it creates a new list, so there is a lot of duplication to sort out. I decided to use Quickbooks only for its original purpose: accounting. The Mac version of Quickbooks also has a bad reputation, so I hesitate to recommend it for Mac users. It costs $149, and you can download a one-month trial version.

Bento

I discovered Bento is for both the Mac and PC, and the Mac version is not a stepchild of the PC version. Only $49 from FileMaker, I was able to easily import contacts from my address book all at once and start adding information to each customer’s file. It is very easy to use and doesn’t require a long learning curve. You can download a trial version for one month. When I upgraded to purchasing the program, I didn’t have to start over – just entered my license key and continued working.

There is plenty of room to put all of the care and contact info on a single screen and print it out on a single page. I can add my own custom fields and get rid of ones I don’t want. I use theme backgrounds on the screen, but can print without all the “pretties.” Synch Bento with an iPhone or iPod Touch, iCal and other programs. I have yet to explore whether I can synch Bento with Quickbooks.

That would be a perfect world.

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© 2009 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a mac as well...this info is most helpful. Thx!