Is This Bookkeeper Right for You?
Question: A bookkeeper has been recommended to me. What should I ask to learn if this person can help me as well?
Answer: A bookkeeper who works well for another type of company may or may not be suitable to you as a promotional products distributor.
In addition to the common bookkeeper concerns for all businesses, such as experience, security measures, technological knowledge and references, here are some questions you might want to ask that are specific to our industry:
1. What type of businesses has this bookkeeper worked in before?
Are they similar to our business? For instance, a service industry doesn't involve purchase orders or sales taxes. These are both integral and complicated parts of our business. One comment I hear often is that a bookkeeper just can't grasp the need to go back and edit the supplier purchase order to match the supplier invoice. This is an added step in our business not found in some others.
2. If they are using QuickBooks, on which QuickBooks product is the bookkeeper trained and experienced?
On the surface, QuickBooks all by itself sounds specific enough, but it's not. If you use QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise (best for our industry) and the bookkeeper knows QuickBooks Online, they are entirely different software products. QuickBooks Online is best for small, start-up or service industries and can present problems for our industry. And, if you allow a bookkeeper to convert your company to QuickBooks Online, it's very difficult and expensive to convert it back.
3. Be wary of a bookkeeper who will "do it all" without needing or wanting any support or oversight from you.
We have money moving often in our business—from customers and to suppliers—more than many other businesses. It's easy to lose control and knowledge of your assets. Just seeing the final reports is not enough. You are wise to be the one signing the checks or authorizing the move of funds, and seeing the matching invoice just to be sure. And you might want a third party to handle your monthly reconciliations. An extra set of eyes also is wise.
Please email accounting questions you would like considered for the column to HGatter@AccountingSupportLLC.com with the subject line of "Ask the Accountant."
Harriet Gatter, owner of Accounting Support LLC, was an ad specialty distributor for 23 years and an adjunct professor of accounting at Neumann University. She sold her ad specialty business in 2012, became certified as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and now works exclusively with ad specialty distributors nationwide on their QuickBooks, order management and accounting needs.