The relationship a small business owner forms with their accountant is an important one. A solid financial backbone will prepare any growing business for rapid expansion and the risks associated with it. So what should a small business owner look for in a small business accountant?
This doesn’t necessarily mean your accountants business hours but how quickly they can respond to your queries. Check the promotional blurb on the company’s website for any “24-hour reply” promises and so on… Accountants will rarely promise services they cannot deliver but by the same token they are under no obligation to offer services they have not promised.
Does the accountant “get” your business? It may be the case that an accountant has a great track record but this will count for very little if every business they have dealt with is completely different to yours. Get in contact with any potential accountants and ask them about the clients they have represented previously. You should be able to establish from their reply whether they are a good fit for your business.
A good arbiter of an accountant’s customer service is what their previous customers are prepared to say in support of them. Most accountants will have testimonials on their websites but I would not recommend taking these at face value. Try to track down the authors of any testimonials and send them an email or give them a call. Make sure the testimonial is genuine, not taken out of context and that they do genuinely recommend the accountancy services they offer.
Feel Good Factor
Visiting the office any potential accountant is advised. You can get a feel for their office and how they work. Ask yourself if you sense a similar degree of professionalism at the firm as you have with regards your own business. Many people do their accounting online and never meet their accountant; in this instance it is still recommend that a phone call or video conference should take place before signing any documents.
It is also recommended that you talk to various members of staff at a firm not just their designated “salesman” and definitely insist on speaking to the boss. This may seem overly picky, even obnoxious, behaviour to those of a sensitive disposition but when organising the financial future of your business it is no time to be soft. It is better to be a little hard-nosed to make sure you are getting the best service possible.