What do you look for when you are shopping for a CPA, Bookkeeper or Tax Pro?
- They should ask questions before providing advice.
- They should listen when you respond.
- They should ask follow up questions.
If all they are doing is providing generic advice or something that they could have googled, then you are working with a robot. Robots are present in every profession. However, they can cause a good deal of harm when providing professional advice.
Doctor’s Office : YOU MUST BE AN S-CORP
Artist: YOU MUST PAY A DEPOSIT
Retail: YOU MUST CHANGE TO MY CREDIT CARD PROVIDER SO I CAN GET A REFERRAL FEE.
Restaurant: CAN I GET FREE FOOD?
Web Store: YOU MUST BE LOOKING FOR INVESTORS.
And so you get the general idea. If you don’t get asked some basic questions like:
- How many employees do you have?
- What is your five year plan?
- Are you happy with your accounting system?
and most importantly:
- Why did you leave your prior CPA?
You probably are not going to have a great experience unless you enjoy being put in a box. If you want an active partner in your business, the initial shopping experience can be an eye opener.
Heck, let’s face it, you have some basic questions like:
- How much do you charge?
- Are phone calls billable?
- What is your background?
- What is the best way to get a hold of you?
- What type of software do you use? (Hint, Turbotax is not a professional software.)
- Do I need to hire a bookkeeper, or do you handle that in house?
So by the end of the conversation you should know:
- Do they work with your business type?
- What do they charge?
- What are their expectations of you?
- Do they provide training?
- Do they work on your software program?
(Fun story from the trenches. An unnamed CPA firm doesn’t work in Quickbooks. So they hire bookkeepers to REDO the data entry into another accounting system, so the partners don’t have to mess with QuickBooks. Guess who gets billed for all that data entry?)
Ask a few questions. Never assume.