Most small to medium businesses do not need a full time bookkeeper. Most part time bookkeepers that these businesses hire generally do not stick around for long. These businesses get their work done by a bookkeeping firm.
Generally a bookkeeping firm provides two kinds of services, Onsite bookkeeping services and Offsite bookkeeping services. This article will explain in detail what each of these services are, and what their pros and cons are like.
For onsite bookkeeping, a bookkeeper physically goes to work in the business place. It is somewhat similar to the bookkeeper that you hire with some differences. The bookkeeping firm sends a bookkeeper to the client's office.
Onsite bookkeeping service has several advantages. The biggest advantage obviously is the money you save by hiring someone only for the days you need.
When you have this kind of service, you do not have to stick with the same bookkeeper if you think he / she is not working well for you. Just call the firm and you can have a different person working for you. When you find the perfect bookkeeper, you can ask the firm to send the same person to work. You never get to do that if you hire a bookkeeper.
Another benefit is that you do not have to worry about employee benefits. You pay directly to the bookkeeping firm, so there is no paycheck involved.
Accounting and Taxation rules are complex and chances are most bookkeepers do not know these rules completely. When you get an onsite service, there are other bookkeepers that your bookkeeper can ask questions to. Most of these firms are ready on their toes to help them.
There are some disadvantages in onsite bookkeeping too. Onsite bookkeeping service differs from one bookkeeping firm to another. Some firms have minimum service purchase requirement. For example, this might mean that you must get at least certain number of days per week to be able to get onsite service.
Since your onsite bookkeeper is not working full-time for you, you will still need to do some work like collecting invoices and bills during when your he or she is not working.
For Offsite bookkeeping, the bookkeeping firm does the work in their office. This kind of service is also called virtual bookkeeping service (no it is not a computer working for you, a real person works on your files). Basically, it is like as if your bookkeeper's office is away from your business location. You will have to send your documents like invoices, bills, bank statements, etc to the bookkeeping firm.
The main advantage of offsite bookkeeping is cost of service. It is surprisingly cheaper (as cheap as $ 50 per month) than onsite bookkeeping service. If you cannot afford to get a bookkeeper, you should at least get offsite bookkeeping service. With these prices, it is almost ridiculous not to do bookkeeping or try to do bookkeeping yourself.
Some firms send their express courier service to pickup your documents. If you are a computer savvy, you can scan your documents and email or upload to their website. You can also fax your documents. While sending large number of invoices, bills and statements by email or fax certainly look more time consuming, these methods are good when you only need to send one or two documents, like a missing invoice, or the bank statement etc.
Always confirm what services are included when buying offsite bookkeeping service. Some firm do not provide payroll service or tax remittance service when you buy the regular offsite bookkeeping service. Some provides you with monthly reports while other firms might just give your annual reports.
Another important thing to remember is to make sure you know what software your bookkeeping firm uses. Although we all like bookkeepers with several years or even decades of experiences, they might be using software that is outdated or almost outdated. At the time of writing this article, QuickBooks and Simply Accounting are two most popular software that most bookkeepers are using.
Finally, Stay away from home based business bookkeepers unless you are absolutely sure about the quality of their service. They might stop their service anytime in the future and you might be left with your business data that is completely unusable.