Key Terms for your Bookkeeping Services Contract
I feel like I can really relate to building a bookkeeping business. Like law, it's not the sexiest aspect of business, but it's such an important area for entrepreneurs to pay attention to, but that often gets overlooked!
As a bookkeeper you provide more than just financial organization for your clients: you provide a wealth of information from which entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about key areas of their business, like hiring, marketing and where their hard earned dollars are best spent.
Since you already understand the importance of solid foundations and processes to operate a business, make sure you're not overlooking a key one in your own business: your client contract! When we're busy helping everyone else in their business (I see you!) it's easy to overlook our own important fundamentals.
So don't overlook the importance of a well-drafted bookkeeping client services agreement. Let's jump into the key terms of the most important money making contract in your business!
Clarity, Expectations, and Scope of Services
Picture this scenario: you land a new client, eager to get started, but soon realize they expected you to provide tax and accounting advice. As a bookkeeper, this might be well beyond the services you've been hired to deliver to your client!
I've seen this happen where clients think they are getting way more than they are paying for, and what you as a bookkeeper are actually able to provide. When it comes to financial services, keeping within your scope of practice and expertise is really important from a liability perspective.
For example, most bookkeepers don't prepare and complete income tax filings come tax time for their clients - so it is good to set this out from the get-go in your agreement.
This situation can be avoided with a clear, comprehensive scope of services. By clearly and specifically setting this out, you establish expectations right from the start. By specifically setting out what you are and are not providing as part of your bookkeeping services, you minimize misunderstandings while also ensuring you cover your a$$, by ensuring you stay within your area of expertise.
Client Responsibilities and Clear Communication
It's likely you're going to need to have ongoing communication with your client in order to provide your services. You are also going to want to be sure they are required to provide you with accurate records, so you can prepare you monthly deliverables as best you can with up-to-date information. Clearly setting this out so your client understands this ongoing expectation within your contract, sets everyone up for success.
Another important clause to include is who is ultimately responsible for keeping and storing records, receipts and other important financial documentation. There are different requirements for each jurisdiction when it comes to record keeping, so ensuring you aren't responsible for this by carving out in your contract, lets your client know they are ultimately responsible for storing these records safely, notwithstanding you may have copies in order to provide your services.
A bookkeeping services agreement ultimately acts as a guiding document, fostering enhanced communication and professionalism with your bookkeeping clients. By clearly articulating the terms, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties, you create a reference point for ongoing discussions and interactions. This clarity strengthens the client-bookkeeper relationship, minimizes miscommunications, and establishes a professional working relationship that clients will appreciate.
Disclaimers are really important to protect your business as a bookkeeper! Setting out tailored disclaimers about the advice you can and can't provide is crucial, and so your client knows what you are not legally responsible for. As I touched on above, it's really important your client knows what is and isn't provided within your scope of services and a disclaimer can help you reiterate and drive this point home.
Mitigating Disputes and Legal Liabilities:
No business owner wants to find themselves entangled in a legal dispute. A lawyer-drafted client services agreement includes provisions that can help mitigate potential conflicts and protect you from legal liabilities. For example, the agreement can outline a dispute resolution mechanism, such as mediation, to address disagreements in a more amicable and cost-effective manner. Additionally, by incorporating limitation of liability and indemnification clauses, you can safeguard your business from potential financial losses or damages.
These are just a few of the important terms, but of course you're going to want to set out your payment terms, termination and rescheduling policies and copyright ownership terms. These are all important for you and your client to understand and agree to, before starting what could be a long-term working relationship!
As you can seen, a bookkeeping services agreement is a key component for the growth and scalability of your bookkeeping business. By having such an agreement in place, you ensure clarity, define expectations, and establish the scope of your services from the very beginning. The agreement helps you manage timelines, maintain healthy cash flow, and protect your peace of mind! Moreover, it enhances communication, professionalism, and trust between you and your clients. By mitigating disputes and legal liabilities, you can focus on what you do best – providing exceptional bookkeeping services.
Our Bookkeeping client contract template is also available as part of a contract bundle, so you can get your legal foundation in place easily and affordably!