Links to the pricing pages of several bookkeeping companies, not just our own!
Trying to get the best deal when you’re shopping for a bookkeeper online can be challenging. Most accounting firms don’t have a set pricing strategy and are simply trying to outbid the next guy in order to earn your business. That might sound great to the entrepreneur looking for an affordable accountant, but there is a pitfall in there.
The accountant is selling their time. If you pay accountant fees of $75 a month, how much support do you really think you’ll get for your small business? Not much. In our industry, this is a real problem. Since accountants aren’t known for being good at selling, they simply cut prices. They end up taking on so many clients in order to make a living that they under-serve every customer they touch.
To get things started, I want you to look at this comic:
I thought that this was great. It speaks to my point above that a cheap accountant gives cheap support. When it comes to dealing with the second most important part of your business (getting and taking care of customers is the first), do you really want to get the worst solution possible just because it's cheap? It is your money after all.
The 4 Types of Bookkeeping Services Fees
So how much do bookkeepers charge? As you shop around, you’ll likely encounter four different types of fee structures. Here they are, in no specific order. After we cover bookkeeping services rates, I’ll take you to some websites of bookkeeping services where you can get more info on their pricing. You may be asking why I would do such a thing given that I’m the founder of Ignite Spot, an outsourced bookkeeping firm. The answer is simple: I want you to have the best solution for your company. We’re not a good fit for everyone, and that’s alright.
#1 - Fixed Fee Services
Ignite Spot is an example of a fixed-fee service. In this model, you work out a set monthly payment with the bookkeeping services firm. The accountant fees vary based on the needs of your company. The benefit here is that you don’t get billed for every email and phone call you make to your accountant. You have set bookkeeping fees that you can plan for each month.
#2 - Hourly Fee
Some people really like this model. It’s the “pay for what you use” system. The benefit is that bookkeeping services cost less in low-volume months. The con is that the accountant can claim to have spent excess hours working on a project when it only took 20 minutes. You get the short end of the stick when you’re billed for something that just didn’t happen.
You’ll notice that many of the services quoting hourly bookkeeping rates tend to be offshore, from India or the Philippines.
#3 - Startup Pricing
If your business is just getting started, you’ll want to search out a company that specializes in basic support. Some companies have a good system for helping you get off the ground but don’t scale with you as you grow. Be aware that you may need to transfer your accounting support to a more advanced company once you start growing.
#4 - Project Fee
The final option is to hire an accountant to do a one-off project. This is great if you need a QuickBooks problem fixed or you need to get your books caught up and then want to take them back over. In this type of situation, you would have either a set fee or hourly bookkeeping services rates depending on the accountant’s style.
Links to Bookkeeping Services Fees
There are a lot of options out there for you to choose from. I've listed out several accounting firms you should check out as you do your research.
Ignite Spot Accounting Services - Our Company
Fixed Fee Model
This is our firm. We're a fixed fee service that supports over 500 companies across the nation. Our average clients generate between $500k to $10 million a year in revenues. We're in pretty much every industry and have packages that scale with you as you grow.
Fixed Fee Model
This is a very reputable firm that has been around for quite a while. They follow the same model that we do. Please take the time to call them and see how they differ from us.
I don't have experience with this firm, but they're like most of the hourly systems. As I mentioned previously, most of the hourly platforms are offshore. You can check out their rates to see if it's a fit for you.
Most people I speak with are nervous about this kind of solution simply because the data is so far from home, it can get lost in translation and you get what you pay for. At roughly $8 to $15 an hour, the accounting support may not be as strong as some of the other services out there. It also tends to take longer to get a task completed due to logistical roadblocks.
It's a good fit though for entrepreneurs on a budget that are tech savvy and comfortable with off-shoring.
Bench is a cool company. We've had a lot of their clients come over to us once they got too big for their services. Bench seems to focus mainly on startup accounting. If you're just getting started and you're looking for basic receipt entry, this is a great solution.
Finally, there's a lot of companies popping up like oDesk which bring freelance workers together with businesses needing help. They act like a market place essentially. If you decide to go this route, their pricing is set by each individual freelancer. You would need to create an account and then build a job posting. Once done, you'll get people from around the world offering to complete your project.
I've heard of some people using this method successfully while others have had a "less than savory" experience. It all comes down to picking a freelancer that you can trust to do a great job. I would also suggest taking this path for small accounting projects versus outsourcing your entire accounting needs.