How does your business compare to a year ago? What factors are driving changes for the better?

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Actual dollars are up as well as expectations. All through 2002 and the first half of 2003, most of our clients were sticking with older PCs, older operating systems, and older versions of applications. However, since then, we’ve seen a majority of our clients spending a decent amount of money replacing and upgrading hardware and software. We don’t really know if it’s wishful thinking on our clients’ parts, or if it actually signals an economic boom. Still, revenues are up, and there are more future projects in the pipeline.
David Faye
Faye, Pollack & Associates
Encino, Calif.

At the current run rate, we would expect 2004 to be a 24 percent improvement over 2003. Equally important is the fact that, in 2003, the sales were mainly add-on sales to existing customers. However, in 2004, we are starting to see new customers willing to make software decisions.
Hugh M. Riddle Jr.
Triangle Partners
Glendora, Calif.

Our business model focuses predominantly on the deployment of Web-based business and accounting applications. We are seeing a significant increase in the acceptance of this model as an alternative to the traditional in-house deployment model. As a result, there is also a changing focus of where IT dollars are being spent: Web services, bandwidth, and display technology, including dual-screen configurations as an emerging standard.
John H. Higgins
CPA Crossings
Rochester, Mich.
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In 2001, our pipeline was empty. We had six good prospects all year. In 2002, not much changed except that we had more people kicking tires but they had no budget to do implementations. Things improved in 2003 in that we saw much more activity, but sales were still elusive. So here we are starting the second quarter of 2004 following the best quarter in our history. Our billing rates have improved because we have so much work, there is no reason to discount our rates. We are turning away prospects that are not our ideal customer. We are on track to more than double our sales from last year.
John Barrett
Vintage Business Solutions
Pleasanton, Calif.

Partner Insights

We believe that the market will stabilize by the last quarter, and become more predictable and responsive. It has not turned yet, but it is better, and is characterized by frustrating spurts and stops. One week we will receive leads, phone calls, email requests—all kinds of promising activity. A week later, it is like the middle of the Pacific on a windless day. We see our challenge as continuing to do what we do well, keep our heads down, not be distracted, but to also be vigilant in watching the market and the trends, and to carefully choose those technologies and activities that will keep us current, invest in them prudently, and be patient until some predictability and stability return to this market.
J. Forrest Koch
Omega Group
Portland, Ore.

Business is definitely better than last year at this time. We’re doing more marketing, but even so, potential customers are more in the mood to buy. Most prospects are those that have outgrown low-end applications (Peachtree, QuickBooks) and also, believe it or not, a lot of companies that are still using old legacy systems (AS 400, Unix, etc.). I’d say both categories represent people that have been barely hanging on with what they’ve got, and can’t put off replacing it any longer.
Larry L. Shafer
SSi Consulting
Baltimore

Business is growing slowly, but steadily, due to three factors: efficiency, expertise, and focus. We require all clients to be on an annual phone support plan, which drives a very predictable revenue stream. We’re targeting niches where our product is dominant, and walking away from any work we aren’t experts in. We’re more selective in what types of prospects we will meet with. As an MAS 90 VAR, the bulk of the work now comes from existing clients and it is more technical. It used to be that we’d see many prospects opt for an off-the-shelf solution. Now it seems that more of them are selecting packages based on an industry fit.
Wayne Schulz
Schulz Consulting
Glastonbury, Conn

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