Five reasons why a specialist ELC bookkeeper is essential
The Sector > Provider > Enterprise Solutions > Does your bookkeeper really understand your service? Five reasons why a specialist ELC bookkeeper is essential to start 2023

Does your bookkeeper really understand your service? Five reasons why a specialist ELC bookkeeper is essential to start 2023

by Jason Roberts

January 10, 2023

As we move into 2023 early learning centres (ELCs) across Australia will be making preparations, educational, operational and financial, for the year ahead as they set a course to navigate a sector that is increasingly competitive, complex, and with the workforce difficulties likely to persist, challenging. 


“It is no secret that 2022 was a tough year for early learning providers with 2023 likely to deliver more of the same,” Ben Marcos, a certified practicing accountant and founding member of specialist ELC bookkeeper Early Learning Bookkeeping, said. 


“As dedicated ELC bookkeepers we have been struck by just how many owners and operators still rely on traditional bookkeepers who lack the sector specific expertise and knowledge to be able to really add value and help drive better decision making across their businesses.”


Early Learning Bookkeeping was established in late 2022 to address what is understood to be a chronic shortage of competent, sector specific bookkeeping and financial support services for ELC owners and operators, particularly those with single services or small groups. 


“Given our collective ELC experience we know just what it takes to succeed in the current operating environment and feel strongly that taking control of the financial side of the business can support a whole range of better outcomes for children, families and team members.”


“That’s why we have worked so hard to reimagine what specialist ELC bookkeeping should look like in 2023. There are so many areas where we can add value and feel very confident that the service we provide can not only help our community succeed during these difficult times, but thrive too.”


In particular, the team at ELC bookkeepers highlighted five areas where they feel that traditional bookkeeping services are missing the mark when it comes to supporting their early learning customers and why specialist bookkeepers are well positioned to resolve these frustrations. 


1. Financial reports don’t make sense and aren’t configured for an ELC


Managing an early learning centre isn’t like running a standard business. There is a specific terminology, a heavy reliance on team costs, multiple different types of subsidy and grant streams, important metrics and ratios to adhere to and above all, it is highly competitive and ever changing. 


It’s no wonder traditional bookkeepers, who may be used to working with their local tradesperson, construction business or supermarket struggles to meet the needs of their early learning customers and help owners and operators gain a real understanding of the state of their business.


2. Rising costs are eating away at profits but there are no insights as to why & what to do about it 


The rise in prices of goods and services that has impacted all of Australia is well documented but from an early learning perspective increased costs will be eating away at profits and traditional bookkeepers may not be able to provide the sector specific advice needed to support actions that would reverse that trend. 


Sometimes, this may mean identifying the specific cost lines that are blowing out, other times it may mean addressing heavy usage of casual or agency staff or perhaps it could signal a fee increase is needed. All of these are legitimate strategies that a specialised ELC bookkeeper would see, and communicate, as part of the normal course of business. 


3. Each year your accountant gives you grief about the messy state of your books 


Accountant blowback about the quality of bookkeeping reports is a major challenge for early learning organisations that utilise non specialist bookkeepers to manage their books because the allocation of expenses and the categorisation of subsidies and grants in early learning settings is sometimes complex and requires experience as to know how to do properly. 


By appointing a specialist ELC bookkeeper this problem goes away immediately and the out- of- scope fixes that would normally come with your invoice are a thing of the past. 


4. You have no visibility on how your centre compares to others and would love to know


In many ways, smaller early learning providers are flying blind when it comes to knowing how their service compares to other services in terms of key metrics such as occupancy, wage percentage, food costs per child, staff ratios and more. 


Traditional bookkeepers, due to their multi sector customer list, just don’t have the capacity to share useful benchmarking data back to their community that will help owners and operators understand how they are doing compared to their peers across the early learning sector. 


5. Too much time is spent manually adding expenses and filing receipts


With workloads already stretched it is surprising that many traditional bookkeepers continue to expect and require their user communities to manually input expenses and receipts each month when in reality there are so many other things a business owner or centre leader could be doing to support their families or team members. 


Next generation specialist ELC bookkeepers like Early Learning Bookkeeping employ state of the art technology to streamline all processes associated with bookkeeping in a way that traditional bookkeepers haven’t even started to contemplate. 


“We bring together decades of experience running early learning centres (including Australia’s largest private childcare organisation) with the most advanced bookkeeping practices, to help run a smarter, more successful centre for profit or purpose,” Mr Marcos said. 


“Our approach to build bookkeeping services from the ground up with a centres specific needs in mind is what sets us apart from the field. To be frank, in the current environment we feel strongly that our user community is in a far stronger position to compete effectively than those who have elected to remain with non specialist bookkeeping support.”

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