By Patrick Bonnaure, ProLedge founder.
The responsibility of being efficient with bookkeeping doesn’t always fall 100% on the shoulders of your bookkeeper. The way you manage your bookkeeper has a lot to do with it as well. If you outsource your bookkeeping services to an independent bookkeeper or to a bookkeeping firm like ProLedge, there are a few tricks to know to get the best out of your bookkeeper. In this post, I’ll focus on the #1 recommendation that we give to all our clients: avoid Stop-and-Go. It will save you a lot of money.
Each time that you ask your bookkeeper to start a work session on your books, there is quite a bit of overhead to get the machine in motion. Your bookkeeper has to clear his/her head from the work done for the previous client, get to your QuickBooks file (or whatever other small business accounting software you use), find the appropriate passwords to log in, review the checklist of tasks to be performed, review the list of open issues, etc.. Once the work is done, there is also some overhead to close the session, such as the bookkeeper having to update the list of open issues, give you a call or send you a status email.
All of this represents a fixed cost per work session, whether the work session lasts 5 minutes or 5 hours. It is therefore critical that you batch the work of your bookkeeper in the longest possible sessions. If for instance, you don’t need your books up-to-date more than once a month, make sure to plan for 1, or maximum 2 work sessions for your bookkeeper per month. Typically, your bookkeeper won’t be able to clear everything in one session, because he/she will have questions for you after the first session and it will require a second shorter session to implement your responses to the questions.
Make sure that the information that you send to your bookkeeper is complete right from the get-go. If it isn’t, the bookkeeper will start the work session and then realize that some documents are missing and the session will be interrupted prematurely. We had a client who consistently faxed us documentation forgetting that certain statements were two-sided. We’d get page 1, Page 3 and page 5. As a result his monthly costs would regularly end up being 20-30% higher than they should be because our bookkeeper kept on having to chase the client down to get the missing pages.
If you have non-urgent questions for your bookkeeper, write them down and call your bookkeeper only once you have a good batch of questions to ask in a single phone call.
Always keep in mind that Stop-and-Go is inefficient and that you end up paying for that inefficiency.