How to set up the QuickBooks customer list for parents and children

If you work with children and use QuickBooks, at some point you've probably wondered what's the best way to set up the QuickBooks customer list. Should you set it up by parent or by child? Parents pay the invoices, but children receive the services provided. It's helpful to have the parent name on the account for billing purposes, but it can be difficult for staff to remember parent names when they need to look up a child's account.

As a tutor, occupational therapist, or any service provider who works with children, your customer is the whole family. You need to be able to keep track of a parent or two, plus one or more children. The problem is that QuickBooks only gives you room for one first and last name per customer. Luckily, you don't have to choose. You can use sub-customers to create linked accounts for each member of the family. It takes a bit more work, but there are a few  benefits that make the extra effort pay off:

  • Makes reconciling calendar appointments with client charges easier.
  • Allows creation of statements that show charges broken down by child.
  • Reduces confusion when you have an assistant do billing for you. You may know all parents and children by name, but your assistant or bookkeeper probably doesn't. Even if you do all your own billing now, consider setting up sub-customers in case you decide to hand off billing to someone else down the road.

How to set up sub-customers in QuickBooks Online

Create a New Customer in QuickBooks Online

Create a New Customer in QuickBooks Online

Make sure that "Bill with parent" is selected. This setting ensures that charges to the child's name are billed on invoices using the parent's name. Additionally, this box must be checked to ensure that payments received from a parent applies to a child's account.

What if I still don't want to use sub-customers?

Even if you don't want to use sub-customers, you can still keep track of both children and parents. Just set up the parent as your customer as usual. Place the child name(s) in the "Company" field. When you do a name search, QuickBooks searches the customer name and Company fields. This means that you can still find the customer account even if you only know the child's name. If you aren't sure about whether or not you'll want to use sub-customers down the road, setting up your customer list this way makes it easier to switch later.