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Do I Hire a Bookkeeping Service Or A Bookkeeper?

May 27, 2012 by Ed Becker

Let’s assume that you decided to hire a bookkeeper as opposed to a bookkeeping service like Outsource Your Books LLC

How would you interview and select such a bookkeeper? There are many variables involved that you as a business owner may or may not be capable of making. Recruiting is more of an art than a science, so there is no simple recipe that will ensure that you get the best bookkeeper.

Here’s is a list of some key attributes:

  • Accounting knowledge
  • QuickBooks knowledge
  • Professionalism
  • Salary
  • Availability
  • Gut Feel

Accounting Knowledge

This is straight forward and you have to test/verify this.  However, you’ll be surprised how few candidates will fail here, because the accounting knowledge required to keep a clean set of books is actually easy to acquire. This being said,  this holds true only if all you are looking for is a bookkeeper. If you are expecting your candidate to play a controller role, it’s a different story. A detailed resume and sound experience are usually a good clue.

QuickBooks Knowledge

There is an enormous difference between being knowledgeable in QuickBooks and knowledgeable in accounting. QuickBooks appears simple to use if all you need to do is reconcile bank accounts, but as soon as you start pushing the envelope (job costing, sales tax, inventory management,  etc.), it’s a whole new ball game. Most CPAs cannot be called QuickBooks experts. They know how to pull basic reports out of QuickBooks, but cleaning up a file that has intricate details and sub-systems is usually not their expertise.


What do we mean by “professionalism”? In general, it is the image you want portrayed to anyone dealing with your Company. How well written are their emails? How friendly are they on the phone and in-person? How punctual are they to the interview? How well dressed are they? How well do they listen? A bookkeeper who doesn’t score high on this dimension will cause you problems down the road, because good bookkeeping is not only about the accuracy of the data that you get into QuickBooks, it is also about a professional attitude which can’t be taught.


Like in any market, you get what you pay for. The lower the cost, the lower the expertise. If you plan on giving your bookkeeper primarily data entry tasks and you will be verifying every detail of his/her work on an on-going basis, you can afford to go lower on the price scale. However, if you expect your bookkeeper to be self-sufficient and you won’t have time to quality control the work, you will be forced to pay more. A bookkeeper who is slow and or inefficient can take twice as long for the same task. Outsource Your Books has taken over for bookkeepers who were full time and accomplished the same work, in 15 hours, and most importantly we got it correct.


The better bookkeepers are busier. Make sure that the bookkeeper you hire still has available time for you and will be able to turn your work around quickly and be responsive to your questions. That’s one of the key differences between independent bookkeepers and firms. When an independent bookkeeper is maxed out, there is no back up mechanism. You wait until they can get back to you.

Gut Feel

This is not last on the list for any reason, but let’s face it, many people make hiring decisions based on what their “gut” is telling them. In most instances this turns out to be true. It is wise to have several employees meet with this person so that you have a group making a decision as to the overall person’s character.

Take this decision seriously, as the cost to train and rehire another person is a cost no employer deserves to pay for time and time again.

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