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Finding the right accountant

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Ocutter, Nov 30, 2000.

  1. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 314

    I have been thinking of using an accountant for next season. I would still do the manual entry, just take it to them every month for entry in their computer. My question is to those who use them. What questions can I ask or things I should be looking for. Ive got the basics (prices, yrs in business, do they do landscapers). I will also ask about employee taxes too. Anything else? Thanks.
  2. MWHC

    MWHC LawnSite Member
    from Wyoming
    Posts: 202

    You only need 1 question. Ask the accountant what "2+2=" If they say four, you need to go elsewhere. The correct answer to this question is "What would you like it to be Mr. ____".

    Just kidding: find someone you trust, preferably a friend. Someone willing to spend some time with you and figure out whats best for your company.

    [Edited by MWHC on 11-30-2000 at 07:59 PM]
  3. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    talk to some other small business owners and find out who they use. Get a few names, call them and talk to them about what you are looking for. See which one you like best. There are some really good CPA's that work out of there homes or small offices. These are usually the best to find.
  4. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    I don't know a thing about finding the right accountant, BUT, I can write volumes about how to find the wrong one. been there and done that.

    unfortunately, I don't even trust referals anymore. the accountant that gave me the bad experience was from a referal.

    good luck.

  5. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 675

    First, I would not ask "Do they do landscapers?" That could be grounds for sexual harrasment in the future if you did hire them! LOL

    I would try to avoid hiring a friend as an accountant. You might lose that friendship if there is a dipute or problem down the road. Money has a funny way of changing the way people act and react.

    Last accountant I went to see about 6 years ago was just going to have me put everything in Quickbooks. She would go over a copy of my file quarterly. Then at years end do the taxes. She wanted $150.00 a quarter. Which if I knew nothing about taxes at all, then it would have been a deal, I guess. But, I do, and I can punch in the numbers and have Quickbooks print out my sheets myself for $600 a year. I'll bet that would be $1,000 now.

    I usually spend about two hours a year doing my tax returns after printing out from Quickbooks.
  6. Mark

    Mark LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 723

    Never used a accountant, figure i would save a few dollars keeping my own books. Come tax time i do take all my receipts to H-R Block.Done it this way for yrs now no problems so far.
  7. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    A real accountant is not just a tax preparer. Almost anyone, if they take the time, can prepare taxes. If your business is growing, you might find it helpful to have someone to give advice on how to proceed with financial structure of your business. There are organized ways of running a business, and some accountants will get into the act of helping you do this. Of course, that will cost you some money, so talk to a number of prospects, or get referral from someone in business of your size. Doesn't necessarily have to be someone experienced with lawn business, because general structure of business is similar for all business.

    In today's heady economy, it is easy to blow off calculated decisions, because most everyone is making money no matter how poorly they are organized. A GOOD accountant will usually save you money, even after their fee.
  8. Premo Services

    Premo Services LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,516

    Jim Excellent post, this is what I was going to talk about!
    My accountant is always asking how I intend to grow,etc. and if i call him with question he will spend as much time as it takes to tell me all the ways of doing something and then have me choose the way i want to do it, so I can make the right decision.

    [Edited by mow money on 12-02-2000 at 09:27 PM]
  9. Barkleymut

    Barkleymut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,117

    This may not be helpful to many of ya'll. BUT a good accountant will cost you $500 but save you $1500 come tax time. A crappy one will cost you $300 and save you $500. You be the judge. Just like in lawn care a few extra dollars spent will be well worth it.
  10. Oldtimer

    Oldtimer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,458

    As a business grows it's needs change and one of the most overlooked item is good record keeping.

    An accountant will give you a pretty looking print out and you can say "I use a CPA to help me run my business" but, all you are getting is a pretty print out.

    If you really want to be in business you must know your break-even margin and your break even point.

    the break-even margin is a ratio that shows the gross-margin factor for a break-even condition. The formula is total expenses divided by net revenues multiplied by 100 to get a percentage. This ratio is helpful when setting prices, with competitive bidding and when negotiation contracts with vendors and accountants. You have to know all your fixed costs and variable costs and have them on a spread sheet.

    Ask your accountant or bookeeper to show you your break-even point. Learn how to use your break-even point because without this knowledge you are just floundering and making a wild %*# guess instead of a profit making bid.

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