What’s the Story Behind QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping Services?

What’s the Story Behind QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping Services?

Intuit has been gauging interest among small businesses for an on-demand bookkeeping service called Live Bookkeeping and is expected to launch the service in the near future.

This has caused some consternation in the accounting world, sparking fears that Intuit is going into competition with its bread and butter — the community of accountants who serve small businesses, often with Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software. And specifically, the move raised fears that QuickBooks would compete with its own network of ProAdvisors.

We couldn’t find any formal announcements for the new service, but Accounting Today is reporting this week that Intuit contends that the service will actually create more business for its ProAdvisors.

The article quotes Rich Preece, U.S. Country Leader for QuickBooks, as saying, “We’re not competing with accountants. This [will] expand opportunities for ProAdvisors to work with small businesses,” Preece said. “We are incredibly fortunate to have very deep relationships with hundreds of accountants in the U.S. It would make no sense to start anywhere else.”

However, the article goes on to describe Live Bookkeeping this way: “Intuit Live Bookkeeping will allow accountants who are looking for other work options, or some flexibility, to find paid bookkeeping work — for instance, stay-at-home parents who want to work just a few hours a week; or a firm that wants to delegate two accounting staff to do live bookkeeping full-time via Intuit’s platform.”

This description provides some fuel for concerns that this move represents the Uber-ization of bookkeeping and will drive down rates and turn bookkeepers into yet another army of underpaid on-demand workers.

However, the article also points out that many businesses need an ongoing relationship with a bookkeeper or accountant who understands their business, making the notion of using a bookkeeper on demand for an hour here or there unattractive.

This video makes the case that change is inevitable in accounting and accountants need to provide higher value services in order to rise above automation, the gig economy and other trends challenging the profession.

We’ll keep an eye on this and write about further developments.

 


New Podcast: “How Do You Franchise an App?”

New Podcast: “How Do You Franchise an App?”

Matt Crowell quit his job and sold his car and condo to pour everything he had into his first startup, GetintheLoop, a mobile marketing SaaS platform. While his parents thought he was crazy when he put all his chips in, today the risk looks like it just might pay off.

Get in the Loop started in 2013 in Matt’s native British Columbia and has since gone national in Canada, with plans to enter the U.S. market this year. The platform gives local consumers access to offers via a mobile app. The service started out as a way for golf courses to send out offers like half-priced afternoon tee times. It quickly expanded to multiple categories, from food and dining to health and fitness.

Get in the Loop has churned through a few channel strategies since its launch, including direct to SMB sales and using a media reseller network. Last year the company settled on a franchise model, where local entrepreneurs can buy in for C$35,000 to own a local market.

The franchise angle sets Get in the Loop apart from other digital marketing platforms. While not unheard of, franchising is an unusual channel strategy for digital marketing software. Will it work? Time will tell, but Matt insists he already has many franchisee success stories. He also claims there is pent up demand among potential U.S. franchisees.

“We had been thinking for a couple of years, ‘How do you franchise an app?'” Matt said, recall the transition to the franchise model. Matt said he consulted with a seasoned franchise pro. “We came up with this model to empower an entrepreneur to go into a market and sign up local businesses.”

The launch was originally planned for late 2018 but those plans changed after an experiment last summer to test messaging on the franchise concept quickly got out of hand.

“On a Friday night, I put out some tag lines like ‘mobile franchise’ in small cities in Canada where no one would notice,” Matt explained. “When I woke up Saturday, eight people had applied to buy a franchise. By Monday we had about 25. So I went into the office Monday and said ‘Drop a media release and tell people we are franchising.'”

Get in the Loop then went all in on the franchise model, even reassigning its direct sales force to teach franchise owners how to sell in local markets.

The podcast covers his launch story, the evolution of his channel strategy, and why he thinks the franchise model will work. There is an interesting aside on why firefighters make good franchise owners.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Here’s a short video clip from our conversation where Matt describes the risk he took to grow his business.

And as always, Above the Cloud is grateful to its sponsors.

New Podcast: “Glengarry Glen George”, featuring George Leith

New Podcast: “Glengarry Glen George”, featuring George Leith

No matter where George Leith is in the world, he rises at 4 a.m. to hit the gym. And it’s often well into the wee hours before he winds down his last call of the day. Half measures aren’t really his thing.

George runs sales at Vendasta, a white label digital marketing software company based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where George says it’s so flat you can watch your dog running away for three days. George has emerged as a prominent voice on sales excellence and a proponent of elevating the craft of selling into a profession. He does this through the Conquer Local podcast and sales academy, where he shares his sales knowledge and curates the best practices of other leading sales and marketing pros. The idea behind Conquer Local is to help sales pros “sell smarter”.

We had George on the podcast to ask him to assess the quality of the sales organizations he observes in the course of his work and what they need to do to sell more effectively. And we just wanted to shoot the breeze about what it takes to survive in sales these days.

We covered a lot of ground in the podcast. Here are some highlights.

Common Mistakes by Sales Organizations 

“Where the sales manager, CEO, CRO, CFO cannot tell me how many presentations their sales force made yesterday. And they wonder why they are losing business. They wonder why their customers are churning. They wonder why their people are no longer loving their jobs. Times have changed. People running sales organizations now are less the charismatic sales leader and more the person that can use data to make better decisions.”

DIY vs DIFM

“There is definitely uptake on DIY. But when we watch the software that they buy, 90 days go by and nothing happens. I like to say that that DIY is lead gen…There may come a point in time where they’re time becomes more valuable and they’d rather invest their dollars than their time.”

How Should Sales People Spend Their Days 

“A rep should spend 60% of their time talking to customers, 30% of their time building their product knowledge or researching their next appointment. And 10% of their time on admin. A lot of organizations have that formula flipped on its head.”

What Makes for a Good Sales Rep 

“I look for someone who has played competitive sports. I am a big believer in building a sales culture that is gamified and is built around celebrations. I am also a big believer in building teams…The other thing I don’t mind is someone who has had kind of a rocky road. Someone who has had some success but maybe has had some recent challenges and has something to prove. I find those people can be very effective. I am also finding that an important piece is some business acumen.”

You can catch the full podcast here:

New Podcast: “Think Like an App”, featuring Neal Polachek

New Podcast: “Think Like an App”, featuring Neal Polachek

A while back LocaliQ asked my colleague Neal Polachek to develop a talk for small businesses that would fit into its Growth Lab initiative. Something to help small businesses stay ahead of the curve.

Neal landed on an idea. What if small businesses adapted how they run their businesses to emulate the customer experiences that have become table stakes in our app-driven culture and economy?

“Our society is being habitually trained by the apps we are using on these powerful computers we have in our pockets,” Neal said.

So what does it mean to think like an app?

One example. Ditch voice mail. Who doesn’t hate voicemail? Replace it with a better modern experience like a chatbot or even an old school solution like an answering service. The app experience you are emulating is that apps are always open. An app never tells you it only operates between 8 am and 5 pm Eastern time.

Another example. Do you love watching the Uber driver inch closer to your pick up spot on the app? Or checking to see if your Amazon package has left the warehouse? Create a similar experience by giving customers real-time updates on a project’s progress. The only tech you need to do this is the camera on your smartphone.

Neal has a whole list of experiences that business can emulate to acquire more customers, make more money and have a more engaged and loyal customer base.

While technology plays a role in all of this, Neal argues that thinking like an app is more about adopting a mindset than adopting a technology.

“You don’t need to build an app. You need to start applying some of the things that apps do really well to how you do business in the real world,” Neal says on the podcast.

You can listen to the full episode here.

LSA 19 Preview: Demystifying the All in One Solution

LSA 19 Preview: Demystifying the All in One Solution

Next week at LSA 19 in beautiful Dana Point, CA (which will be a nice respite for a polar vortex victim like me), I’ll be running a workshop called “Demystifying the All in One Solution”, that will unpack why all in ones are such a thing and offer some strategies for local media sellers to sell them effectively.

The LSA’s Tech Adoption Index small business survey has consistently demonstrated through three waves of data that small business operators are looking for a single solution that does all or most of what they need to do to run their businesses, from marketing through payroll. As the chart below shows, 65% of small business decision makers would welcome one login and one bill for all their cloud software requirements. this as the highest reading among the three waves of Tech Adoption Index surveys.

Yet today very few SMBs actually take full advantage of all in one software, even when it’s offered by a solutions provider they already use. One case in point is Zoho, which calls itself the “Business Operating System.” When Zoho’s president Raj Sabhlok spoke at LSA 18 he acknowledged that the average Zoho One customer used four apps, when the entire suite includes more than 40 available apps. This utilization rate is fairly typical.

One theory regarding the all-in-one solution is that to really succeed, there needs to be a vertical component. On a recent Above the Cloud podcast, SurePath Capital founder Mark MacLeod argued that restaurants may be the first category where a single player will dominate the restaurant vertical with a comprehensive business operations solution.

Also on Above the Cloud, small business tech guru Gene Marks argued that the reason verticals make sense for all in one software is that each category has just enough specialization that a generic solution isn’t adequate.

“Most small businesses are the same — or 80% of what they do is the same across all businesses,” Gene said. “But there is that 20% that is unique about your business. And there has been no software business that has been able to handle that 20% without a lot of customization.”

During the session next week at LSA 19 (Tuesday at 3 pm in the Dana Ballroom), we’ll kick around all the strategic and tactical issues surrounding going to market with full stack SMB software solutions.

I’ll be joined by Eran Feldman from Camilyo, one of the companies out there pitching all in one solutions, and Francisco Sánchez Fernández, the CMO of Seccion Amarilla, the Mexican local search giant that is out there selling the full stack. After setting the stage for why the full stack is a thing and why it’s hard to sell, we’ll grill Eran and Fernando on how they get around these challenges.

I wrote about this topic last year in the Camilyo-commissioned report, The All-in-One Sales Challenge, which I encourage you to download and read.Also, in January we conducted a webinar on the subject. You can catch the replay here.