By Diana Mackie, Chief Content Officer at Funding Gates
How well do you and your company’s accountant know one another? Do you hand him or her a pile of papers come tax time and go about your day, or do you appreciate and make use of the wide range of services the accounting firm has to offer. A business’s accountant could be, and should be, your most trusted business ally and advisor. Make sure you are utilizing and appreciating all the above-and-beyond things your accountant can do for you and your business each year.
Here are five services most accountants offer in addition to tax services:
1. Letting you know where you stand with the competition. In order to perform better than the competition, you need to know where you stand. Your accountant can compare your sales volume, market read, overhead and production costs and staffing costs with others in the industry. He or she can also give you an idea of how you compare with pricing and profitability. This information is essential because it gives you a competitive advantage. It provides you with opportunities to cut costs, up your production and spend more time training skilled employees so turnover rates are lower than average.
2. Offering solutions to fit your budget and needs. Enlist the services of your accountant to help set achievable budgets and revenue targets this year. They understand your business and market position enough to assist. In addition to identifying costs and forecasting sales, they can help you create a realistic budget based on the business’s needs and goals. You won’t have to forgo purchases just to keep afloat. You’ll find that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
3. Finding ways to cut costs. The amount of revenue you bring in can potentially build or destroy your business. Before financial matters get the best of you, see what your accountant has to say about the budget; he or she is likely to find some fat to trim. This is especially true if the professional thoroughly researched competition or other industry members, as mentioned at the top of this list.
4. Advising on pricing for goods and services. Price points are difficult to determine. Set them too high, and no one will buy from you. Set them too low, and you could potentially kill your business. Your accountant can help the business achieve goals without jeopardizing your company’s future.
5. Helping plan exits from the company. A succession strategy is a necessity for every business owner. An accountant can provide information about tax compliance, business valuation, due diligence and estate planning to streamline and optimize the process.
Get to know your accountant better by learning more about the services he or she provides; don’t make it all about your taxes. Formulate a solid business plan that gives you a leg up on the competition, makes you insanely profitable and successful and provides a well-documented exit plan for the business’s future. In this situation, the company will not only exist; it can thrive, which is the overarching goal.
If the company no longer has need for the accountant’s services, the best thing to do is compose a simple letter stating intent and sending it to his or her office. Make sure to explain why you’ve come to the conclusion you have. Then request that all original documents he or she has on file be returned to you. If you want to speed the process along, you can include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a faster response.
If in the market for a new accountant, interview them the way you would an employee. Learn more about their professional background and credentials. Ask how available they are to answer questions and provide these added services. Most importantly, make sure you and your accountant mesh well together in terms of communication styles and expectations. The last thing you want to do is hire someone who isn’t as committed to saving money or growing the business as you are.
Diana Mackie is the chief content officer at Funding Gates, a one-stop-shop for small businesses to better manage their receivables and client relationships. Funding Gates makes it easier for accountants to manage their own business receivables and the receivable needs of their clients via cloud-based accounting software.