Pilot Bookkeeping Review: Pricing, Features, Alternatives

Pilot can be a good choice for growing startups, but its monthly cost may be out of range for some small businesses.
Aug 9, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Pilot is a virtual service that manages bookkeeping for businesses. The service pairs each business with a dedicated financial expert to reconcile its books on a monthly basis, compile reports and offer financial best practices.

With a discount for pre-revenue companies, burn-rate calculations included in each plan (an important metric for venture capitalist-backed businesses) and an add-on CFO service available, Pilot is well suited for high-growth-potential startups. Its high monthly cost, however, may be unaffordable for some small businesses.

Pros

Cons

  • Dedicated financial expert.

  • Accrual-basis bookkeeping.

  • Can help set up integrations with Gusto, Expensify, Stripe and more.

  • Add-ons available for taxes and CFO services.

  • Benefits for startups: discount for pre-revenue companies and burn-rate calculations with monthly reports.

  • Expensive monthly cost.

  • Uses only QuickBooks Online for bookkeeping.

  • Entry-level plan (Core) includes only email-based support.

  • Advanced services require the Plus plan (custom pricing).

Deciding factors

Price

Starting at $599 per month for businesses with less than $30,000 in monthly expenses.

Method of accounting

Accrual-basis accounting with all plans.

Accounting software integration

QuickBooks Online only. Pilot can help you transition your books from Xero as part of the onboarding process, but all of its bookkeeping is done in QuickBooks.

Availability of bookkeeper

Email-based support for all plans. Select plan receives priority support, expedited bookkeeping delivery and recurring monthly phone reviews. Customized support can be added to Plus plan.

Financial reporting

All plans include monthly reports with profit and loss statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement; burn-rate calculations; chart of accounts. Select plan offers additional reporting. Custom reporting can be added to Plus plan.

How does Pilot Bookkeeping work?

In order to get started with Pilot, a business has to meet three requirements:

  • Be able to grant Pilot access to electronic transactions.

  • Have expense-reporting software.

  • No commingling of personal expenses with business expenses.

Provided those requirements are met, you can sign up for Pilot and get matched with a dedicated bookkeeper, who will help you through the onboarding process. The bookkeeper will learn about your finances, integrate any financial software with QuickBooks Online and set up your automatic transaction import.

Then, bookkeeping is off your hands. Your bookkeeper will manage reconciliation and provide you with monthly financial reports containing your profit and loss statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. You’ll be able to contact your bookkeeper via email for any questions.

Pricing

Pilot prices its services based on your business’s monthly expenses. To calculate those expenses, Pilot uses the money you spend each month — including payroll, cost of goods sold and distributions.

Although Pilot lists prices on a monthly basis, all plans are prepaid annually. Every month, however, Pilot averages your prior three months of books to determine if your current expenses have changed and will adjust pricing if necessary.

In addition, Pilot charges a one-time fee for the onboarding process, equal to one month of bookkeeping.

Plan

Pricing

Features

Core

  • $599 per month for businesses with less than $30,000 in monthly expenses.

  • $649 per month for businesses with $30,000 to $59,999 in monthly expenses.

  • $719 per month for businesses with $60,000 to $99,999 in monthly expenses.

  • $809 per month for businesses with $100,000 to $149,999 in monthly expenses.

  • $899 per month for businesses with $150,000 to $199,999 in monthly expenses.

  • Dedicated bookkeeper.

  • Automatic transaction import.

  • Accrual-basis accounting.

  • Monthly financial reporting (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statements).

  • Burn-rate calculations.

  • Payroll and balance sheet reconciliation.

  • Four connections to financial institutions (banks, credit cards and payment processors).

  • Standard chart of accounts.

  • 20 special transactions (bills, invoices, checks and reimbursements) per month.

Select

  • $849 per month for businesses with less than $30,000 in monthly expenses.

  • $899 per month for businesses with $30,000 to $59,999 in monthly expenses.

  • $969 per month for businesses with $60,000 to $99,999 in monthly expenses.

  • $1,059 per month for businesses with $100,000 to $149,999 in monthly expenses.

  • $1,149 per month for businesses with $150,000 to $199,999 in monthly expenses.

  • All the features of Core.

  • Industry standard financial ratios, such as EBITDA, free cash flow, margin percentage.

  • Recurring monthly phone reviews with your bookkeeper.

  • Expedited bookkeeping delivery.

  • Priority support.

Plus

  • Custom pricing.

  • Businesses with $200,000 or more in monthly expenses are eligible only for this plan.

  • All the features of Core, plus add-on options:

  • Custom connections to financial institutions.

  • Custom chart of accounts.

  • Customized special transactions.

  • Industry standard financial ratios.

  • Advanced revenue recognition.

  • Billable expenses.

  • Custom reporting.

  • Multiple entity support.

  • Multiple currency support.

  • Comprehensive accounts receivable and accounts payable tracking.

  • Inventory tracking.

  • Supporting schedules for depreciation, amortization, prepaid expenses and unearned revenue.

  • Support for classes, departments or locations.

  • Recurring monthly phone reviews with your bookkeeper.

  • Expedited bookkeeping delivery.

  • Priority support.

Benefits of Pilot Bookkeeping

Dedicated bookkeeping

With Pilot, you get paired with a dedicated bookkeeper and no longer have to worry about managing your bookkeeping on your own. Your bookkeeper handles all reconciliation and monthly reporting, and works with you to get everything set up with QuickBooks Online and integrate with other business software you may use.

On top of standard bookkeeping and reporting, Pilot includes burn-rate calculations and 20 special transactions per month — bills, invoices, checks and reimbursements — with the Core and Select plans.

Moreover, your bookkeeper is available to answer any questions, offer financial best practices and serve as a partner to your business. If you opt for the Select plan, you can access priority support, as well as industry-standard financial ratios with your reporting, such as free cash flow and margin percentage.

For the most customized bookkeeping Pilot has to offer, the Plus plan includes advanced services like accounts receivable and accounts payable tracking, billable expenses and inventory tracking.

Perks for startups

Pilot bookkeeping is designed to accommodate quickly growing businesses and offers perks specifically for high-growth-potential startups. Pilot offers a discount for pre-revenue companies — $200 off the Core or Select plans each month for the first subscription year — available for businesses with less than $15,000 in total revenue.

The company also includes burn-rate calculations with all of its bookkeeping plans, a calculation that’s particularly important for businesses with venture capital or investor startup funding.

Additionally, Pilot provides specific assistance with the research and development, or R&D, tax credit — which can be available to businesses in technology, e-commerce, biotech and other similar high-growth industries.

Add-on services

On top of bookkeeping services and R&D tax credit assistance, Pilot offers support from the company’s financial team for a fee. You can add:

  • Accounts payable and receivable services: Starting at $125 per hour.

  • Supplemental services (custom reporting, training new hires, etc.): Starting at $195 per hour.

  • Controller services (revenue recognition, cost of goods sold categorization): Starting at $200 per hour.

Pilot also offers CFO and tax services that can be used separately or in tandem with its bookkeeping services. Pilot CFO Services is another perk for startups that need even greater financial guidance.

Drawbacks of Pilot Bookkeeping

Monthly plans can be expensive

Plans for Pilot Bookkeeping start at $599 per month for businesses with less than $30,000 in monthly expenses. If you want to upgrade to the Select plan at this level, your price starts at $849 per month. As your monthly expenses increase, the plan prices grow quickly, maxing out at $899 per month for the Core plan and $1,149 per month for the Select plan.

Although Pilot allows you to completely outsource your bookkeeping, there’s no doubt that these fees are significant and may be more than some small businesses can afford.

Plus, competitors like Bench and Bookkeeper360 offer similar virtual bookkeeping services that start at lower price points. Moreover, some competitors can provide features like tax filings and phone-based support at lower price points, as well.

Support is email-based

With Pilot’s Core plan, you can communicate with your bookkeeper via email and hope to receive a response within a business day or less. To access priority support, you have to opt for the Select plan or purchase this feature as part of your customized Plus plan. In addition, if you choose the Select plan or customize the Plus plan, you can get monthly phone reviews with your bookkeeper, but not general phone-based support.

In comparison, competitors offer support that is more readily available. Bench allows you to instantly message your bookkeeper through its platform — and you can expect a response within a business day or less.

Moreover, you can schedule a review call through the platform to talk to your bookkeeper at any time. Similarly, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping gives you the ability to schedule video calls with your bookkeeper, as well as send live chat messages to its larger network of bookkeeping experts.

Alternatives to Pilot Bookkeeping

Bench

Price: Starts at $299 per month for the Core plan.

Why we like it: Bench is available at a lower starting price compared with Pilot Bookkeeping and may be more affordable for the average small business. Bench also includes its own proprietary bookkeeping software, so it can be a good option for newer businesses that have not yet committed to a bookkeeping or accounting software — or those that are looking to switch.

In addition, Bench includes tax preparation and filings with all its plans, a service that some competitors don’t offer or charge additional fees to handle.

Bookkeeper360

Price: Starts at $19 per month ($99 per hour for support) for pay-as-you-go plan.

Why we like it: Bookkeeper360 can be easily customized, making it a worthwhile option for a variety of small businesses. You can use the pay-as-you-go plan to work with a dedicated accountant for on-demand bookkeeping or opt for a monthly or weekly plan using the cash or accrual-basis method of accounting. The monthly reconciliation plans using the cash method start at $399 per month for businesses with up to $20,000 in monthly expenses.

Bookkeeper360 works with both QuickBooks Online and Xero, and offers a robust app for tracking business performance, managing cash flow and working with the company’s bookkeeping experts. Moreover, Bookkeeper360 provides additional services including CFO Advisory, Taxes, Payroll and Human Resources and Back-Office.