So you’ve either made the decision to start looking for a new bookkeeper or to re-evaluating your existing one. Now you need to know what to look for to determine the quality and longevity of the potential partnership. Many people have asked me “What constitutes good bookkeeping?” How do you define it? do you look at the number of years of experience a bookkeeping firm has, or a firm that says “yes” to everything you ask? Or are you looking for more than that?
Therefore knowing how to recognise good bookkeeping allows you to set certain expectations and also to enable you to hold your bookkeeper accountable. It also helps to prepare you in making better decisions when choosing what kind of bookkeeper you want to partner with and which will suit your company.
So I thought I would list seven essential qualities to keep an eye out for when looking for a good bookkeeper:
- Excellent communication skills
Possessing good communication skills doesn’t just mean speaking clearly. It’s about being able to explain complex ideas in easy-to-understand ways, proactively following up on tasks, asking important questions about your business, and actively listening to what you have to say. If your bookkeeper regularly uses accounting and bookkeeping jargon, the conversations you have can feel restricted and unproductive. So look for a bookkeeper who is willing to communicate all the key concepts at a pace you’re comfortable with, in layman’s terms, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions!
- Adept at accounting software and new technologies
When bookkeepers utilize the latest business software and technologies, it’s an indication that they’re committed to increasing efficiency and providing you a more robust service. If your bookkeeper knows how to leverage accounting software and other kinds of business software to streamline things like invoicing, payments, and payroll, you as a business owner will know how every aspect of your business ties into the other – operationally and financially.
- Organisation and teamwork
Having good organisation skills is basically a pre-requisite to becoming a bookkeeper. However, what about organising a team and building a sense of unity within that team? Do you feel like you and your bookkeeper work together as part of a team? or do you feel that you work independently and separately? Does your existing or potentially new bookkeeper have their own team of experts that work together and ensure that they provide the best service for your business? These are just some of the critical questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about how to get the most out of your bookkeeper.
- Experience in your particular industry
Working with a bookkeeper who has expertise in, let’s say, the Building Consultancy Industry would be very different than working with one who has tons of experience with retail. Good bookkeepers may specialize in a particular field or industry to be able to offer sharper services with a more informed approach. They can also provide reports on how your business is performing month-to-month, and have an idea of what success metrics look like in your industry.
No one likes cagey closed off people – especially if you have to work with them. If your bookkeeper isn’t transparent and open with things like billing and pricing, or if they’re unresponsive, or if you’re constantly questioning what kind of value they’re adding to your business, well maybe it’s time to call it quits with that Bookkeeper. If you’re looking for a new bookkeeper, be sure to have a thorough interview process to go through, and ask hard-hitting questions to sniff out any crookedness as early as possible. Remember you are looking for a bookkeeping company that will fit with your company and work as part of the Team!
- Flexibility to adapt to different working styles
Do y you or our business have unusual operating hours? Perhaps you only prefer to communicate via email. Maybe you’ve got a Chartered Accountant but still need a Bookkeeper for day-to-day operations. Whatever your situation may be, finding a good, reliable and professional Bookkeeper who’s willing to be flexible with your working and communication style can make for a dynamic business partnership.
- Relationship building skills
Finding a good bookkeeper shouldn’t need to be difficult. However when you do find one, you will probably want to stick to them for the long term, so ask yourself this…. Do they have good people skills that make you want to build a long-term partnership with them? A solid bookkeeper understands the value of every business relationship and will work to deliver high-quality services to ensure that expectations are met, if not exceeded, and if there are any problems or issues with the service they are providing they should be friendly, available and open to communicate and overcome them, they may also have a guarantee in place to enable customer peace of mind!