If you’ve never had a bookkeeper before, a good question is “How do I find a good one?”.
In the first instance, I would look at what delivery they offer in terms of services? Is it just coding the bank transactions and then that’s it? Or do they have different levels of services? From a values perspective, we want to make sure that you find a bookkeeper that is proactive; they use technology really well; they have really good communication skills – not just communicating over email, they never call you, and never talk to you.
You also want to find someone who has a bit of business acumen as well, because they’ll act as a ‘second pair of eyes’ – kind of like your CFO-ish. What they need to be able to do is proactively ask questions, and even understand; what is important to your business, what expenses are crucial, what are the things that should be considered highly when it comes to reviewing your financial statements, and your management accounts?
The other thing you want to look out for is whether or not they work on a time basis, or do they work on an outcome basis. When I say time or outcome, it’s kind of like taking our own philosophy here. When someone charges by the hour, sometimes it makes it a little bit difficult for you to gauge whether they did a good job or not, because they can just spend hours doing things inefficiently. Whereas if they charge on an outcome basis, they should say things like “We’re going to send you management reports every month. We’re going to make sure your bookkeeping’s done fortnightly.” So, there’s this outcome basis that they promised you; this is the stuff that you can keep them accountable to as well and there’s a value to that. You want to make sure that it’s not just an hourly basis, “I’m going to spend three hours to do this stuff.” Outcome is very, very important.
Lastly, you want to make sure that they are willing to be part of your team. Some bookkeepers have a lot of clients and they just want to do the basic coding, and that’s it – they don’t really want to spend time with you. But you want to find someone who wants to be part of your team, who’s going to be sitting down with you and having those proactive conversations.
These are some of the key things I would ask a bookkeeper while you’re shopping around. And obviously pricing is important as well, but I think that if the first part is sorted, you will see the value straight away from the outcome.
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