Hiring an auditor is a crucial decision for any organization. A CPA or auditing firm not only provides assurance services, but also tells your company’s financial story. Choosing the right one involves several factors and can be a time-consuming process, but the benefits of hiring an auditor who will truly partner with your organization are well worth the investment.
At Lemler Group, we believe one of the first things to consider when selecting an auditor is the customer service they provide. That’s why Service is the first key factor we’ll discuss.
As successful businessman, author, and motivational speaker Dave Ramsey says, “select a provider that has a servant heart; the heart of a teacher. . . .” who will guide you through the process. Excellent customer service puts a few auditors at the front of the pack and is one of the most important aspects in choosing an auditor to come alongside your organization.
So, how do you decide who offers the best service? How can you quantify this trait? We’ve identified five different aspects of customer service to look for in your potential auditor. These aspects are Impression, Relationship, Timeliness, Culture and Feeling.
When we say “impression,” we mean your first impression. Your gut reaction: qualms, fears, or instant connections.
How do you feel after meeting with a potential auditor for the first time? That initial meeting should always be an auditor’s best effort at connecting with you, because it sets the stage for the future of your relationship. You should be able to leave the conversation feeling confident and looking forward to the next meeting.
After the first interaction, reflect on how the auditor presented their capabilities, resources, and benefits they can offer you. Think beyond the job that needs to be done — think about the relationship you want to create. If the first impression of your potential auditor rubs you the wrong way, heed the red flag and move on to other options.
Whereas many auditors simply provide a service, the exceptional ones will build a relationship with you.
You’ve met with a potential auditor and understand the value they can bring your organization. You had a good first impression, but it’s not enough to stop here. You must ask yourself an important question: “Does this auditor care about my organization (and team) beyond getting paid for the service?”
Remember, any auditing firm can perform an audit, but only a few will care for your team as they do it. The auditors that care about your team as much as they care about the service they provide are keepers. You can count on these auditors to do their work with dedicated attention to detail and with your best interests in mind.
Audits are a lengthy process. From planning and conducting field work to completing audit reports, you should expect to work with an auditor for a few months. Ideally, your auditor’s prompt replies and quick turnaround times will allow you to build a long-term relationship with him or her.
When you first contact an auditor during the selection process, you get a taste of their timeliness and communication skills.
Ask yourself these questions as you talk to different auditors:
- Does the auditor guarantee tasks will be done within deadlines?
- Do their references report getting financial statements on time?
- Does the auditor have a solid timeline?
A detailed timeline, complete with key steps, is imperative for a successful audit. Great auditors will have a personalized plan for your specific needs. As Stephen Covey says, “We are truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.”
A company’s culture refers to a system of shared assumptions and values that govern how people behave toward one another and how they handle outside business transactions.
The culture a business upholds can lend insight into how they handle their work and treat their clients.
If possible, do a little background check by taking a trip to the auditor’s office. Take time when you visit. Look beyond the location and décor and get a feel for the personal aspect of the company. How do people treat you? Does the company feel like a team or a bureaucracy?
People involved in a healthy company culture will be:
John Maxwell says, “Culture eats vision for lunch.” Company culture dictates how employees will work with you and your organization.
Some people have a way about them that just makes you feel good. When you’re looking for a new auditor, trust your gut feelings. If you feel a certain way at first, chances are you’ll feel that way again.
You want to make sure your auditor cares about your company and that you feel confident in the quality of work they’ll provide. That’s why it’s important to take the time to get to know your auditor. Ask them questions. Talk about their passions as well as their technical expertise.
In addition, listen for red flags. For instance, if they mention struggling to pay bills or having trouble meeting deadlines, it may be an indicator of a lack of reliability.
Bottom line — How does the auditing firm make you feel? Don’t overlook this subjective aspect, as it can reveal as much as any other aspect of service.
Look beyond numbers
Auditors do more than simply prepare financial statements for your company; they share your passion and tell your story. That’s why it’s important to choose your auditor wisely.
If you have any questions about auditing services or how to choose an auditor, feel free to contact us. We’re here to serve you!