Is hiring a bookkeeper on your business to-do list? Turning over your bookkeeping duties to a professional frees up your time. It also increases the accuracy of your financial data, which is crucial for your company’s success.
But choosing the right bookkeeping service is important to get the right results. An unreliable bookkeeper without the right experience and tools can leave your data vulnerable and make your books a mess. Keep reading to learn seven tips for choosing a bookkeeper.
1. What Are Your Qualifications?
Even a small mistake in bookkeeping throws off all of your financial records. It can cost you in penalties if the information gets reported inaccurately on your income taxes and other documents. That’s why you want a bookkeeper with years of experience and the right qualifications.
Look for certifications and licenses to verify experience. If you’re hiring an accountant to handle all of your financial tasks, the certified public accountant (CPA) designation shows high professional standards. Bookkeepers can also earn certifications from various organizations, which shows that they passed exams.
Another indicator is professional organizations the bookkeeper belongs to. This shows a commitment to the profession. Ask about how many years of experience the bookkeeper has and in which areas. You want someone with ample experience in businesses like yours, so you know they can handle the workload.
Asking about experience in your industry is another way to assess qualifications. Some bookkeepers specialize in certain industries, or they naturally work with many businesses in specific fields. While basic bookkeeping methods work for all types of businesses, certain fields might have special concerns that affect bookkeeping.
You might also ask if the company has experience handling bookkeeping for businesses of your size. A small startup has different bookkeeping needs than a large corporation, so you want a bookkeeper who is familiar with your needs based on size.
2. What Services Do You Offer?
Bookkeepers offer different types of services and handle different parts of the bookkeeping process. Some mainly do data entry for your financial records. Others can handle all sorts of financial documents, prepare taxes, handle payroll, and provide advice.
Make sure the bookkeeper you choose offers all of the services you want. If you need specialty services, make sure they have experience in those areas. Consider services you might need in the future as well.
As your business grows, you might want other services, such as payroll processing. It’s easier to use one company for all of those financial services since you’re already providing your data to them. It also saves you time because you don’t have to research other companies each time you need a new service.
3. How Do You Charge Clients?
Your bookkeeper might charge a flat fee for the given services or an hourly rate. Knowing how the bookkeeper will charge helps you budget for the expense.
A fixed rate is easier to budget for because you know what you’ll pay each month. Ensure you know what’s included in the fee to ensure you get what you expect. Determine if there could be extra charges for various situations.
Hourly rates can be more difficult to estimate, but your bookkeeper should be able to give you an estimate of how long your bookkeeping will take.
4. What Bookkeeping Tools Do You Use?
Find out what bookkeeping software the company uses, so you know what to expect. If you already have a bookkeeping system you use, you want a bookkeeper who can accommodate you.
Cloud-based accounting software is an easy way to manage your books. Many newer software programs also integrate with other software, such as payroll, inventory, and point-of-sale software. Being able to integrate your different systems makes it easier to track your data and share your data with your bookkeeper.
5. Do You Have Time for Me?
A bookkeeper with lots of clients is a good sign that they do good work. However, you don’t want a bookkeeping company that’s too busy to give your account enough attention. Verify that the bookkeeper has room for you in their schedule.
6. How Do You Communicate With Clients?
Even though your bookkeeper will handle the bulk of the financial workload, you’ll still need to have some input. You’ll also want to know what’s happening with your bookkeeping so you stay informed on your company’s financial situation.
Understanding how and when your bookkeeper will communicate with you helps you prepare for the process. You want to know what’s happening, but you also don’t want to spend too much time talking to your bookkeeper. Ensure the bookkeeper knows how to communicate clearly and concisely to save time.
You can expect more communication in the beginning while you get set up with the bookkeeper. You’ll need to provide important information so the accountant knows how to handle your books. The bookkeeper might have follow-up questions or provide feedback on how you need to submit information.
You also want to know that the bookkeeping company is accessible if you have questions. Ask about their business hours and how you’re able to reach them.
7. How Will You Protect My Data?
You’re turning over all of your company’s financial information when you hire a bookkeeper. You’re entrusting your private information, so you want to know it’s secure.
Physical security within the office is important to keep your documents and files safe. Computers should be inaccessible to unauthorized employers or other people who have access to the office.
Encryption and network security are also important to protect your data from cyber attacks, which target small businesses in 43% of cases. If you hire a bookkeeping company that’s a small business, they could be a target of cyberattacks, making your information vulnerable.
Even with strong security in place, a data breach could happen. Ask how the company handles security breaches, including minimizing the damage and recovering your data.
Hiring a Bookkeeper the Right Way
Hiring a bookkeeper doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. When you ask potential bookkeepers the right questions, you can decide if they’re a good fit and have the necessary experience to do your books accurately. Contact us to ask us all of your questions about small business bookkeeping.