Dear Dangerously in Love with Your Finances,
I am the front desk receptionist of an established veterinary practice in Yamhill County, Oregon. I have been asked to temporarily perform bookkeeping tasks until we find a new outside bookkeeping firm specializing in veterinary practices. Our previous bookkeeping firm was not a good fit. The owners seem to be dragging their feet with a replacement. I am not an experienced bookkeeper. In prior positions, I have only posted payments to patients’ accounts. Where do I start?
~ Not a veterinary bookkeeper or accountant
Dear Not a Veterinary bookkeeper or accountant,
I commend you for knowing your skill level, as it relates to bookkeeping. The fundamentals of accounting – which is bookkeeping – is the cornerstone of reporting all the business entity’s financial activities. If the bookkeeping is not accurate, then the veterinary practice’s financial statements are not correct. This type of misinformation can lead to terrible decision-making. Therefore, the bookkeeper, accountant, financial manager, or any person handling any entity’s finances must have adequate accounting education and experience. With your lack of experience, you may be doing more harm than good.
Have a candid conversation with the owners. Explain your concerns regarding your lack of experience handling the bookkeeping responsibilities within the veterinary practice.
If they persist, request bookkeeping and software training, one-on-one sessions with an accounting coach or an accountant specializing in veterinary practices.
Discuss how the additional workload of bookkeeping may interfere with other tasks. Being or becoming an experienced bookkeeper involves incredible detail, even with the help of technology. It requires full attention and, depending on the volume, the responsibility can turn into a full-time position. One slight overlook and the financial statement will tell a completely different story from the truth.
Perhaps this blog I wrote recently could help with your boss’s decision to hire an in-house bookkeeper, whether full- or part-time.
I hope that your conversation will create urgency and an outsourced bookkeeping firm gets hired sooner than later.
As always, stay dangerously in love with your finances.