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20 Percent of Buyers Don't Stick with QuickBooks

Kiran PatelOne out of five people who purchase QuickBooks don't end up using it, Kiran Patel, EVP and general manager of Intuit's Small Business Group, told attendees at Intuit's annual Investors' Day yesterday. Patel made the point to show how much revenue Intel could generate if it can pick up more of these users and those who bail on other Intuit products.

That rate implies there are many thousands of users who leave the software sitting on their shelves. For the year ended July 31, Intuit sold 1.6 million QuickBooks units, along with providing 224,000 free Simple Start activations.

"We get them into the franchise, and we lose them at a rate that’s unacceptable," Patel said. "One out of five QuickBooks customers never gets through the entire product." Patel added the company has studied the problem and thinks it knows where users drop out.

One of those places is installation and Patel said the upcoming QuickBooks 2010 features significant improvements to the procedure. The product goes from 17 screens and 11 minutes in a typical installation of QuickBooks 2009 to six screens and four minutes invested in the new version. Patel noted if Intuit can hold these customers it can sell them upgrades, payroll products and additional services. Company studies show that over five years, Intuit gets three times the original purchase price in revenue from users.

Although no statistics were provided for the high end of the line, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, statistics previously reported have indicated a relative large fall off exists in that customer base. Intuit once reported the number of QBES units sold, but switched to active users in fiscal year 2008. However, past financial reports showed that 35,000 units were sold in fiscal 2005 through 2007 while when the new counting method was implement, there were 27,000 active customers at the end of fiscal 2007.

Intuit also outlined new product developments which include the following.

*Mobile. Seven products in the market, 17 more in R&D
*Healthcare. Testing payment to doctors through Quicken Expense Tracker
*Global. Offering Quicken technology through Intuit Money Manager in Indian and other companies.

CEO Brad Smith gave the most detailed description of how the company plans to make money on the Expense Tracker, which is designed to enable consumers to understand statement from health care plans. The product is free to the consumer and contains prepopulated data from the providers. It has been tested by Sigma Health Care and United Health Care and will be offered by Medical Mutual of Ohio by year's end. Smith said by putting a payments feature in the software, consumers who have used the package have paid doctors 18 days faster and many doctors want to buy the service.

In the international market, Intuit has conducted its marketing studies - its "Follow-Me-Home" studies - in 11 countries. In the next six months, it will offer Intuit Money Manager, which utilizes Quicken technology, to give users in India a picture of their finances. Intuit also plans to offer Mobile CRM, which was being tested during the summer, to help small businesses in cell-phone-based marketing.


Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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