How can I communicate better with my bookkeeper?

communicating bookkeeper telephone can

Do you ever feel like your bookkeeper is speaking another language? Or maybe it feels like they have an endless amount of questions. What do they even do while working on your books? If this situation sounds familiar, this article will assist you to find better ways to communicate with your bookkeeper and understand just what they are doing for your business. 

Establish a good workflow

Workflow has become a bit of a buzzword in business. But for us, it’s just a fancy word for having a good pattern of running your business. That pattern is built on good habits. What kinds of habits are we talking about? 

In order for a bookkeeper to manage your books successfully, they rely on a steady stream of information. They also need input from you as they have questions. Particularly when you outsource your accounting, you’ll have to remember that they are not physically in your office. There are parts of the business they will not understand unless you share that information with them. 

No matter what type of process you establish, it should address the following questions:

  • What tasks will your bookkeeper be responsible for in your books?
  • What tasks are you expected to be responsible for in your books? 
  • What documentation does your bookkeeper need from you? How often do they need it? 
  • How often will you and your bookkeeper meet to discuss financial matters?

When setting up a client for ongoing services with Beyond, one of the first things we do is provide them with a workflow chart. That chart supplies a breakdown of the tasks we will do, what we will need from our client, and when we will meet. We find that using a visual aid like a workflow chart establishes clear roles for both parties. It also gives clients a sense of calm that their books are being managed properly. 

Use tools to collaborate

While having a clear process is good, you need to determine how best to share information with your bookkeeper. Conversely, your bookkeeper needs an effective way to send questions and receive responses. What tools should you use when working with your bookkeeper? 

We have written pretty extensively about the tools we use to collaborate with our clients. We won’t provide a detailed list here, but we have found a good tech stack includes:

  • Secure document sharing –  Sending sensitive documents such as tax returns or bank statements over email is risky. Having a secure method for sharing these documents is crucial. 
  • Collaborative spreadsheets Tools like Google Sheets allow you to work together within the same document. This means that questions and responses can be worked on together in real-time. 
  • Accounting integrations Products like QuickBooks Online and Xero allow business owners to integrate many useful apps. These apps can streamline such tasks as capturing expense receipts, managing employee reimbursements, and payroll. Using technology to replace manual tasks saves both you and your bookkeeper valuable time. 

Be willing to ask questions

When business owners meet with their bookkeeper or tax accountant, they can feel intimidated. They may feel that asking questions will make them appear naive or inexperienced. As a result, they may hold back from asking questions about their finances. 

It’s been said that the only bad question is the one that goes unasked. We will let you in on a little secret: We love it when you ask questions! It shows that you are interested in your business and you want it to grow. We want to help!

Before beginning each meeting with a client, we always ask this question: “Is there anything in particular you want to be sure we discuss in our meeting today?” When we say that, we are extending an invitation for you to share your questions with us. 

Do you want to understand what a specific accounting term means? Ask. Do you want to understand what happened to your profit? Ask. Are you struggling with a business problem and need an outsider’s perspective? Ask. Ask. Ask. Seriously, we do not mind!

We hope that the suggestions above will build or improve the way you communicate with your bookkeeper or accountant. Are you looking for more tips to improve meetings with your accounting professional? Check out this article on why meeting with a bookkeeper regularly is important.