Before beginning to choose a small business bookkeeping service, carefully consider your exact needs. If you can express them succinctly when contacting various bookkeeping services to compare rates, the more likely it is that you'll receive accurate quotes. If you're part of a small business network, such as having a membership in the chamber of commerce or similar group in your community, you may want to consider bookkeeping companies that are also members. Check the qualifications, professionalism, policies and references of any small business bookkeeping service you're considering using.
Unless a bookkeeping service has started up only recently, the owner should be able to give you two or three references from other small businesses he or she has worked for previously. If there seems to be reluctance in doing this or you're told that it's against policy to do it, it's best to look elsewhere for a small business bookkeeping service. If you do want to choose a start-up without references, look for professionalism as well as an agreement that allows you to pay a small deposit, rather than the entire fee, upfront for the bookkeeping services you need.
If you're thinking about hiring a local service, perhaps one that you've heard about or is a member of a community business association, make a point to drop in unannounced after your initial telephone or email contact. Doing this may help you get a better idea of the day-to-day operating atmosphere of the small business bookkeeping service as to how they accommodate unexpected clients. The visit can also provide you with an opportunity to ask a few more quick questions to help you make up your mind about the right bookkeeping service for you.
Licenses on the wall or other indications of the company's qualifications should be noted. It's also reasonable to ask where the owner attended school and what accounting credentials he or she has. If you're friendly and open and find a similar attitude in the principle staff of a small business bookkeeping service, this may be one more indication of the ideal company.
Bookkeeping service companies you call, email or visit for a quote should get back to you with the information within a reasonable amount of time. Always look for a company that follows up on promises, as this can be an indicator of the quality of future business transactions. Make sure to compare not only the cost of the small business bookkeeping services you need, but also the expected turnaround time and payment methods accepted. Comparing the value for the cost of each small business bookkeeping service can help you narrow down your choices.