Accounting for Clients - Kick Off Procedures

Best Agent Business - Accounting for Clients Kick Off Procedures

Congratulations! If you're reading this wiki, you've been given a client for accounting/bookkeeping with Best Agent Business. So now what? That's what this wiki is all about. It will guide you from what to ask the client for first, the real estate Chart of Accounts, developing a timely means for financial reporting, and of course, what is procedurally correct for Best Agent Business.

This should be sent (and hopefully returned) prior to the Scheduled Call: If not then request it on the call
(Insert Accounting KO Questionaire)

Step 1 - Speaking with the client. Schedule a Call with the Client Accounting TL and KA
You'll need to speak with the client to understand their business before delving into their bookkeeping. The questions you need to ask are:
Introduce yourself and the Ishido that will be their assistant if that person is on the call.

General Questions
  • Tell me about your Business and how your Bookkeeping is currently set up?
  • Do you own your own Brokerage?
  • Are you part of a Franchise? (We may need to know percentages that go to them, etc)
  • Do you have Employees/Agents you pay?
  • How are they paid? Do you have a Payroll Company?
  • What Software are you currently using for your Bookkeeping?
  • Who is currenty/has handled your bookkeeping? Can we contact this person to help with transition?

Financial Information
  • Check their Client Db record (you should have this pulled up before the call)
  • Ask them and complete the questions in the financial section if not already filled out

Credit Cards
  • Do you have Credit Card Accounts? How many and with what Company?
  • Do you have employees with business credit Cards? One main Account or Separate?
  • Do you or your employees have any personal expenses on these cards or are they all Business?
    • Recommend to keep personal separate so we can avoid having to do reimbursements

Bank Information
  • How many bank accounts do you have? What is their purpose?

You need to ask this because some clients have upwards of 6 bank/credit card accounts. This can be specifically for operating, payroll, escrow and personal.

Bookkeeping Software
  • Bring up the Software mentioned above and let them know we can use what ever they have, but recommend Quickbooks and ask if they would be willing to switch if they don’t already use it?
  • Ask how they currently Account for their listings/transactions?
  • If they do Job costings (want to keep track of expenses per listing), Let them know that Quickbooks online does not specifically allow for Job Costing so desktop version is better for that, however there is a work around online (creating a Customer or Sub customer under and Agent (Customer) to keep track of each one)
  • Ask about their Chart of Accounts and if they need help setting that up? - If yes let them know you can get them started but may need to schedule another call to discuss set up and to gather more information, Start with Below

Some clients already have QuickBooks, which is great but, they are not bookkeepers. You will need to rework the Chart of Accounts to reflect their style of business. If they have nothing in place, that's even better. You are starting with a clean slate.
  • Do you have recurring debits/credits?
  • How do you currently pay your bills?
  • Do you invoice/bill Clients for anything?
  • How do they pay?
  • Any thing else you can think of that we might need to know about how you run your business?

Step 2 - What paperwork do you need to have from your new accounting client?

No matter what stage the client is at with their bookkeeping, you'll need the following:
Let the client know you will be sending an email after this call to request the information below:
  1. Login information - If your client is subscribing to QuickBooks Online, you will need to have them send you an invitation to access their books. Once you have access, you need to create a Best Agent Business Login for the account. ALWAYS send the login information to: Should something happen to you and another Ishido needs to cover for you, they can easily access the login without bothering the client.
  2. Request documents from the first of the year, forward. We want to be able to give the client the full picture of the state of the business, not just a quick snapshot. By requesting all bank statements, credit card statements, etc. you are building a valuable financial tool for that client. Yes...set up can be time consuming but it is worth it in the long run.

Do you have any other questions for me before we wrap up? If yes answer them, if no thank them for their time and let them know you will be in touch soon.

If they don’t have an assigned assistant yet, let them know that person will reach out and introduce themselves.

Step 3 - Developing a Game Plan (AFTER THE CALL)

Like any successful project, proper planning and organization is a must with bookkeeping. If you head into it without a plan, it will fail. If you are not organized, you will waste time needlessly. Please read through my Suggestions and Tips section for how to stay organized with binders.
Now, first things first...
  • If the client does not have a Chart of Accounts, you will need to develop one for them. Please see the link for a generic COA that I have used with other Best Agent Business clients. (file link) You are at an advantage because someone before you took the time to do a template COA that you can build from.
external image placeholder?w=219&h=360
  • Review the bank/credit card statements. Look at what expenses are coming out and what income is coming in. These are the 2 areas you will need to focus on. Real Estate agents do not have inventory, which makes their bookkeeping easy!
On the first bank statement, the client has their commission checks electronically deposited. You will find those deposits under "Downloaded Transactions" in QuickBooks - to be discussed later.
external image placeholder?w=416&h=206

Here is a sample bank statement where all expenses are taken out using a debit card.
VERY IMPORTANT! Look up the companies on the internet first to decide which expense category it falls under. If you absolutely cannot determine the category, go ahead and ask the client in an email.
external image placeholder?w=378&h=296
  • Log into QuickBooks and feel your way around. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to do something and not knowing where in the program it needs to be done. Look at all the tabs, sub-tabs, click buttons. If you are just looking around, you cannot mess things up. If by chance you do get a message from QuickBooks asking if you want to record your changes, answer "No".
  • QuickBooks has a feature which allows the bank/credit card accounts to be linked to the program. This is a HUGE time saver! Transactions are downloaded from bank and put into a type of suspense area. Click on it, make sure the expense account is correct and "accept" the transactions. You can also "delete" as a duplicate from this screen. If you "delete" and didn't mean to, don't worry! You can always manually enter the transaction.
external image placeholder?w=625&h=265

Step 4 - Data Entry, Reconciliation and Reporting
By now, you should be somewhat familiar with your clients accounting/bookkeeping needs. So let's get started!
  • Data Entry - you can "accept downloaded" transactions, as shown above, or you can manually enter in expenses/income. Below is a screenshot of the "Write Checks" feature under "Banking". To enter in a debit card transaction, omit the "Check No." field.
If you follow along the same line as "Write Check", there's an option for "Deposits".
external image placeholder?w=461&h=276
external image placeholder?w=477&h=212
  • After completing the monthly entry into QuickBooks, it's time to reconcile the bank accounts. This is under the "Banking" tab, "More" and "Reconcile". The first screen will ask you for the ending account balance and the date, then you are taken to the reconciliation screen, which looks like this...external image placeholder?w=555&h=260
All your Checks and Payments will be listed on the left and Deposits and Other Credits on the right. Click on the box next to the item as received and QB's will keep a running total at the bottom. When the difference is "$0.00", click "Finish Now".
After all data is entered into QuickBooks, you will need to produce financial reports. There are 3 main reports that every bookkeeper should run for their clients: Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows
Profit & Loss
All reports can be accessed by going to the "Reports" tab, then "Company". The P&L needs to be generated each month so the client knows his profitability. However, we want them to see how they compare with business from the previous year, as well. As you can see on the screenshot below, this P&L reflects the months of March/April 2013 with March/April 2012. To generate this report, you'll need to do some customization. On the second screenshot below, you will see "Customize" right underneath the "Print" button. Click on it and the next screen comes up. Mark the boxes for "Previous Year" and "% Change", then "Run Report". Your report should look just like the P&L shown below.
external image placeholder?w=443&h=322
external image placeholder?w=516&h=222
external image placeholder?w=427&h=357

Balance Sheet
The Balance Sheet gives the client a snapshot of their financial status on a given day. Generally, they will be run for the last day of the month. Follow the same procedure above for generating a Balance sheet, but without the customization. Your report should look like this:
external image placeholder?w=321&h=533

Statement of Cash Flows
Finally, the Statement of Cash Flows is generated. This statement is concerned with cash flowing in and out of the business in relation to the changes in Balance Sheet accounts and Income. The report is run for the entire month, from the 1st through the last day. Your report should look like the example below.
external image placeholder?w=454&h=284
These are the processes you will do each month with your Accounting client. When all reports are generated, email to the client, Steve Kantor and Gretchen Parks.

Suggestions and Tips
  • If you're not already using the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook for your email, I would highly suggest acquiring the software. It will give you the ability to:
    • o Set reminders for when financial reports are due
    • o Set reminders for Friday reports
    • o You can create a folder for your clients emails. NEVER delete any accounting clients emails. There are many times that I have referred back to them for attachments and notes from the client.
    • Create a desktop folder for your client - name the folder after your client. Inside the folder, have new folders for:
      • o Bank Statements
      • o Credit Card Statements
      • o Invoices
      • o Income
      • o Financial Reports
      • o Miscellaneous
      • Turn off email and any desktop chat features while working on accounting. This is a job that requires your full and undivided attention.
      • ALWAYS copy Steve Kantor and Gretchen Parks on all client emails.
      • Best Agent Business does not do Payroll, Tax advising or handle IRS issues. We recommend that the client have a CPA for taxes/IRS needs and outsourced Payroll.
      • If a client has their personal bank account in the same QuickBooks account as their business account, list their personal expenses under "Owner Draw: Equity", with subaccounts, as necessary. Any withdrawals from the business to the personal account should be handled as individual transactions and NOT a transfer. It can get messy that way.
      • Keep a working binder for each client. At the end of the year, send your client the binder with properly filed bank statements, reconciliation reports, income receipts, credit card statements and monthly financial reports. Keep in month-to-month order with dividers. On the inside front pocket of the binder, write a letter to the client letting them know that this is their hard copy documentation of their 2014 financial records. Also include annual reports; P&L, Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows.