*This article is derived from a webinar that occurred in 2017. Its content remains relevant to the accounting industry today.
Michelle Long and Alicia Katz Pollock are two of the leading QuickBooks trainers and advisors in the world. Michelle is an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor with a unique relationship with Intuit as a trainer, consultant and author of numerous courses for Intuit Academy. She is also a co-author of the Advanced Certification Exam Preparation courses for both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. Michelle has to stay current on technology if she’s going to train all her peers in how to support QuickBooks, but she also services her own clients, staying current to make sure that she takes good care of them.
Alicia Katz Pollock is an author and Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She’s a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. She self-publishes QuickBooks training materials and each month leads webinars on a wide range of technology topics including QuickBooks, Apple, Microsoft Office and various back-office and business productivity solutions. In the field, her QuickBooks setups and troubleshooting sessions blend with her skills of technology and the patience of a trainer to keep her clients current on technology as well.
Joe Woodard: Hi, Michelle. Welcome to the podcast.
Michelle Long: Hi, Joe. Thanks. It’s great to be here.
Joe Woodard: It’s always great to have you on. I know you’re a very accomplished QuickBooks trainer. I would like to talk a little about QuickBooks, but also about the world of back-office technology and the way it’s shifting.
Let’s start with QuickBooks. I have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of QuickBooks ProAdvisors say: “When QuickBooks Online is as feature rich as QuickBooks Desktop, then I will take a look at it and start using it with my clients.” Their idea of staying current on technology is just finding out when that happens so that they can invest. What would you say to somebody like that?
Michelle Long: Well, unfortunately, in my opinion, if that’s what they’re saying, “when QuickBooks Online has all the features of QuickBooks Desktop,” I don’t think they’re ever going to make the switch. I think they’re using that as an excuse. The reality is a lot of clients don’t need all of the features of QuickBooks Desktop. Let’s say there’s a client who needs something specific like robust inventories, assemblies and multiple units of measure, or robust job costing. There is an app for that. QuickBooks Online is our core system. But there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of apps to meet those special needs features from QuickBooks Desktop. So the reality is, you can make QuickBooks Online, combined with apps, do everything that you need in the Desktop perspective, but more efficiently and more profitably, because you’re working in the cloud. It’s saving us a ton of time streamlining our workflows. The integration that we can get now is amazing. So for those people that are still clinging to that, I just think they’re really using that as an excuse, just because they’re not ready to switch yet. I don’t know what the reason is. A lot of times it’s lack of knowledge.
Joe Woodard: It could be lack of knowledge of QuickBooks, but it also could be lack of exposure to the power of these QuickBooks Online integrated applications. In Tech Makeover Season 2, we put QuickBooks Online into a company with over 40 employees doing tens of millions of dollars in sales. It had complex job costing, very complex inventory controls and warehouses in multiple states. And we used QuickBooks Online for that client. We did it exactly as you’re describing, Michelle. We did it with a combination of QuickBooks Online and just the right integrated technologies. In some cases, it could just be “I don’t like change.” I think in a lot of cases, they don’t know how powerful these solutions really are.
Michelle Long: I think that’s a good point, Joe. In the past, these super-large Fortune 100 companies had these huge ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems that would cost millions of dollars. Small businesses, with QuickBooks Online at the core and all these apps that are available, can create a very powerful system like those ERP systems to meet all their needs. I think it’s a lack of knowledge, because there’s so much available now. If you’re not attending conferences like Scaling New Heights, and if you’re not staying current with the industry, you just aren’t aware of everything that’s out there and all the capabilities. I think that’s a great point.
Joe Woodard: To that point, the reason there’s no term for what you described as SMBRP (small/medium-size business RP), is because this is the first time, in human and business history, that small businesses can enjoy the same power in terms of infrastructure and systems as enterprise businesses. Unfortunately, a lot of that opportunity is being left on the table. I think it’s because of two things. One is lack of awareness of the power of the systems and resistance to change. But sometimes they know that the solutions are out there. They know they can hunt and find a construction solution or inventory solution or legal solution that will work. But they go to Apps.com and see the hundreds and hundreds of apps that are there. They get overwhelmed and don’t know how to get started. What advice do you have for them?
Michelle Long: When they do go to Apps.com, one of the first things they can do is browse by category. If they’re looking for an inventory app, there are lots of different inventory apps out there. One of the things they’ll want to do is consider and search for these things by type of industry. A manufacturer will need a different inventory app than e-commerce or a retail store. You can browse either by category and by industry to help narrow that down. And then if you are still overwhelmed – let's say you’re looking at two or three different apps and you’re not sure – that's a great opportunity for asking your peers and networking with peers like the Woodard Groups. You’ve got that whole Yammer group where people can ask questions. Or go to social media. We've got the Facebook group for QB Power Hour. There’s LinkedIn groups; wherever you’re connecting with your peers and at conferences. Scaling New Heights is a great opportunity to talk to those vendors in their booths, but also network with your peers. Ask them “What do you think of this app or that app?”
Also with Apps.com, there’s a lot of users and ProAdvisors that are reviewing and sharing their opinions of the apps. There are many ways you can filter and narrow down your focus. If you can’t decide between the last two, contact the vendor of that third-party app and ask for a one-on-one demo. Most of them will be willing to do that and answer your specific questions. Then try to set up a trial. All of the apps in Apps.com offer a trial period so you can test them out. But don’t test an app on your live company file. A lot of times we want to be using a sample company file when we’re doing things like that.
Joe Woodard: And you can get the client to invest in this process. You’re doing this research for them. You’re learning about the apps yourself, but let them pay you to vet solutions. And like everything else you do, don’t charge by the hour. If you’re going to a company the size of Tech Makeover, a client that big should invest in a few thousand dollars to vet the technology. If it’s a very small mom-and-pop, maybe a few hundred dollars to vet the technology. But that itself is an engagement with the client.
Part 2 will be published on Monday, March 22, 2021.