You've landed your first client and oboarded them, hopefully using some of the tips from this article. So now what? How do you know what you should be doing and when?
First, based on the items you told your client you would do for them, create a workflow (which is really just a checklist) of what you need to do each week or month, and when it needs to be completed. If you find yourself extra lost on this, you can grab my Bookkeeper's Bizkit here. I've created a toolkit with almost everything you'll need to get started running your bookkeeping business, from setting up and designing your business to weekly and monthly workflows.
Next, put that in an organized format: spreadsheet, notebooks, or project tracking tool. I use Asana, but there are tons of options out there. And if you are just starting out and don't have a team, you really don't need anything fancy. Just find a system that you will keep up with and that you can store the info in instead of your head.
Then, once you have all of your checklist items in a… well, checklist, find your rhythm. Set your "office hours" that are non-negotiable. Either every week or every month, commit to showing up at the same time to complete the work.
Last, once the work is completed, set a meeting with your client to go over numbers. This adds so much value for the client. Bookkeeping isn't just for compliance—it should be used as a tool to provide insight to the business operations. The numbers tell a story. This, my friends, is the "advisory" piece that is being talked about so much. This will set you apart and lift up the perception of the bookkeeping profession as a whole. If you aren't comfortable with this yet, practice. Practice until you are. And once you are make sure to start charging a premium for it.
I'm a huge "preparer." I usually prep for a client meeting the day before, or a few hours before the meeting. The best antidote for nerves is preparation. If you find yourself nervous to meet with a client or be put in the spotlight, preparation is key.
Make sure you have run preliminary reports and notes on the questions you have or points you want to make—things are likely to change once you have the meeting with your client, especially if you were missing information from them. I tend to have "working meetings" with my clients, where we will end up reclassifying things together while on the phone.
Set a meeting agenda—When I am working throughout the month on a client, I gather questions and issues I want to address with them. We'll go over this in more detail below.
Make sure you know how to use Zoom and have everything working properly, as well as a backup plan—this is pretty self explanatory, but I've had times where my earbuds aren't connecting properly to the computer, so I've had to call in from my phone. Just make sure you have everything ready to go so it's as seamless as possible.
Block off your calendar for at least 30 minutes to an hour after your meeting if possible. This will give you extra time if the meeting runs a little over, but also time to tackle action items that come from the meeting or even just sending a recap email with updated reports (if necessary).
This outline can serve as the outline you use to create your meeting agenda. Google Docs and Microsoft Word have several meeting agenda templates you can use, or you can use a blank doc. I save them in the client folder, named: ClientName_Meeting_DD.MM.YY (meeting date).
Ask how their family is doing and how business is going.
Ask if it's ok to record the meeting, so you and they can focus on the meeting and not on taking notes. This also gives them something to refer to after the meeting, especially if you are showing them how to record certain transactions or run reports.
This is when you will dive into things that either you or client was supposed to complete after the last meeting.
Go over uncategorized (or Ask My Accountant) transactions together or other unknown transactions.
Run reports together—I like to actually re-run the reports together once we've categorized transactions. If there wasn't anything to fix, you can pull up the reports you previously prepared.
Cash Flow Statement
Accounts Receivable Aging
Accounts Payable Aging
Talk about the changes
What information would the client like to see in the future?
Are they tracking any industry KPIs? If not, research a few to show them and ask if that would be useful to have you track
Educate them on the different reports if they seem lost.
Ask them how you can support them better.
Confirm the action items you each have,
Create the agenda for the next meeting and
Set the date before you get off the phone
Thank them for meeting with you
If you changed the financial statements, make sure you let them know you'll be sending the updated reports after you get off the call
Send your meeting notes & updated reports, plus recording if there was any type of training that happened
Get to work on your end of the action items
Remember: Preparation is key for battling pre-meeting nerves. Especially when you're new. I hope this content helps you as you step into your first client, and your second and third.
I'd love to hear how this works for you and if you made any modifications. Share your wins in the comments!