[INTERVIEW] Carla Caldwell On the Future of Bookkeeping

Next week sees the launch of our webinar series,

 The Bookkeeping Success Summit – three webinars set over a week about incorporating automation and re-assessing processes in your firm in order to maximize profit. Our special guest for the series is Carla Caldwell, QuickBooks ProAdvisor of the Month and founder of Caldwell Consulting & Training. We caught up with Carla ahead of the webinars to get her thoughts on the future of bookkeeping and how to get your evenings back!

Dext: Technology – the great leveller or something bookkeepers should fear?

Carla Caldwell: Technology is a great leveller in many ways – it allows bookkeepers to complete tasks that are not valued by clients (think data entry!) and really be able to focus on the work that clients want help with. The roles we traditionally had will change, but it doesn’t make our relationships with our clients less valuable. The only fear should be for those bookkeepers who refuse to stay up-to-date with technology or who don’t want to come alongside the businesses and help them with their processes.

Dext: How do you see the role of bookkeepers evolving?

CC: Bookkeepers may end up being able to do more advisory work for clients than ever before. Traditionally, bookkeepers have a great relationship with clients and are able to explain things well to them. That is a huge asset for many business owners who may be intimidated by their accountant. The bookkeeper can continue to be the “translator” between the business owner and the CPA, explaining terms and helping the business owner know how to implement the changes that will get the results they are after.

I think process improvements and integration of technology will also be a valuable service that bookkeepers can provide as well. Bookkeepers are much more familiar with the day-to-day processes of a business, and can find the tools that will work best for the business, and this can be one of the greatest services they can provide.

Dext: What’s the biggest obstacle for bookkeepers to overcome in order to enjoy the benefits of what the cloud promises?

CC: The biggest obstacle is fear of change. Things are, in fact, changing, and by allowing fear or anxiety to hinder our thinking, we will only see problems. Instead, we need to think of solutions and unique ways to serve clients. When we are able to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes, seeing the issues that they have, and how we are uniquely able to help them, then we’re going to find that we can offer solutions and stay relevant by harnessing the anytime, anywhere access and other benefits the cloud offers to our clients and our businesses.

Dext: What should bookkeepers expect to enjoy as a result of implementing new workflows?

CC: Bookkeepers can get back the quality of life that they really want and deserve. By having technology and workflows that manage some of the more repetitive tasks, we can enjoy time with family, grow our business, learn new skills, or perhaps take a day off every once in a while!

Dext: How do you recommend that bookkeepers charge for their services?

CC: Definitely do not charge by the hour! Even without technology advancements, this was always problematic for me. If we get better and faster at what we do, why should we earn less money?! Bill at minimum by a fixed fee, where you have a set amount billed up front for your services. Then if you get finished faster, there is incentive. Using apps, especially Dext Prepare, we can complete our work more efficiently and accurately, and so this really starts to make more sense for us. For those engagements where there is “clean-up” that needs to be done, that’s a longer conversation, but for routine monthly work, set a fixed fee. Watch as your relationship gets better with your client as well, since you are now all incentivised to work together much better.

Dext: What should attendees expect to get out of this webinar series?

CC: We’ll give bookkeepers a plan to evaluate their processes and move toward a model that really helps them become a more modern bookkeeping firm. They can improve their own margins, help their clients to succeed, and really have the work-life balance they were seeking by starting their own firm in the first place!

Don’t miss Carla Caldwell in discussion with Damien Greathead for The Bookkeepers Success Summit on How Automation Can Transform Your Bookkeeping Firm! We’re very excited to bring you this series, so make sure to sign up to gain key industry insights and actionable advice.

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