Congratulations, you have just picked up your first construction client!
As an Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, a “contractor” or a Bookkeeper/Office Manager has contacted you for a contractor because they need “help” with their QuickBooks file. The chances are good that you have completed one of the various “New Client Interviews” that are readily available, you arrive at the contractor’s office, and start to review their current QuickBooks setup only to find:
- A Chart of Accounts that is so long it could easily be considered a “book” OR one that is so short you wonder how they manage to keep accurate records.
- An Item List that is so long that it too could be considered a “book” OR one that consists of only a few items.
- A Payroll Item List that is so long that it too could be considered a “book” OR one that consists of only a few items
In the case of the Chart of Accounts, Item, and Payroll Item Lists feeling like “books” most ProAdvisors first thought is “oh what a mess, we need to clean this up!”
This initial reaction may not be the best approach to dealing with a construction client, so let’s address some areas that most of the New Client Interviews I’ve ever seen – never take into consideration. Also, remember that your construction clients in-house management reporting needs do not, and probably will not, perfectly line up with financial-statement or tax return reporting requirements. However, you will find it worthwhile to help them retrieve the information that they desperately need – even if it means a bit more work from you or their Accountant on a periodic or year-end basis.
So, let’s talk about some of those questions that are not in the New Client Interviews, it is impossible to cover all of them, but you can certainly add these to your “list”:
As you can see these questions will help you to zero in on their needs and you can then help them set up a QuickBooks file that will be a “workhorse” instead of one that “underperforms” and causes frustration.
QuickBooks will not automatically provide some of the solutions to the needs of contractors, for example: tracking Retainage, equipment costs, union or bona-fide plan fringe benefits – but properly setup QuickBooks “can be made” to do so; and of course, there are always third-party applications that will help with the “tough stuff”.
Now that you have some more information about the client’s needs – your first step should be to help them (and yourself) get organized by making a list of their needs! However, before you begin implementing new procedures – you should review their current QuickBooks file to make sure it will provide them with the desired results.