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Do you have a cheaper rate for data entry?

Mar 18, 2018

When I owned my bookkeeping business I was once asked if I had a different rate for data entry work. The inference being that that particular task was worth less than the bookkeeping rate which I had quoted.

The thing is though, with bookkeeping it’s never just data entry, right? Every entry effects the system and we need to understand the cause and effect of what we're entering. That’s where a bookkeeper’s specialised knowledge comes into play.

There’s a story that’s circulated around for many, many years now, about a machinist who was called in to repair a machine that was vital to the business’s operations. After some investigation, he tapped the machine with a hammer in a specific spot and the machine started working again.

The owner of the business queried his bill of £10, 10s (I did say the story had been circulating for many years), a large sum of money back in the day. After all, the machinist had only tapped the machine a few times and was not there for very long. To which the machinist sent another bill stating “To tapping machine with hammer, 10s.; to knowing where to tap it, £10; total, £10. 10s.”

Bookkeeping is a bit like that. We’ve all seen a mess of accounts because someone didn’t know what they were doing. Accountants and bookkeepers can all tell a tale of clients’ accounts that came to them as the proverbial dog’s breakfast.

Some so bad that to unwind all the errors would be more time consuming than to just start all over again. Pretty much nothing meaningful to be gleaned from the numbers, the GST and PAYE all filed incorrectly, sometimes resulting in over-claiming of GST which then has to be paid back unexpectedly, and often resulting in penalties and interest.

And that’s because the client, or their 'office lady' or their 'receptionist' or their 'mum' or their partner, someone without the specialised knowledge and expertise, has made a mess of things.

Pretty much any bookkeeper has come across or heard of a business owner say that they’d thought they’d do their own bookkeeping to save themselves some money, only to be presented with an enormous bill from the poor accountant or bookkeeper who had to unravel it all in order to file the relevant tax returns and make sense of it all.

So, no, there is no cheaper rate for ‘data entry’.

The end result of working with good bookkeepers like you is meaningful data with which the client can make sound business decisions.

It’s data which tells you the story of their business; the health of it, the results of past decisions, and the predicted future of the business.

It’s also staying compliant with the IRD and meeting tax deadlines. The data tells how much money the client has made and how much money they can take out for themselves (shareholders) or for reinvesting in growth.

 It’s the knowledge of where and how to code transactions that is where a bookkeeper’s value lies, they know where to tap.

So next time someone asks you if you have a cheaper rate for {fill in the blank}, consider the story of the machinist and answer "No, there is no cheaper rate for ‘data entry’." 


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