Market Focus: Accountants: Play the Numbers Game
Because CPAs are such trusted advisors, they influence many other consumers. “They’re more than their buying power,” says Heather Scarpero, director of Sage Software Accountants Network, an online network accounting professionals can join to get access to Sage accounting software products. “It’s how influential an accountant is to the small-business owner. Accountants have the ability to purchase for their own businesses, but they’re a true business advisor to small businesses, and small businesses depend on them for advice. That’s where they come into that influential role.”
Like many of their clients, plenty of CPAs are small-business owners themselves, so they go through the same trials and tribulations as, say, small graphic design firms or PR agencies. “They have challenges with hiring and retention, time management, workload compression [meaning there are certain times of the year when they’re swamped with work], and staying up-to-date with the latest guidelines and tax laws,” says Rothchild.
Accountants Spend Money, Too
Since many CPAs are small-business owners, they often buy office equipment and supplies, such as computers, computer peripherals, paper products and business-related magazines and books.
CPAs also are buyers of software, says Lynch, from time and billing software to contact manager programs. Because many CPAs’ clients also need products like payroll software and billing programs, some software manufacturers are targeting those consumers through CPAs. For example, “Intuit has set up a partner program for accountants so they can add another revenue stream to their firm in a consulting fashion,” says Lynch. “Once they become adept at using QuickBooks, if a client uses it and has an issue, the accountant can be a certified representative for Intuit and consult with the business clients, and bill them for those hours as well,” he explains.
Small-business owners like to bill themselves as “chief cook and bottle washer,” meaning they do everything from emptying the trash to building a business plan that will chart their business’s course for the next five years. However, no one is good at everything, so small-business owners typically need help in at least one area. According to Lynch, for CPAs (like many other business owners), that area is sales and marketing, and so they are interested in products and services that will help them attract clients. For example, The Rainmaker Consulting Group advertises its boot camp seminars that help CPAs bring in business via space ads in accounting publications, notes Lynch.