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Does anyone still do the 'black bag' jobs?

Does anyone still do the 'black bag' jobs?

I just wondered if anyone still gets the 'black bag' jobs as I have just picked up a classic!

The client opened her business last October and has literally just chucked everything in a bag - invoices, receipts, cheque books, paying-in books, bank statements, the lot!

It's therefore about a year's worth of book-keeping and of course a set of accounts and tax return (eventually!).

I am just interested to know what sort of figure other members would charge if they were presented with this... I realise a lot wouldn't touch it with a bargepole but, for the ones that would, what would you charge to get the black bag to a completed set of accounts & ITR?

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29th Sep 2011 16:34

Is she

a farmer?!

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29th Sep 2011 16:39

no...

... a florist!

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29th Sep 2011 16:41

Give them a choice

Do they want to sort it out as you suggest or do they want you to do all the work?

Quote a price for each scenario and let them decide.

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By Monsoon
29th Sep 2011 17:15

Black bag?

What, no shoebox or carrier bag? A whole bin bag full?

"Final accounts and tax return will be £x. And it will be £x per hour for bookkeeping. I'll take a £500 deposit, please, with stage payments...." :D

(but yes, as Peter says explain the choice!)

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By Jimess
29th Sep 2011 17:47

Don't you just love 'em

Yep - we got one or two this year. As previously suggested talk to the client and give them options as to how they want to sort it out. We have now got a couple of nice jobs out of them  - bookkeeping, payroll accounts, tax returns and the clients have a good idea of the cost from the backlog work we did so they are happy with the ongoing fees we charge.  Get up front deposit and agree stage payments with the client until the backlog is cleared, then get them on to a monthly direct payment for any ongoing work you get from it.

Personally I love jobs like that - it is a real challenge to turn them around and it gives you a real insight into the clients business, but you have to get the fees strategy right otherwise your work in progress becomes a nightmare. 

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18th Oct 2011 09:26

Estimate the number of transactions

I will try and estimate the approx number of transactions and complexity and then quote from there.  I would, as Peter says, discuss what needs to be done, and give the client a choice as to how much or little they would like to do themselves, in order to save fees.

Although, may be with a whole bin bag full, it would be better to estimate per weight ;)

Louise
www.figurate.co.uk
www.happyaccountant.com

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29th Sep 2011 18:13

Hourly rate

This is the only kind of job where an hourly rate is the only way.

Actually I cant really moan because I have a terrible habit of throwing receipts in my drawer, or in the car glove box, and forgetting all about them, so I can understand how clients do it. They are busy cutting hair, breeding sheep, manufacturing left handed widgets, or whatever it is they do, so dont expect them to think like accountants.

 

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29th Sep 2011 18:25

Hourly rate

OG, I did think about an hourly rate for the book-keeping, but what about the accounts & tax return?

Also, the client wants me to give a rough figure before I tackle it, so I guess in theory you wouldn't really know how long it's going to take, therefore I guess a 'rough estimate' is the only way...

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LMP
29th Sep 2011 18:58

Play them at their game

jaybee661 wrote:

OG, I did think about an hourly rate for the book-keeping, but what about the accounts & tax return?

Also, the client wants me to give a rough figure before I tackle it, so I guess in theory you wouldn't really know how long it's going to take, therefore I guess a 'rough estimate' is the only way...

If they want you to give them a rough figure for doing the accounts and tax then ask them for a rough figure for the number of transactions.

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29th Sep 2011 18:44

.

The actual accounts/returns I would quote at whatever rate you would normally quote a similar business approaching you with "proper books".

The additional bookkeeping - how longs a piece of string?  I would make a guess, then give then an upper and lower figure and tell them where in that range will depend on how long it takes once you get down to sorting it out.

 

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By DMGbus
30th Sep 2011 10:58

VAT?

Presumably not required to be VAT registered?

If no month by month records kept then how do they KNOW that they're not required to be VAT registered?

If actually VAT registered presumably some records kept to support VAT return figures?

 

PS. If VAT work involved this = extra fee.

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30th Sep 2011 11:06

Clients should have a rough idea of sales

If they know their sales are less than £1,400 per week then they would know that they don't have to be registered. I don't think you need to keep detailed records to know that.

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03rd Oct 2011 13:06

.

I think you should charge £100 per gram. Including the weight of the bag.

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03rd Oct 2011 13:28

Put it all on a spreadsheet. Charge a £1 a line. Works for me.

 

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04th Oct 2011 11:59

All The Time!

Give the client the option of taking the records away and arranging them into a more acceptable format.

Quote him for doing the bookkeeping for him, so that they have an idea from the outset what you/he will need to do before the accounts preparation can begin.

From past experience, if you don't, they will complain and say that .....if they had known........

 

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
04th Oct 2011 12:20

Why not ...

... suggest to HMRC they should pay a business records check visit?

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By Tosie
04th Oct 2011 12:34

how much has she earned

Problem with these jobs is the clients have no idea what the job costs or the time involved. If she  has not taken over a going concern she maybe earning as little as £50 a week and any fee over £300 will seem a lot of money.

Provided she has kept a record of takings you maybe able to reach a compromise by using the bank statements as the core rather than wading through loads of invoices for paper clips etc.

If she is Interflora they provide good supporting documents.

Good luck it is very hard to get the going rate on these jobs and you may have to see it as a means of getting a client with long term prospects and cut your rates a bit.I know few people on this site will agree with this.

 

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04th Oct 2011 12:55

BLACK BAG

I would rather get a black bag than 52 sealed brown envelopes that some clients bring in. They think they are being helpful putting everything in weeks! You have to open each one - as few as  two receipts in each!

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04th Oct 2011 12:58

Farm it out

I have a fairly simple approach to this problem. I would farm out the bookkeeping to a reliable freelance bookkeeper whose work I know well and leave the client to negotiate the fee direct. As I know what the bookkeeper's output is likely to be, I can usually estimate pretty accurately the amount of the accounting fee.

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By Old Greying Accountant
04th Oct 2011 13:07

Maybe you should refer your client ...

... to one of these

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_lOvlrycfQ

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04th Oct 2011 13:24

@lordburnside - playing 'hunt the bank statements'

... and even though they may have done the bookkeeping, you still have to guess which envelopes contain the bank statements!

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04th Oct 2011 13:30

HOW have they paid things?

Analysing out bank statements is pretty easy.

However the thing that gets me about these jobs is working out what hasn't been paid through the bank and therefore needs to be brought in some other way (cash payments? credit card?).

If you could master that bit, incomplete records would be a doddle.

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ShirleyM
04th Oct 2011 14:44

brown paper bag jobs

[quote=zarathustra]

Analysing out bank statements is pretty easy.

However the thing that gets me about these jobs is working out what hasn't been paid through the bank and therefore needs to be brought in some other way (cash payments? credit card?).

If you could master that bit, incomplete records would be a doddle.

you find that our by experience of similar trades: charging the earth; and as it is a brown paper bag job! and not a black plastic bag(bin bag) job! or sage! you use the incomplete records approach which you can read about in frank woods business accounting 1 & 2!!!!!!

 

brown papaer bag or simplex anyday!!!!     sage/quickbooks-what ever -forget it-

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By sheilb
05th Oct 2011 10:26

Sorry, deleted post as posted in wrong section!

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By JC
05th Oct 2011 11:32

Interesting responses ...

But a number of them seem to treat the client as the enemy!

It is not unreasonable for a prospective client to ask for an estimate of costs and if this is not possible then just explain the situation. Comments such as 'set HMRC onto them' or 'play them at their own game' are hardly constructive and demonstrate a contempt for clients who may not know any better

Try educating the client & point them in the direction of a simple accounting package (online or otherwise); also offer them the opportunity of helping themselves by entering their own data. You never know they may do it and make your life easier in the future and one may be able to charge for training etc.

Quite frankly there are no 'brownie points' to be had by ridiculing the client, and anyway would you really want your client to see some of the responses on this post because it would certainly alienate me if I were the client asking for advice etc.

Ultimately if one doesn't want to do the job then just say so

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
05th Oct 2011 12:46

I think ...

... most people with a sense of humour would realise "set HMRC on them" was made with tongue firmly in cheek, unless of course they were deliberately trying to provoke ill will!

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05th Oct 2011 12:58

Paper bag job

I took on a new client about 3 years ago, quoted what I thought was a reasonable fee and when I got the books (I use the term loosely!!) I was shocked.

I have had plenty of experience with paper bag jobs but this carrier bag was full of screwed up or ripped receipts.

I just got stuck in and was pleased with myself when I presented the client with the final accounts which seemed so neat and tidy when you think how the raw data was given to me.

My next job was to tell the client to find another accountant as I didn't even want to do the job again for an increased fee. However at the meeting my client told me she had just taken on a bookkeeper to sort out her records so I bit my tongue for a while.

Well the books for the next year were done on Excel (with some guidance from myself) and it was a pleasure to complete the accounts that year.

Fees wise I effectively undercharged the first year but now I am happy with the fee going forward and I look forward to getting next years books in.

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25th Oct 2011 14:55

.

[Moderated - response to removed comment.]

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25th Oct 2011 15:59

BankLink

[Moderated - response to removed comment.]

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