What to Ask an Online Bookkeeper Before You Hire Them

Are You Searching for an Online Bookkeeper?

10 Questions to Ask an Online Bookkeeper Before Hiring Them

Before entrusting your finances to an online bookkeeper, asking a few questions is best. While it would be wonderful if every person who called themselves an “online bookkeeper” were an experienced professional with relevant expertise, virtual bookkeepers’ capabilities, skills, and experience vary. At Accounting Meister, we have some suggestions about what to ask an online bookkeeper during the interview process to help you find the right service provider for you.

1. What Experience Do You Have With Clients in My Industry?

Every business has unique requirements specific to the industry they serve. To truly understand your financial transactions, especially allowable deductions and expenses, an online bookkeeper should have experience within your industry. For example, a bookkeeper who usually works with veterinarians probably won’t be a good fit for your needs if you have a trucking business.

2. What Services Do You Provide?

When looking for an outsourced bookkeeping service, it’s crucial to find a provider who offers the services you need. At a minimum, an online bookkeeper should be able to manage accounts receivable (A/R) and accounts payable (A/P), reconcile bank accounts, and use standard financial software like QuickBooks® Online. Beyond these essential functions, services from an outsourced bookkeeper can vary significantly. Not every bookkeeper can do payroll or prepare financial reports, for example. Ask about any specific services you need. The team at Accounting Meister provides online bookkeeping services to startups, small and medium-sized businesses, and self-employed individuals. Contact us for details or schedule an initial consultation.

3. How Long Have You Been an Online Bookkeeper?

Many professionals have recently begun to offer their services on the Internet. While this gives consumers convenient access, it’s important to remember that not everyone has experience working in an online environment. So, before you choose an online bookkeeper, it’s best to verify that the bookkeeper has experience working in the virtual world. Someone who previously worked only on in-person accounts may not be proficient with the technology necessary to be effective online and may lack essential skills with apps, websites, and communication. 

4. Who Will I Be Working With?

Bookkeeping and accounting firms range from single individuals to large companies that employ seemingly countless numbers of people. A bookkeeper may also work with administrative personnel you might deal with occasionally. Ask questions about who will regularly call or contact you and work on your accounts. Accounting Meister’s online bookkeeping team is a small group of experienced professionals who work under the supervision of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). So you can rest assured that your books are in the hands of a capable, experienced team.

5. What Accounting Software or Systems Do You Use?

QuickBooks® has become the preferred software for bookkeepers and accountants, and any online bookkeeper should be proficient with QuickBooks® Online. However, if your business uses another accounting system, ask a prospective online bookkeeper about their experience with it. At Accounting Meister, we can bring you or your bookkeeper up to speed on QuickBooks® or another accounting system. Our services include tutoring and training.

6. What Credentials Do You Have?

Anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper, so it’s essential to ask about education and certifications. A certified professional bookkeeper has demonstrated that their skills meet industry standards which are verified by an accrediting body such as the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB).

The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) provides certification as a certified public bookkeeper (CPB), and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) offers an accredited bookkeeper (CB) certification. Both of these organizations require completion of certified bookkeeper courses online and passing a rigorous 4-part exam to demonstrate skills and experience that meet industry standards for professional bookkeepers.

Bookkeepers may also have received additional education or certificates from educational institutes like colleges. Some accounting software vendors, like QuickBooks®, also offer certifications to individuals who have demonstrated proficiency with their software.

7. How Do You Communicate With Clients?

Miscommunication can introduce stress into the client-bookkeeper relationship, so it’s vital to know how you will communicate with your bookkeeper. Additionally, if you prefer a specific mode of communication, like phone calls over emails, you should make sure your preferences are known and can be accommodated. 

8. How Do You Protect My Data?

An online bookkeeper will have access to sensitive financial data, making it extremely important that any information they have remains secure. Ask how the bookkeeper will protect your data, including what software they may use to ensure security.

9. What Is A Typical Turnaround Time For Completing Bookkeeping Tasks Each Month? 

The goal is to complete your bookkeeping for the month within 15 business days after receiving all your documentation. This gives us enough time to process your data, get answers to any questions we may have, and make any necessary adjustments before the end of the month. However, your books may take longer if you are behind on your books, are unable to get us the information we need, or have an unusually high number of transactions for the month. And we will always let you know if there is a delay in finishing your books and the reason for that delay.

10. How Much Do Your Services Cost?

It might seem obvious to ask how much a bookkeeper’s services cost, but it can be easy to skip over the subject without completely understanding what their services will and will not include. Even if a bookkeeper has given you a pricing sheet or other documentation regarding costs, don’t assume that it explains all the costs involved.

Instead, ask them directly about their pricing. What, exactly, is included if they are providing A/R and A/P? Are there potential costs that occur occasionally, but not all the time? Will you need to pay for any subscriptions or apps? Be thorough with questions about cost. If you have a pricing sheet, it may be worthwhile to go through each point to understand what you’re paying for thoroughly.   

Accounting Meister has the expertise to guide you when you’re looking for help with bookkeeping and accounting. We can provide you with a QuickBooks® ProAdvisor, help you with other types of accounting software, and provide tutoring or training on bookkeeping or accounting. Clients love the convenience and efficiency of our online bookkeeping services. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an initial consultation.

Avatar for Scott Meister, CPA

Scott Meister, CPA

I help small businesses, accountants, bookkeepers, office managers, and business owners with their accounting needs. I’ve used QuickBooks since 2002 and train folks on how to use it efficiently. I create high-quality video training tutorials for QuickBooks and post them on scottmeister.teachable.com. Certifications include: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) | Certified Bookkeeper (CB) | Advanced Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Desktop | Advanced Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Online | Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Enterprise | Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Point Of Sale