While hiring a virtual accounting service is a huge step for regaining time owners and managers spend with tedious bookkeeping tasks, it’s a very serious undertaking. You’re trusting your business’ financial health to a new team, so the selection process is very important. Here are a few areas you should consider.
You’re hiring a service, not individuals, to handle your books. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know or have some say in the qualifications of those touching your business. Here are a few areas to cover regarding how your account will be staffed:
- Will I have an assigned accounting team or contact available when I call in for help?
- Will I always have a back-up team member familiar with my business available when my regular team is unavailable or on vacation?
- Do you have in-house CPAs that I can turn to for specialized needs?
- How do you staff during peak times of the year or when you get too busy?
- Do you offshore your work?
Service terms and expectations should be clearly defined in your contract. Failing to do so exposes you to extra costs and possible lost productivity and time. Create a clear scope of work up front before engaging in work. Be sure to ask:
- What reports are provided?
- What is your service timeline and inquiry response time?
- Can I expect to be notified of concerning items to review or will work simply be delivered?
- Does this contract include meetings or calls to discuss my finances? How frequent?
- Are you insured? At what terms?
If you feel satisfied that a virtual accounting service provides both the services and staffing you desire, there are a few questions to clarify how the relationship will begin. Pose to your potential team:
- Do I have options for monthly or a long-term contract?
- Can I adjust fees depending on the amount of workflow I have throughout the year?
- If my books are not current, will you charge an extra fee to set things up?
- Can you work within my existing software, or do I need to invest in a new system?
- Can we set a review after the first delivery to address if work meets my expectations or if I would like alterations in formatting?
Any successful business relationship requires clear and open communication – virtual accounting isn’t any different. Use these questions as a base guide to help you set up the most valuable relationship for you and your virtual accounting team.