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What 5 Things Should I Look For In A Virtual Bookkeeper?

One of the biggest trends in bookkeeping today is virtual bookkeeping.  As companies look to reduce costs, they are also in need of an expert partner to help service their accounting and bookkeeping needs.

Business owners who are looking for a bookkeeping partner often aren’t sure how to evaluate partners, or what to look for in comparing companies.

At Bookkeeper Pros we recommend you check out the following five criteria to determine if a virtual bookkeeping service is right for you:

  1. Testimonials and Reviews
  2. Clear Definition of Services
  3. Quick Communication
  4. Quick Follow Through
  5. Scalable Packages

1. Testimonials and reviews

Happy clients are willing to share their reviews and love to endorse their favorite partners.  Does the bookkeeper have reviews highlighted on their website?  Can you find the people independently through a Google Search? Are there links provided for you to independently research the relationship.  Is it clear how long they’ve serviced the client?

Because virtual bookkeeping has the potential to feel disconnected it is important that the bookkeeping service provider clearly communicates that they are focused on providing exceptional service and that this can be verified from their clients

2. Clear Definition of Services

Each company’s needs are different, and it isn’t always clear what services a company provides.  This is why it is important to dig deep into the specific services that the company provides.  It should be easy to identify the number of financial accounts the bookkeeping service can handle, and the type of accounts that they service.  Having the ability to integrate with your existing vendors is another important factor.  Is it clear that they have experience working with Quickbooks, Xero or other financial services? Do they address payroll integration?

Another key aspect of the business relationship is to provide clear terms of servicing.  Is it easy to get access to the company’s terms and conditions?  Are they clear and upfront about those terms?  Can you get a hard copy upfront?  Is it a long-term contract commitment? Is there an opt-out penalty? What about fees?

Make sure you are dealing with a bookkeeping partner who is transparent, and who is willing to provide a clear definition of the services you can expect upon hiring them, and who is willing to provide upfront transparency via their terms and conditions.

3. Quick Communication

Virtual bookkeeping doesn’t mean a lack of communication.  If you don’t hear from a company within 48 hours (two business days) of your inquiry, there’s a good chance that their communication won’t improve from there.

For example, at Bookkeeper Pros we require our staff to follow up within 48 hours of your email because we value our first impression and our reputation.

A lack of communication could indicate that the virtual bookkeeping service lacks the infrastructure, or guidance, the staffing or support, or is overloaded with their current capacity.  This could prevent them from servicing new clients.

4. Quick Follow Through

Similar to quick communication, it is important to select a virtual bookkeeping service that has a quick follow-through.  It can be a hard decision to outsource your financial services.  Your reputation is on the line, and your clients and vendors are part of your reputation.  A quick follow-through in addressing your needs is a critical part of keeping your reputation positive.

Some signs of early trouble could be that the virtual bookkeeping service isn’t connecting with your existing financial partners in a timely manner.  If you are finding yourself doing the bulk of communication with relationships that you already handed off, then your partner is lacking in follow-through.

A lack of quick follow-through could also be an indication that the company lacks attention to detail or lacks a process for dealing with financial partners.  This could be because they lack the experience or knowledge to effectively communicate.

5. Scalable Packages

One of the most frustrating aspects of outsourcing to a virtual bookkeeper is reaching a limit of servicing.  You want to select a partner that can grow with you.

A good virtual bookkeeping service will provide packages that scale as your business grows and as your needs change.  This means taking on complicated financial account relationships, working with payroll providers, and the ability to provide detailed financial reporting.

The last thing you want to do during an explosive growth period is to change over a complex financial relationship.

**Bonus: Trusted by Accountants

Don’t forget to take into consideration how the virtual bookkeeping service is viewed by accountants.  If a virtual bookkeeper is endorsed by the accounting community then you know you’ve got a partner with expertise, experience and a high level of professionalism.

At Bookkeeper Pros we are most proud of our relationship with the accounting community.  Some of our best clients are accountants. They trust us to provide them with expert level bookkeeping support so they can provide the highest quality customer service to their own clients.

If you are in the market for a virtual bookkeeping service, we’d love to get started working with you!