Gary and I participated in our first ‘TweetChat’ on April 30, at the invitation of PEXCard. More about PEXCard in a minute. The focus of today’s chat was on ProAdvisors in the changing marketplace. I wanted to let you know what I got out of this ‘chat’ just in case you didn’t tune-in.
When asked what I thought was ‘happening in the ProAdvisor space’ today, I tweeted out to the twitter audience that I felt, hoped, that most of them were getting ready for Scaling New Heights in June. As you know SNH is an educational conference geared exclusively for you, the ProAdvisor. We have already and will continue to cover features about SNH leading up to the conference, but if you are not already signed-up to attend, you better get with it. Besides being in New Orleans, it will be the single largest gathering of ProAdvisors under one roof, and will be packed with knowledgeable speakers, product experts and Intuit staffers.
I also realize that this is the time of year when a lot of you are helping the thousands of people out there who just figured out that their QuickBooks version they have been using for the last 3-1/2 years is about to sunset. Payroll and a lot of other features simply won’t work, and they are scrambling to update. Many will be calling you when that process doesn’t work as expected.
I can’t leave out those of you who are entered into our ProAdvisor of the Year competition. I can’t wait to stand in awe of our 2015 winner, whoever that might be (there is no telling yet).
But for me, it is one of the busy times of the year (after tax season) because many businesses are starting to make use of more and more add-on products and Apps like time tracking, and mobile sales, and manufacturing, and inventory management, and on-n-on. I listed more than 300 Apps that work with QB-desktop and QBO in the ProAdvisor of the Year ‘application’ this year. On average most of our Pro-participants associated themselves with no more than 20 or 30 of those, and many no more than a handful. That should be telling you that there are lots of Apps out there you need to get to know, and need to promote (when they are the right solution) for your clients. You will see a lot of these at Scaling New Heights in June.
And if you are not like me (too busy to focus on much but work at hand) you may be in the ‘getting ready’ for a test mode. Perhaps you are taking the last hooray of old tests, or the oldest new QBO test, or the newest QBO-Advanced test preparation courses. But if you really want to prepare then need I say it again, Scaling New Heights is the place to be. Every certification Intuit offers will be the focus of a pre-certification preparation course to get you ready to take the examinations. You could quite literally take the classes by day, the certification test by night, and leave the conference with 2 or 3 new certifications under your belt.
So what should ProAdvisors be looking for in a changing economy? I firmly believe that businesses are now, more than ever, expecting ‘more services’ for the same dollars, and they are looking to their ProAdvisors to provide those services. As a result many ProAdvisors are changing their practice model and moving to a fixed-fee or value-billing approach as opposed to the old ‘hourly rate’ model.
More and more I have clients, even on big projects, that are demanding ‘flat fee’ letters of engagement. They simply tell me “don’t send me an ‘hourly rate’ proposal for this work.” When you are dealing with a simple installation of 5 user QuickBooks and a conversion from a prior QB version, that is one thing; but when you are dealing with installation of a manufacturing system like MISys and all of the various modular functions, how is such a value-billing approach even possible? Well the answer is experiential pricing. You have to have the experience to identify your typical requirements and then factor in a certain degree of risk. We have been teaching our construction clients for years the importance of job costing, but were too busy teaching it to actually use it ourselves. Do you have an experience model from accurate historical job costing to help you move to the billing model of the future?
I have written at least five articles in the past year over Business Analytics, the first when I reviewed Finagraph. Many ProAdvisors are starting to couple financial advisory services into their practice. How much do you know about financial data analysis? Odds are it isn’t enough. But the good news is that there are dozens of great 3rd party products like LivePlan, BizTools and many others that ease the pain of learning the difference between analytics and datametrics. You can easily bolster your practice and value to your clients with a little software, and the learning curve to use and interpret the results on behalf of the client that wants you as their trusted advisor.
Let’s face it, at least for now, “the cloud” appears to be the future. So how is the cloud changing or challenging ProAdvisors?
Many ProAdvisors have actively adopted the online market because they recognize that younger users want cloud based solutions and the mobility it offers. At the same time many ProAdvisors remain almost exclusively focused on traditional QuickBooks (desktop) users, especially large business that, at least for the moment, have needs that seem too complex for QuickBooks Online. The justification for many is that with 5-million desktop users, and about 1-million QBO users, why wouldn’t they continue to focus on desktop users?
But the reality is that ProAdvisors must prepare for migration to the cloud, and in order to do that they should take advantage of the ‘free subscription’ Intuit offers ProAdvisors for QuickBooks Online-Accountant. ProAdvisors also need to train for QBO certification (hint, hint, Scaling New Heights folks, I’m not kidding), and then get certified in both the basic and advanced levels of QuickBooks Online. I can honest say that having desktop Advanced certification is great for working with desktop clients, but I hardly knew diddly about QBO until I took the QBO course and test. Fortunately I have a great colleague that I can now have work with QBO clients that call my practice needing help. (read my article about partnering)
The ProAdvisor market will be drastically different in 5 years. Today’s young people have been weaned on the internet, everything is cloud and mobile for them, and they expect no less in their accounting. Case in point. Just the other day Gary and I were chatting and he said his son asked him a question, so he got on his phone and started searching Google for the answer, then his son said, “Dad, why don’t you just ask Siri?”. Gary and I are of an age where we think we are doing well seeing the words on our cell phone to type in the request (well at least I am), and his son is say ‘skip the typing altogether.’ That is the millennial generation. ProAdvisors who are not ready to deal with that mentality will find themselves typing on their phones while everyone else is talking to their Apple watch.
We live in a global world and the world economy runs via the internet. Shared cloud solutions can bridge the gap between customers and suppliers worldwide. Your Invoice to a customer should automatically become that customer’s accounts payable to you, and in my way of thinking, even if you don’t both share the same accounting solution. Imagine how much more realistically that is if you do. But in 5 years, the integrated Apps can make that all possible regardless of which accounting infrastructure platform they connect to.
I believe that Intuit’s QuickBooks Online will most likely be the leading online business solution by the end of that 5 year period; however, I suspect that Xero will be nipping at their heels and keeping them moving forward so as to not be overtaken. I think QBO will bridge that gap between sellers and buyers, but what will really tie them together is BitCoin because I suspect that the banker-less currency will help to achieve a global selling/buying panacea.
The QuickBooks desktop may eventually be a thing of the past as QBO will outpace the growth of desktop over the rest of this decade, in part because of improved integration functionality. But one day even the cloud based QBO may become a thing of the past, because the cloud is not the end all either. Something new will come along. What this is of course is the next best thing, and I believe that the ProAdvisors of tomorrow will be right there to guide ‘it’ along, and lead their clients into the future.
My thanks to PEXCard for giving me the opportunity to stretch my little gray cells in their TweetChat.
I told you I would come back to PEXCard. PEXCard is a business prepaid card that helps control employee spending. Prepaid cards work like credit cards at the point of sale, except that money must be deposited to the card prior to purchasing. Purchases cannot be completed if the transaction amount exceeds the value remaining on the card. You approve purchases, allocate funds, and even restrict spending in specific merchant categories, with 24/7 access from any computer or mobile device. For more information visit their website or call 1-877-274-3390 (toll free).