Frank Stitely: Training Guru


by Carly Lombardo

Chantilly, Va.-based Stitely, Karstetter & Greenfield, is the only authorized Resource Center for Peachtree Software in Virginia and has been offering Peachtree University classes for the past 11 years.

"In the past, many CPA and computer firms looked like they were going to get involved in offering training, but they just didn’t," comments Stitely. "In order to be successful at it, you have to have a full-time partner committed to accounting software and training. And our firm has been [doing precisely that] since the beginning."

Partner Insights

Stitely teamed up with Paul Karstetter, who operated Allserv Accounting Associates, in 1989. SKG came into existence this year with the addition of partner Wayne Greenfield, who serves as marketing director.

"We stress to clients the efficiency of automated accounting solutions, such as Peachtree," says Stitely. An estimated 40 percent of revenue comes from accounting software, another 40 percent from tax services, and 20 percent from accounting and consulting.

Stitely, a Certified Peachtree and MAS 90/200 trainer and technician, is also a member of the board of directors of the Association of Professional Accounting Software Consultants, and was recently appointed to the Steering Committee for the Best Software Small Business Certified Consultant program.

With annual revenue of $1 million, SKG has 300 Peachtree clients, 20 active MAS 90 clients, and 100 QuickBooks clients. "Our Peachtree base is the most lucrative. Compared to our QuickBooks customers, they spend more on training, implementation, and support," says Stitely.

In a typical Peachtree engagement, SKG sells and installs the software, works with the client to develop a chart of accounts, and provides ongoing training and support. A typical engagement, not including the cost of software, runs a client about $1,500.

Success with Peachtree has led to a successful MAS 90 business. SKG has been working with MAS 90 now for two years, and according to Stitely, it has been the firm’s biggest growth area. A typical MAS 90 engagement costs about $10,000 in software and about $8,000 for set up.

The firm brings in about $60,000 a year from Peachtree training courses. SKG holds a three-day Peachtree essential class, a one-day Crystal Reports class, and has created its own in-house, one-day advanced class. "The in-house course is aimed at the CPA community who wants to learn how to do more than just cut a check. It teaches CPAs how to support the product and how to do data repair," says Stitely.

Going Paperless

According to Stitely, the second reason for his firm’s success is going paperless. SKG has been paperless for four tax seasons.

"We’ve seen many advantages from the paperless system. We do not have to search through file cabinets for documents. When a client calls for a copy of a W-2 or a tax return, we can send it to them without leaving our desks," says Stitely. "When we started this, we were out of office space and out of file cabinets. Now, we don’t have to pay rent on file room space or buy new file cabinets at $400 a piece."

After the usual interview and return preparation, an administrative person receives the client’s workpapers, such as W-2s or 1099s, and scans the documents as PDF files. Their server has a folder for each client and then a subfolder under the client’s folder for each engagement.

After the client receives a copy of the return, SKG copies the workpapers and tax return PDF files to a CD and gives the CD to the client. While the client receives both a paper return and the CD this year, Stitely hopes to phase out paper entirely.

SKG uses two scanners. One is a four-year-old Gestetner 3240, a digital copier/scanner that runs PixView’s scanning software. SKG leased the unit, which retails for $16,000. A recently purchased Ricoh IS450DE cost around $5,000, including the DocuLex scanning software.

He further notes that disaster recovery is much easier and more feasible. "Paper copies burn and are gone forever," comments Stitely. In a paperless environment, however, "If we restore a back-up, we are up and running with absolutely no loss of information."

Carly Lombardo is Assistant Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at .

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