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Choosing a new accountant.

This year we decided that it was necessary to find a new accountant who could do our extremely simple (s-corp, 2 schedule k’s, no property) taxes for less than the national debt.

In the past, this task has been very daunting. Sort through the phone book, read websites…but what do those really tell you.

Now that I’m hooked in to the local business community I’ve learned how to make those connections benefit more than just my client list. I called 3 of my favorite well connected people and said “Do you have an accountant you can really recommend?” and of course they all answered “Absolutely!”

The next step is to make calls. What kind of response do I get from the front desk? Do they answer their own phone? If I leave a message, how long does it take to get a call back? Once you get a chance to chat, do they sound grounded? Do they get your personal brand of humor? Are they willing to invest some time in chatting to win you over?

Next step is an office visit with the one you like best so far. How big and fancy is the space? What are the business’s aspirations? Do they want to be huge? Expensive real estate? Nothing wrong with that, but it might not be the best choice for a small business. Do they spend a lot of time detailing their rates? (Free advice. You do not want an accountant you aren’t willing to call with a quick question because the fee is too high. Been there, done that. Ask straight out what they charge for quick questions.) How long have they been in business. Do they take the opportunity to skim through the copy of last years paperwork that you brought? Do they ask sensible questions? Are they rushing you?

Do they have a good vibe? Do you have anything in common? Because seriously, if someone is going to be rifling through your financial dirty laundry basket, you should pick someone you’re comfortable with.

We had great results. We had a meeting. Turns out our first interview had a very interesting background in a small business himself, and he shares our taste in tv. We had plenty to talk about, he was comfortable in chatting, and he found me amusing, which always improves my business relationships.

Once we decided we like him we handed over the 2007 paperwork we’d brought along for copying and shook hands.

I’m delighted. And since I don’t believe in procrastinating, we’ll be handing over the paperwork as soon as the rest of the documentation comes in the mail. Should see a refund by March.

I have plans for it!