Engaging a professional bookkeeper: Not your father’s classic Ford

Engaging a professional bookkeeper: Not your father’s classic Ford

I’ve been researching a new vehicle and know that I want to reduce my carbon footprint, especially when I see the impact global warming is making on our planet.

With so many options, I’ve determined my next vehicle will be a plug-in hybrid, and while it will be some time before I need maintenance, I need to make sure I have a reputable dealer, especially for what I think will be a complex car with technology that I can’t even begin to understand other than to drive it.

Just as an auto dealer wouldn’t attempt to do their own books, I wouldn’t attempt to fix my own car, but every vehicle technician is not a mechanic and every mechanic is not a vehicle technician.

Today’s mechanic is not just a wrench and socket person to fix the problem; today’s vehicle technicians are not only trained to deal with sophisticated and integrated systems, but also equipped with diagnostic tools specific to that vehicle.

How does this compare to today’s bookkeeper? There are definite parallels.

Today’s niche bookkeeper is a professional (in my case, CPB – Certified Professional Bookkeeper) who has formal training to ensure transactional recording produces accurate financial statements, while also having the knowledge specific to the industry integrated systems, regulations, and apps. So, for vehicle mechanics, it’s not just the physical act of fixing the problem; they have to identify the problem and use critical thinking to make sure everything works together. They especially have to understand the technical aspects of all the integrated systems.

Just as vehicle systems have become more complex, so has today’s bookkeeping systems, especially for niche industries. For example, my niche is “craft” bookkeeping. The costing and manufacturing processes in breweries, wineries, and distilleries are all different. In addition, a craft business may have three to four sub-businesses: manufacturing, self-distribution, a taproom/lounge, and a retail operation complete with an online store.

As a niche bookkeeper who specializes in the craft beer space, I have to understand how to put the puzzle together. I have to figure out how technical and integrated systems, such as Ekos or Brew Ninja (craft beverage software), integrate with the POS in Square, the online store, CRM systems, and business overhead and payroll into QuickBooks® Online. These represent the backbone systems that a business owner relies on for tax, business planning, and reporting. Add to this staff access, various task management systems, operating 100% in the cloud, and security – yep, critical thinking is necessary to understand and troubleshoot it all!

Today’s niche bookkeeper is a specialized industry technician who not only has formal accounting training, but also understands industry specific regulations, keeps their skills current, and understands how all systems (apps) work together, so that they can design, diagnose, and solve their clients’ problems.

For many of us working in a niche, it’s taken years to master our “craft,” and learning niche software is not easy (as a bookkeeper or a user). If the client isn’t switching until the new year, that means they’re going to have to learn how to use the new software rather quickly.

This isn’t always the easiest thing to do because, as we all know, new software can be difficult to learn, especially if you have multiple team members using it. Sure, they might be able to learn the basics in a couple of days, but it could also take weeks or months, especially if they end up making mistakes early on in the setup or learning process.

When you work with a niche bookkeeper, they can do their best to ensure you have a good amount of time to troubleshoot and that everything is set up, entered, and connected properly.  Some niche specialists will even provide training and workflow/standard operating procedures for you.

What do niche industry clients need? It’s especially important to find a bookkeeping professional with an industry niche who can do some of the following:

  • Understand the technical foundation of your industry.
  • Determine a needs assessment of software – just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for every business.
  • Give related software recommendations.
  • Create a phased-implementation plan to minimize disruption and stress to the business team (allows you to work smarter).
  • Perform a system follow-up and regular health checks for continuous improvement.
  • Be future-focused and can assist in planning.
  • Keep you compliant with accounting-related industry regulations.

So, as you can see, all automotive technicians are mechanics, but not all mechanics are auto technicians. It’s the same for bookkeeping. All niched specialized data technicians are bookkeepers, but not all bookkeepers are specialized in niche industries.