By Gabrielle Fontaine, PB, ASBC
Do you feel like your capacity for handling client bookkeeping is at its limit and you’re struggling to figure out how to possibly take on more of these clients without losing your mind? Optimizing your bookkeeping services is one of the few ways you can grow your client base without hiring more staff. But how, exactly?
Here are 5 quick tips to help you get more done with less stress:
1. Stop traveling to your client’s office
Too many accounting professionals I talk to are still physically traveling to their clients’ offices to get the work done, or even to just pick up and drop off paperwork. While face-to-face contact is irreplaceable for building relationships, it’s terribly inefficient for providing billable services like bookkeeping.
Leverage online technology and start working virtually instead. Let your clients know that you are using a new system that brings win-win efficiency to how you’ll handle their bookkeeping tasks. I’d recommend moving toward remote services gradually, and laying out a plan that is implemented over a few months’ time.
Focus on the convenience to the client of using web-based services. (See the free ebook at the end of this article for more step-by-step info on how to work virtually with your clients)
2. Go paperless
One of the biggest slowdowns to working virtually with clients is trying to figure out how to move from paper-based documents to online documents. While it may mean changing some habits, nowadays it’s much easier than ever before. If you need receipts from clients, simply get them in the habit of forwarding you email receipts and snap photos of paper documents with their smart phone.
Of course, if your clients have lots of documents (some of which might be sensitive) this may not be the best way to ‘optimize’ – so consider using online secure document management tools instead (personally, I use SmartVault with all of my clients, and love it!)
3. Use cloud-based software
Part of the inefficiencies with desktop software, when providing bookkeeping services at your clients’ offices or even on your own computer, is that the information is not always easily accessible, either to you or your client.
To solve this issue, especially in our mobile society, some have opted to host desktop software online. But I’ve found in my own practice the most economical and easiest solution is to simply use web-based bookkeeping software instead. QuickBooks Online and Xero are the most popular options here in the US, but there are many others too.
The idea is that your efficiency dramatically improves when you use web-accessible software. Your clients become more independent and proactive about getting the info they need in real time, and communication becomes easier for training and answering questions because you’re literally on the same page no matter where you are.
4. Use a cash management system
This is a low-tech tip that optimizes your own cash management and can become a high-value service you provide for your clients.
I’ve found what’s laid out in the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz to be the most effective yet simple way to get the most from every dollar you earn and optimize your financial stability, no matter the size of your practice:
The newest edition of the book has just been released and shows you how to guarantee your profitability from your next deposit forward. Once you see how it works (the real learning is in the doing), you’ll dramatically build your financial confidence.
Then you’ll be in a great position to help your clients implement it as well. In a very tangible way, you’ll make your clients’ businesses stronger and they’ll sing your praises. That’s and easy way to move toward higher value advisory services for your own growth.
If this fits your business model, consider getting certified and join Profit First Professionals for added support and referrals.
5. Avoid bright shiny app syndrome
Once you step into the virtual bookkeeping world, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of apps you can use (and pay monthly for) in the hopes of making your bookkeeping services more efficient.
Piling on the apps is not only expensive, it will send you down very time-consuming rabbit holes and leave you exhausted. Take a minimalist approach to choosing apps instead. In fact, I’ve developed a 6-step process that starts with the RESULTS you’re trying to get for you and your clients and will save you a ton of headaches. I’ll be covering that in the upcoming webinar “Your App Survival Guide” on July 27, 2017 at 3pm EDT. I’d love to have you join us. It’s free!
Did you see a tip here that would work for you? Optimize the bookkeeping services your practice provides clients and you’ll literally be getting more done in less time with more to show for it on your bottom line!
Gabrielle Fontaine is a freelance Professional Bookkeeper and Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. For more than 25 years, she has helped tech-savvy consultants and self-employed professionals get their books under control, save taxes, and maximize cash flow and profits using the power of online apps. She is the author of the popular blog, The Freelance Bookkeeper.