client onboarding workflow quickbooks

Whether you’ve been a bookkeeper for decades or you’re just getting started, some of your clients will be using QuickBooks. If you’re taking over existing clients on QuickBooks, they might already have their books set up and running, and you’ll be stepping into a well-oiled machine.

But if you have a new client that hasn’t been using QuickBooks before, you should have a standard process for making sure that they’re set up correctly in the system. If they’re an established company, you’ll need to make sure that you’re importing all their information from their prior system. If they’re a new business, you’ll want to ensure that they get going on the right foot. 

Whether the prospective client is a new or established business, using the following standardized steps will make your life (and theirs!) easier. 

A Simple Client Onboarding Workflow for Quickbooks

Step 1: Evaluate the client’s reporting needs.

Before starting any new accounting endeavor, it’s best to meet with the client to review their current accounting system (if any exists at all) and what their expectations are for the new system. Many small business owners find QuickBooks intimidating which is where your bookkeeping services come in.

Before having the client set up QuickBooks Online, having a meeting to establish which types of reporting they need means that you can get them set up on the right version from the outset.

Though there are several differences between the tiers, one of the main differences is the advanced reporting and class tracking that is available in the higher QuickBooks Online tiers. If your client does not have a need for these, they can start off at a lower tier, save money, and upgrade later if need be.

Step 2: Determine whether the client will need QuickBooks payroll services.

Like evaluating the client’s reporting needs, this step can help you get them set up right from the start. If your client is using a third-party to run payroll, you can skip this step. However, having it in your standard workflow will ensure that you have the conversation with your client as you go through the onboarding process.

If your client does want to run payroll through QuickBooks, this step should include the conversation about which team members are responsible for tracking hours, managing paid time off, running payroll, and paying the payroll taxes. This step can also include discussion about whether QuickBooks managed payroll services are right for the business.

Step 3: Have the client register for QuickBooks.

You have two options here:

  1. You can register on the client’s behalf and rebill them for the subscription.
  2. You can have them register directly with QuickBooks Online and not have to act as the middleman. 

Either option works. However if you decide to register them and rebill them for the subscription, you need to remember to set up a recurring bill for the subscription. Let them know that the additional fee will be added to their monthly invoice should it not already be included in your services.

Step 4: Ask the client to grant you accountant access to their books.

In order to actually get to work, you need the right permissions to act as their QuickBooks Online accountant.

This gives you access to additional features not available to regular users such as the ability to undo reconciliations and batch reclassification of entries. All QuickBooks Online subscriptions come with the ability to add two accountants. You can be added as the bookkeeper and the client can also grant their CPA access to their books.

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Step 5: Meet with the client to establish the number of bank accounts, credit card, and loan accounts.

This meeting can be done virtually or in person, but having a kickoff meeting will allow you to discuss the company’s financial structure. The discussion should include the number of bank accounts, credit cards, and loans that the company has. 

Additionally, it should cover the banking establishments that are used by the company. You want to ensure you are aware of all of the movement of funds within the company. This is also a good time to take inventory of any personal accounts that are linked to the company accounts that regularly contribute funds and take withdrawals. You need to make sure these payments and deposits are not incorrectly entered as income or expenses.

You will probably need to assist with linking accounts to your client’s QuickBooks. However, doing so means that you will spend significantly less time on data entry and will provide more efficient and accurate bookkeeping services. The bank feeds provide a complete picture of the transactions in the bank, although they need to be reviewed for accuracy through regular reconciliations.

Step 7: Establish the process for receiving/obtaining statements.

If your client selected one of the higher tiers of QuickBooks Online, you can directly import the bank statements when the bank accounts are updated. If they are on one of the lower tiers or you prefer to receive copies of the statements directly from the client, you should establish who is responsible for providing the statements and when they will be provided each month.

Step 8: Review the chart of accounts with the client to verify that the accounts meet the clients and your needs.

Along with the accounts that can be directly linked to a financial institution, you should review the income and expense accounts to verify that the client will have the level of detail they need to run their business and complete their taxes at year-end. Going through the chart of accounts prior to starting your accounting services means that you will spend less time later reclassifying older transactions and financial statements.

Step 9: Import the initial set of data and reconcile the accounts.

Once you’ve set up the chart of accounts, you should import the initial set of data and review the output with the client prior to importing several years of data. This allows you to fix any expense categories and give the client a sample output to review. 

Small business clients are often very savvy in their fields but may not understand the finer points of accounting. Giving them a small sample of a couple of months of accounting to review gives them something concrete to provide comments on.

Step 10: Establish a schedule for updating the client’s books.

Proactively tell the client when they can expect their books to be updated and how you will address any issues going forward. Make sure that you’ve created recurring tasks lists in your system so that you don’t overlook any deadlines.

Additional Workflows to Help Your Accounting Firm Run Smoothly

As you can see, having an established workflow for things like client onboarding for QuickBooks can help you quickly and efficiently onboard new clients.

By standardizing accounting processes, you will ensure that you have all the information you need, your client understands your services, and you have a plan for making sure that nothing falls through the cracks. This gives your clients a better experience, and helps you grow from small business owner to effective team manager as you add more staff.

You could track all of these processes using a spreadsheet or Google Docs, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Jetpack Workflow has 32 standardized accounting workflow templates that can be downloaded for free.

If you’re looking for a more robust way to track projects, deadlines, and tasks across your team, check out Jetpack Workflow with a free 14 day trial here. It’s designed to make every client engagement easier, from tasks like the onboarding of clients to building timely reports.

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