Running a business without financial information is next to impossible. You can never figure out if you’re making a profit. You never know how much money is in the bank. Big tax bills are an annual and unwelcome surprise. You may suspect your bookkeeper is failing, but you don’t know why.
Look in the mirror: Your bookkeeper continues to fail, because you have underestimated the knowledge and skills necessary to be a competent bookkeeper.
You may have hired your spouse, your child or a family friend who was kind enough to help you out. You know you can trust them, because they are family or nearly family. You hired this person because “How hard can keeping the books be? It’s just addition and subtraction?!” Now, you wonder why vendors call about unpaid bills; why every payroll is a life and death struggle to cover, and why your payroll taxes are always late.
Stated simply, you misunderstood the position of bookkeeper. It’s not your bookkeeper’s fault – it’s yours. You hired someone with no chance of succeeding.
Then you call your accounting firm and ask, “Please come in and train Joanie. She’s having a rough time keeping up. It probably won’t take more than a few hours.” It would take us only a few hours to train Joanie – if she had an accounting degree. But she doesn’t. The only books she ever closed were Stephen King novels.
You believe bookkeeping just involves pressing the same buttons over and over again every month in exactly the same order. Then “bookkeeping magic” happens and you get all the financial information you desire. Unfortunately, it’s not like that.
The average bookkeeper deals with a head-spinning variety of transactions every month. He or she must deal with every crazy customer deal you dream up – joint checks, deferred payment arrangements, invoice credits which offset vendor invoices – and much more.
It’s all just addition and subtraction, but she needs to know what to add and subtract, when to add and subtract, and what general ledger accounts to use. She must know sales tax rules, payroll tax rules, and personal property tax rules. While you may think that is our job as outside accountants, we are not in your office every hour of every working day. Your bookkeeper must know most of the rules to know when to call us. She MUST know the rules even exist.
We can no more train Joanie to be a competent bookkeeper than we can train her to be an F-15 fighter pilot. Bookkeeper training is not a one-day, two-day, or even a one-year task!
You hired the wrong person for the wrong reasons. It’s time to admit that and make a change. The change will be no surprise to Joanie. She’s knows that she’s failing and she probably told you that, if you had been listening.
At Stitely and Karstetter, we can help you hire a competent bookkeeper AND we can provide a short bookkeeping test for you to administer to potential hires when they interview. The test takes 15 minutes for a competent bookkeeper. The sun will burn out before a pretender completes the test! (We once had an applicant with a pretend Master’s degree in Accounting who walked out the door after reading the first question!)
To pass the test, a bookkeeper needs a thorough knowledge of debits and credits. Not coincidentally, this knowledge correlates closely with competent bookkeeping skills. We have never seen this test fail to separate competent candidates from pretenders.
We will grade the test for free, as we have nearly as much to gain as you. Employing a qualified bookkeeper lets us save you money in taxes and give you advice to create the business of your dreams! Contact us today for more information!