Should You Hire a Virtual Bookkeeper?

Hiring an outside virtual bookkeeper allows construction business owners to focus their time on other areas of the business without having to hire a new employee to do the bookkeeping

Hiring a virtual bookkeeper provides you with the same level of information and service but without the employment burden costs such as benefits, training costs and more required with hiring an in-house employee.
Hiring a virtual bookkeeper provides you with the same level of information and service but without the employment burden costs such as benefits, training costs and more required with hiring an in-house employee.

Who handles the financial books in your construction company? Hopefully there is someone. Many construction business owners (or their spouses) handle the bookkeeping. In some companies this might work. But for many contractors having an outside bookkeeper may be the best solution.

Why? Day-to-day bookkeeping is hard work. So is analyzing that information to gather insight into the financial health of your construction company. Construction business owners are busy people. And let’s face it, not everyone has the time to keep the financial books organized and on track. 

Some contractors may be hesitant to hire a bookkeeper because they don’t want to relinquish control. However, if you can’t find the time to spend on bookkeeping and accurately keep track of your company’s financial health, how much control do you really have?

Hiring a bookkeeper can actually give contractors more control because they will have a better, more organized financial picture and a clearer understanding of how and where to spend money. Plus, the business owner now has more time to spend on other areas of the business.

Some contractors may feel embarrassed that they’ve let their bookkeeping fall behind or become disorganized. Don’t. That’s exactly why a bookkeeper is needed. 

Do you need a bookkeeper?

It’s important to know the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant.  An accountant is typically someone who helps with interpretation of financials while a bookkeeper is more hands-on and keeps track of the day to day of your books.

Why is a bookkeeper important?

Bookkeepers provide a third party objectivity and an additional layer of financial insight to your construction business. They can help you get a clearer picture of where your money is going, help you review and understand financial statements, help with cash flow management and ultimately help bring business owners more peace of mind.

What is a virtual bookkeeper?

There's a new option to hiring a bookkeeper to add to your payroll: hire a virtual bookkeeping service.

A virtual bookkeeper is not a robot hiding in some computer handling all your financial statements. Rather, virtual bookkeepers are real people working offsite providing a service. And that means you don’t have to add to your company’s headcount and payroll by hiring an in-house bookkeeper.

Hiring a virtual bookkeeper provides you with the same level of information and service but without the employment burden costs such as benefits, training costs and more, says Bryan Miles, CEO of BELAY.

I used to do all paperwork myself, but now I am able to pay more attention to projects, costs and customers. My virtual assistant allows me to respond to emails a lot faster,” says Brad Clark of WBC Construction in Antonio, Texas. Clark did not hire a virtual bookkeeper but he does work with a BELAY virtual assistant for his business.

BELAY virtual bookkeepers work off site to help contractors manage the day to day of their books, provide insight into financials on a consistent basis and offer best practice tips on how to manage money.

“At BELAY we do all the things business owners don’t want to do but know they need to do,” Miles says. “We help our customers keep doing the things only they can do.”

At BELAY, contractor customers will have one bookkeeper assigned/dedicated to them. The customer will be on a first name basis with their BELAY bookkeeper.  The virtual bookkeepers familiarize themselves with the accounting system the contractor is using – which is quite often QuickBooks. The virtual bookkeeper is given access to work within a contractor’s accounting software so they can take over managing the day-to-day information.

“Some business owners worry that if they hire a virtual employee, they run the risk of getting matched with someone who may not work out. However, BELAY handles the vetting, and they are flexible if you need to make a change,” Clark says. “BELAY also handles adjusting contract hours during busier or slower seasons so you don’t have to worry about “letting an employee go” or starting the hiring process over again.”

Since the virtual bookkeeper is offsite, all the financial information, such as requests for payments, must be sent to the bookkeeper. This is done through an electronic method where the customer still has access to financial information, Miles says.

BELAY customers receive a unique email address and/or fax number. All invoices and paperwork get sent to this email or fax and are in turn sent automatically to the virtual bookkeeper. The records via this system are electronically archived for seven years. The bookkeeper then reviews them, asks for approval when needed and then takes care of the payments, Miles says.

Plus, the virtual bookkeepers take the time each month to help customers understand their financial statements and balance sheets. They provide an objective, third party point of view as well as a qualified person to help answer questions contractors may have regarding these financial documents.

What to look for in a virtual bookkeeper

Miles says contractors should consider at least five key aspects when looking to hire a virtual bookkeeper.

  1. Does the bookkeeper have qualified experience? When it comes to finances, it’s important to make sure your virtual (or in-house) bookkeeper has experience in bookkeeping. At BELAY, all virtual bookkeepers must have at least five years of experience working with QuickBooks, Miles says. Also, all BELAY virtual bookkeepers work within the United States and possess a good understanding of U.S. accounting laws.
  2. Does the bookkeeper have expertise with your accounting software package? If you don’t use QuickBooks, ask your bookkeeper if they have experience with whatever accounting package you use.
  3. How will the bookkeeper help you understand the financial aspects of your business? Ask the bookkeeper directly what they will do to help you understand the financial aspects of your business. Will they explain your balance sheet to you monthly? Will they caution you on risky financial moves? Will they help you understand your cash flow? Will they offer well thought-out or best practice tips on how to spend the company’s money? Find a bookkeeper you can trust to help you.
  4. Do you like the bookkeeper’s personality? Even if you don’t have to work face-to-face with your bookkeeper it’s important that whoever you hire has a personality that you feel comfortable with and like working with.
  5. What specifically will my bookkeeper do for me? Miles says a good bookkeeper should be monthly reconciling all of your banking accounts and credit cards, paying bills and invoices in a healthy timeframe, determining and advising on cash flow, helping pay payroll, and producing quality financial statements that you can make good business decisions from.