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Old 02-19-2012, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Wartrace,TN
6,370 posts, read 9,993,951 times
Reputation: 12469

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I provide business services in a field that makes up 85 to 90% of the small to midsized business accounting market (QuickBooks). I have the Advanced PA certification which is held by less than 3% of all certified proAdvisors. (It is a difficult test)

What I am offering businesses is specialized help with QuickBooks and Point of Sale. The three areas I am focusing on are troubleshooting/repair, advanced reporting help and software integration.

The services I offer are not typically offered (or at least advertised) by the majority of other proAdvisors. By my "survey" of the local market I would say 95% focus on bookkeeping, tax preparation and payroll. While these proAdvisors could do what I am doing, it is very time consuming particularly if you don't have a system and do not do the work on a regular basis.

Basically I am working a market "niche". The demand is not as concentrated as it is for other services. Most of the services I provide require at least one "onsite" visit but a lot of the work can be accomplished remotely.

My "problem"-
I am located in a rural area between three cities. I am 60 miles from Nashville and 80 miles from Chattanooga and 72 miles from Huntsville.

This may be a "blessing" or a "curse" when it comes to serving clients. As I said the service is a "niche" which makes the ability to serve three cities rather than just one a big benefit. The downside is the perception that I am "too far away" to service these clients.

My Questions;
1) Is distance a "deal breaker" when hiring a service for specialized work?

2) In my advertising I am trying to communicate effectively that the distance is not an issue. I am afraid potential clients will hesitate to call due to the distance. Once I can talk to them and explain the process I can overcome that potential objection. Any ideas on how to address the distance issue in my advertising?
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:58 AM
 
Location: In America's Heartland
929 posts, read 1,942,061 times
Reputation: 1185
I don't believe that distance is the deal breaker today that it might have been 25 years ago. Technology has made it much easier to do many jobs remotely. I believe that technology will continue to improve and make it much easier to do remote work in the future. Price and quality of work is what matters, not distance. Lets face it... 80 miles is nothing. Most businesses deal with clients that travel much further distances. I think your location is much more of blessing than a curse.
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:14 PM
 
297 posts, read 666,210 times
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How about meeting with all the accountants and CPA's in the area? Let them know what you can do. Leave a bunch of your business cards.

Also they have mailing lists which can be targeted. For example if you apply for a new business license, people get all sorts of business related mail. Maybe you could target new Chapter S corporations? Maybe you could get the contact info yourself from the state? Or lists of businesses?

Also for junk mail, think of it as "billboard" advertising. They are going to quickly look at it, then throw it in the trash. Billboard rules are 7 words or less!

So on a sheet of paper in big letters, just say...

Quickbooks Set-up Help!
Computer Accounting Help!

Then list your contact info in small print.

They will read it as they are throwing it in the trash. Then might decide to keep it. Later when they try to install Quickbooks, they will get beyond frustrated. Then say "Where did I put that flyer?" They will tear the office apart to find it!
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:22 AM
 
26,581 posts, read 34,014,498 times
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How much of what you can be done remotely? Next question how much time are you spending on site? Being central can be a good thing. Where I live it is very rural. The town I live in has 70,000 people and really large (in geographic terms) trade area.

To network with CPAs and accounting firms is also an advantage. If you're good at your service they might hire you as a subcontractor for setting up systems. In an age where things can be done remotely distance has less to do with access than anything.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Wartrace,TN
6,370 posts, read 9,993,951 times
Reputation: 12469
Quote:
Originally Posted by SD4020 View Post
How much of what you can be done remotely? Next question how much time are you spending on site? Being central can be a good thing. Where I live it is very rural. The town I live in has 70,000 people and really large (in geographic terms) trade area.

To network with CPAs and accounting firms is also an advantage. If you're good at your service they might hire you as a subcontractor for setting up systems. In an age where things can be done remotely distance has less to do with access than anything.
The majority of my work can be done remotely BUT not Entirely. Setting up system and making adjustments/repairs to data files normally require onsite work.

I am beginning my marketing efforts with CPA firms; I know it is bad timing but I had a valid reason to delay. I wanted to wait until I earned the advanced certification before I approached CPA firms with my services. The regular proadvisor certification, I felt, didn't mean a whole lot.

My advertising efforts are aimed at the market segment that needs QuickBooks help but doesn't want to pay CPA firm rates. I recently had a client that called for help after he terminated his CPA help. He was paying them 120 dollars an hour, I charge half that rate. It was clear that the person helping him did not have a clue about QuickBooks. I question if they had solid accounting knowledge; how can you sit in a facility filled with fixed assets and not question why they do not appear in the accounting records?

My main question though was how distance affects a business decision to hire services. You all make some good points but more importantly you have indicated that business people understand that with technology it is less of an issue.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:01 PM
 
26,581 posts, read 34,014,498 times
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That is the first thing clients and vendors needs to remember garbage in, garbage out. There are several who have business degree's or experience and education and you have others who have no clue what the difference is between an asset and a liability.

The onsite stuff and distance woudn't be desiding factors. How quickly I could get service onsite would more of a factor than distance. If I call you with an issue that needs to be addressed onsite at 9 AM, I would be okay with someone who would show later that day or within a reasonable amount of time. The factor being how serious the hang up was.

When I ran my retail store years ago I ran Quickbooks Point of sale. I set everything up myself. The inventory management aspect was awesome.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Wartrace,TN
6,370 posts, read 9,993,951 times
Reputation: 12469
Quote:
Originally Posted by SD4020 View Post
That is the first thing clients and vendors needs to remember garbage in, garbage out. There are several who have business degree's or experience and education and you have others who have no clue what the difference is between an asset and a liability.

The onsite stuff and distance woudn't be desiding factors. How quickly I could get service onsite would more of a factor than distance. If I call you with an issue that needs to be addressed onsite at 9 AM, I would be okay with someone who would show later that day or within a reasonable amount of time. The factor being how serious the hang up was.

When I ran my retail store years ago I ran Quickbooks Point of sale. I set everything up myself. The inventory management aspect was awesome.
I love QuickBooks Point of Sale, as a matter of fact every time I re qualify for that certification I have an urge to open a store...

The newest release is great (V10), it has great inventory functionality like style/sizes, assembly items and serial number tracking. They really have some powerful reporting and marketing tools included too. I don't know what version you were using but the way it integrates with QuickBooks now is excellent. They even automate the batching with Intuit Merchant service so it posts directly to the accounting software (discount fees and all). They have improved the capability to handle up to 20 retail locations and 20 registers per store. Sorry for getting excited.....

The great thing about QuickBooks is I can access it using a variety of remote access tools so if it is a quickbooks program problem I can be on it within minutes of a clients call. The onsite stuff I would have to do relates more to installs on networks, implementing integrated software and other non-emergency issues.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:15 PM
 
26,581 posts, read 34,014,498 times
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I don't care for how they pimp you for more money all the time. I am trying to fiure out what to run with my new venture. No real inventory to worry about.

All and all it is a good product and earned its market share.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:22 PM
 
Location: Wartrace,TN
6,370 posts, read 9,993,951 times
Reputation: 12469
Quote:
Originally Posted by SD4020 View Post
I don't care for how they pimp you for more money all the time. I am trying to fiure out what to run with my new venture. No real inventory to worry about.

All and all it is a good product and earned its market share.
Yes, Intuit seems to have a habit of doing that. Even with that it is hard to beat for small/midsized businesses- I saw QB's pro at Sams club the other day for 100 bucks. Since Intuit supports versions for 3 years it is hard to beat an accounting program for 33 bucks a year.
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