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Oftentimes, the questions arises whether or not to hire contractors or trainees. I’ve had contractors applying wanting the kind of rates that a very experienced contractor would charge a private client. What I do is explain what I charge out to our clients and why we can’t afford to pay them the rate they are asking. What response I get varies depending on what the bookkeeper really wants (e.g. is money their main priority or do they want to work for part of a team, being supported etc etc). I then explain the benefits of working for my company

For example:

  • They won’t have to apply for jobs anymore as I will give them as much work as they need over time (bookkeepers often don’t like applying for jobs)
  • I review the “average chargeout rate” every three months and pass on any increases to them
  • They invoice me monthly and will be paid on time (they won’t have to chase payment)
  • They don’t have to spend money on advertising
  • They won’t have to spend time going to networking meetings and meeting with accountants to promote their business
  • They are part of a team whose Core Values are …….(Continual Improvement etc etc)
  • I have documented systems which they learn and follow
  • Because of the systems I can replace them when they go on leave (a big plus because bookkeepers often don’t/can’t take leave)
  • We can give them technical support if they have a difficult question and we provide on-going training in the form of webinars and seminars

An additional incentive is that I pay them 10% of the income received from a client they refer to us (instead of taking them on personally) for the first 12 months.

Of course you will always get those ones who still aren’t interested and that’s OK.

With regards to trainees that can be an option if your bookkeeping model can support that. Personally I suggest you leave that as a last resort. It takes a great deal of time to get them up to speed and you can’t charge the client for the extra time it would take for that person to do the job. You could even lose clients as a result or at least they start to get a bit nervous about the quality of the service. It may be possible to put them in your office so that you can watch their every move and give them very basic jobs as they learn. They could also do some of the admin tasks as well. The other problem is that putting on less skilled people undermines your marketing message which says something like “my bookkeepers have 5 years experience, cert IV etc etc. You can’t say that and then have some of them that don’t come up to that standard.

We have had periods where finding good bookkeepers was difficult and it can be influenced by the economy i.e. if there are lots of jobs around then employees become fussy. I would recommend experimenting with different types of advertising such as internet, local paper and even local schools (mums are often looking for extra work around school hours).