Right now, being a reseller for eFileKeeper, the paperless document management system from Advantage Business Systems, is a lonely task. There is just one: Simenson & Associates, an accounting and consulting firm that resells and uses the software. Using the software is worth the effort to president Tom Simenson, who says eFileKeeper saves him approximately six hours a week from not physically having to leave his desk to retrieve hundreds of client documents and then re-file them.
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"I am able to get more work done faster," says Simenson, "I get more business out of the door and am able to move on to another client."
Simenson came on board as the software company switched gears. It dropped the name Keeper Solutions, in favor of calling itself Advanced Business Solutions. And it scrapped a direct sales approach, in favor of enlisting accountants to sell the product.
The product line includes the eFileKeeper Professional Edition, which comes with ContactKeeper, a contact manager, and is priced at $749.99, which includes updates and support for one year. The two-user basic network version is priced at $1,399. It works with any Twain-compliant scanner and integrates with Adobe Acrobat. It integrates with the company's other products, such as TimeKeeper, a time and billing package. It supports contact information synchronization with Microsoft Outlook and attaching of documents to Outlook email messages. FileKeeper organizes documents into folders, and scans, copies, and deletes files.
Having remote access to his client contact information and personal data, including clients' hobbies and the names and birthdates of their spouses and children, Simenson says, enhances client loyalty and presents opportunities to generate additional business for the Bellingham, Wash.-based firm, which operates in 11 western states from Washington to Oregon and California to Texas. Among its targeted clients are health care providers with fewer than 10 employees.
As it builds its reselling business, Bob Taylor, president of Advantage Business Solutions, says he is looking to give accountants an opportunity to enhance their revenues and consulting fees with the sale of eFileKeeper.
Enumclaw, Wash.-based ABS sought out the accounting profession to market eFileKeeper.
"Our focus is on fitting the product into their consulting business rather than just focusing on selling eFileKeeper," says Taylor. "I realize that taking on my product is going to take away some of their time so what I have to do is put time back in their hands."
Taylor says that an accountant can explain these services in a half-hour telephone conversation. EFileKeeper, he outlined, can actually provide accountants with the information to generate more revenue from their existing clientele while they are in communication with them.
The shift to focus on accountants as resellers came about this past summer. Keeper Solutions was formed in March 2004 to market eFileKeeper. In July, the name was changed and Advantage Business Solutions has subsequently shed itself of all its former business partners except Simenson.
"We've had as much success since July as we did during the previous year-long partnership," Taylor says. He expects the operation, which has four full-time employees, will have $900,000 in revenues by the end of this year.
The move to using accountants as resellers will enhance participants' revenue through sales of their products and services and associated consulting fees. Advantage Business Solutions is seeking accountants associated with accounting firms that perform more than just taxes and payroll.
"We are there to help them generate more revenue per client than take more time to sell more product," says Taylor.
Simenson, who has been an eFileKeeper reseller since January, has added $17,000 in revenues from sales of the document manager. With the added sales, he says, the six-year-old firm is on pace to approach $100,000 in revenues.
In selecting contact managers, Simenson says he wanted something that would be easy to use for his clientele that consists largely of entrepreneurial upstarts.
"This is the only [contact and document manager] I want to present to my start-up businesses," says Simenson, "because they don't have to spend a lot of time recreating their office routine."
Among the software features, that his clients embrace are the ability to track follow-up reports performed by staffers and its security controls which limit access to client files based on level of position.
eFileKeeper's document retention and email storage capabilities also address accountants' need to help clients with their compliance issues, Taylor adds. He explained the legal industry is not in the business of advising clients on document management and storage compliance.
"Lawyers won't tell them how to store documents, but will scold them if they don't when a situation arises that the records are needed," Taylor says. "The challenge right now is getting people to understand the needs of the marketplace are changing."
For example, within the construction business, blueprints and modifications to blueprints for a golf course, as well as the material data sheet and chemical products used, must be retained for specified periods.
Records retention and records storage is a serious drain on firms' profits, says Taylor. He says, "It is long-term storage that's taking away profits."
EFileKeeper assists clients in complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, enabling them to maintain and protect their patients' records and information.
Simenson says that it's easy to learn how to sell eFileKeeper.
To refresh his memory, Simenson says, he references an 88-page online training program.
"That's as much as I need to market the product," said Simenson.
Although the channel is a one-man show now, Taylor says his goal is to take on one reseller every month until Advantage Business Solutions has one reseller in every state.
The company requires resellers to purchase at least one copy of eFileKeeper at the discounted price of $800. They are required to sell at least two copies annually to maintain their license as an Authorized Reseller.
Resellers receive margins between 35 percent and 40 percent depending on their level of participation.
Taylor explained 35 percent is what they can normally expect to receive unless they take on some added marketing responsibilities at a trade show.
If so, Taylor says, he will increase the margin to 40 percent.
Reducing the travel and related expenses associated with Advantage Business Solutions bringing its own staff, Taylor says, justifies them receiving the additional 5 percent.
"If I have to fly staff in I'll keep the 5 percent," said Taylor.
Simenson is satisfied with the margins on eFileKeeper, considering the complement of features included in the price of the software.
"The cost of eFileKeeper is almost half of what the competing products are," Simenson says, "and it offers more in the management of contact information and client data."
ADVANTAGE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS SNAPSHOT
HQ: Enumclaw, Wash.
Phone: (800) 550-3510
Riccardo A. Davis is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com.