Managing multiple clients can be an overwhelming experience, and can be stressful for a bookkeeper as your reputation is on the line constantly. The good news is, if you can design a system that works for you and implement certain tools to help stay organized, you'll have happy clients and your business will flourish. Here are 5 tips to get you on the road to success:
- Set reminders – It is important to set reminders, especially for each client you have that has time sensitive deadlines (IE: payroll, GST, PST, WCB payments). Outlook is a great way to set such reminders; you can repeat the same reminder by day, week or month and add an end date. You can also schedule regular reminders via LedgerDocs which allows you to list a series of documents required by your client in order for you to bring the books up-to-date. If you're more visual, a white board is also a good idea to help keep track of tasks and deadlines. We recommend that you make a list of clients that have certain items due and when – update this every month.
- Track your time – If you charge your clients hourly you should get into the habit of entering your time as soon as you finish. If a day or two goes by and you have to go back and try to remember how many hours you spent on each client, it's likely that you will not enter as much time as you actually spent in fear of over-charging. Even if you have introduced "Value Pricing" into your practice, it is still important to track the hours spent on the file to ensure the budget is maintained. You need to find a system that works for you, whether it be tracking it in a day timer, an excel spread sheet or an app. If you prefer a spread sheet, keep one spread sheet for all of your clients – one tab per client, this way it's all in one spot and you can enter everything with ease.
- Invoice every customer on the same day – Pick a day, the 1st, the 15th or the last day of the month and set aside an hour (or however much time you need) to invoice all your clients and send the bills out at the same time. QuickBooks Online has a great feature where you can enter the required information on your invoice and press "save and send", which automatically sends the invoice to the email address associated with that customer file - this will save you a lot of time.
- Do not overcommit – This can be the biggest mistake you make. If you commit to something and end up not being able to follow through you will lose all credibility, this is especially damaging if it's a new client. Just remember, it is always better to give yourself extra time to get a job done and the client will be pleasantly surprised if you finish early. Stay away from telling your client that you can't get something done in a requested time frame because you have work to do for another client – everyone wants to be # 1. It's okay to let them all think they are!
- Your time – Let your clients know when you are available and when you are not. Give them clear deadlines as to when certain documents need to be sent by if they are needing something specific. Make sure the client is aware of what you need from them in advance, and remember, some clients need a bit more guidance and reminders than others.
These tips are a good starting point to reduce stress and increase the happiness and longevity of your clients. Once you begin to implement these systems, you and your clients will have a better understanding of each other's expectations and needs, which leads to a more stress-free and organized relationship.
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