In our business here at Fiscal Performance we see and work with many different types and sizes of companies and businesses. That’s the nature of the business when you are a freelance/contract bookkeeper or a bookkeeping firm. The upside is that the fundamentals of the bookkeeping process are pretty much the same regardless of the kind of business you’re talking about. Of course you then need to refine your approach to take care of the differences between industries and even companies within the same industry. Some will require more of the bookkeeper than others. A lot of factors come into play.
So how do we approach the bookkeeping for a new client?
In most cases it starts off with a meeting and an interview with the prospective client. The trick is to find out and refine what they need in terms of a complete and accurate set of books. A few blogs back I discussed the whole process of full cycle accounting and everything that it consists of. The ultimate goal with a new client is that all the bases are covered so that the full cycle can be dealt with. There are many stakeholders that depend on the books being complete and accurate including owners, managers, investors, the accountant, staff (payroll) and, of course, Revenue Canada.
So what typically are we as bookkeepers looking for when it comes to the initial interview? The short answer is to get a handle on anything and everything in the business that has to do with money. When that is established, a quote can be provided and hopefully the business relationship can begin. During the interview we are looking to establish:
- General business information including proper business name, address, contact information including phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, etc.
- Type of business – proprietorship, partnership, corporation, charity, etc.
- Fiscal year end (corporations)
- The accountant or accounting firm
- Revenue sources
- Typical expenses
- Payroll requirements if applicable
- Employer Health Tax requirements if applicable
- WSIB requirements if applicable
- GST/HST requirements including filing frequency
- Number of business bank accounts (size of each bank statement)
- Number of business credit cards (size of each credit card statement)
- Number of business loans and/or lines of credit
- Location preference for the bookkeeping function (onsite, our office, remote access/cloud)
- Money aspects typical to the industry and/or specifically to the company
- Special requests by the company with regards to the bookkeeping and the reporting structure
Ultimately, the desired end result is to not only get a handle on the bookkeeping requirements but also to impart to the owner or manager that we are able and ready to give them what they need. By providing a quotation with a specified set of terms and conditions, the scope of the business relationship can be established with as few surprises in both directions as possible. The quotation will also address the anticipated cost of providing the bookkeeping service as well.
Although the interview will go a long way to establishing the needs of the client, there is always the possibility that unanticipated things may present themselves. The intent is to minimize this and go into the new relationship with foresight, insight and appreciation for what each side brings to the table.
At Fiscal Performance, we strive to go into a new business relationship with our eyes wide open as well as those of our new client. I’m always happy to meet with a new or prospective client to discuss, set up and clarify what we can bring to their business. By all means feel free and be welcome to approach me.
Here’s to our mutual success!