Not all business relationships are mutually beneficial, and sometimes, no matter how much you may like the person you are working with, there comes a time when saying goodbye is the right thing to do.
Working through my incubator, I was given a list of local bookkeeping and CPA contacts to help me with my QuickBooks online bookkeeping.
Going down the list, I came across a female CPA that was close to my home office and also located in the same plaza as my neighbor’s fabulous restaurant. I was immediately drawn to 1. female, 2. local and 3. lunch!
I called to make an appointment to see if we could meet to determine if we would be a good fit. The office was small with a few pieces of Ikea-esque desk furniture when you first walked in – kind of a reception slash employee area. It was nothing fancy, but two friendly women offered me a beverage upon my arrival.
I waited for about 10 minutes because the CPA was running late – but as soon as she arrived, I was ushered into a boardroom, and we immediately hit it off.
The CPA was very energetic, intelligent and confident – all things for which I was looking. In fact, she made a point to say she worked with startup businesses and if agreeable to me, would send formal contracts for me to sign. I enthusiastically agreed, and we were off to the races.
The first sign of their billing policy came a few days later when I received an emailed invoice for $150. Wow. Really? I was told by the incubator that the first appointment would be free as a way to determine if we would be a good fit.
I emailed the receptionist and politely explained that my understanding was that the first meeting was at no charge since it was a meet and greet. She responded with an apology and canceled my bill.
Over the course of the next few months, the agency worked behind the scenes to manage my chart of accounts and to reconcile credit card charges from 2015. All good.
With hockey-stick growth likely ahead of me, I called to make another appointment with the CPA to discuss future incorporation options. I was told it would be $150 an hour, to which I agreed.
I arrived at my 10am appointment at 9:55am and waited for the CPA who was a little late (again). No problem at all – we discussed many options and came to a decision on what type of corporation was needed and when to make the change.
We shook hands and said goodbye. A few days later, I received an invoice for $157.50. Hmmm … OK. But why?
When I politely inquired, I received a sharply worded email back from the receptionist informing me that the meeting started at exactly 10:06am, and that it ended at 11:09am (3 minutes past the time allotted). I expressed concern saying that I felt more like a number on the books rather than a person trying to establish a relationship, and I received another curt response asking me to pay the invoice. Shocked by the customer service response I received, I emailed the CPA directly. The email was intercepted by the receptionist with another strongly worded response.
The next day I also received an extraordinarily long email from the CPA herself – not with a note of concern or apology. Rather, it was a detailed explanation of how the only asset she has is time, that every minute of her time was valuable and that if I didn’t respect her time, we were not a good fit. (I wonder how much “time” it took her to write the email)? LOL! Oh, and she included that her regular rate was $200 an hour and that I was getting a deal because of my relationship with the incubator.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around what happened and why it ended so abruptly and on such a negative note.
- Was I unreasonable in asking about their billing policy?
- Did I hurt someone’s pride?
- Is my wallet too thin to pay premium prices?
- Did I, in fact, not respect her time?
Needless to say, I agreed to close the account and end our business relationship. So what did this experience teach me?
- Get fees in writing and understand the billing policy before entering into an agreement.
- Don’t let your feelings dictate your decision to do business. Always think with your head not with your heart.
- Ask as many questions as possible in your initial meeting to avoid these kinds of misunderstandings.
- Read online reviews or ask for client testimonials.
- Make sure your accountant is the right financial fit for the stage at which your business currently is.
As the old saying goes: When one door closes, another one opens.
You’ll Also Love These Posts:
Studies have shown if you like this blog post — you will also love the following articles.
- 10 Tips for Finding & Working with a Graphic Designer
- When Should I Hire on a Manager?
- Three Possible Employment Problems for Home-Based Businesses
Jan Pinnington is a Nutritional Consultant, wife, mother and “consummate foodie.” She specializes in teaching nutrition and healthy recipe preparation to kids. In an effort to fight childhood obesity, Jan’s company, Healthy Hands Cooking, teaches other women across the U.S. to do the same. Her philosophy? Love what you do, do what you love and share your experience with others.
This page includes affiliate links. Please be aware we only promote advertising from companies that we feel we can legitimately recommend to our readers. Please see our disclosure policy for further information.