[IMGCAP(1)]I really used to hate QuickBooks, but not anymore.

When QB came out, most of my small business clients were using DOS-based accounting software, and we were using similar software for our after-the-fact work. At some point we were getting new clients that had purchased QB and we needed to learn how to use it. The first few times I worked on such clients I started compiling a list of the specifics of what was “wrong” with QB.

During that period we got two clients that wanted us to convert them to QB. I quoted fixed fees, a completion date and a guarantee that if they weren’t satisfied, we would refund their progress payments and not bill the balance. We sent an accountant who had no direct experience with QB, but was adept with small business processes.

Three minutes after she arrived at the client I received a call with my staff person in tears and the bookkeeper demanding that I send someone who knew QB. I calmly explained that I gave a completion date and a satisfaction guarantee, and this was the person that would get the job done. I further said that she was the best with accounting systems and adapting clients to the best system for them. QB was a tool and we needed to be sure it would do the right job for them before we went ahead with QB. She bought that and the job was completed right on time with such a high degree of satisfaction that they asked us to become their regular accounting firm.

Around that same period, we took our entire firm to a daylong QB course. The room had over 700 people sitting there entranced with the QB magic. That indicated that not only was there something to QB, but we had better get on board, which we did.

We went on to become the largest QB consultants in New Jersey, for a few years spending substantial amounts on advertising. And while we received many QB consultations and small business clients, we also obtained some very substantial clients, with fees for each one much higher than our annual advertising expenditures. We had for a few years a secret weapon for new business. I started loving QB, and still do.

The takeaway here is that you cannot ignore what’s new just because it appears different. You need to test it and give it a chance. Another takeaway is that we need to be receptive to what clients want and adapt to their needs. At the end of the day, we service clients and their interests.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner emeritus at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz (published by CPATrendlines) and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition” (published by the AICPA). Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.