With today’s ever increasing state and federal regulations, rising delinquencies and resultant cash flow issues, community associations are under ever increasing pressures to have proper financial accounting performed on their behalf. It is time to stop using “No Name Bookkeeping Service” and a hire a bookkeeping company that specializes in servicing community associations. This type of work and reporting is too important to take chances inexperienced bookkeeping services.
Here is a suggested list of questions to ask when hiring a bookkeeping service for your community association:
1. What experience, qualifications and professional memberships do you hold?
You don’t want to hire someone who is brand new, just starting out and does not have a staff of experienced bookkeepers and clerks.
2. How large is your staff? What exactly are their functions and are they cross-trained?
Find out what each staff member does and if they haveany other experience in order to help out in case someone is sick or on vacation. Receipts, bill paying and reports do not stop when this occurs and someone should be able to keep your account up to date.
3. What insurance, bonding and amounts do you have?
Bookkeeping companies should have Fidelity Bonding and liability insurance. What amounts do they possess?
4. Is the work reviewed by a supervisor, and how accessible are these people in order to ask questions or meet in person?
There is nothing worse than mistakes and not being able to talk with a clerk or a supervisor about your issues. How is this handled?
5. What references does your firm have?
Always ask for at least 3 references that closely matches your association, and call them, too.
6. How are our records maintained and do we receive our files and backup at termination?
Find out how hard copies are maintained, what system they use for backups. Exactly how will your records be returned to you upon termination, and how quickly also?
7. What software/accounting package do you use?
Find out what software they will use, what their overall function is and whether it is specifically for community association accounting. Get copies of reports and see if this will serve your purpose as well.
8. How are collections handled? Is their a lockbox, and what are the costs for these services?
Many bookkeepers charge extra for these services. It is better to find out now before it is too late. The better companies that specialize in community associations have this as apart of their service and they have banking relationships which will not charge for a lockbox service.
9. Where will the work be done?
Make sure that the service that it is being sold to you is not being subcontracted out to someone else. We suggest that you visit the location of their business in order to see their system and meet their personnel.
10. Is there a setup fee, and will they bring your work current if necessary?
Some firms will charge fees to set up and bring the books current. Find out now and ask for a copy of the proposed agreement. If they do not have a contract, do not use them.
11. In addition to the fee, are there any extra costs associated with their service?
Postage, envelopes, copies, labels and other administrative costs may be charged. Get it in writing what these charges will be.
Once you have found your bookkeeping service, stay in contact with them through the setup period and then for a few months thereafter to make sure that they understand what you need. Look at your reports on a timely basis and provide feedback to the bookkeeping service as they may be able to provide different reports that you can understand, if needed. With the proper reporting, you can then incorporate them into your decision-making processes.
Bookkeeping, accounting and reporting is very important and it needs to be done in a timely and accurate fashion. By using these questions as a guide you will be making sure that your bookkeeping is being done properly for your Board of Directors and the Unit Owners of your community association.