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How to Choose the Right Business Services Provider for Your Business

September 17, 2020 / by Sydney Wess, Clutch

Are you ready to outsource your bookkeeping and controller services? Choose the best one for your business with these tips from Clutch.

Businessman-choosing-service-providerBusiness services providers can supply companies with a return on investment that outweighs the cost of their services — if you select a service provider that best caters to your business needs.

Clutch is a B2B ratings and reviews company that facilitates connections between service providers and businesses in need of external services.

As experts in finding the right business partner, we closely examine what qualities make providers effective in outsourced roles. For this article, we will focus on finding a bookkeeping services provider. The terms bookkeeping and accounting are sometimes used interchangeably, though important differences exist when accounting refers to work done by a CPA. Note that we group bookkeeping and accounting business services together, emphasizing similar qualities needed for success in the industry.

This article will discuss three essential considerations to make before starting a relationship with a bookkeeper. That way, you’ll be well positioned to hire a provider with confidence.

Consider a Long-Term Partnership
When investing in a bookkeeping services provider, it’s best to go through the search process assuming that your partnership will be long-term. This mindset will allow you to think big-picture, encouraging you to consider their impact on your business as you scale.

Business partnerships within industries like PR and app development often last for a year or less. The same can’t be said for bookkeeping relationships. Unlike partnerships in other industries, bookkeeping does not typically include project-based activities. Instead, they include ongoing services, often without a specified end date.

To avoid unnecessary outsourced turnover, it’s important to select a service provider that will be able to serve your business effectively for the foreseeable future.

According to a Small Business Accounting survey from Accounting Today, 88% of small businesses are at least somewhat satisfied with their accounting services provider. The same survey indicates that only 16% of companies are at all likely to switch to a new accounting service provider after 2019.

This tells us that other small businesses are thinking long-term in their partnerships with bookkeepers. Having a ‘sticky’ relationship with these service providers will save you time searching for a strong partner and will enable them to become better acquainted with your business operations.

Consider bookkeeping services providers with a sense of permanence on your team. This should start at the beginning of your hiring process. It’s more than likely that you’ll need their services for multiple years, so it’s optimal to select the right services partner for your business.

Vet Their Communication Skills
While it’s imperative to your financial operations to hire a services provider with the right technical skills for the job, communication skills are often just as important for bookkeeping services.

After confirming that your services provider has the following technical qualifications, it’s time to begin assessing their ability to communicate with you and your team.

  • Advanced use of QuickBooks
  • Strong Excel skills
  • Data analysis and visualization capabilities

While technical skills are the core of what makes a bookkeeping services provider effective, businesses often value communication-oriented qualities above others.

Accounting Today found that businesses want their accounting business partner to serve as a trusted advisor above all other qualities. Businesses also showed strong preferences for accountants that respond quickly to questions and understand their industry. We find that businesses look for similar qualities in both accounting and bookkeeping service providers.

In order to trust a bookkeeper to be an advisor on all things finance, you need to develop an open line of communication. Without that transparency, it will be more difficult to attain the coveted relationship.

A bookkeeper with strong communication skills will also be more inclined to respond quickly and develop an understanding of your industry through active communication.

For this reason, it’s important to look beyond technical skills as you’re narrowing down your list of candidates. Communication skills will go far in your effort to collaborate with your outsourced partner and acclimate them to your business operations.  

Get Referrals From Trusted Sources
Given the long-term relationships that many bookkeeping professionals share with their clients, word of mouth referrals are common in this industry.

It’s highly likely that colleagues in your network and industry have relationships with service providers that meet your needs.

A recent study by Nielson indicates that 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know over other forms of advertising. Word of mouth is often the most convenient way to connect with a new business partner.

If the recommendation is coming from someone you know and trust, you may be able to bypass the initial stages of scoping out candidates.

However, to increase your confidence about a referral, it may be helpful to conduct additional research and read verified reviews from other companies that have worked with the provider in the past. Doing so will give you a more holistic sense of what it’s like to work with any given service provider.

After reading about others’ experiences with bookkeepers, it may also be beneficial to check out their website to get a better understanding of the company before reaching out.

Pairing a strong recommendation from a friend with independent, third-party research on a financial services company will increase your chances of finding a company with the experience and range of service offerings you need to manage your finances.

Leverage Critical Thinking Skills to Strategically Select the Right Business Services Provider
In any situation, outsourcing work to an external company can be stressful. However, you can take steps to ensure a positive working relationship with your new partner in the initial hiring phase.

When searching for a bookkeeping services provider, envision a long-term partnership. If you choose a strong candidate, your engagement with them is likely to last for years.

Secondly, it’s important to remember the importance of communication skills for bookkeeping service providers. Technical skills are typically top-of-mind when considering companies, but companies with strong communication skills will be able to create a valuable, trusting relationship.

Word-of-mouth referrals are popular in the financial space, but your hiring decision shouldn’t be made solely on a friend’s glowing recommendation. It’s helpful to read reliable reviews and examine the company’s online presence to evaluate the company independently.

Sydney Wess researches and writes content for Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform.

Topics: Supporting Strategies

Sydney Wess, Clutch

Written by Sydney Wess, Clutch

Sydney Wess researches and writes content for Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform.