How Can I Help My Clients Maintain Their Bookkeeping?

Convincing a business owner about the importance of bookkeeping can be tricky. In their eyes it’s just more boring, time-consuming admin. Many clients would rather spend their time and energy in more ‘exciting’ areas of the business, leaving their brother’s neighbour’s sister-in-law to tidy up the paperwork.

But, as every accounting and finance professional knows, it’s incredibly frustrating when income and expenses are not properly organised. In fact, poor accounting is one of the top reasons businesses fail. So how can you help your clients maintain their bookkeeping (whilst also making your job a little easier?)

Highlight the importance of good bookkeeping

Help your client understand what value good bookkeeping has for them and their business, rather than why it’s helpful for you. They know that they’re required to maintain accurate books and records, but do they know the reasons why this is beneficial?


In-depth business analysis

Not everyone realises the valuable business insights that they can gain from clear bookkeeping. Explain what the numbers really mean, and how they can be used as a reliable measure to understand how a business is performing, and what they can change to make it better.

What to tell your client:

Having accurate, real-time booking data will help you make better decisions, so there’s more chance of making a profit.


Better books to encourage investment

A client hoping to grow their business with help from outside investors might need your guidance to understand that good bookkeeping could win them more investment.

Explain that prospective investors want to understand the commercial performance of a business, and are more likely to invest in a business with ordered, easy-to-decipher financial information.

What to tell your client:

We can really win them over with a punchy proposal which includes detailed charts, graphs and lists – if we can get the data we need from your accounts.


Plan future growth

Ask your clients questions about their vision for the business, and allow them to become excited by their ambitions. Once they’re buoyed up with the possibilities, perhaps with a distant look in their eye as they picture themselves on their own private yacht, that’s when to want to give them a gentle nudge about bookkeeping.

If they want to be able to reach their future goals for the business, they need to get serious about bookkeeping. Being able to clearly track the financial status at any point in their business, past or future, will make it easier for them to analyse growth and plan for the future.

Helping clients understand the tangible realities of bookkeeping can be more encouraging than ‘because you have to’.

What to tell your client:

Keeping your bookkeeping detailed and up to date will help you stay focused on your goals, and identify areas that need more attention before it’s too late.


Makes tax-returns easier

Most business owners visibly shudder when they hear the term ‘tax return’. But if you explain that tax-returns are actually a lot easier with well-maintained records that are properly organised, they may come around. It’ll also help protect them from the stress and anxiety that comes with frantically searching for receipts!

It might also be worth noting that if they have their accounts in order, you’ll be able to devote more of your time and expertise to advising them, instead of correcting entries.

And, on the subject of saving money and being efficient… These are the magic words which make any business owner’s ears prick up, and spur them into action.

Make it as clear as possible that claiming back business expenses will reduce their tax bill, but it’s only possible with well-organised financial records. This means clearly identifying payments so they know which are allowable expenses, and storing the receipts which go with them.

What to tell your client:

Get the complete data over to us sooner, and we can spend more time looking at ways to help you be more efficient, and save money.


Healthy cash flow

Whilst most clients have at least heard of cash flow, some are likely to need help understanding its importance in real-world terms. Show clients how good bookkeeping makes it easier to organise and predict their future income, in turn helping them cover anticipated expenses properly. It will also help them assess what they can afford to do, and when.

You could also show your clients how to use their records to identify which of their customers pay on time, and which ones give them headaches.

It will help them see the financial roadblocks preventing them from moving forward when they’re struggling to pay their bills, because clients haven’t paid theirs.

Adept bookkeeping will make sure their business never misses a payment, and help them chase late paying clients more effectively. If they can see that they have any regular late payers then they might want to reconsider working with them.

What to tell your client:

Keeping your records up to date helps you plan ahead, and to take action to keep the money rolling in.

Show them an easier way

Is there a particular reason your client isn’t maintaining their bookkeeping properly? It could be a simple case of hating paperwork, an excel spreadsheet which is far too complicated, or their expensive software isn’t fit for purpose.

Get them to show you their current process, and invite them to be honest about which bits they don’t understand, or find the hardest or most time consuming.


Identify a suitable product

If you come back to them with a product that you think will ease those frustrations, it shows you listen, and are serious about working with them.

Making a tangible difference to their business in the early days will fill your client with confidence in your abilities, paving the way for an ongoing and positive working relationship. It’s also a pretty simple way to add value to your services.
Accounting Tools

Show them how to use it properly

Take the time to demonstrate how to use the software to ensure they use it properly, such as by coaching them or a couple of staff members. Even if you can’t do this in-person, it’s worth looking for software which offers a high level of support to its users, even if they’re your clients first.

The important thing is bringing the reasons for using the software back to their business. Get personal, and be specific about which areas it will help them to improve.


Bring it back to the client

We know good bookkeeping is at the heart of what helps a business to grow but it can be difficult to convey that to a client. Find out what it is that motivates them, and what success looks like to them.

Channel these responses back to bookkeeping to show how it impacts and influences the outcome they’re after. Accomplished bookkeeping forms the solid foundation a business needs to grow from the bottom up, like a tree. If they want to get to the rewards at the top, their tree will need strong roots to support them.

Learn more about how Pandle can help your clients, or chat to the team about moving your clients to cloud-based bookkeeping.

James Carver

Qualified to AAT level 3, I'm currently studying towards level 4. An experienced bookkeeper, I also enjoy playing golf, football, and running.

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