There was a time just a few short years ago when the idea of finding an accountant…or at least a good accountant…was enough to make the average small business owner feel rather queasy. The reason being that not only was it a job and a half to find the numbers and general contact details of those available, but the vetting process that followed was nothing short of a nightmare. Days, weeks and often months down the line you’d find yourself back at square one with no clue at all as to where to find a good accountant and the mother of all headaches for your trouble.
These days though, this is one of the endless business bugbears that have been made 99% simpler thanks to the web. It may seem as if shopping for an accountant online is a little on the strange side, but in reality it’s actually considered the best and in many instances the only way of going about it. Sure, there’s more to it than just picking a cartload of groceries or choosing a new pair of shoes, but at the same time the very same convenience that comes with shopping for anything online also applies to shopping for an accountant.
Here’s how to make it happen and how to get it right at the same time:
1 – Go Local
For reasons that should of course be pretty obvious, there’s a hell of a lot to gain by casting your net close to home and looking for a local accountant. Not only does this make the search process easier as you’ll be narrowing down the pool by about 95%, but the benefits that come with doing business with a local accountant are just too numerous to pass up. Chances are there will come a time, maybe several times in fact where it’s necessary to set up meetings and do business in person. When this happens, it’s good to know that they are based at the end of the street as opposed to 475 miles away at the other end of the country.
2 – First Impressions
When you’ve brought back a bunch of options and have decided to go through them, websites give you a great opportunity to gain a good first impression of the person you’re dealing with without ever having to meet or visit them yourself. If they are using a website to represent themselves, you should treat it like a cross-section insight into who they are and what they do. Does the site look professional? Is it genuinely informative? Are there any obvious errors? Does it come across as lazy? Chances are you’ll gain a gut feeling one way or the other from the moment you hit the site – always go with your gut.
3 – Contact Details
A good way of establishing whether or not this is indeed a professional accountant you’re looking at is to take a closer look at the contact details they provide. If, for example, you are given nothing but a Gmail address and a mobile telephone number, you’ve no evidence that it isn’t in fact, some rank amateur operating out of a spare bedroom at home and with zero experience. By contrast, if they provide you with a registered business address, a landline telephone number and an email address pointing to their own business domain, chances are it’s the real deal.
4 – Qualifications
There’s more to finding a great accountant than qualifications alone and it’s of course easy to list qualifications that you don’t really have. However, when and where any accountant is proud of the qualifications and experience they’ve chalked up over the years, there’s really no way at all that they’re going to want to keep this quiet. As such, it’s a good idea to take note of what they say or do not say about their credentials and the like via their website, though in all cases you might decide to ask for evidence of them before going ahead.
5 – Feedback
Last but not least, the single most effective and easy way of making the right decision from what’s available on the website alone is by looking into what kind of feedback they’ve earned from their past and present clients. There’s really no such thing as having no feedback at all these days as people are just far too keen to speak their minds. As such, if there’s no glowing feedback on offer it’s worth thinking about why this might be so.