Selecting a service provider to work with isn’t always easy. It’s almost like getting into a relationship that requires a lot of commitment, mutual understanding, and long-term. Before partnering up with offline or online bookkeeping services, you need to do some sincere homework.
If you own a multi-location restaurant business and are looking for a bookkeeper, this article is for you. Learn what to look for when prospecting bookkeepers to help you find the right partner.
Types of Bookkeeping Service Providers
The first thing to check is the type of business the bookkeeping service provider runs or manages.
When it comes to mode of work, there are two types: traditional bookkeepers and virtual bookkeepers. Traditional bookkeepers operate with an online-offline hybrid model. If required, you can visit their office and have face-to-face meetings before getting to work. This prevents confusion and allows better collaboration, especially when your business locations are scattered across many places.
On the other hand, online bookkeepers work through the online medium. They interact and work over the internet and can offer their services remotely.
Bookkeeping services can also differ based on other factors. For example, there are double-entry bookkeepers and single-entry bookkeepers. Overall, companies following the double-entry method tend to provide the best results.
So, research these areas before moving ahead.
Experience with Multi-Location Businesses
The next thing to consider is the bookkeeper’s experience in handling accounts, especially for multi-location businesses like yours.
Maintaining books for a single-location business and a multi-location business is always different. In the former case, there’s less complexity involved. But managing the same for a business spread across the country is a different ball game. It requires the bookkeepers to be proficient in various software systems since managing such a workload manually gets inefficient.
It’s also worth asking how long they’ve been in the business. The more the years, the more will be their experience. If the bookkeepers have certificates, accreditations to share, that’s even better.
Data Security Systems in Place
When dealing with outside firms and sharing sensitive information like accounts, you need to be extra cautious about data security.
CNBC reports that cyberattacks cost businesses $200,000 on average, enough to bankrupt a small or mid-sized business. The report further states that 43% of those attacks are aimed at small businesses.
Since you’re most likely to share data with the bookkeeper over the cloud, ensure that the platforms are encrypted. They should have all the cybersecurity measures in place to safeguard any information stored on the cloud. Furthermore, the apps and software they might be using should be GDPR-compliant.
Located Near the Headquarters
The firm’s location might not be a consideration for every business that wants to outsource its bookkeeping workload. But multi-location restaurant businesses have one location that is considered the headquarters. It is where the top executives stay and work.
It’s better if the bookkeeping firm is located near to the headquarters. This would allow the execs to make visitations to the bookkeepers as and when necessary.
If location isn’t much of a factor, you should proceed with any virtual bookkeeping agency.
Another vital thing to consider is the working hours of the bookkeeping agency. The agencies manage multiple clients at once. Therefore, it’s unlikely they’ll be available to all of their clients all the time. So, get clarity over when they’ll be available to talk to you.
Working hours are especially crucial to know if the agency is located offshore. Due to time zone differences, they may or may not adjust to your time zone. In such cases, you’d have to agree on a mutual time zone to work collaboratively.
The bookkeeping agency will charge you money for the services they offer. Since you’re operating a multi-location business, the pricing structure can be complicated. Therefore, spend a good amount of time understanding the billing.
Some agencies like to charge an hourly rate. The rates may differ based on the location of the restaurant. Then some agencies charge based on the workload or a flat fee. You should learn about the different pricing structures and select the best option for your business.
Terms and Conditions
Lastly, give special attention to the terms and conditions. When you start working with a bookkeeper, you’re likely to enter an agreement. Read through all the papers to understand your obligations and that of the bookkeeper. The agreement will hold both of you responsible for any policy violation. Only sign the contracts when you agree to the T&Cs.
With the advancement in technology, a growing number of businesses are working with online bookkeeping services because of their cost-effectiveness and expertise. You can also join them and leverage this service.