I hear it all the time from new prospects of our bookkeeping service: "I need a better bookkeeper."
This is the response I often hear after I ask them what they are currently doing for bookkeeping. Prospects then tell me that they had a bookkeeper but they made too many mistakes, aren't responsive enough, or some other reason. The bottom line is what they have isn't working and they just need a better bookkeeping solution.
I totally understand where they are at. If I told you we have had success with every client we have ever worked with I'd be lying (and so would any business owner). The reality is its not always the client's fault or the bookkeeping service's fault.
Some clients don't work well for certain service providers. That is, your bookkeeper's failure could be because you should never have been a client in the first place.
I was talking to my brother Mark Roberge who is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School about client churn and he gave me some great insight. Mark said, "Customer retention problems are rooted in sales execution; the types of customers you bring on and the expectations you set for them."
Maybe your bookkeeper didn't understand your needs and set expectations they could not deliver on. Maybe you weren't a good fit for the service provider but they tried to sell to you anyway.
So do you need a better bookkeeper or just one that is a good fit for your needs?
If you feel like you need a better bookkeeper for your small business here are some things I want you to consider.
Understand why it hasn't worked
Let's not tiptoe around this one; is it you or your bookkeeper?
Meaning, are you holding up your end of the bargain in the bookkeeping relationship?
Are you delivering information to your bookkeeper in a timely manner or constantly pushing things to the back burner?
Do you respond to questions or only reach out when you need something?
Just realize that the relationship with your bookkeeping service provider is a two-way street. Sometimes the way that you want to operate doesn't work with every service out there.
Understand the value of bookkeeping
Do you look at bookkeeping as a valuable tool that can help you make better business decisions or a hindrance that is only a means to a tax return?
You would be hard-pressed to find a successful business owner that says the numbers don't matter.
If you don't see value in bookkeeping or I can't convince you that there is value, then you will not have success as a client of ours. I spend the majority of my sales calls trying to figure out if you can be a successful client of ours. If I determine that you can't and I sell you on our service anyway, I'm doing a disservice both to you and our business.
Identify what you want
Do you want the lowest cost or a bookkeeping system that works? I mean, be honest both with yourself and your bookkeeper here; what exactly are you looking for?
There are plenty of bookkeeping service providers out there that focus or specialize in certain areas. Some bookkeeping service providers aim to offer the lowest price possible. Others specialize only in a specific industry.
At SLC Bookkeeping we focus on providing bookkeeping systems to business owners that want to use their accounting system to grow. We do that by designing a customized bookkeeping solution tailored to your business needs. We then help you analyze the financial reports to answer critical business questions and develop strategies for moving your business forward.
Communicate clearly with your bookkeeper
One of the biggest challenges I have seen cause bookkeeping issues is communication.
What are your preferred means of communication? Email, text, phone, video conference or something else?
What specific deliverables do you have? By what date? How often?
When your bookkeeper requests information from you what is a reasonable amount of time to expect a response from you?
Make sure that you set clear expectations with your bookkeeper.
Hold yourself and your bookkeeper accountable
After you have established clear expectations with your bookkeeping service provider hold them and yourself accountable to them.
As I stated earlier, the relationship with your bookkeeper is a two-way street.
I am always willing to admit to a client when we have screwed up or under-delivered on the expectations that were set. Likewise, I'm also not afraid to let a client know when they haven't been holding up their end of the bargain.
So what do you think? Do you need a better bookkeeper or just a better system with clear expectations?
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