by Carly Lombardo
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Marsha Roudabush wants to be the national model for up-selling Best Software products. She’s well on her way, because currently her company Pro-Active Solutions has 8,000 Peachtree users in its customer base. And, at any given moment, one percent of all Peachtree software clients are thinking of moving up to MAS
90 and 10 percent are looking at BusinessWorks.
Pro-Active Solutions, with offices in Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio, is dedicated to providing accounting software products for all sizes of companies. The firm is an authorized Peachtree Resource Center, QuickBooks Certified Professional Advisor, and Best Authorized Reseller for BusinessWorks and MAS 90/200, as well as Best’s DacEasy, TeleMagic, Timeslips, and Act products.
Roudabush started with her own CPA firm, which she sold in 1991. She founded MicroTech Software Support and Training in 1987 and then merged with Pro-Active last August. At that time, she became president.
With 15 consultants, all with at least an accounting degree, Roudabush says her staff has the skills to speak to the entry-level market.
"Entry-level customers are less sophisticated and need more hand-holding. Many people don’t have strong accounting backgrounds and need more help with the accounting than the technology," she says.
Roudabush finds her typical Peachtree customers go to retail stores, buy Peachtree off the shelf, and get stuck. That’s when they end up calling Pro-Active.
"The customer calls us and we go out and set up the system and show them how it works on site. Sometimes this can take up to three weeks and usually costs about $3,000," says Roudabush. Pro-Active bills approximately $100 an hour, depending on the locality and the product. She estimates that her average Peachtree client generates about $500 per year in revenue after the initial set-up. Entry-level customers generate revenue from upgrades, tax services, forms, and support contracts.
The company has also found that Peachtree customers, many of them in the distribution, construction, professional services, and non-profit markets, often need higher-level products. "This is where BusinessWorks and MAS 90 comes in handy; we have been up-selling to many of our Peachtree customers," says Roudabush.
Pro-Active currently has 254 BusinessWorks customers and 10 MAS 90 clients, but has only been certified since March. A typical BusinessWorks installation costs about $12,000, while a MAS 90 install ranges from $50,000 to $70,000.
Meanwhile, QuickBooks is becoming more and more important to the practice. Pro-Active has two consultants dedicated to the product. Roudabush says many QuickBooks clients are also outgrowing their accounting software, making them prime candidates for MAS 90/200 or BusinessWorks.
"By being able to offer our customers Peachtree, BusinessWorks and MAS 90, we can keep our customers for life," says Roudabush.
With revenue just under $1 million, Roudabush feels both marketing and informational seminars are essential to retaining customers.
She uses Best’s Act software internally to market and keep ongoing relationships with her customers. It’s used for mass mailings, blast faxes, and emails, to segment the customer base and to see how long customers have been using the products. "The key to successful marketing is high touches from different mediums," says Roudabush.
Pro-Active conducts several seminars a year and also offers about six Peachtree classes per quarter at $275 per class. In addition, there are about four classes a year that focus on new features and subjects such as report writing. At year’s end, the company provides a one-day seminar that teaches users how to deal with year-end accounting matters.
Furthermore, Roudabush invites Peachtree customers to lectures about MAS 90 and BusinessWorks at is no charge. "We send out invitations and perform group demos," she notes. "They get a great response -- about twelve people per lecture."