How’s the communication with your bookkeeper?

You’ve made a decision to hire a bookkeeper. Well done, smart move. Now, here are some things to consider, because the more your bookkeeper understands about your business and the better the lines of communication are, the better your working relationship will be.

Tell your bookkeeper why you got into business in the first place. Discuss your vision for its future such as how much money you want to make and your plans to introduce new products or services. Tell them about your current offering, what you feel separates you from your competitors and what areas you think could improve. Your bookkeeper will also need to know how you’ve dealt with your accounts in the past. Consider how you’ve previously tracked money and handled your personal expenses. What accounting software have you used? Does dealing with money overwhelm you or are you good at it? Are you a details person, or do you just want to know the bottom line? All this information is very helpful for a bookkeeper to know.

The next thing to do is to tell your bookkeeper how you want your financial information explained to you. Let’s assume it’s time to review your profit and loss for the quarter. Do you want your bookkeeper to come to your office and talk to you about how your business is doing, or you come to them or just call? Do you want the report emailed to you as an excel spreadsheet or PDF? Do you want to access it yourself from your online accounting software? Are you interested in all of the numbers or just the bottom line? Basically, you need to tell your bookkeeper how much information you want and how you want to communicate with them. It’s important to build a good working relationship with clear, regular communication rather than just exchanging the occasional email.

Your bookkeeper will also need access to your financial information such as your bank account and credit card statements. Most online accounting software packages have real-time bank feed functions which are very convenient and secure, but are you happy to give your bookkeeper online access or will you send duplicate statements? Most bookkeepers would prefer instant online access to your financials and to also get copies of your paid receipts and bills. It’s also very important to remember that just because you’ve hired a bookkeeper you don’t stop looking at your credit card statements to make sure nothing unusual is going on. So how will you allow your bookkeeper access to this? Software packages and smart phone apps allow you to attach an electronic copy of a receipt or invoice. You could also mail, email, drop them off or the bookkeeper can come to your office to pick them up.

Your bookkeeper can perform other duties such as pay bills and deposit cheques, but if they do this you should get them to email you the details on a weekly basis so you know what’s going on. Another good thing to do is introduce your bookkeeper to your accountant. This way they can better serve you by communicating with each other, but make sure that your accountant can work with the software that your bookkeeper uses. Also have your bookkeeper teach you how to run a few simple reports such as your profit/loss. It’s always good to know how your business is doing from a revenue, expense, and profit perspective.

Hiring a bookkeeper is very affordable, even for a small business. Still, the only way for a bookkeeper to give you an accurate estimate is to understand what services you need. Price depends on how many hours work you need each month, how often your books need updating and the bookkeeper’s experience. If you’re open about your budget, you’re more likely to get the result you’re after. Most bookkeepers understand that some people have trouble letting go. It’s reasonable to feel anxious about handing over your financial records to a stranger, as reputable as they may be, but once your bookkeeper has proven themselves, you’ll be able to relax a bit more. But probably the most important thing to remember is that the better you can communicate with your bookkeeper, the better your working relationship will be.