I don’t want to give away my age at this point, but I can proudly say I have been bookkeeping for 38 years. My first 3 years were not stellar. I had no clue what “T” accounts were nor debits and credits? As time passed I had three things going for me. First, patience from the employers who found it in their hearts to teach me those manual green accounting sheets I had to fill out. Secondly, I listened, learned and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. The third item going for me was my career beginnings starting in the restaurant industry. Let’s just say, the customer is always right and we always jumped when they wanted something. I have had customer service ingrained in my brain since my first job at an A&W drive through at the tender age of 14.
Here are 3 considerations in order to have good relationship between the accountant and the freelance bookkeeper and/or bookkeeping firm:
1. As a bookkeeper, your skill level must be top notch. Far too often over the years I have heard bookkeepers asking how to find more clients. They don’t understand why they are not getting referrals from accountants. Trust me, if you have amazing bookkeeping skills, and accuracy to details is the name of your game, you should never have a problem finding referrals from accountants. If you are not getting referrals, consider hiring someone to review your skills. Having said this, on the other side of the coin, customer service and personality also go hand-in-hand with having a good business relationship with an accountant. Just another thing you must evaluate if referrals are not coming your way.
2. This next item is for both the accountant and the bookkeeper. You must realize you are on the same team. For the accountant: Most bookkeepers know only full cycle bookkeeping and rarely enter into your tax or controllership world. Guide them to make your job easier when closing off year ends. The more they learn, the better a team player they can be. Why not have a good bookkeeping service who doesn’t offer the same services as you do become an extension of your firm rather than thinking of them as competition?
As an accountant, communicating to exactly how you want things done is important. For the bookkeeper: This is where customer service comes into play. Work with the accountant. Ask questions, listen, learn and most importantly be open-minded. This is the best “free” advice you will ever get to help grow your skills, your referral relationships and your sales!
Deadlines are deadlines for both the accountant and bookkeeper. Imagine a strong accounting team separate from each other but working together for the good of the client. Two sets of eyes is a strong professional consideration.
3. The third consideration is what I think is the most important. Respect! Accountants don’t really want to do the bookkeeping. Accountants are yearend closers, tax strategists and high level service specialists. Bookkeepers are the detailers, paper organizers, filers, experts with the accounting programs and wonderful at fixing files. As bookkeepers we defend our postings back to the paperwork so our work passes an audit if one should occur. Many higher level bookkeepers can take on the role or work with the accountant in part-time controllership, budget planning, cash flow forecasting and project analysis within the programs just to name a few services.
In summary, we all have distinct roles which keep our clients successful in business. Good for everyone don’t you think? I myself am not a fan of when a bookkeeper and accountant is the same person. Two sets of eyes per file have saved my butt a couple of times in the past. This is most certainly a controversial statement but, maybe I am making this statement to spark up some interest for you to comment. Will you take the bait?
As always, have a happy week. Keep your work and personal life balanced – you owe it to yourself.