Is QuickBooks good for trucking companies?

Jason Forrest

Using QuickBooks for trucking is possible and it’s definitely a popular choice. Millions of small businesses use it every day. But is it the BEST choice for a trucking company? 

It can do the basic accounting that most businesses need and some advanced accounting, too.

But there’s a lot of things in your trucking business that QuickBooks can’t help you with.  

We’ll walk through a lot of these in this article so you will have a better idea if it makes sense to use QuickBooks for your trucking business. Then you can decide if you want to use QuickBooks, or if something made specific for trucking makes more sense.

Why do trucking companies use QuickBooks?

The most common reasons truckers use QuickBooks is that “everyone uses it” or that their accountant recommended it. 

These aren’t bad reasons, and I don’t blame anyone who uses Quickbooks, especially when they’re just getting started. But if you’re unsure whether Quickbooks will work for you, it can be one of the best decisions you make in your business to figure out exactly what you need from your accounting software.

What’s good about QuickBooks?

Most of the good things about QuickBooks come from its popularity.

Millions of people use it, so that makes it a safe choice for accountants to learn. That also means it’s fairly easy to find an accountant that knows how to use QuickBooks.

There is also a lot written about how to use QuickBooks, so it’s not hard to find material to learn from. Though if you aren’t familiar with it and accounting terms, there’s quite a bit you’ll need to learn about it.

It’s been popular for a long time, so it has a lot of features. You can create invoices, you can track expenses and income, you can track asset value and depreciation, you can keep your balance sheet up to date, you can pay your drivers, and more. (But the negative side of having a lot of features is that it’s hard to learn and you can create a complex system that’s hard to understand and use.)

How is QuickBooks bad for trucking companies?

The root of the problem with using QuickBooks for trucking is that it’s one-size-fits-all accounting software. They want to be able to sell it to everyone, so it has to work just as well for a plumber or florist as it does for your trucking company. 

QuickBooks has to provide things like inventory management because the e-commerce store or shoe store and a bunch of other kinds of businesses need it. You don’t need it.

Things you care about, like calculating cost per mile and booking loads, are pointless for most businesses, so quickbooks will never add them.

Sure all businesses share some basic needs like keeping track of revenue and expenses, and QB can handle that well, but your trucking company has specific needs to make you successful.

So you’ll need to decide if you can live with the drawbacks of using something generic.

Here are the big drawbacks to using QuickBooks for your trucking business:

  1. It is NOT easy to use. Part of the tradeoff of having flexibility to work with many different types of businesses is that customizing it to work with trucking is a lot of work. There’s a saying that “one size fits all fits everyone and no one at the same time”. This definitely applies to QB.
  2. There’s no way to calculate cost per mile. There’s barely even a concept of mileage in QB, and what’s there is just a way to track deductible personal vehicle miles. There will be no help for you to calculate your operating costs on a per mile basis. This means you have to do extra work to figure it out, by either doing it by hand or copying numbers to a spreadsheet where you track your miles. And if something is hard to do, you probably won’t do it very often and you won’t know how your business is performing.
  3. The expense categories they provide for you are basic. They lack trucking specific things like scales, tolls, maintenance, and more. You’ll need to find a list of trucking expense categories or add them as you think of them(not very helpful if you aren’t sure where to put an expense and don’t know all the options)
  4. There’s no help with the day-to-day running of your business. Need to attach BOL or rate confirmation with your invoice? Not supported. Need to calculate driver payroll on a per mile basis? Not easy to do. Need help calculating your IFTA return? Not in your dreams. 
  5. There’s no help with keeping your maintenance records. For most other kinds of companies, this is not a big deal. For trucking companies, this is required for DOT compliance.

So you can see there are a lot of gaps with using QB for a trucking company. 

This is by design. Quickbooks must keep its software usable by anyone, so these gaps will never be fixed.

When is QuickBooks good to use for trucking?

  • You are familiar with it, and have figured out how to make it work for your trucking business. In this case you already know about what’s missing and know how to live without it.
  • You need advanced accounting features like keeping a balance sheet up to date.
  • You use it to run your driver or employee payroll.
  • Your accountant refuses to use anything else, and you really like your accountant.

You might notice none of these points address the drawbacks listed above. So you’ll either need to address them with extra work and doing it yourself, or you need to purchase another program along with QB to help with all of it.

But there’s an alternative. 

You can use software that provides most of the things that QuickBooks does well while also providing the trucking specific support you need.

Rigbooks was designed with trucking in mind.

  • It’s easy to use because it’s made for trucking. You don’t have to learn accounting and then figure out how that fits in with trucking. It follows the forms, processes, and concepts you are already familiar with and does the accounting part for you.
  • You can keep track of your revenue and expenses, so you know the health of your business at all times.
  • You can enter trips and loads with multiple stops, with attached BOL, Rate confirmation, or other documentation. Revenue and expenses can be attached to give you a clear picture of profits per load.
  • You can bill charges to your customers out of the box, whether you need per mile, flat fee, per ton, per gallon, per stop, and more—and with options for accessorial charges like fuel surcharges, loading/unloading, tarping, etc.
  • You can keep track of your fuel purchases with gallons purchased and location, so you’ll be ready for your IFTA return.
  • You can keep a detailed record of your maintenance history, including a pre-configured variety of maintenance categories. If you get a safety audit, your maintenance report is a click away.
  • Calculate your drivers’ payroll the way they need to be paid whether per mile, as a percentage of the load, with accessorial pay for loading/unloading, stop pay, detention, etc.
  • Invoice your loads with a click, and email your customer, broker, or agent without leaving Rigbooks. You can automatically attach documentation like BOL, Rate Confirmation, Delivery Receipt, etc so you can get paid faster.
  • And more!

Cost per mile is important, so Rigbooks makes it easy

At Rigbooks, we know cost per mile is one of your most important numbers. So we make it easy to calculate. 

Just like QuickBooks, we add up all of your revenue and expenses on your Profit and Loss report. 

But where QuickBooks stops there, we also pull in your mileage from the source that’s most convenient to you. Whether that’s from your Trip & Load records, directly from your ELD, or from your IFTA mileage records. 

Revenue per mile and cost per mile are done for you without any extra work.

Rigbooks has expense, revenue, and maintenance categories that make sense for trucking from day one

We also already know the common categories for your business and every account comes pre-installed with the following. 

Revenue, Charges, & Accessorial charges
  • Fuel Surcharge
  • Detention
  • Tarping
  • Loading
  • Unloading
Expense Categories
  • Accounting
  • Communications
  • Driver Pay
  • Fees
  • Fuel
  • Insurance
  • Interest
  • Loading
  • Maintenance
  • Office
  • Personal Vehicles
  • Physicals / Medical
  • Rent / Lease
  • Scales
  • Supplies
  • Tax / License
  • Tolls / Parking
  • Travel
  • Truck / Trailer Payments
  • Uniforms
  • Wages
Maintenance Categories
  • Inspections
  • Change / Add Oil
  • Lubrication
  • Filter Change
  • Fluid Leaks / Fill
  • Lighting Devices
  • Truck / Trailer Wash
  • Air System
  • Alignment
  • Batteries
  • Brakes
  • Coolant System
  • Differential
  • Drivetrain
  • Electrical System
  • Engine
  • Exhaust System
  • Frame & Components
  • Fuel System
  • Heating / AC
  • Interior
  • Repairs / Other
  • Steering System
  • Suspension
  • Tires / Wheels
  • Transmission
  • Wheel Bearings / Seals

You can also tailor fit the list to match your company. It’s easy to add new categories right when you need them. You can rename or delete the ones you don’t need. 

For example, you might delete the “Tarping” revenue category and add “Lumper” if you haul reefer freight. You might want to add “Loadboards” or “Broker Fees” as expense categories if you have your own authority. You might need more Maintenance categories if you’re a car hauler.

We give you a good starting point, but don’t tell you how to keep your records.

Rigbooks helps you operate your trucking business

Rigbooks is great for trucking company operations, because it’s arranged in a way that makes sense. 

In the real world, you book loads, dispatch them to your drivers, invoice them, and pay your drivers.

In Rigbooks, you enter your loads, dispatch them to your drivers, invoice them, and generate payroll for your drivers. The last three only need a couple clicks each, because you can use the information you’ve already entered before.

You can also attach your load documents where it’s logical and easy to find later. You don’t need to remember where it goes in QuickBooks, or hunt through your email.

Keep diligent Maintenance Records

Stay ahead on your DOT compliance by running your scheduled maintenance plan, keeping all your required maintenance records and repair bills, and pulling an audit-passing maintenance report without any extra work. 

You can also monitor individual trucks at a glance to replace them when it’s time instead of waiting too long and suffering unneeded and major repair bills.

Reports that give your Accountant everything they need for tax time

Most accountants prefer you use their favorite accounting tool, and a lot of times that’s QuickBooks. But we’ve found time and time again that between the Profit & Loss Report and detailed Expense Reports provided in Rigbooks, your accountant will get everything they need.

We’ve even see accountants like it so much they switched all their trucking clients over to it.

Only pay for the features you need

We understand not all trucking companies are the same size or have the same needs. 

So you don’t need to pay for advanced features like driver payroll and invoicing if you are an individual owner operator leased on to a carrier.

You can even hide those features so they don’t take up space.

Try Rigbooks today

If these trucking-specific features sound like Rigbooks can work for your trucking business, please try it today. You get a free 30-day trial to make sure it works like you need. No credit card required.