Enterprise Sized Accounting Client Management
As an affordable accounting solution, QuickBooks® is often associated and even synonymized with the “Mom and Pop” organization – small businesses with few or no employees with annual sales up to $200,000.
However, QuickBooks functionality is not commensurate with its price point. In other words, you get a lot more with QuickBooks than you pay for. As a result, larger businesses are “stretching” QuickBooks by continuing to use QuickBooks as their primary accounting solution as they have emerged into the mid-market. A number of mid-market businesses are also switching to QuickBooks from traditional mid-market accounting solutions.
In the face of this mid-market consulting opportunity QuickBooks ProAdvisors® must decide:
- If this type of client is a good fit for their practices.
- How to best service this type of client.
The Opportunity in the Mid-Market
As QuickBooks ProAdvisors, we all see the power of the QuickBooks consulting opportunity. More than 4 million small businesses use QuickBooks desktop software and over 400,000 businesses use QuickBooks Online. Providing QuickBooks support services to these small businesses is well established and a lucrative practice, and also affords an optional “top of the funnel” opportunity to provide tax and accounting services.
However, there are some challenges. Many Mom and Pop QuickBooks users are not able or willing to pay for QuickBooks consulting services, and those who will may have extreme budgetary constraints that limit the consultant’s effectiveness/value.
By moving your practice to the mid-market you can:
Increase Your Average Consulting Revenues per Engagement. Larger clients usually have more complex engagements, especially on the initial QuickBooks implementation. Although many QuickBooks ProAdvisors have a healthy stream of work, conducting larger engagements increases profitability by decreasing your cost of sales, customer service costs and onboarding costs.
Facilitate Long Term, Multi-Engagement Client Relationships. Larger businesses have ongoing needs and are more likely to involve a consultant in post-implementation work. Examples include multi-phase implementations, workflow management, employee training (from large numbers of QuickBooks users and higher employee turnover), fraud detection/prevention. and complex period end accounting processes.
Facilitate Multi-Faceted Relationships. Larger businesses have a varied need set that often involves industry-specific and business-specific solutions. You can provide more comprehensive services that supplement, and integrate with, the client’s use of QuickBooks, such as business intelligence reporting or key performance indicators, customer resource management or CRM, operational reporting using QuickBooks integrated report design software), and warehouse management, among others.
Note that he term for this type of global software solution is ERP or “Enterprise Resource Planning.” As its name implies, it is a term typically associated with Enterprise level organizations. However, mid-market businesses do need ERP systems. They simply have not been able to afford ERP systems … historically. Over the past few years, Intuit’s® robust ecosystem of affordable, integrated third-party solutions has created a paradigm shift in the market, providing mid-market and even small businesses with the power of ERP at the price they can afford. At the Woodard Consulting Group, we internally refer to this as SMBRP or Small to Medium Sized Resource Planning.
You can leverage this multi-faced relationship with your client through two strategies that may vary from business-need to business-need or even from client to client:
- Upsell Opportunities. Begin with QuickBooks and then sell additional services on QuickBooks integrated solutions. There is no doubt this option provides the greater opportunity, but it is also involves a much higher overall investment for your firm.
- Referral Opportunities. Begin with QuickBooks, then help your client identify which solutions are the best fit to meet their larger operational needs – as a billable consulting service. Then, direct the client to software developers with solutions you can trust and with whom you have established an official recommender/referral partnership.
The Politics of the Mid-Market
To leverage the mid-market opportunity, you must manage the politics of larger organizations – organizations with multiple decision makers (possibly even with boards of directors), with multiple managers of key divisions within the company and numerous users.
To navigate these often turbulent waters, it is important to understand the role that each level of employee plays with your consulting and the different personality types with whom you will be working. We’ll tackle this in another article very soon.