QuickBooks Live goes live June 3

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For months, Intuit has been testing a new live bookkeeping service called QuickBooks Live. Now the company is ready to go live with the offering on June 3.

Early on, QuickBooks-connected accountants, including ProAdvisors, were concerned that an on-demand, online bookkeeping service (à la Uber) would be positioned in direct competition with them. Intuit has taken steps to alleviate that concern in the months leading up to release. In May, Intuit announced it would only staff QuickBooks Live with Certified ProAdvisors, ensuring their own accountants and bookkeepers would gain access to the new business QBL would potentially provide.

Additionally, QBL is not targeted at small businesses that are already using an accountant.

“We have completely designed QuickBooks Live to try to help the 40 percent of small businesses who are not yet attached to an accounting professional,” Rich Preece, QuickBooks U.S. country leader at Intuit, told Accounting Today. “These are people who were not looking for an accounting, and have only been in business for six months or less. [QBL] will almost be like onboarding these businesses to accounting help they will likely need as they grow. We don’t see this remotely as taking clients away from accountants already connected to clients.”

As much as possible, QuickBooks Live as a service won’t be advertised to small businesses already using an accountant. Preece said that advertising within QuickBooks products will be targeted as much as the algorithms can handle to small businesses not yet using an accountant, as well as on the QuickBooks website, to which the majority of visitors are prospects. Preece anticipates that some website visitors who already have an accountant may, if they visit the website, see the offering and may then question their accountant about the service. This may necessitate conversation in terms of firms needing to explain the difference between this new offering and the services they offer.

When the QuickBooks Live offering first appeared on the QuickBooks website in February, it was a test to gauge interest from customers. At that time, certain eagle-eyed accountants noticed Intuit was hiring bookkeepers in Boise, Idaho, where TSheets’ headquarters is located (TSheets was acquired by Intuit in 2017). Preece confirmed that that was indeed part of Intuit’s QBL testing process. Intuit was setting up a lab in the TSheets offices to dry-test interest in, pricing models for, and other functions of QuickBooks Live. Intuit hired nine ProAdvisor bookkeepers to perform bookkeeping services for 200 small business that signed up via the test banner on the QuickBooks website, which remained open for a short time in service of the test.

In a way, testing is not over, and won’t be even when QuickBooks Live drops on June 3.

“There won’t be a tremendous amount of marketing until August,” Preece said. “We will allow [QBL] to organically grow because we’re continuing to learn the consumption relative to cost model.”

Who does Intuit want?

Intuit counts approximately 144,000 QuickBooks ProAdvisors in the United States, 44,000 of whom are Certified. For the first six months of QuickBooks Live being in operation, Intuit will hire Certified ProAdvisors who have already been working on the company’s TurboTax Live product, a similar concept to QuickBooks Live but for tax preparers.

“They already have equipment, training, have been background checked, and know how it works,” Preece explained.

After that first six months, Preece anticipates this group will have been exhausted, and Intuit will move on to hiring from the larger Certified ProAdvisor group. Becoming certified is free.

Bookkeeper compensation

In addition to working out the kinks of the process, the months of dry-testing have also helped Intuit figure out how to price QuickBooks Live, and compensate the live bookkeepers. Preece said Intuit will take two to three months to answer that question fully.

“We deeply have to understand how to price QuickBooks Live to ensure we understand consumption, and the right amount to pay accounting professionals,” Preece said. “In all the work we’ve done so far in Boise, we have a tremendous amount of info on how much people spend on the first and second month. When a new client comes to a bookkeeper, they have a lot of questions and clean up and set up in the first month. We anticipate it normalizes by months three, four and five. Once we understand price point we’ll be a lot smarter with how much compensation will be on the accounting side. We need some more months to let that data sit.”

Keep an eye on the QuickBooks website for QuickBooks Live next week.

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