Why a great bookkeeper could be bad for your Dental Practice - how to outsource your bookkeeping

Making the decision to outsource anything is always tough. If you're like me then you tend to outsource because there is a particular task that needs doing, but you don't have the expertise to undertake it yourself. The biggest thing that I've outsourced so far has been my website. Being the hub of my marketing I knew it was too important for it to be something that I just had a go at myself. However, even though web design is not a skill that I have, handing it over to someone else was still really hard. Maybe it's a trust thing, but handing over the control of something that is so important to my business to someone else, made me nervous.

If you are reaching the point where you are considering outsourcing your bookkeeping then you may be nervous as well. I may not know anything about building a website, but I know a lot about bookkeeping so hopefully I can help guide you a bit.

Do you need a bookkeeper?

I'm going to go straight in, as you'd expect, with a yes. If you don't then I'm going to assume that you either give the day to day record keeping to your Practice Manager or you give several months or a year's worth of records for you accountant to process. I'm not here to tell you that your current bookkeeping solutions are wrong, but please be aware that when I worked at a dental specialist accountancy firm, correcting the mistakes made by your Practice Manager could often take me longer than the preparation of the accounts. It may also be worth noting that if you used me as a bookkeeper whilst I was employed you were paying for a very expensive bookkeeper.

Finding that great bookkeeper

Anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper. There is no legal obligation to hold any kind of qualification at all. However, the two main bookkeeping qualifications are ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) and the IAB (International Association of Bookkeepers). I'm AAT qualified (Institute of Accounting Technicians). This is a higher level than the bookkeeping qualifications but a level below that of your accountant, who is probably ACCA or something similar.

Again, as you'd expect, I would also recommend that you choose a bookkeeper not only with experience but experience in your industry. If you have made the brave decision to outsource then you need to make sure that this person knows what they're doing. A failure to correctly allocate your expenses or an inability to tell your difference income streams apart, will devalue the service that you're paying for. In fact, you might as well save yourself the money and keep it in house.

Why the great bookkeeper is bad for your Dental Practice

So let's say you've chosen your bookkeeper. They hold a qualification and they have experience in the dental industry. So why might they be bad for your Practice?

When you outsource, you are welcoming a stranger into your Dental Practice. But unlike an employee they come with their own systems and ways of working. Too often we focus on the "can they do the job?" without considering the secondary question of "how will they do it?"

Some bookkeepers will use excel, others desktop software like SAGE or cloud based bookkeeping packages like Xero. Some will supply their own software, others will expect you to. Equally, some bookkeepers will want to work at your Dental Practice, others might call in to collect your records or expect you to deliver them. Maybe some will be like me and work remotely.

So why is this bad?

Imagine you've gone through the outsourcing process and you've got your bookkeeper. Their costs have been quoted and accepted and you're ready to go. It's all very exciting. They then mention in passing that you are to supply the SAGE that they work on and they'll be coming to your Dental Practice once a week and will need a desk. You have no doubt in your mind that they are a great bookkeeper but you didn't expect the £500 software costs or the fact that your Practice Manager will have to give up her desk once a week. Suddenly you seem to have created one problem whilst trying to solve another.

I hate to admit it, but even I can fall down on this hurdle. I'm a great bookkeeper. Well qualified with over 10 years experience of which 6 has been in the dental industry. I'd like to think that you'd be hard pushed to find anyone better. But if you're Dental Practice has a poor internet connection, then my cloud software will be rubbish. You'll know that I'm a great bookkeeper, but you'll hate my systems and that will make me bad for your Dental Practice.

So if you want to avoid a great bookkeeping being bad for you, make sure you add the "how" question to your checklist. If the answer to that how is an innovative bookkeeper who uses cloud software to streamline the bookkeeping process, then please get in touch.


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