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Ask A Bookkeeper: What is the Best Accounting Software for Interior Designers?

Brad SharkBrad Shark has worked with residential interior designers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for the last 37 years. Having learned from the best, he now runs his own accounting firm, Bradley Shark Accounting Services, where he helps interior designers with everything from bookkeeping and accounting to sales tax, payroll tax, financial statements, troubleshooting, and more.

We sat down with Brad to learn more about his road to bookkeeping, why Design Manager is the best accounting software for interior designers, and his four favorite Design Manager features.

Brad’s Road to Bookkeeping for Interior Designers

Brad began his career as a music teacher after graduating with a degree in performing voice and a love for all things creative. But after attending a bohemian holiday party in Minneapolis with friends, he knew that the creative environment Minneapolis offered was where he needed to be. So, he picked up and moved on a whim, taking a few months off to rediscover his passion. While music was his first love, numbers were his second. Brad returned to school to study accounting and to pursue a new path that combined numbers with creativity.

Brad landed his first bookkeeping job at one of the biggest interior design firms of the day called Belz Mork Nyhus. Three well-established interior designers owned the firm. And they worked with upper economic level clients. “I started at the very best,” he said. “I started at a firm that did really good design, had great clients, and I learned the industry while I was there.”

Brad eventually took on all of Belz Mork Nyhus’ bookkeeping tasks and produced all of their financial statements. The firm appreciated Brad’s work so much that they gave him referrals, and clients started approaching him asking for help. “I just fell into it,” he said, “and I love it.”

Design Manager: The Best Accounting Software for Interior Designers

In his 37 years of bookkeeping, Brad has used generic accounting software such as Quickbooks and MYOB. But none of them compare to Design Manager, he says. Brad first discovered Design Manager 20 years ago when he worked with Gunkelmans Interior Design. And ever since, he continues to deem Design Manager as the best accounting software for interior designers.

Related: Interested in learning more about how Design Manager compares to Quickbooks? Check out our interview with bookkeeper, Desiree Galazin.

Since Design Manager is so popular in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, Brad works with a variety of clients who all use Design Manager in different ways. This gives him a 10,000-foot view of the software's features as well as in-depth practice at using each one.

“We have a very tight-knit interior design community,” Brad says. “People communicate and they share their resources. It's a feather in the cap to Design Manager that there are so many people here that like the program and let other designers know the value in having that program.”

Keep on reading to learn about Brad’s four favorite Design Manager features. And find out why Design Manager is the best accounting software for interior designers.

Feature #1: Careful Item Tracking


When he first started using Design Manager, Brad was immediately impressed by the software's ability to track items and invoices. “I have found in the past that [with other software] firms can miss billing their clients for products that the client kept,” he says. With other software, it’s difficult to track smaller items, like accessories or items purchased at the point of installation, if there isn’t a purchase order. “From this aspect alone, Design Manager saves them money because they make sure that they are billing everything out,” says Brad.

Related: Read on to learn the 6 invoicing mistakes designers can avoid with the right accounting software.

Feature #2: In-Depth Drill Downs for Each Item

Brad loves that Design Manager provides in-depth drill downs for each item. This gives him easy access to all the information he needs—like whether an item was proposed, if the client accepted it, if the client sent in a deposit, the date of the deposit, if the deposit was applied, and the invoice number—organized and all in one place. “With Design Manager, I've found that it's just better at tracking everything,” says Brad.

Feature #3: Cost of Goods Sold Accrual Report

Design Manager’s Cost of Goods Sold Accrual Report can be found in the "Accounts Payable" section. This feature informs Brad of whether an interior design firm billed their client for an item but a vendor invoice has not yet been received or recorded. Having this report at his fingertips gives him the ability to quickly and easily check whether his client has received a full Cost of Goods Sold credit. If this report is not kept clean, he says, his client ends up paying higher income taxes than they need to. Brad loves that Design Manager offers this report because it helps him save his clients time and money.

“Design Manager is much better at accounting for all of the costs for products and the money that has come in on an accrual basis,” says Brad. “With QuickBooks, there's always something at the end of the year that I have to back out, that I have to research, and it's a lot more work for year-end taxes, for year-end financial statements, and any financial statements during the year.”

Related: Check out this post to learn which tools you can use in Design Manager to get the most out of your income statement.

Feature #4: Easy Anywhere, Anytime Access

Brad especially loves that he can access Design Manager anywhere and at any time because of its cloud-based integration. This easy access also allows him to look at Design Manager at the same time as his clients so he can walk them through a problem over the phone.

"Design Manager is perfect for interior designers because it allows them to see everything graphically," says Brad. And Design Manager’s intuitive user experience makes accounting functions easier for his clients.

If you’re interested in learning more about why Design Manager is the best accounting software for interior designers, sign up for a free trial today and see for yourself!

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Angela Sanders, Contributing Author
Angela Sanders, Contributing Author
Content creator. Brand storyteller. Enthusiasm enthusiast. Emoji maven.

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