GOOD, FAST, CHEAP: PICK TWO – Essential Guide for QuickBooks ProAdvisors

As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, you’re often asked to provide quotes for setup or cleanup projects. A common question from prospects is, “How much would you charge to get my books caught up for the year?” To answer this accurately, you need to consider whether you have enough hours to cover the project. Estimating the time required can be challenging until you access the file, making it difficult to prepare an accurate quote.

Key Factors to Consider for QuickBooks Cleanup and Setup Quotes

  1. Transaction Volume: Determine if they write a few checks per month or if they have a large volume of transactions.
  2. Additional Complexities: Assess whether they need to track job costing, payroll, or sales tax, as these factors can complicate the quote and are easy to underestimate.
  3. Resource Availability: Ensure you have enough staff or time to handle the project.
  4. Inventory Tracking: Check if inventory tracking is required, as this necessitates a special level of expertise.
  5. Delegation: Decide if the task can be delegated or if it’s better handled by you personally.

To manage these complexities, conducting a data file review can be extremely beneficial. We’ve even written a blog on how to execute a data file review to guide you through the process.

Setting Clear Expectations with QuickBooks Clients

Setting clear expectations with your clients is crucial. When I first started consulting, it took time to understand my value, and I was often unsure how my quotes would be received. When starting out, rates are typically lower, and you have more time. As you gain experience, your rates increase, your speed improves, but your available time may decrease.

When creating a quote, set a reasonable timeline and aim to overdeliver. This approach demonstrates excellent customer service—don’t just tell clients what they want to hear. Ensure your estimated time is accurate and strive to beat the estimate. Avoid taking on clients who do not value your expertise. Often, I suggest they hire me for one hour to see what and how much I can accomplish. This way, they aren’t too invested, and they can see if we work well together.

Addressing Client Concerns About Rates

Clients may ask, “Do you have anyone on staff with a lower rate than you?” While we have data entry clerks at lower hourly rates, they take longer and might not catch advanced issues or handle complex setups or corrections. Ultimately, the customer’s bill would be similar, as lower-rate staff might take twice as long. If the client is on a tight timeline, this can lead to frustration.

The Golden Rule: Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick Two

When clients negotiate rates, expertise, or timelines, remember this principle:

  • Fast and Good: It won’t be cheap.
  • Fast and Cheap: It won’t be good.
  • Good and Cheap: It won’t be fast.

Wise Words from Colleagues

  • “If you think hiring a professional is expensive, try hiring an amateur!” ~ Robyn Talbott
  • “If you can’t afford to do it right, how are you going to afford to do it over?” ~ Helen Donnell
  • “Cross-training. It’s not just for fitness.” ~ Susan Humphreys


Don’t sell yourself short just to get the job. If clients don’t appreciate your value now, they likely will later. As Susan perfectly put it, “I actually told one guy who was shopping to please keep my number for when whoever he hired messed things up. Guess who called six months later?” Sometimes clients aren’t ready to hire you initially but will return later. Always keep the door open for a return request.


Schedule a consultation with our team if you need guidance QuickBooks setup or cleanup.