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Are You Asking Your Bookkeeper The Right Questions?

virtual bookkeepingWhen you interview someone about a bookkeeping position, there’s a lot of questions you should ask. You can probably think of the obvious ones. What are your qualifications? Do you have experience in my industry? How do you protect your client’s data? These are questions you’ll want answered. According to Dragon Financial, a bookkeeping company in Portland, Oregon, there are other questions you should probably ask which are less obvious. Let’s take a look at those questions now.

6 Question To Ask Your Bookkeeper You Might Not Think About

1. Who Oversees The Bookkeeping?

You might not think to ask this question because you might think the question is obvious; the person you’re interviewing handles it. It might not be. Some companies spread the work among multiple members. An organized company that does this might have a few people dedicated to it who work together. A disorganized one might just have anyone who’s free do it that day. This can lead to communication errors that can cause problems for your finances.

Ideally, the answer to this question should be a small number of people who communicate with each other regularly. The less people who work on your bookkeeping, the less chance of miscommunication, so the team should be as few people as are need to handle it. This might be only one person for a small business. If more are needed, make sure that the team has a good manager to coordinate communication.

Speaking of communication . . .

2. How Do They Communicate?

You want to understand how your bookkeepers will communicate with you before you hire them. Do they insist on meeting in person? Do they do online video streamed meetings? Will they just send you emails now and then? The method is important. Just as important is the who. Who is your point of contact? Will you meet with the same person every meeting, or will it be somebody different every time? If they have a team, will you meet the whole team?

How they answer this question will tell you a lot about their company’s structure. You want the answer to this question to inspire confidence that they are organized and efficient. That means you can have the same confidence in how they will handle your bookkeeping.

virtual bookkeeping, one of many new options accounting has thanks to software advancements3. Can They Work With Your Accountant?

Your accountant might be the same as your bookkeeper, but that’s not a given.  If you have a separate accountant make sure they can work with them. While asking this question, find out how paperwork will be shared and who is responsible for keeping it altogether. Do they expect you to coordinate with your accountant, or will they do it? Different companies have different approaches and you want to make sure your bookkeeper’s approach is right for you.

4. What Bookkeeping Software Do They Use?

QuickBooks is often the first thing people think of when it comes to bookkeeping software. It’s a very useful suite, but it’s not the only one out there. Certain industries have software specifically tailored to their needs. Some companies will have preferred software they like to use. When interviewing them, you want to find out what they use to make sure it’s compatible with your own software. You should also find out if the software they use comes with hidden fees that will up the price of your service. This helps you get a more complete picture of what they do and if they’re the right fit for you.

a woman stressing out over bills, taxes, and business expenses5. How Do You Keep Current With Regulations?

If there’s one thing you can count on with the IRS, it’s that the regulations will change. Every year, there’s something new to consider. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it unintentionally opens the door for fraud, but it’s something you have to deal with. If the bookkeeper is any good, they’ll have industry contacts and attend industry meetings to keep up to date. Ask about this and see what they tell you. The answer should leave you feeling confident that they know what they’re doing.

6. What Do You See For the Future?

Smart bookkeeping is about the long-term and the short term. You need a financial strategy that will keep you afloat in the present, but leave you room to build and grow in the future. After you’ve asked all your other questions and they have enough information to answer this question, ask them what long-term plans they recommend. They should be able to discuss options for how to save money, yes, but what options do they have to do with that saved money? How will they help you increase your profits in the long-term? If they only think about the moment, they’re probably not a very good company.

Bonus Tip: Check References and Reviews

You might have thought to ask for references and that’s good. Don’t forget to actually check on those references. Speaking with those references directly is a great way to get an idea for how they work with clients and what the experience will be like.

Online reviews can be useful as well. As much as some might complain about the trolls or disgruntled clients who just want to be angry, reviews generally tell you a lot about the company. Even the negative reviews that exaggerate will still show you problems to ask about. What did the company learn from that experience? Did they correct the problem, or did they just shrug it off and continue as before? How you handle criticism is just as important as how they got the glowing praise.

Be Sure To Ask Smart Questions

These are just some questions to ask that you might not otherwise think about, but not the only ones. The key to asking smart questions is knowing your industry. Whatever your job is that you need a bookkeeper for, there will be specific things that only apply to your industry. Knowing the specifics of your industry is the best way to know what questions to ask.

Remember, you don’t have to take the first one you find. There are lots of bookkeepers out there and each one is different. Between the basics, industry specific questions, and these suggestions from Dragon Financial suggests, you should be able to find the right bookkeeper for your company.