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2nd Annual Bookkeeper Superstar Award

Online Marketing and Advertising is the Need of the Hour of the Bookkeeper C2online
In the current digital age, asking yourself if your bookkeeping or accounting practice has or wants to have an online presence is redundant. There is no option anymore - all companies must have an online presence to survive in competitive global markets.Online advertising - which includes social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing - is a must and most small to mid-sized companies are wise enough to outsource online advertising to external agencies.


The Internet is not used only for advertising anymore; in fact, as a result of cloud computing, mobile applications, and improved communication networks, most bookkeepers and accountants are now allowing employees to work over the Internet and are even conducting business meetings via online conferences. Despite Marissa Mayer famously banning working from home at Yahoo!, many employees value the option of working from home.  Debate about the pros and cons aside (we’ll not dive into that debate here), the trend is alive. Folks are using the ‘net to collaborate in ways that were not possible a few short years ago.

We also know physical meetings and actual face-to-face interaction can be vital (a driving force behind Marissa’s decision). Yet, 100% of the 100 Best Companies to Work for offer telecommuting options and 32% of employees are regular telecommuters, so the trend towards online collaboration grows.  There’s clearly no right answer; just the right solution for each individual business. Temper your need for employee flexibility and the need for face-to-face interactions.  Travelling to offsite company strategy meetings can be an effective way to bring people together, especially to discuss your online marketing and advertising strategy.

 

Benefits of online advertising and having a strong online presence

Firstly, all bookkeepers and accountants must maintain a website that is attractive and can support latest technologies. Do company websites need to be better monitored for maintenance? The answer is ‘yes’. You need to have a dedicated web team to manage websites and update them regularly so that company blogs and websites have minimum downtimes and issues.

With online advertising, companies can direct your messages to your ideal or target audience. No time or money is spent on advertising to the wrong audience or waiting for the right people to spot your campaigns. Do you doubt if your company budget and strategy for advertising takes into account the overall business plan and client types that the campaigns need to serve? With online advertising, this is very easy to do as you can maintain a constant brand image and easily target different types of clients with different campaigns and content. 

Online advertising also allows you as a bookkeeper or accountant to develop better relationships with your customers, and is a great way to retain existing customers. Most importantly, with online advertisements, you can customize the advertising campaigns for every customer or groups of customers. Additionally, online advertising is much cheaper than traditional print-radio-television advertising, and your campaigns will be active 24/7. The campaigns also have a worldwide reach, so even a small business can attract customers on a global scale.

Another advantage of having a strong presence online is that customers and other internet users will view your company as an expert source of information in the industry, which not only gives you an edge over competitors but also improves brand image and awareness. Have you asked yourself if your company provides free consultation in the community or in the office? This can be easily done if the company has a formidable online presence. Blog posts, newsletters, articles, guest blogs, etc. are all forms of free consultation, as the company is offering valuable information for free to anyone who wants it.

 

Want to explore media advertising through radio, television or online social media?

Are you wondering which media channel is the best for advertising? Actually, there is no one perfect advertising channel. Companies are advised to consider all – radio, television, and social media channels if the budget allows this. However, social media cannot be ignored and the company should either outsource social media marketing management to an external agency or build a team dedicated to managing the social media presence of the company. Social media platforms allow potential customers to get unbiased information from existing customers about the company, so monitoring social media channels and campaigns is a necessity for companies.

Are you exploring newspaper coverage for sale ads or information type ads? If yes, then this is a good move but it must be coupled with similar ads on social media platforms. This is because people can view your ads anytime and from anywhere on their mobile devices if you post them on social media platforms. Also, your print campaigns must look similar to your social media campaigns. Companies need to figure out how to improve the print material they have and develop them further to match their social media campaigns.


Plan the most Efficient Bookkeeping Meetings C2online

Meetings are vital to the success of your bookkeeping business.  Making sure you have a well planned agenda and good follow up will make your job as a bookkeeper easier and instill confidence with your client.  Here are some tips to help you:

Plan and Execute an Agenda

Once you’ve deemed the bookkeeper meeting necessary, lay out a clear purpose. Write down an agenda or “to-do list” for the meeting. Make a list of points to be discussed or followed upon, and then next to each item, mention who will have to address the issue. This helps you keep track of everything and everyone, and saves you a lot of time; there’s nothing worse than a manager who loses track of things mid-meeting. 

Distribute the copies of the agenda in advance. If everyone who is going to attend the bookkeeper meeting knows what they’ll be held accountable for, they can get prepared too. This helps you wrap up the meeting on time, which makes everyone happy.

Start and Stop on Schedule.

Once you’ve set a time for the meeting to begin and a time for it to end, stick to it strictly. Nobody likes meetings that run late unexpectedly, messing with their plans. Start at exactly the time you’ve mentioned to everyone and don’t wait for anyone who’s late. There’s no point in making the people who are on time suffer while waiting for someone who’s tardy or might not even show up. Remember everyone time’s is money.

Many offices even lock the conference rooms once a meeting has begun, or their office door if the meeting is online. Enforcing strict rules like this will eventually curb tardiness and increase overall efficiency. When people realize that if they’re late, they’ll not be allowed for the meeting, they’re more likely to be on time. (however, if your meetings are notoriously bad, people will “accidentally” be late, so this tactic could backfire! “oh, darn… I was late for the meeting and now I can’t get in. Rats!” )

Prioritize Discussions

Before you call for a meeting, make a list of priority topics to be discussed. Put them in order of importance with the most pressing issues lined up first, and the topics that can still be pushed to another day at the end. Stick to this order when you’re speaking in the meeting. That way, if you happen to run out of time, you can drop less important topics for next time. This helps you stick to your schedule and wrap up the meeting on time.

Summarize the Session

At the end of the bookkeeper meeting keep a few minutes aside to summarize all the points discussed. Make sure that each person present has their action items to be worked on before the next meeting. Another important thing is to make sure that every topic is concluded before moving on to the next one. Wrap up everything and make sure that everyone is clear. Take minutes of the meetings and prepare relevant notes so that you can distribute them to those present there.

Action items encourages people to work harder so that they have something to share in subsequent follow up meetings. It makes sure that everything discussed in the meeting is implemented correctly, making your bookkeeper meetings more productive and useful. A good bookkeeper can balance their follow up tactics so that employees don’t feel hounded, but encouraged and supported.


Managing your Bookkeeping Clients Expectations C2online

So much work and effort is made to winning a new bookkeeping business client, there is the initial prospecting, early conversations, budget considerations, and creation of a deliverable timeline. Unfortunately, all of that work can come to a screeching halt before the ink is dry on the contract when the same amount of time, energy and commitment isn't placed on managing the client's expectations after the business is won. 

Be a good listener – ensure that you really learn about your new clients business.  Listen to what your client tells you about their business.  Remember that knowing their business well means you have demonstrated that you have an invested interest in their business and their success.    

Be a mentor – Your client is really good at their business but they are not bookkeepers.  They have recognized they need a professional to handle their finances and they have come to you.  Establish that you are an expert and that they can expect mentor-ship about their finances.

Agree on goals and timelines – Clearly outline for your client what goals you will achieve and when you intend to achieve them.  

CommunicateKashoo agrees.  In a recent article they say, ‘Cutting to the core of it, you need to make sure that your new bookkeeper communicates well and in the channel that suits your style, preference and industry.’  Using tools like our Bookkeepers Quote ensures that at the very least you have a communication tool that will outline your expectations.  Yes, I did say your expectations are just as important because if the client does not provide you the necessary information to complete the goal you outlined their expectation will not be met.

Ultimately your ability to manage client expectations is going to hinge on how well you choose to communicate.  If you don't clearly outline and mentor your client and you leave things to chance, chances are your client will be disappointed.


Removing stress by hiring a bookkeeper C2online
We’ve talked about guidelines on how to choose a bookkeeper, but perhaps you are still not convinced
you really need one. Let’s review your situation.

Not that long ago, starting a business and fulfilling your passion was your dream.

You’ve taken that step—you’ve created your own business. It’s beginning to take off and you’re looking
to expand. There’s a lot on your plate—you’re testing the market, looking for a new location, meeting
with potential customers, interviewing, training and hiring new employees, setting up the office, and
purchasing inventory, among many other tasks.

The business is starting to make a profit; the day-to-day running of it keeps you busy full-time. Tracking
inventory records, accounts payable, accounts receivable and other transactions needs to be done.

Instead of having that extra time to play with your kids, spend time with your partner or pursue personal
interests, you are now swamped with receipts and records at nights and on weekends. You can’t sleep
soundly because you are worried about inventory, cash flow and the myriad of other items a business
owner needs to stay on top of. Financial record keeping just keeps getting put on the back burner.

As an entrepreneur, you need devote your energy to growing and running your business. You need some
personal time; everyone does. It’s also critical to stay on top of your finances. How do you achieve all of
that?

The best way to accomplish that is by hiring a bookkeeper, freeing you up to manage the running and
growing of your business. You can reduce your workload and stress, focus on things you are good at—
the reason you started the business in the first place--and have a bookkeeper handle the tracking and
recording of your finances.

Taking this step will allow you to breathe easier. Simplify your life—hire a bookkeeper. If you need to find one check out the North American Bookkeeper Directory and if you are a bookkeeper get listed for Free.

Image Credit: bizior 


Bookkeeper Job Responsibilities Defined C2online

A bookkeeper is someone who is hired to handle the recording of a company’s financial transactions.  He manages the company’s books of original entries – which is called the Journal, and the books of final entries – otherwise known as the ledger.



He plays a crucial role in making sure that a company’s financial records are kept up to date, and making sure that all transactions are accounted for correctly.

He also plays other important roles, and his duties include the following:

Assists in Payroll Preparation.

A bookkeeper makes sure that employees’ payroll is prepared and the corresponding taxes, and government mandated benefits are tracked accordingly.  He makes sure that correct tax exemptions are given to each employee, this is so that no major tax adjustments will be necessary during the year-end preparation of employees’ withholding taxes.  Though he may be not directly involved in the payroll preparation process, he works hand in hand with the payroll master to make sure that payroll is prepared accordingly.

Tax Filing.

A bookkeeper makes sure that all receipts, invoices and any other documents are kept and recorded.  This helps in properly accounting for all transactions that may impact tax declaration, most especially during the year-end financial statement preparations.

Help in the Preparation of Financial Statements.

Since the bookkeeper takes care of the company’s book of accounts, it’s but logical that he works hand in hand with the accountant during the preparation of the company’s balance sheet and income statement.  And others, like the statement of cash flow.

He must make sure that everything is recorded.  Even small amount that are not recorded shouldn’t be missed.  This is because everything adds up eventually. 

And companies may lose a lot of great deal by ignoring minor expenses that go unnoticed.

Monitoring Bank Transactions and Preparing Bank Reconciliation Statement.

The bookkeeper helps ensure that cash in bank balances match the cash balances reflected in the company’s books. Any discrepancy is a cause for alarm because that shows that there are transactions that weren’t recorded by the bookkeeper.  This should be done on a regular basis, like monthly or quarterly.


5 Tips on How to be a Good Client for Your Bookkeeper C2online

We recently looked at the characteristics of a good bookkeeper. But what about being a good client?

As a general rule, a bookkeeper will be more diligent with the clients that they love and respect. So what do you need to do as a client to get the highest level of performance from your bookkeeper? Below are 5 tips for you to remember when working with your bookkeeper.

1. It's Not Their Fault
Bookkeepers can make mistakes - they are human - but not that often. Bookkeepers love what they do because they have great attention to detail and they like to see things add up correctly and balance. Often they are quick, as well as being thorough. As a rule, they are hard wired to do things right.

Most likely the blame for incorrect entries and 'mistakes' are because of miscommunication or misunderstanding. So try your best to understand what your bookkeeper needs.

2. Send Material on Time
We all live with deadlines. Bookkeepers have lots of deadlines for multiple clients so be aware of when they need things such as getting bank statements from you.

If you have specific dates in a month when you want to review your financial statements, let your bookkeeper know. They will let you know what their requirements are to deliver on time.

If you don't know ask. If there is a mix-up, write an email to make your needs clear.

3. Listen to Suggestions
Bookkeepers know what they are doing and they work with lots of clients. They know how to improve processes and how to make things run smoothly. Ask for suggestions, listen, and be sure you understand their suggestions. You will learn a thing or two which will help to improve the bottom line.

4. Pay Your Bills on Time
No one likes a staler. If you want great service from your bookkeeper then be sure to pay them well and pay then on time. Just do it.

5. Show Your Appreciation
This is obvious but so easy to forget. Show your appreciation for all the things your bookkeeper does and the effort they put in to deliver your books on time - consistently. You don't need to do something special every month but what about every quarter or twice a year.

Your appreciation could be a simple phone call to say thanks or maybe a gift certificate for two at a nearby restaurant. Who doesn't like eating out once in a while?

We hope that these suggestions are helpful to you as a client who has hired a bookkeeper. Make a comment and let us know what you think.


What Makes a Good Bookkeeper…. Good? 10 Tips for Finding a Superstar Bookkeeper C2online

We've talked about it in our previous blogs because it's something that every small business owner has to think about. Do you do your own bookkeeping or look to outsource it? It's an important decision because there's no getting around having to manage all the paperwork that comes with running a business. For a lot of entrepreneurs, there eventually comes a time when you have no choice but to invest in a bookkeeper.

But what should you look for in a bookkeeper? What makes a good bookkeeper… good? Here are 10 tips for what to look for in a superstar bookkeeper. 

1. Education and Qualifications

These are some of the main factors that you need to consider when choosing your bookkeeper. There are three types of certifications in Canada:

  • The Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (CPB - Certified Professional Bookkeeper)
  • The Canadian Institute of Bookkeeping (CB -Certified Bookkeeper)
  • The Canadian Bookkeepers Association (RPB - Registered Professional Bookkeeper)

If you want your bookkeeper to have payroll responsibilities, you will want someone who has at least a minimum certification level with the Canadian Payroll Association. 

Are they accredited by a professional association? Bookkeepers who belong to a professional organization have to abide with a code of ethics, plus you can contact the association itself in the event of a problem. 

Ask if they're doing any continuing education with additional classes or self-study. This will show their commitment to enhancing their skills and staying up to date. 

2. Experience and References

Education and training are important, but there is no substitute for experience. And even better, experience with small businesses in your particular area of business. Certain industries call for specialist knowledge and an understanding of the particular issues involved. Avoid bookkeepers who mainly work with big corporations; the issues that come up for small business are different than those that a bookkeeper would encounter with larger companies. Look for three years of full-time experience providing full-cycle bookkeeping to businesses similar to yours. 

Candidates should substantiate their claims through references. Small business clients can vouch for a bookkeeper’s timeliness, quality of service and their personality. Also ask for references from professional accountants they've worked with who can comment on their technical skills and proficiency. These accountants will know how much or how little time they had to spend cleaning up the bookkeeper's work at year end. This is also important if you already have an accountant that you want your bookkeeper to work with—check that the candidate has had good working relationships with these accountants.

3. Detail-Oriented

It's no coincidence that this is at the top of the list. It is one of those essential traits that a good bookkeeper should have and you should be looking for. Detail-oriented bookkeepers have the level of accuracy and precision that the work requires. Someone who wants to categorize every expense item as “miscellaneous,” for instance, isn’t going to do you much good at the end of the month. Being thorough in your documentation is critical to accurately reporting your financial information. Attention to detail is a must! If they come across as frazzled or disorganized, it's time to move on. 

4. Analytical Skills

The other essential trait you're looking for is their analytical skills. Once your detail-oriented bookkeeper organizes the information, they now need to analyze it. Part of their job is reviewing and deciphering this information to help you make important business decisions. Analysis of financial documents is crucial and a good bookkeeper will be able to do this well.

5. Time Management

A good bookkeeper knows how to organize their time for optimum results. They should be able to prioritize, allow time to focus on problems and solutions, and schedule frequent reviews and updates with you. If they have good time management, they will be proactive and complete tasks with a deadline such as monthly financial reports, filing taxes, claims, etc. And if problems arise, you need to know that your bookkeeper will inform you in time to do something about them. It doesn't do you much good if you need to be constantly checking up on your bookkeeper because they don't have the time management skills required for the job.

6. Excellent Communication Skills

This isn't something that is normally associated with people who talk of debits and credits, but the best bookkeepers are more than silent number crunchers. Unless you already know the ins and outs of the finances of your business, you are relying on your bookkeeper to relay this information in a manner that you'll understand. You should be making business decisions based on your finances and you must have a bookkeeper that can communicate this information so that it's useful and meaningful to you.

7. Passion and Personality

These are the less obvious personality traits that you should also consider. First, your candidate must love numbers and have a clear understanding of math. There are no maybes in summing up totals or calculating balances. And don't underestimate personality. It's not a trait most people look for in a bookkeeper but you're forming a relationship with this person to talk about what's going on in your business and what the numbers show. It's important to find someone who you can get along with and relate to.

8. Trust and Security

You are sharing sensitive financial information so client confidentiality is crucial. It only makes sense that you trust the person you're handing over confidential numbers and bank account information to. Ask what security and privacy measures they have. Is the data that they hold for your business secure?  

9. Technically Inclined

Today’s bookkeeping is automated, even for the smallest of businesses. So it doesn’t make sense to partner with someone who is not technologically inclined. They should be familiar with Word, Excel, email, the internet and some kind of bookkeeping software. Bookkeeping software allows for much simpler, faster, and more sophisticated analysis of your company’s information. It will also improve the productivity and performance of your bookkeeper's work. (More efficient work means less hours charged to you!) The right bookkeeper will have the skills to accomplish this. And your financial data should be kept on a hard drive, not on a shelf.

10. Rates

At the bottom of our list, but hardly an insignificant question, is how much they charge. And what does this include? Rates can be a wide range anywhere from $15 per hour to $100 per hour depending on their skill level and experience… as well as the complexity and volume of work your business requires. Some bookkeepers will offer fixed fees per month. With bookkeeping, as with most other services, you generally get what you pay for. Ine
xpensive rates can turn out to be more expensive if the bookkeeper takes more hours than someone at a higher rate. Remember that this as an investment that will save you more money over the long run.

Ask about any additional costs such as:

  • Set-up fees. Setting up a new client can be a very time-consuming process so get a cost on this.
  • Retainers. Some bookkeepers charge in arrears for their services.
  • Miscellaneous charges. Ask about additional charges for photocopying, printing, files, binders, courier, faxes, etc.  

Preparation, knowing what your business' requirements are, and knowing what to ask candidates will guide you in your search. Put the time and effort into finding that superstar bookkeeper - it will benefit you and your business in the long run.

We have a new directory to assist you in your search. C2online's North American Bookkeeper Directory: www.c2online.ca/BookkeeperDirectory.aspx



Does your bookkeeper have...? Lisa Patrick

Ensuring that your bookkeeper is qualified to complete the tasks required by your accountant to file the year end is very important. 

ASK YOURSELF how much time and money is spent trying to decide what they need in order to complete your bookkeeping for year end?

Finding a bookkeeper that is able to communicate to you what they need is also part of their job description.  Do they have all the communication tools and checklists to ensure that when they receive the bookkeeping from you that they have all the paperwork necessary to complete all their tasks.  Remember every time they call and request paperwork from you that should have been communicated to you initially when you provided them your box, costs you money. 

Ask yourself, if they don't know what they need or how to communicate to you; how good of a job are they doing?  It is not just about the data entry it's about truly understanding what you the client requires and communicating those needs to you.

Lisa Patrick
CEO


Factors on Deciding who is Your Bookkeeper! Lisa Patrick

Deciding:

1. who to hire for a bookkeeper?
2. is your bookkeeper doing the job right?
3. is your bookkeeper stealing from you?
 
7 DO rules:
1.         do request a security report from some regulatory authority, the police?
2.         do have a routine day in the month that you actually sign the cheques to pay the people you owe.
3.         do randomly with out warning, ask from your bookkeeper for the copy of the most current bank statement with all the cheques attached with the print out of the bank ledger and the bank reconciliation report.
4.         do look at the cheques attached to determine if the cheques are logical for your company.
5.         do bring the random information you requested to your tax accountant.. at that time a quick cross ticking of the information should tell the accountant if the cheques appear the same on the reports
6.       do request financial reports be provided by your bookkeeper at a random time and ask your tax accountant to determine the logic on the reports and if possible compared to the previous year.
7.         do commit some time every year that you learn one section of your financial statements either from your tax accountant or take a FREE government course. (account payable, account receivable, assets, statement reconciliation, loans & liabilities, equity or shares, balance sheet, operating expenses and capital expenses, income, etc)
www.cra.gc.ca <http://www.cra.gc.ca/>  (go on line and search what courses they have close to your area.
 
3 DO NOT rules:
1.         do not have the same person always preparing the deposit information from the cash drawer as the same one always depositing to the bank.
2.         do not allow your bookkeeper signing authority on your bank accounts.
3.         do not have the same person issuing your cheques and posting to the bookkeeping as the person who matches and balances the information to the statement accounts.

Darlene Lafond
Master Tax Accountant


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