They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and when it comes to business, that weak link all too often ends up being the bookkeeper. When a bookkeeper is MIA, their absence has a direct impact on operating your business, either due to stalled payments, invoices not being sent out on time, accounts that can’t be reconciled and must be put on hold or reports that are not up to date. There are also deeper issues related to a bookkeeper’s unreliability, like the inability to access financial records or messy record-keeping that just adds more work down the line. Ultimately, this “unprofessional” behaviour causes delays and confusion and can result in real costs in terms of lost revenue or increased expenses.
The question is, why do some bookkeepers have a reputation for being unreliable and flaky, and what can you do to mitigate – or completely avoid – these issues?
First off, it’s important to consider workload. In a competitive marketplace, many solo bookkeepers must take on multiple clients (often at a reduced cost) just to make ends meet. Juggling a long list of clients leads to a bookkeeper that’s overworked and unable to handle the volume of tasks required to maintain each account. Things fall through the cracks, and sometimes that could mean a bill doesn’t get paid, a deadline is missed, or account records are disorganized and piecemeal. Sloppy bookkeeping, inaccurate financial reports, and a failure to be prepared not only undermines your business but also leaves you open to missed filings, penalties, backlogs, and interruptions in cash flow. Finally, bookkeepers can also be inaccessible, and business owners often complain about unanswered calls and being forced to chase down information on their own.
Another contributing factor regarding bookkeepers in Canada is the lack of standards. Professional bookkeepers are not mandated to follow any training, take any tests, or submit to any certification. An aspiring bookkeeper can simply take a night course or an online tutorial, buy some business cards, and hang up a shingle. This lack of oversight presents a challenge for small business owners: how do you vet candidates to find a competent bookkeeper for your company?
This incompetence is not always the bookkeepers’ fault. The truth is, there is not often support available for bookkeepers. They may not have access to the resources they need. Bookkeeping itself is a competitive market, so many bookkeepers must slash fees and take on additional clients just to get by. Because they are often overworked and underpaid they do not have the time or money to attend conferences or get additional training to help them stay current with the latest technology and best practices.
We have created valuable online resources to help small business owners make better decisions when hiring a bookkeeper. For starters, at http://onlinebookkeepertraining.com/, business owners can access tests designed to assess your bookkeeping candidate’s skill level. We developed these tests after experiencing the frustration of hiring a bookkeeper first-hand. As we looked to add bookkeepers to our own team, it became clear that candidates who shined during the interview process and had an impressive resume could not deliver on their promises. As a result, we developed a series of tests designed to help us evaluate the bookkeeping skill level of our candidates, requiring that they achieve an 80% pass rate before they were hired. Over the years, these tests evolved due to feedback we received, and now they are optimized to deliver actionable results that truly quantify bookkeeping skill level.
This was followed when in 2016 we launched a new business called Kninja (the “k” is silent). The purpose of Kninja is to provide bookkeepers all around the world with an education and training platform to help them improve their skills and stay ahead of the technology curve. Our K90 Kninja 90 day training program is an industry standard that each of our own bookkeepers must complete before working on client files.
At AIS Solutions, we are 100% remote and 100% cloud serving clients all across Canada. We understand online and we make it a point to ensure everyone on our team is up to speed on the latest accounting technology and best practices. Last year, we invested thousands of dollars to send our bookkeepers to industry conferences and workshops. In addition, as an early adopter of cloud technology, we are well-versed in helping bookkeepers and companies transition from traditional desktop data entry record-keeping to a cloud-based platform.
If you are thinking of hiring your own in-house bookkeeper, use the skills test available at www.onlinebookkeepertraining.com to ensure that you hire someone who has the skills to do an amazing job.
If you’re a solo bookkeeper or are growing your practice looking to improve your cloud bookkeeping skills then visit kninja.net.
Or, if you have a business that is ready to move to the next level and partner with an outsourced professional bookkeeping team, call us now for a free consultation.