Choice: All About Options

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Choice Technologies probably isn’t a household name--yet--to many firms. But the Spencer, Iowa-based company says it offers a viable alternative to QuickBooks, along with reselling and recommending opportunities you don’t get with that accounting best-seller, which is sold only through retail.

The company wants to make life simpler for resellers and CPAs. It revamped its two-year-old channel program in September, going from three classifications to two.

"We wanted to streamline commissions, make the programs easier to handle, and easier to explain to prospects," says Roger Leistad, who has served as president of the 12-employee company since June 2000.

Partner Insights

The company offers three flavors: Basic Accounting, with the GL, banking and checking, and payroll management for $199 for a single user, and topping out at $499.95 for unlimited users. The Classic edition, which replicates the functionality of a DOS product that is no longer on the market, adds accounts receivable and is priced at $299.95. The Premier version sports features such as AR with purchase orders, inventory management, and invoicing. The pricing starts at $299.95 for a single user and climbs to $995.95 for unlimited users.

Also available are add-on modules including Professional Payroll, After-the-Fact Accounting, Time and Billing, and Job Cost, for $199.95 each, and MICR Check Printing and Trust Accounting for $99.95 each.

Of the services offered, the customization opportunities put People’s Choice ahead of the competition, says Leisted. "We have open-source code and a customizable product. It’s not a dead-end, low-end product. The software can grow with a company," he says.

The company’s custom development department consults with users to obtain an understanding of the individual’s accounting practice. Then, they meet the user’s specific business needs and industry requirements.

In fact, Choice has a joint effort with Laser Systems, publishers of TaxWorks tax preparation software, in a move to provide accountants with an integrated suite of accounting and tax products.

Choice Technologies Fact Sheet

Headquarters: Spencer, Iowa

Employees: 12

Founded: 1996

Main Products: Choice Basic Accounting, Choice Classic Accounting, Choice Premier Accounting

Number of resellers: 125

The package, a customizable version of People’s Choice Accounting and TaxWorks, links the two systems for fast and easy transfer of data from the accounting system into the tax software. All write-up work is completed in the accounting program and financial statements are produced after adjustments are made.

"More and more people are keeping their books on their computers, and write-up has evolved from a general package to a service firms are looking for so their clients can use it for financial statements," says Leistad.

Furthermore, Choice can develop systems ranging from e-commerce to back-office automation. For example, they can create a Web-based system such as a Web site that includes online ordering to help increase sales and build an Internet presence. All relevant sales data will automatically download into the users People’s Choice System for order processing and accounting.

Hands-on Consulting

"Our channel has been a major reason for our success and growth over the last few years. Not only have they been a solid sales force for us, but they have provided 'hands on’ consulting services for our customers to help identify and solve their needs," says Leistad.

CTI offers two options for reselling the company’s products and services.

The first is the CTI Provider program, in which partners are not committed to selling the software but refer it to their client base. "Most of the accountants we have are in the provider program. Small firms aren’t out there to sell software, but they want to provide product when needed. However, they don’t want to live on a quota system," says Leistad.

The Provider program has 125 members, and although there is no annual fee, participants must purchase a copy of People’s Choice Accounting. Providers receive a 10 percent commission on new sales. CTI bills end users, with providers receiving copies of customer invoices accompanied by commission checks.

Joining the CTI Reseller Program costs $499.95 per year, and resellers receive a not-for-sale copy of the software, marketing resources, 50 minutes of support, and leads generated by CTI’s marketing department. The commission for referrals on new sales is 20 percent, 5 percent on repeat sales, 5 percent on support, and 20 percent repeat commission on upgrade sales.

Instead of receiving margin on product, resellers also receive commissions from CTI. That includes getting a 40 percent reseller discount on new sales, 20 percent discount on repeat support, and 30 percent discount on upgrade sales.

A $100 credit towards the reseller annual fee will be given for each $1,000 in new sales from the previous 12 months after the first year. Thirty minutes of free support will be added to the banked SafeChoice Support Center account for each additional $1,000 in new sales. All referral commissions to CTI Resellers will be paid monthly and will include an itemized Referral Commissions Report.

"Two classifications rather than four make it much easier for us to recruit members. We can tell what camp they fall into. By next year, we want approximately 500 more members, and probably 80 percent of them would be Providers," says Leistad.

CTI also has an informal program where CPAs refer without any commission. "Old-school CPAs want to recommend but not sell software. They want to stay objective and not make money off it," says Leistad. They have about 1,000 accountants who recommend People’s Choice to their clients and then sell their service to them to make money. The company says that CPA base includes those obtained via the TaxWorks alliance.

Although John Reed, a CPA with Edgewood, Ky.-based RBS Services, says his firm works with several lower-end accounting packages, it favors People’s Choice. Reed, who has been part of the reseller program for the last five years, says, "We don’t look at reselling as a profit center but as another service to our clients.

"We recommend People’s Choice because it’s flexible and easy to implement. The database can be extracted from the software and used in Excel and Word," he notes.

Reed bills based on transaction volumes and clients’ bills can be a couple hundred to a thousand a month. He receives 35 percent margins and sees 5 percent of his revenue come from selling People’s Choice and another 30 percent from providing clients services related to the software.


Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at carly.lombardo@amgpubs.com


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