The question often come up of how much to pay a bookkeeper. To help you, we called dozens of bookkeeping and CPA firms in town to get a gauge on where they stand. Here’s what we found.
First of all, they don’t answer the phone. Out of 46 CPA firms, 19 of them went straight to voicemail.
Out of 37 bookkeeping firms only 20 answered the phone.
CPA firms tend to charge more, as would be expected for tax preparation, but for some reason their bookkeeping rates were as high as their tax filing rates. Which I don’t think makes sense.
The majority of bookkeeping firms were in the $65-$125 an hour range, with CPA’s going up to $200 and even $320 an hour for one firm.
When I was in the mortgage business, and was negotiating settlements for people with their lenders I was charging $350 an hour, and some attorneys I knew were amazed that I was able to do that without a law degree. I explained that the highly specialized knowledge one has to have to successfully negotiate a modification with a lender warrants that kind of fee.
By the same token, many attorneys charge in that range not simply because they are an attorney, but for the years of schooling and experience they have which allows them to successfully navigate the legal system for you.
Remember when you hire a bookkeeper, you literally are putting that person in a position which could make or break your company. This is not the time to go cheap, but it’s also not necessary to pay two or three times the going rate, because at the end of the day, most of the bookkeeping work is repetitive. The rates that you pay should really be commensurate for the integrity, honesty, and experience the person had to give you the best shot at profitability and success.
Based on my research, it seems that between $70 and $90 an hour is a completely reasonable and fair rate for professional bookkeeping services with rates in the $40-$50 an hour range for more of your general data entry style bookkeepers, but don’t expect the lower range folks to provide you anything other than that.
Below that you’re likely to have embezzlement or imprecision and mistakes. Above that, you’re getting taken to the cleaners for no reason.
Look at it this way, massage therapists typically charge a dollar a minute for their time, and acupuncturists and chiropractors are slightly higher. I think it’s reasonable to say that a bookkeeper managing the financial health of your business is at least as valuable to you as one of those practitioners and probably more so.