Even though the majority of accountants are Windows users, MYOB doesn’t want to stop its partners from being able to serve Macintosh customers. In fact, in the Mac accounting market, the Rockaway, N.J.-based company has a 63 percent share of the market.
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"Our Mac products are doing well. When we talk to accountants and their customers using Mac programs such as Photoshop or Quark, they’re using it professionally, and they have to bill customers and they have invoices. The bottom line is they need accounting too," says Todd Salkovitz, consultants program manager.
MYOB feels its Mac products and its one-on-one relationships with its partners puts it ahead of the competition. It probably helps that other competitors have dropped out of the market place. In fact, until Intuit recently decided to re-enter the Macintosh market, MYOB had no nationally recognized Mac-based competitor.
As a product name, MYOB has been around for 20 years. The company, founded as Teleware, was briefly named BestWare when Best Programs (the predecessor to Best Software) owned it. It takes its current name from the accounting software line. The North American operations are owned jointly by Christopher Lee, founder and still president of the U.S. operations, and Australian investors of the parent, MYOB Limited, a publicly traded Australian company. Revenue in North America for the half ended June 30 was $4.7 million, compared to North American revenue of $6.1 million for fiscal 2001. However, the year earlier figures include the Canadian operations that were disposed of a year ago.
MYOB offers its partners two programs, the Associate Partner Program and the Certified Consultant Program, both started in 1992. The former program has 180 members, the latter, 170.
Partners can provide their customers with both Windows and Mac products. MYOB Plus Version 11 and MYOB AccountEdge Version 2 for Mac include a full GL, checkbook, sales, time billing, purchases, inventory, and payroll functionality. It also includes multi-currency accounting, links to Microsoft Office, emailing of invoices, reports and forms, and is network ready for the Mac and Windows platforms. Datafiles are also cross platform so a PC can read a Mac file. The list price of MYOB Plus is $229 and AccountEdge is $249.
For smaller customers on the Mac, MYOB FirstEdge is an integrated package that costs $99. The software will give users more than a computerized checkbook, but not all the "bells and whistles of the other product," says Salkovitz.
MYOB feels its products fit small businesses with up to 25 employees. Generally, these businesses have an annual revenue under $5 million. There are many small, home-based customers.
"QuickBooks and Peachtree are direct competitors in that we’re all targeting about the same market. However, QuickBooks is currently positioning their new products above our target," says Salkovitz.
Peachtree Complete, QB Pro, and MYOB Plus offer similar feature sets. "But it’s the nuances of those features and how things work that separate us. MYOB Plus is easier to model the software to how your business works and easier to understand from a non-accountant perspective, while preserving the accounting integrity for the business owner’s accountant," says Jennifer Lee, corporate communications manager.
Customers can purchase MYOB software directly from MYOB via phone, fax, or in the MYOB online store, in retail stores, from catalogs, or from an MYOB Certified Consultant.
Lee says, "MYOB Certified Consultants who sell MYOB software and services (they can sell support plans also) mostly do so to better service their clients by making it more convenient for them to get the software. They are looking to foster their own business of consulting, not to become retailers." Consultants, who get a 25 percent margin, do not have to meet sales goals to maintain their certification.
Partners can join the team by requesting a consultant information pack. From there, potential partners must fill out an application, supply as references two clients using MYOB products, maintain an email address with Internet access, and complete a non-disclosure agreement.
Those joining the Certified Consultant program must also complete and pass the Certified Consultant Authorization exam and course work. Upon completion, they can earn two CPE credits.
The annual fee for the Associate Partner Program is $249, $99 for each additional partners. For the Certified Consultant Program, members pay $495 annually and $295 each for individuals from the same company.
Associate Partner Program benefits include standard technical support, pre-sales support, a dedicated management team, a partner conference, marketing materials, trial versions and product spec sheets, and resale options.
Members of the Certified Consultant Program receive the same benefits as the Associate Partner program members, but get more marketing help, including having their names in the printed Consultant Directory placed inside all MYOB products, and a full listing on the MYOB Web site.
Also available is the Certified Consultant Web site, a private area Web site containing up-to-date product and marketing information to help partners support MYOB products, and where MYOB Certified Consultants can participate in interactive email discussions, giving tips, providing solutions, and discussing opportunities with other Certified Consultants. "When a Certified Consultant is on-site with a client and a problem arises, they can access the email discussion site and work together with the colleagues to fix the problem," says Salkovitz.
However, the most popular benefit is marketing support, including leads. Partners also have access to MYOB’s customer list for approved marketing events.
Salkovitz adds, "The access to the user list for marketing is a key feature in our partner program. If partners want to send a postcard mailing such as year-end payroll targeted to Mac users, all they have to do is access the user list."
In addition, the program provides members with the opportunity to obtain co-op marketing funds on a pre-approved, case-by-case basis.
Ed Mears, a Certified Consultant and sole practitioner in Oakland, Calif., has been working with MYOB exclusively for 11 years. Mears has more than 300 clients, 80 percent of them small business owners using Mac. "The beauty of working with a small company like MYOB is the personal relationships you form. I’ve been working with the same people for 11 years. The biggest benefit of the Certified Consultant program is the marketing assistance. Many companies are reluctant about providing their partners with the use of their mailing list, not MYOB," says Mears.
Mears charges $110 an hour and his typical engagement starts with a meeting to get a clear understanding of what the customer wants. Mears says, "After meeting with them to establish their goals, I give them a homework assignment, such as basic set-up of the system. From there, I come back and check on them and give them another assignment. By the time I’m done, they’re trained and the system is set-up."
Partnerships for the Future
Both Salkovitz and MYOB partners are excited about MYOB’s involvement in Apple Computer in-store seminars.
Apple Computer stores have in-store theaters, which provide customers with mini movies. Wednesday nights includes small business presentations. "We own Wednesday nights, and our consultants do presentations explaining the benefits of MYOB products for small businesses. The consultants currently do these presentations in 29 of 37 Apple stores nationwide," says Salkovitz.
Mears, who participates in the Apple seminars, says "I receive a fair amount of business from the people attending the Apple seminars. The visibility of the consultants in the stores is good because it reminds the Apple sales staff of MYOB. If a customer comes in asking questions about MYOB, the sales staff can refer them to me or take their information, and give it to me the next time I come in to give a seminar. The seminars provide great energy and keep people talking about MYOB products."
Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.