After reading the first two pieces in this series (here and here), you’ve decided you want to outsource your accounting. Great! But now you’re wondering what you can do to get the best service out of your accounting team.
Luckily, Seller Accountant has dealt with all sorts of clients, and in our years of experience, we’ve compiled a list of the traits that our favorite clients tend to have.
It can be daunting to trust someone with your finances, especially when successful money management is something that can make or break your business. That’s why we’ve found it’s important to use a bank that offers accountant access.
Accountant access, also called Access Manager (Chase and Wells Fargo), Authorized User (Bank of America), and Cash Flow Insight (PNC), is a level of permission that allows you to give your accountant read-only access to your business accounts. This way, the team can see your transactions and balances without having full access to your funds.
We’ve found that this is the best way to work with our clients’ accounts and still give them peace of mind and security around their accounting. With accountant access, your team will have their own bank login, so there’s never any need to share passwords or personal information.
Banks without this feature are still accessible by your accounting team, but access will require you to share login information.
If you’re making the decision to open a business account and find yourself weighing your options for which bank to use, a branch that allows you to add authorized users or accountant access will always be more secure than one that doesn’t.
Since a large part of e-commerce accounting is managing inventory, you’ll need to have a solid system in place.
There are quite a few software options available for inventory management (Ordoro, Skubana, RetailOps, etc.), but you can also use a simple spreadsheet system – if you’re meticulous about keeping it up to date.
Understanding where your inventory is in the shipping process – as well as how much you owe on it – is a huge help to your accounting team who doesn’t have access to your warehouse information. A well-managed tracking system creates a solid stream of information from your warehouse to your accountant.
Separate Your Accounts
Like The Offspring said, “you’ve gotta keep ‘em separated,” and though they weren’t talking about business bank accounts, the advice still stands.
One of the worst things you can do to complicate your accountant’s job is combine bank accounts. Whether it’s mixing personal and business spending or using the same account for multiple entities, a jumble of these transactions all in one place will create more work for your accounting team, whose job it is to parse out exactly where your money goes.
Keeping a separate account for your business allows you to clearly see your company’s spending and, as mentioned above, makes it easier for you to secure your accounts by giving access only where it’s needed.
When you hire a team to take on your accounting, it can be tempting to keep close tabs on your finances and control exactly what your bookkeepers are doing.
But while it’s important to monitor your books and assure you’re getting what you paid for, having too many cooks in the accounting kitchen will muddy up the chain of responsibility and allow important tasks to slip through the cracks.
When you first hire your team, make a clear list of tasks you’re planning to delegate and then stick to it. From an accounting standpoint, it is always simpler to have full control over an account rather than piecemeal.
Paying for outsourced accounting should take something off of your plate, so if you find yourself itching to check your books or logging in to make changes to your balance sheet, try setting up a regular check-in meeting with your accountant to put your mind at ease.
Form a Happy Relationship
As we’ve mentioned before, communication with your accountant is key, and good communication is twofold.
First, you’ll need to be responsive to your team when they have clarifying questions or request access to certain accounts. Answering emails and calls in a timely manner is crucial to keeping your books up to date and getting your books reconciled efficiently.
Second, be easy to work with. Outsourcing your accounting is stressful for a lot of business owners, and your accounting team understands that. However, managing your expectations will go a long way towards forming a good working relationship with your team.
This includes things like understanding when your payment channels make final deposits for the month, being proactive instead of reactive in your communication (another case for regular check-in meetings), realizing that you are most likely not your firm’s only client, and working to clarify any questions you may have in a calm and respectful manner.
In fact, good communication and an easygoing personality can save you money in the long run. When you’re communicative, your team can work more efficiently, driving costs down. When you’re easy to work with, they are more likely to go the extra mile to help you reach a deadline or answer your questions.
The Big Picture
When you’re ready to outsource your accounting, you want to get the most you can out of your investment. By taking these steps, you’ll set your business – and your accountants – up for success.
Check out the other posts in this series:
What does it take to do e-commerce accounting correctly?
What drives the price of an outsourced service?
How much should you expect to pay for an outsourced accounting service?