Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring a Bookkeeper or Tax Preparer!

Running a business can be fraught with challenges.  As the owner, you are focused on getting clients, sales, cash flow, etc.  However, dealing with receipts, financial statements and understanding taxes can be overwhelming.

I had a new client recently tell me that she had hired a bookkeeper, but it did not work out.  She told me of some specific things that went wrong.  I then asked her, “What questions did you ask before you hired this bookkeeper?”  Sometimes we don’t even know the right questions to ask.

My first recommendation is to figure out what YOU want or need.

Don’t go looking for the right person when you do not have clarity on the support you desire.

  • Do you want someone to work at your office or is working remotely acceptable?
  • Do you want to train an employee/ get training yourself or hire an independent contractor?
  • Do you want to delegate it all or only part of the work?  If it is a partial list, determine the specific duties and write them down.
  • Do you want your return prepared and have someone review it/explain it or would you rather just sign the e-file form?

No one wants to be in a business relationship and be frustrated.  The key is to find someone that is mutually beneficial – someone that their services match your needs.  How can you do this…by asking the right questions and then evaluating what resonates with you!!

Here is a list of questions you should be asking:

  1. What are your qualifications/certifications/licenses? How long have you been doing this?
  2. How many clients do you currently serve?  How long has your company been in business?
  3. Do you have staff or is it just you?  If it is one person, do you do this full time?
  4. What is your most common industry that you serve?  Do you have any specialties?
  5. How do you keep your clients records confidential?  Is the information encrypted?
  6. What are the different ways you review tax returns with your clients?
  7. Do you have any references that I can call or email?
  8. If you use staff, do you run a background check on them?
  9. If I leave a message or email you, what can I expect the turn- around reply to be?
  10. How often will I be billed?  What forms of payment do you accept?
  11.  Do you need my receipts or can you post transactions from my statements?
  12.  What do you require of me for you to do your job?
  13.  Do you charge by the hour or a flat rate?  Do you require a retainer?
  14.  For taxes, are you conservative or more aggressive? And why?
  15.  Are you a member of any professional associations in your field?  What is your continuing education requirement?  What was the last class you attended about?
  16. How long does it take to close out the month and prepare the financial statements?
  17. How will you help me maximize my tax deductions?
  18. What tax knowledge and experience do you have that will provide me with the most accurate financial statements?
  19.  Are you able to strategize with me to help improve my business?
  20. What do you love most about what you do?

Don’t forget to Google the person or the name of the business.  You can definitely find out a lot from searching online.

And then, interview 3 or 4 others to compare.  You will know in your gut which one is better for you by the answers you get, the references you check and how they communicate with you.  The person you are interviewing must be able to speak with you in “English”, not at a level you don’t understand.

Another one of my favorite suggestions is to make an old-fashioned pros and cons list!!  You’ll be glad you were proactive in your search for the RIGHT person for you!

About Renee Daggett

Renee Daggett is the founder and President of Admin Books, Inc, a bookkeeping and tax firm. She is also the author of “Your Financial Flight Plan: Pilot Your Business To Profitability”. Renee lives her life with purpose and helps her clients find peace of mind as they achieve success in their businesses.

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