Working with a Bookkeeper is a Team Effort
Your relationship with your bookkeeper is a two-way street. To get the best return on investment for your money spent, it is essential to not only recruit the right provider but also to communicate liberally, enable them to provide you with excellent service and leverage their expertise.
If you do that, you’ll build a powerful relationship that keeps your books, contractors, employees and finances organised, so you can make quality informed decisions, and free up your time so you can focus on growth.
Here are the necessary steps to turn this relationship into a powerhouse that works for you:-
Recruit the Right Bookkeeper
This one is obvious. You’ve decided it’s time to outsource for a variety of value-add reasons and now you need to find someone who is the right fit for your business. Besides being qualified and having the right association memberships, the next most important thing is to consider the industry experience of the bookkeeper.
Bookkeepers that know your industry well will know the common pitfalls, challenges and solutions needed. They can alert you to potential problems long before they occur because they have seen them before. They can also make recommendations that apply to your specific circumstances. Further, if, that is if, a potential problem become actual problems, a bookkeeper with industry experience will know how to solve them quickly and cleanly to minimise the cost.
At BalanceWell Bookkeepers, we specialise in trades, professionals and small to medium businesses across all types of entities from sole operators to companies and trusts. We specialise in BAS, payroll, supplier, contractor, debtor and credit management.
Once you find the bookkeeper with the qualifications, registrations and right industry experience, take the interview process seriously. Signing up with a bookkeeper takes a fair amount of onboarding time, and it is a team effort. You want to be respectful of both your time and the bookkeepers time and efficiently and quickly get things in order. A great bookkeeper will have a system to get you up and running quickly, and your responsibility is to respond and enable the bookkeeper to do this quickly. If you hire a poor bookkeeper or are tardy in getting things ready, you may have to trudge through the onboarding process all over again with a new provider.
Letter of Engagement
Every engagement is customised and different, and with professional bookkeepers, you will receive a Letter of Engagement that will include the scope of work they will perform for you and the rates. From this, your bookkeeper will be able to allocate resources to manage and produce the work required efficiently and on time. Of course, this may change as you grow your business and build trust with your bookkeeper and ask for more services.
A successful flow of work starts with you, and the best outcome needs you to be a team player. Create a process and checklist for yourself (or your staff) and schedule it in your diary to transfer or deliver everything your bookkeeper needs on a consistent schedule before they need it. This will enable them to process the work swiftly and provide the best value to you. They shouldn’t have to ask for regular documents, like receipts, invoices, timesheets or bank statements. It’s smart to send over anything remotely financial, even if you aren’t sure your bookkeeper needs it. Better they have more than they need than less.
Missing paperwork, constant reminders for materials or answers, tracking down information or expecting your bookkeeper to be your personal assistant will not create a powerhouse relationship, and may inflate your costs or affect the relationship negatively. They will be forced to raise their price due to the time they have to spend dealing with your difficulties.
Remember a bookkeeper is not an employee nor a personal assistant, and your work fits into a pre-determined schedule for completion. A respectful dynamic and powerhouse relationship with a fellow business professional that is backing you with reporting, timeframes and compliance that drives your business growth is the aim.
Communication is a vital part of every relationship, but it’s especially critical when you’re working with an external bookkeeper. A big part of your relationship with your bookkeeper will be passing along information, including documents, dates, figures, and other data points.
But there will undoubtedly be times when your bookkeeper needs an urgent piece of information. As a significant part of the team, it’s your job to reply promptly with whatever they need.
If you delay communication, there’s a chance your bookkeeper may unavoidably miss deadlines or present you with incomplete reports. In some cases, these delays or shortfalls could cost you money. If you don’t communicate with your bookkeeper at all, it won’t matter how talented your bookkeeper is: You won’t receive any value from the relationship.
It’s important to give your bookkeeper a primary point of contact within your business, so there’s a clear line of communication and no ambiguity about who’s supposed to work with the bookkeeper. It also helps to designate a backup in case the main point of contact isn’t available.
Further, it helps to introduce your suppliers to one another. There’s a good chance your bookkeeper will need something from your accountant and vice versa. Instead of planting yourself as a go-between, let them sort it out among themselves. This is faster for everyone.
Lean on Their Advice and Experience
Your bookkeeper isn’t just a paper-pusher. He or she is an experienced financial resource. That makes them an asset (certainly not a liability!) that you should use to the fullest. There are four ways to do that:
1. Review Their Reports
When your bookkeeper sends you reports – review them! Don’t just file them away in a folder or forward them to your CFO or accountant. Read them closely. What information stands out? What insights do you get? How can you use this new data to inform your decisions?
2. Ask Questions
The whole purpose of using a bookkeeping service is to help you understand your financial situation. The goal is to add clarity to your numbers. But if you don’t understand what your bookkeeper sends, you don’t gain anything.
If you don’t understand something, ask your bookkeeper. Don’t be afraid if the question is remedial. Good bookkeepers are happy to explain financial concepts. Over time, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of their work and learn how to make better decisions for your business.
3. Ask for Advice
Your bookkeeper will become intimately aware of your business. They could have a unique perspective on how to make your business healthier or more substantial.
Suppose you hired a bookkeeper with industry experience. In that case, they can tell you what other companies do to maintain and improve situations, or what online software or platforms other customers use to streamline or build efficient processes. Of course, a professional bookkeeper will never give you specifics about another company (that would be an unprofessional violation of that business’ privacy). Still, they can give you general advice based on what they’ve seen used successfully elsewhere.
Most importantly, take their advice seriously and use it to grow your business or make changes. Don’t discount it because they have an outsider’s perspective. As we said, they’re more intimate about your business’ health than most people. Before you recruit a bookkeeper, make sure they have all of these vital qualities.
4. Show Gratitude in Emergency Opportunities or Challenges
Life happens. An opportunity presents itself. Or, a worldwide pandemic hits. A bookkeeper may often need to help you in an emergency (good or bad). The key here is communication, patience and understanding. Remember, bookkeepers work on pre-scheduled allocation of resources to complete your work and may need to readjust commitments for themselves or their staff or pay overtime to complete emergency work. The recent high demands imposed on both businesses and bookkeepers during the Covid crisis created exceptional demands and pressures on all concerned. Not that we would ever want that repeated, but there will always be emergencies and opportunities that are outside of everyone’s vision. The best way to be prepared is to always be up to date with your documents and books, play your part with efficient delivery of documents and communications, and treat your bookkeeper and their staff respectfully and with gratitude for the extra pressure these circumstances create for everyone.
Of course, a bottle of wine after a mission is always well received! Honestly, we’re just joking! A testimonial and thank you note is much appreciated at these times, as it is something we can, and love to, share with our staff who have just put in a stellar effort, and also our other clients because we do pride ourselves in delivering excellent service to our customers.
BalanceWell Bookkeeping specialises in giving you back balance in your life and confidence in your decisions with great bookkeeping. If you would like a confidential discussion, or free data health check, please get in touch today and let us help you.
For more information, please contact Judy on 0431 103 257 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.