Is there a solution to align your team and clients, improve transparency, protect against fraudulence and document your processes?
Earlier this year, we caught up with Jessica Pillow, founder of Pillow May, to find out what happened after a cyber-attack hit her firm.
After making changes to her internal team structure, Jessica created a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to agree responsibilities, technology and involvement of any third parties with her client. And the effects were transformational.
Download the SLA template for free here. We ask Jessica for her advice on how to make the most of it.
Going beyond the traditional engagement letter
When you onboard new clients, how do you define your services?
If you ask two clients what they expect from their bookkeeping, chances are you’ll have two very different answers. Bookkeeping varies from business to business. That’s why you have to know what your clients expect from the get-go.
An SLA goes above and beyond your traditional engagement letter, offering a high-level framework to spark further conversations that will bring you closer to the heart of their business.
How do you start building your SLA?
Your SLA is a proof of concept, one that will change from time to time and evolve alongside you. It should always be open to change, yet is a helpful reference point to keep you and the client aligned.
It’s always useful to start from a template, which is why we developed this one. Before you get started, it’s key to understand each other’s responsibilities. When you have regular touchpoints, you can always refer to this standard document and update or adjust when necessary to help manage scope.
When you first take on a bookkeeping client, review your service offering and every step that’s involved in delivering it. What are you doing, what is your client doing, and who will ensure this happens? If you’re offering something special or different, you can use this SLA to outline the differences and reflect it in your final pricing.
You can also use this to spark more conversations with your clients. As you discuss it, ask questions about their business. What are their challenges? What do they want to achieve? Then use this insight to give more value and build more genuinely valuable services.
The impact on your team
Creating this agreement is helpful on so many levels. First, it helps with delegation. There are things you’ll be involved with as a founder, then senior bookkeepers and junior bookkeepers. Use the SLA to allocate work between your school-leavers, qualified AATs and managers.
This means they can see what others in the team are doing. It makes it easier for school-leavers or junior bookkeepers to move up the value chain, experience growth and master the different components to that journey.
Second, it helps when someone is on leave or absent. You or your team can easily jump onto a corresponding trello board to track progress on a task.
Ultimately, this helps deliver a scalable bookkeeping service that continues around flexible working times, holidays and leave. For instance, when the team and I visited Cambodia for a week, we let our clients know beforehand and carefully managed their expectations. If one of your team members leaves, that client relationship sits across the team. It’s a relationship with your firm as a whole rather than an individual bookkeeper.
Sending the SLA to your client
Once you’ve talked to your client, understood their business needs and created an SLA, it’s time to share for their review. If both of you sign it, you can always come back to this agreement should confusion or disputes arise in the future.
This doesn’t mean it’s fixed in place, but rather is something that you’re both working towards. Always keep it open to controlled change.
The Ultimate Bookkeeping Service Level Agreement
Download the Bookkeeping Work Agreement template today to help:
- Clearly set client expectations
- Make work more transparent and delegation easier
- Create secure lasting client relationships
Download the Bookkeeping Work Agreement template here