For bookkeeping help and advice: 01462 455 455

5 tips to making sure you have it covered when your bookkeeper moves on or retires

The reason for writing this blog is that we have come across quite a few situations recently where we have been recommended to go and talk to a business losing their bookkeeper and needing to find a replacement.

Understandably, these business owners are usually concerned to lose their valued bookkeeper who has often been supporting them for many years. They have built up a strong relationship, they completely rely on them to keep on top of the finances in their business and don’t want any problems arising in their business because of that person missing in their business.

So, what is the best way to prepare for your bookkeeper departing from your business which will minimise the disruption in your business and, even potentially, enable you to end up with a better solution than you had before?  Here are our 5 tips;

Anticipate this and plan

Like anyone, your bookkeeper, will be continually reviewing their life decisions in terms of career, work/life balance, family, retirement etc and any one of these could lead to them moving on from working with you.

Now you won’t necessarily know this but there may be signs or things they have said which have given you the sense that something may be about to change. Or, it may be that they have told you directly that in 6 months’ time they are going to be moving to another part of the country, looking to retire or to take a full time employed job elsewhere.

So, in many cases you will be able to see this coming which means you have any opportunity to plan for it and make sure you have a good transition with a new bookkeeper. The key to this is a good dialogue with your existing bookkeeper who you want to know that if they are thinking along these lines, you would appreciate as much notice as possible so you can plan for the future.

Evaluate what you really want and need in your business.  What is important to you?

  • The first thing we would do is write down all the great things which have benefited you from working from your existing bookkeeper that you want to keep in any future arrangement and then consider what you want to be different or better in a future arrangement.  An example might be – your bookkeeper was great at getting all the work done efficiently and knew your business fantastically well but you never really understood the figures he/she gave you and you want someone who is going to spend some time going through the accounts each month with you to make sure that you are aware of any issues arising in your business.
  • Consider how and when you want your bookkeeper to work with you.  For example, they may have been coming in a day per month to do your bookkeeping but do you want the same arrangement?  Do you want more up to date real time bookkeeping or are you happy for the work to be done remotely?
  • What software is being used? If you want to stay with your existing software then you obviously need to find a bookkeeper with the expertise in that software. You may be open, if you aren’t already using one, to moving a cloud based software which could help you streamline your processes, reduce the bookkeeping time needed and enable others in your team to access the bookkeeping systems and undertake elements of the processing and leaving your bookkeeper to concentrate on the more complex accounting elements.
  • What type of person do you want?  This is an important question as they will be an integral part of your business. Most business owners want someone who is approachable, easy to work with, non-judgemental, knows what they are doing, can add lots of value to the business and can help them keep on top of the finances in their business. Do you want a freelance bookkeeper or a bookkeeping company? In a Bookkeeping practice, like the one we have, we make sure that although our clients have their key person that they always work with, there is also another person in the team who can help out in unforeseen circumstances so there is always a backup if needed.

Get some recommendations from people you trust or who would know a good bookkeeper

  • Ask your accountant, they should be able to recommend good bookkeepers and speak to other business owners like yourself and find out who does their bookkeeping.
  • Other options are registers held by professional bodies e.g. The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) have a list of qualified bookkeepers in your area.  There are other professional bodies to consider too.
  • You could also go to the website of the bookkeeping software that you use.  So, for example, if you go to the Xero website you can put in your location and find a list of all the Xero Certified practitioners in your local area.

Meet one or more bookkeepers and see how they can help you

So, by this stage you hopefully know what you want and have some recommendations and can now arrange to meet them and get some quotations.  Although price is of course one element not to be ignored, dig deep to make sure you know exactly what type of service you are going to get.  Getting the right kind of service will save you money in your business and if you end up with a poor bookkeeper, it could be very detrimental to your business.

Put in place an effective transition arrangement

Because you’ve planned ahead, hopefully you now have time to put in place a handover between your old and new bookkeeper so that your new bookkeeper is in the best place to take on your bookkeeping with minimal disruption in your business.

One of the things we were delighted to hear when we met with a new client the other day were the words ‘I was worried before you came about us losing our bookkeeper who has been working with us for many years but now I can see that this could be a good thing as you will bring fresh perspective and some things to the business which we’ve not had before’.

So hopefully this blog has illustrated the benefits of planning for these eventualities to you and your business.

Here are some useful links which may assist you in your thought processes.  Please do contact us if you would like free and no obligation advice about your bookkeeping or to join our mailing list.