After spending most of 2006 talking to users and revamping its QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program, Intuit is looking to add another 15,000 accountants and small business consultants to the program over the course of the next year."All of our ideas for the new ProAdvisor program resulted from listening to what our customers wanted and trying to deliver solutions and programs to meet their needs," said ProAdvisor manager Nancy Lee. "We've invested a lot of time and resources, and really feel that we've pretty much been able to incorporate everything accountants were asking for."
Lee said that, of the couple of hundred ProAdvisor users Intuit spoke to (more than 34,000 people belong to the eight-year-old program), three distinct wants arose from customers. Specifically, users wanted:
* To be able to grow their practice and have access to prospective clients and marketing tools;
* To make themselves distinctive, either through training or through advanced certification opportunities; and,
* To be able to pick and choose specific products and services.
In response, the ProAdvisor program now features a new "Grow Your Practice" online resource center to help accountants market and run their practices, more in-person training, two new QuickBooks certifications and 16 new online training courses - increasing the total number of courses to more than 40. Intuit also plans to conduct in-person QuickBooks training seminars for ProAdvisors on advanced topics in 15 cities across the U.S. throughout the year.
"The biggest change in the last two years is that customers used to be all about just give me the software, the support and the training," Lee said. "In the last year, I've really been surprised at the energy and passion we were getting from customers who were looking to grow their business and expected that Intuit would help."
She also noted that the program would enable free Web site hosting for users within the next year, and that Intuit has seen an upswing in the number of visits (about 30,000 a month) to the section of its Web site where users can search for a local ProAdvisor.
Addressing the last request, accountants can choose from two ProAdvisor program offerings. The first offering costs $399 and includes access to the training and program resources, as well as single licenses of QuickBooks financial software and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. The second offering, for $100 more, includes a one-year subscription to QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll for Accountants.
ProAdvisors can choose to add to their program offering by purchasing separately up to five additional copies of QuickBooks products, or services, for $99 each. The line of available add-ons will likely grow over time, the company said.
Separately, Intuit narrowed its fiscal fourth quarter loss from a year earlier, boosted by strong performances from its QuickBooks and consumer tax businesses.
For the company's 2006 fiscal year, ended July 31, Intuit saw double-digit growth in revenues and earnings per share, according to a statement from president and chief executive Steve Bennett. For fiscal 2006, profits rose 9 percent, to $417 million, and sales rose 15 percent, to $2.34 billion.
The company also noted that its 2006 fiscal year was the first year in which Intuit recorded an expense for employee stock options. Total employee stock-based compensation expense was approximately $71.4 million for the full year.
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