As a small business owner, you need to ask for more from your bookkeeper. If your typical banter with your bookkeeper is about their weekend plans, you may be missing out on some crucial information. A good small business bookkeeper can be a wealth of information. Here are 7 eye-opening questions to ask your bookkeeper.
1. You have 5 seconds to answer this without looking at any data. Where are we wasting money?
Why should you put a 5-second time limit on this question? There should be absolutely no hesitation from your bookkeeper on answering this question. Your bookkeeper most likely knows the finances of your business better than you do. If your bookkeeper is handling the books properly, they are seeing every single transaction that happens in your business. After a while, your bookkeeper should be able to sense where money is coming from and going to. If your bookkeeper can't instantly tell you where you can save money, you have a problem.
2. Can you give me a few suggestions on how we can make the bookkeeping system more efficient?
Your bookkeeper should always be looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your bookkeeping system. Simple efficiencies can be made in QuickBooks like using memorized transactions, printing checks from QuickBooks, downloading QuickBooks transactions, or utilizing a bill payment service like Bill.com. You may also want to look into QuickBooks cloud hosting. Your bookkeeper should be keeping up with the accounting industry as well as the technological advances that are going on. New technologies to make bookkeeping easier and more efficient are always emerging, so it is important to keep up.
3. Can you provide me with some customized reporting?
You need to take your small business financial reporting beyond the basic profit & loss and balance sheet. Communicate with your bookkeeper regarding what type of information you are trying to extract from your financial reporting. See if they can come up with a solution to meet your needs. Make sure to hold them accountable to deliver your custom financial reporting to you as requested. Having a good set of financial reports that you review on a regular basis can really help you identify issues and opportunities. You should be able to use your financial reports to help you make crucial business decisions.
4. How do you think we can improve sales?
It might seem odd to you to ask your bookkeeper about sales, but you might get some interesting ideas. As I said earlier, your bookkeeper may know the financial aspects of your business better than you do. They may have noticed trends in your sales that you overlooked. They may even have a great idea for a new sales avenue that you haven't considered.
5. Do you enjoy your job here? Are we challenging you enough? What additional tasks would you like to take on?
I love to ask this question of our employees. First, unless they are lying, I will find out whether they are enjoying their job or not. I will also find out if they are challenged and what they like and dislike about their job. If you find out some additional tasks your bookkeeper wants to take on, you will know what direction to push them. An employee who is challenged and happy will be a productive long-term asset. You can gain valuable insight into how to get the most out of your bookkeeper with this series of questions.
6. Can you show me three ways I can use our bookkeeping system to help me make business decisions?
Your bookkeeping system should be a tool that you can use to make critical business decisions. If your bookkeeper can't show you three ways that you can constructively use your bookkeeping system to help your business, then you may need a new bookkeeper. It is amazing to me how under-used most small business bookkeeping systems are. I think many business owners look at bookkeeping as a means to filing taxes. Instead, start looking at your bookkeeping as a tool that you can use to grow your business.
7. Do you think you are doing a good job here? What value are you adding? What can we expect from you in the future?
There is nothing wrong with being straightforward with someone. This question might make your bookkeeper nervous, but a good bookkeeper will be able to intelligently answer this. You will get some insight as to how your bookkeeper feels they are adding value to the business. You may also get them to set goals for themselves in the future. If they set future expectations for themselves, then hold them accountable. This is another great question to make your bookkeeper challenge themselves.
These questions are not designed to trick your bookkeeper or make them uncomfortable. These are just a few things you can ask your bookkeeper to make sure you are utilizing their full capabilities.