Coopetition

Carrie KahnProAdvisor

There is fear of competition in our industry. People worry that someone is going to steal your ideas and your clients. If there is something you are truly doing different, you certainly don’t want to share your “secret sauce.” I also have this fear, and when I am comfortable talking to other professionals, I want to share. Sometimes my gut screams “NO,” and I stop. Always listen to your gut!

As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor that sells and supports QuickBooks products you need to keep in mind a few things, there are a lot of customers out there, and we are all “fishing from an ocean.” There is plenty of business to go around. With the changes in the different software offerings for QuickBooks, it has opened up so many niches that allow us to serve even more vertical and businesses.

What is the best approach to take advantage of this growing customer base? Can you learn all the different add-on programs, understand each unique niche, get certified in all the offerings? Accept every call that comes across your desk? Hire lots of staff to cover the different areas of expertise? The industries you can focus on is widespread. There is point-of-sale, non-profit, construction, restaurants, car dealerships, hair salons, gym memberships, real estate, and much more. There are so many opportunities; you just need to find the one you love.

Here are five things I recommend you do right away:

  1. Become a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, every year. As soon as the new certification is released, make it a priority to pass the new exam. Make sure you look good compared to your competition. Read our best tips about becoming a ProAdvisor here.
  2. NICHE – Figure out your niche. What types of projects make you excited to do your job? What do you feel like you are good at or would love to learn more? You can’t be the expert in everything so why not be the expert in one particular area! “Eat your own dogfood.” Become the go-to person for that particular niche. Then be the best you can be. Learn the best combination to recommend. Never stop learning!
  3. NETWORK – find other like minded people that help balance your practice. Build your team. Network with other people that fill the missing pieces of your practice. Join our referral network on Facebook. Click Here
  4. DON’T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE – join programs where you can earn money for recommending their products where and when feasible. Join affiliate/partner programs to make money while you sleep.
  5. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT – you don’t have to work with everyone you meet. Be selective, work with people who will provide the same level of customer service you would with your clients. Be sure to, communicate effectively with the person that referred the work so that they will want to keep sending work your way. Work with people that make you smile. You don’t have to work with everyone!

When you find your “go to person” to collaborate with, the next step is to negotiate terms. Decide who is going to bill the customer.  Do you want to refer work back and forth? Sometimes that’s the easiest thing to do. However, it may end up becoming one-sided, and you both may agree that a compensation plan is necessary. Some ideas can be to pay out a referral fee, set amount or perhaps 10% of the support fees billed. You could also pay the subcontractor at a discounted negotiated rate and mark it up to charge your client. There are many different ideas of how to work out an agreement. Make sure you have clear boundaries on who does what part of the project and that the customer remains yours.

Continue to check in with your customer. Request testimonials, so you understand the level of customer service they are receiving is similar to yours. To keep things super clear from the beginning you should consider a mutually agreed upon contract that both of you sign.