When speaking with prospective clients, we almost always hear that they are in at least one of the two following situations:
- I have a part time bookkeeper now that does OK with the basics, but they work on their own schedule and cannot seem to give me the information I need to gage the financial health of my business.
- My office admin assistant doesn’t have the experience we need, and I spend a lot of time doing what I wish they could do myself.
The fact of the matter is that it is nearly impossible to find administrative and accounting staff with AEC industry experience no matter what size your organization is. To make matters worse, larger firms pay well above average to attract this limited pool of talent. This leaves most smaller firms with two less than ideal options – hire and train or self-support. Hiring and training someone with little to no experience is expensive, requires your time and energy, and it’s likely they will leave you for a higher paying opportunity. Self-supporting (i.e. doing it yourself) may cost you even more in the long run because it takes your focus away from the work that generates revenue and limits your firm’s growth potential.
Consider this example. An AEC business owner working at a modest billing rate of $125 per hour and spending just 1 hour per day on office duties will forfeit more than $30,000 in potential revenue over the course of a year. Whether that one hour per day is spent doing the work yourself or helping someone do it for you, it is less money in your pocket and less time to spend on what you really want to be doing.
For most small firms, the most cost-effective option is outsourcing their accounting, administrative and HR duties. The key to success with this approach is twofold:
- Finding a “single source” provider that can cover as many of your needs as possible. This will save you time, effort and energy both up front and over the long run.
- Finding a provider with AEC industry experience and preferably solely focused on the AEC industry. Many one size fits all providers of these services will claim that they can support any kind of business and/or know the industry. Ask them for specifics on their background and references from clients that are similar to you.
There is one final often overlooked benefit that the right provider of outsourced accounting, administration and HR functions can offer your business, and that is peace of mind. Whether you are on a family vacation, feeling under the weather or pressing to meet an important deadline, they will be working without interruption to keep your business moving forward.