Turn Your Clients Into Recordkeeping Maestros
I’m part of a bookkeeping community called Bookkeeping Buds, where we learn from one another’s experience and leverage each other’s strengths to be better at what we do. I love it because bookkeepers often start off as a one-person show, so it’s great to have a support network. When we get together for meetings, we exchange wild tales on what we have witnessed from handling clients on a daily basis.
I recall receipts and financial records stuffed into shoe boxes and trash bags. The most memorable one would have to be the guy who used the glove compartment in his car as his filing cabinet. Talk about a mobile office! It should be mentioned that, from what I remember, the glove compartment filing system was actually extremely organized.
I’m sharing these examples not to pass judgment, but rather to make an observation that there are truly different strokes for different folks. They’re also great reminders because when a new client gets in touch with me, I should commend them for taking the initiative to help their business grow and recognizing what an integral part good bookkeeping plays in the success of what they do.
Stats don’t lie, but ....
Such enlightenment, however, is not always the case, but that’s where you and I come in. A recent Tsheets by QuickBooks® survey shows that when business owners are quizzed on essential recordkeeping practices, their average score is 24 percent. Other stats reveal:
- Only 8 percent know how long personnel and employment records should be kept.
- 13 percent know how long employment tax records should be kept.
- 16 percent know how long employee timesheets should be kept.
- 22 percent know how long income tax returns should be kept.
It’s convenient to put the blame on business owners, but entrepreneurs started their businesses to pursue their passions. Unless they started a bookkeeping business, record keeping is probably not what motivates them! In fact, half of entrepreneurs find bookkeeping to be their least favorite task in running their business. So, how do I help them see the value of good bookkeeping? I’ve found empathy to be a powerful tool in building business relationships. When my clients see how sincere I am in wanting to help them succeed, they’re more susceptible to the changes I propose.
Small changes, big results. In today’s business climate, dealing with work-related resistance is understandable, especially with five generations at the workplace simultaneously. My firm practices a paperless business model, so we try to encourage and implement the same practice with our clients, but we do so gradually. There was a client whose employees would submit their worked hours on post – it’s because he’d “misplace” things on his already messy desk.
Imagine his joy with a mobile time tracking solution that integrates with the payroll software he was already using – timesheets to payslips in minutes! Once my clients can see significant results with minor tweaks, it prepares them for what comes next.
Make it personal to matter more. In the Tsheets by QuickBooks recordkeeping quiz, there are questions where business owners score better:
- 34 percent know what’s not required in the employment tax records.
- 36 percent know how long Family Medical Leave Act records need to be kept.
- 39 percent know how long employee illness and injury records need to be have kept.
It’s always easier to gain support and momentum when you strike a personal chord. To me, these stats simply show areas in which business owners have had personal experience. Convince your clients to create a recordkeeping policy that is personally advantageous to their employees, or share the consequences from miscalculated profits or costs due to bad record keeping. I use the same concept in nurturing my client relationships. We’re in this together, and we depend on one another.
Empower with knowledge, not fear. I’ve been in conversations where bookkeepers try to instill fear in their clients by using extreme examples of doom and gloom to create dependency on the services they offer. They tell their clients what to do, but never quite explain the “why.” I believe in client empowerment, so I use the example of a doctor-patient relationship.
A patient doesn’t just want to be told what’s wrong with their body; they want to understand how it became that way and what can be done. I can’t fault my clients for not knowing what they don’t know. My job is to help them understand what has led us to this moment, what we can all do to rectify the situation and how to prevent it in the future. When my clients become recordkeeping maestros, it only makes my job easier. There’s less follow-up needed, and what everyone gains in return is more time to nurture their businesses and client relationships.