Check out Part I of our 30 Questions To Ask Your Bookkeeper Series.
Hiring an outsourced bookkeeper can be a big decision for a business. We’ve gathered some of the most important questions you need to ask before you sign a contract.
16 – Will I Need to Upgrade My Software?
You and your bookkeeper will need to be using the same software, and compatibility is a priority. Explore whether your current accounting tech is adequate. If not, find out exactly what it will take for you and the prospective bookkeeper to sync your software.
17 – What Methods Do You Use to Review Your Own Work?
Bookkeeping is a precise process, and even seasoned professionals make mistakes. However, the best professionals have processes in place to find and correct these mistakes before they have consequences. Ask the bookkeeper to explain his process and why it works.
18 – Do You Provide Tech Advisory?
Despite the close link between tech and accounting, some bookkeepers only deal with the accounting side. You may not need tech advisory as well, but it’s important to understand exactly what kinds of issues you can expect your bookkeeper to address.
19 – Can You Customize Your Services?
Most bookkeepers will claim to customize their services, but how much freedom and flexibility you actually have can vary. Explore what your options are, and keep in mind that what you need today could be drastically different tomorrow.
20 – Is There Anything You Can’t Provide?
It’s important to ask this question explicitly because you don’t want there to be any confusion about who you’re hiring. Some bookkeepers either can’t or won’t provide certain services, and which services those are can be unexpected.
21 – Can You Train Our Employees?
Bookkeepers are a valuable resource for improving your in-house accounting, but not all of them are equipped to share their expertise. If you anticipate needing training, verify that your new bookkeeper can handle the full scope of the project.
22 – Will You Help With Data Conversion?
Sharing data with a bookkeeper can be difficult if data is not formatted correctly. Converting the data is the remedy, but this can be a time and labor-intensive process. Inquire whether the bookkeeper is able to handle tackle this job in whole or in part, or whether the responsibility falls solely on you.
23 – Can You Deliver Strategic Insights?
Accounting is a crucial part of your business strategy, but not all bookkeepers can turn facts and figures into strategic insights. If you are looking to fill a CFO-type role, explore whether the bookkeeper is qualified and what kind of insights they can deliver.
24 – What Makes You Different from Other Bookkeepers?
Bookkeepers are a dime a dozen, and while most are capable, only some are really exceptional. Ask the bookkeeper to explain what sets him apart and how he delivers value to clients. The goal is to determine what makes this bookkeeper a better hire than their many competitors.
25 – What Are Your Firm’s Goals?
The goals of a firm reveal a lot about the bookkeeping services you’re likely to receive. For instance, some firms want to grow as large as possible or innovate the industry. Others are focused on developing relationships and delivering consistency. The latter option is a lot more likely to put your needs first and foremost.
26 – How Will You Collaborate with Our In-House Accountants?
Together, your bookkeeper and your in-house accountants manage all your finances. It’s important for both parties to work collaboratively and communicate regularly. Find out what steps the bookkeeper is willing to take to ensure this relationship is a productive one.
27 – Could You Demonstrate “X” Task for Me?
You may want to verify your bookkeeper’s competence by asking him to complete a simple task or execute a basic function on your accounting software. A good bookkeeper will be willing to meet your request even if it seems frivolous or beneath their expertise.
28 – What Happens When Our Accounting Needs Change?
You are hiring a bookkeeper because your company is growing and changing. That means in a few years your accounting needs could be much larger and totally different. Explore what it takes to change your services and how adaptable your bookkeeper is willing to be.
29 – Can My Business Become Too Big For Your Services?
Switching bookkeepers is a big headache even when it’s absolutely necessary. But there is no telling what the future holds, and you may outgrow your bookkeeper much faster than you expect. As much as possible, try to establish if this is a bookkeeper you can work with for the long term.
30 – What Responsibilities Do You Assign to the Client?
Your relationship with a bookkeeper is really a partnership. You will be expected to meet certain standards, timelines, and responsibilities so that your bookkeeping runs as smoothly as possible. Learn what is expected on your end, and make sure it’s an obligation you can regularly meet.
Hiring a bookkeeper is a big decision. It’s another cost to take on, but, more importantly, you’re trusting your financial future to someone else. You want to have absolute confidence in whowever you hire, which is why research, vetting, and due diligence are all so important.