MYOB: Reaching Accountants

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MYOB, best known for its presence in the Mac accounting market, is hitting the streets to expand its name recognition. The Rockaway, N.J.-based company has enhanced its channel programs and returned to the CPA trade show circuit to get the word out. In fact, the company is hoping to sign up 10 percent of the prospects it meets at those events.

"CPAs want software that has the ability to do a real year-end close, with a true retained earning account, and real P&L. They're not finding this in QuickBooks, and that scares accountants," says Todd Salkovitz, program relations manager.

Salkovitz, who is turning over his channel duties to Kristy Lockburner so he can concentrate on third-party relations, says that once MYOB educates accountants about the software they become much more receptive to it.

Partner Insights

MYOB is enticing trade-show attendees by including a coupon for a free copy of software for customers' accountants in each box of MYOB BusinessEssentials Pro, AccountEdge, and AccountEdge Network Edition.

Currently, MYOB has 350 partners participating in three partner programs. One, the Inner Circle program, was added just over a year ago to reward top performers. "We looked at our Certified Consultants Program and wanted to take extra care with the people who were most invested in us. We basically took all the Certified Consultant benefits and super-sized them," says Salkovitz.

For $799 a year, Inner Circle members receive an enhanced Consultant Directory listing, a description of their services instead of just contact information. They also get a 30 percent margin, instead of the 25 percent given to consultants who are not certified, along with a 20 percent discount on upgrade products. Non-certified consultants do not receive discounts on upgrades. ICs also receive a 25 percent discount on retail products with support bundles, where CCs get a 20 percent discount.

MYOB partners have the option of providing their customers with both Windows and Mac products. The Mac-based AccountEdge tracks sales and purchases, handles all banking, processes payroll, tracks and bills time, and manages customers' financial reports. The package costs $299 for the standard version and $399 for the Network Edition.

Also available to smaller Mac users is MYOB FirstEdge, an integrated package priced at $99. The software will give users more than a computerized checkbook, but not as many features as the other products.

For Windows users, MYOB offers a PC version of AccountEdge, MYOB BusinessEssentials, that incorporates accounting, sales, expenses, customer management, and reports. BusinessEssentials also includes a logo creator that allows users to create a professional look for invoices, business cards, letterheads, forms, and Web sites. The Basic Edition is $99, while the Pro Edition costs $299. Salkovitz noted that data files are cross-platform so that PCs can read Mac files.

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.

Fostering Strong Relationships

Partners can join the MYOB family by requesting a consultant information pack. Certified Consultants must also complete and pass the Certified Consultant Authorization exam and course work.

The annual fee for the Associate Partner Program is $249, and Certified Consultants pay $495 annually. Margins for partners range from 15 to 40 percent. Associate Partner Program benefits include standard technical support, a dedicated management team, a partner conference, marketing materials, and resale options.

Members of the Certified Consultant Program receive the same benefits as the Associate Partner Program members, but get press releases, a consultant directory listing, trade show participation, and more marketing materials.

Also available is the Certified Consultant Web site, a private area Web site where consultants can participate in interactive email discussions, giving tips, providing solutions, and discussing opportunities with other consultants.

Jen Mayer president, of Temple City, Calif.-based Count Me In, says that MYOB's marketing efforts have helped her grow her sales by 30 percent since 2002, her first year in business, and she expects the surge to continue this year.

"MYOB offers its consultants many opportunities to grow their practices through use of MYOB-sponsored postcard mailings to existing users, access to the lead list, which is a database of all people who have recently downloaded a trial version, and through direct tech support line referrals," says Mayer.

Mayer, a Certified Consultant, says that 75 percent of her business is from MYOB customers. "We often service customers who already own the program, or are in the habit of making their upgrade purchase directly through MYOB. We refer prospects using other programs to other consulting resources, as we prefer to focus our expertise on the MYOB product," she adds.

Mayer picked up one client, Johnny's Auto Service, through an MYOB- sponsored postcard mailing. "We design the mailing and MYOB provides the card stock, printed in four colors on one side, with a set of mailing labels for a specified geographic area of registered MYOB users. This type of mailing can have excellent results, as the target is a select group of users rather than just the general public," says Mayer.

After examining Johnny's tax returns. Mayer found several mistakes and compared the returns to the financial statements prepared by a former consultant, and discovered that the tax returns were not remotely accurate.

"With my guidance, Johnny's recreated three years of data from bank statements, canceled checks, paid bills, and bank deposits. They filed amended returns with a new CPA, and received a five-figure tax refund," says Mayer. To re-create the historical data, clean up the current year, and the client, Mayer charged $4,000 over a 12-month period. During the second year with Count Me In, Johnny's required less than $1,000 of consulting services. "We still visit once a quarter to assist them with payroll and sales tax returns, and give the system a general check-up to uncover any mistakes that might have been made. MYOB allows us to foster these types of team-oriented, on-going client relationships," adds Mayer.

Certification is critical, says Terri Zeh Jacobson, president of Resource for Small Business, a 10-year old firm located in Long Lake, Minn.

A Certified Consultant for the past seven years and MYOB's Partner of the Year for 2001, Jacobson has built up a client base of 250 customers. She prides herself on being able to make MYOB's software "sing" where non-certified consultants can't.

"We know it's out-of-the-box software, but the key is to use it creatively. We had one client that had seven large apartment complexes and we set up AccountEdge to track when someone moved in or out. Not many people think of MYOB as being able to run apartment buildings," adds Jacobson.

Jacobson, who belongs to four reseller programs, says that MYOB's is the most effective. "Unlike other companies, they're responsive to customer needs," she says. "In this year's upgrades alone, I saw 12 enhancements my clients' requested."

MYOB Snapshot

HQ: Rockaway, N.J.

Phone: (973) 586-2200

Web: www.myob.com

Revenue: $10.3 million (America) 2003

Employees: 60

Founded: 1982

Products: AccountEdge, FirstEdge, BusinessEssentials

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

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