Perhaps you’re a sole-proprietor who is thinking of incorporating your business. Your accountant will be able to advise you about how this move would affect your taxes and business growth. Or maybe you have questions on whether you should buy or lease a new truck for your business. Once again, your accountant will be able to help.
So how do you go about finding an accountant who is a good fit for you and your cleaning business? Here are a few tips:
- Ask other business owners for references. Find out who their accountants are and how happy they are with the services their accountant provides.
- If you can’t get any references, go to the yellow pages and search the listings for several firms to contact. Call their offices and ask for the names of accountants who are familiar with cleaning businesses. Call four or five of the accountants on your list and ask them to tell you about their experience with working with clients in your industry and about their fees. From that information, narrow down your list to two or three accountants to interview in person.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask at the interviews, including:
- Do you have experience working with cleaning companies? (As a cleaning business you have unique expenses, including cleaning supplies and equipment, so it’s helpful to find an accountant who understands your business.)
- How long have you been an accountant?
- What certifications do you hold?
- What continuing education or workshops do you attend?
- What is the hourly billing rate and what are the charges for extra services such as completing tax returns or helping with payroll?
- Who will I be working with and will I always be working with the same person?
- How accessible will my contact person be? Can he be reached by phone and e-mail? If I have to leave a message, how soon will he return my call? Will I be charged for every phone call?
- What other services do you provide and at what fees?
- If my cleaning business is audited, what are your responsibilities?
- What type of insurance do you have? (They should carry liability and errors and omission insurance.)
- Look for an accountant who is forward thinking. Ask what problems he might foresee and what he would do to correct those problems.
- Also remember to ask for references and then be sure to call those references.
- Meet with several prospective accountants and ask your questions. An accountant should be willing to meet with you for a brief “get to know you meeting” at no charge. A face-to-face meeting will help you to assess if you are comfortable with him or her and if you can establish a long-term relationship. As you are asking the accountant your questions, watch their body language. Do they seem interested in you and your business? Have they communicated with you in a language that you understand and not used accounting language jargon?
Service is important. If the accountant doesn’t seem interested in you and your business or takes calls during the meeting, it might be best to move on to the next candidate who will devote his full attention to you and your business.
After interviewing several candidates sit down and decide which one you are comfortable with and that you are confident has the knowledge and abilities to keep your business finances on track. Once you have decided on who you want to work with request a written estimate of costs that spells out what your responsibilities are and what your accountant’s responsibilities cover. Knowing what you will be doing and what your accountant will be doing can eliminate confusion and save you time and money.
Remember, your accountant should be more than just someone who prepares your tax return. He or she should be able to help you in making important financial decisions that guides your business and makes your business profitable. Spending time and effort in finding the right accountant when starting your business can help to assure your cleaning business is successful in the long run.