In our expereince of clients finding the right local accountant in Walsall, and even after the process of finding and selecting the right firm there was the question of how they were correctly instructed and then information supplied to them. One of those tasks we all assume is straight forward, and to some degree should be, although in reality it does require thought into how this is done so that the expectations between yourself and the business on both sides are clear.
Other Non-Accounting Businesses
Infact the lessons from these can be applied to any business really not just a firm of accountants, and can be boiled down to 3 simple points – all beginning with the latter I to keep nice and simple, and all showing a different aspect of that ever-so-important ‘paperwork’ to get the instruction and service right from the start.
1. The Instruction
That very first confirmation in writing with the local business to instruct them to carry out whatever you want them to do. The golden rule is for it to be in writing, and as clear as possible. And remember that it’s the quality of the information that’s important rather than the style or even format of information – so an email referring to the correct points is more effective than a lengthy headed-paper letter that misses things.
Make sure you go through the Terms & Conditions both the unique ones you have agreed for your instruction (and clearly detailed) but also those standard T&Cs often in a lengthy small-print somewhere but worth wading through. All it takes is just one change that’s needed for your requirements and you can simply ask to have this noted as an agreed amendment in your written instruction.
It’s also worth taking a step back from all the micro detail and make sure it has logical steps in there – so being clear who supplies what info, for someone to then supply a result or ‘draft’ in whatever times frame and format, for other steps to agree changes and a final version.
2. The Information
Make sure you know who needs what information to get on with the instruction. Typically this will start with the client providing information to the business so they can begin their work, for them to then provide results.
So with an accountant there will be various documentation such as invoices and receipts, bank statements and summaries, and files of related documents – but also things you may take for granted like access to online accounts and whether these are released, and whether the information needs to be hard-copies sent in the post or hand delivered or whether you can simply attach in an email or even give online account details to access as and when.
3. The Invoice
The dreaded part where you have to pay and which seems straight forward, but make sure you understand right from the start how this will be issued. For example, whether there will be VAT added, which will be another 20% automatically on the charge if you’re not VAT registered. Plus, check that there are no others on the way as well, maybe interim ones or added ‘expenses’ or disbursements’.
Even the timing of these need to be understood, whether just one invoice at the end of the work and how long you have to pay it, and whether they will be phased through the job. Therefore don’t rush, get the 3 ‘I’s sorted right at the start of the instruction.
The 3-Prong Attack
After you have the basic terms agreed for your accounting or infact any business need, then don't stop there. Make sure the detailed is irnoned out so it doen't come back to bite later on.
Get the instruction clean, the information supplied, and the invoice issued.