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Small Business Advice: Make Sure your Bookkeeper Ticks all the Right Boxes!

Trying to find a bookkeeper that will offer you the very best service and value for money is not always a straightforward task. Lynn Watson of Office Assistants offers a helping hand by way of advice on what factors that should appear at the top of a business owner's wish list when sourcing a professional to take care of their accounting and admin needs.

'First things first' says Lynn, Director of Office Assistants, a company that provides bookkeeping services throughout Essex and London, 'Ask for testimonials. Make sure you can check that other businesses have been satisfied with the service they received.'

The next item that should be on the checklist according to Lynn is specific industry experience. 'Of course the longer the firm has been trading the better, however, making sure they have experience in your particular area of business is crucial,' urges Lynn. 'Certain industries call for specialist knowledge and an understanding of the particular issues involved so make sure the bookkeeping firm has dealt with other traders or companies in your field, and of your size too. If you are a sole trader or small to medium sized business, don't opt for a bookkeeper that normally deals with corporate organisations.'

Flexibility is another thing that appears high on the list. Lynn advises that companies or traders should try and find someone that offers a flexible service tailored to their specific needs rather than an off-shelf package which won't always fit the bill.

Next up is being proactive. 'Make sure your chosen bookkeeper is dedicated to streamlining your working processes so that you can stop worrying about deadlines, fines and paperwork. If you do not have time to deal with these things then find someone who does, someone who is capable of doing them properly on your behalf and who works proactively to make sure they have everything they need from you by the required dates,' says Lynn Watson who goes on to say that finding someone who can save you as much money as possible by properly advising you on claiming for expenses is another crucial factor. 'Bookkeepers who have the most experience and expertise will save you substantially more,' she adds.

Hands-on business owners who spend the working day working will benefit from being able to speak to or see their bookkeeper outside office hours. If they are flexible and happy to speak during evenings or weekends then this makes life much easier.

A good bookkeeping firm will invest in its staff to make sure they are committed to providing the very best service to their clients. Holding the Investor in People Standard is a good indication of this staff investment.

Lynn offers a guarantee of satisfaction which she says always goes a long way in showing that a bookkeeper is dedicated to providing a quality service. 'Look for a money back guarantee - if you are not satisfied then you do not pay', she says.

Finally but by no means of least importance, if the bookkeeping firm is a member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) like Office Assistants then this means they will be required to continue to meet certain high standards. Membership of the ICB is only awarded to those bookkeepers who are able to display superior levels of experience, qualifications and competence and meet a set of strict criteria.

Following these steps when sourcing a bookkeeper will put business owners well on their way to finding a quality, reliable firm that offers professionalism, expertise and value for money.

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Investors in PeopleThe Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

Company's Practice Number: 4635