At this time of year, time is our most valuable resource. I know this is the time of the year, I am either pleased with some of my choices along the year or I start making lists of what I need to do better this next year. So, when doing this review, I had a different view than I might normally. How nice would it be to make sure you had a way to communicate easily and effectively with your clients in a secure way? Are there prospects or clients you wish you had talked to more throughout the year? Are there communications you would like to get out quickly to your entire client base?
For me, being an accountant isn't about creating a financial statement and processing tax returns. It is about working with clients to help them build successful businesses. It means staying abreast on all the inputs that affect doing business. And in today's business world, one of the first things you do after you decide to start a business is to set up a website. It is a quick an inexpensive way to allow prospective clients know who you are. In this review we are going to take a look at a few website building tools that you as an accountant can use to ensure you are staying ahead of your clients. Not to mention, with the products that were reviewed you can really put together a very good communication tool for you and your clients.
Here is a list of the Web Site Builder products that were reviewed:
• Website Relief, Accountants World
• WebBuilder CS, Thomson Reuters
• ProSystem Fx Site Builder, CCH
• Intuit Websites
Each program uses the latest and greatest technology. The biggest difference you will see in each program is on what type of tools, how well they integrate with their other programs and/or their competitors programs. Let's take a look and see how which one of these programs might work best for you.
Price: $595/year or $59/month
While there are many choices available to accountants to build a website, Accountants World Website Relief opens a realm of possibilities that uplifts the accountant's professional practice in very innovative ways.
The company believes that the strength of its products include built-in content designed specifically for accountants to help them project the perfect image for their firm; built-in content and tools for clients and website visitors (newsletters, daily news feeds, electronic broadcasts, financial and payroll calculators, tax center, full functional portal); access to search engine marketing tools to grow and monitor the firm's web presence.
Website Relief is a top-quality website builder. In fact, it is definitely much more than a website tool. It is an extension of your firm image and presence. The tools available can help you stay on top of keeping your website fresh and updated without you spending a lot of your time doing it.
If you provide payroll service, you can set up a page to offer a quote for the service. So, if a potential client searches for payroll in your area, your page can come up and they can go there, see what you have to offer, and if they are interested they can enter their information for you to send them a quote.
The ability to set up groups that include different types of clients and prospects is another fabulous tool. You can create a mailing, a newsletter, a tax update or anything and quickly send it out to your intended groups. It is a huge timesaver or actually, a huge benefit that you might not ever do if you didn't have the tools available.
For either $595/year or $59/month it is a steal! To see a great example of what is possible with this product, go to http://www.accountantsworld.com/power/Practice/Solutions/WebsiteRelief-Showcase.aspx.
If you are serious about wanting a website that is ease to use and would be an enhancement to your firm, I would highly recommend spending some time reviewing this product.
Web Builder CS
Price: $595 per year or $59 per month
Web Builder CS
An easy-to-use online tool, Web Builder CS guides you through the website creation process step by step. Designed especially for the accounting profession, Web Builder CS makes it simple to create and customize a website via the use of professional templates, sample text, a variety of tax- and accounting-related pages and add-on features such as calculators and newsletters.
Content is provided by such trusted sources as Forefield Knowledge Trust and PPC Tax and Business Alerts. There is built-in professionally worded text that you can be used or customized to help you get started and up and running quickly. In addition, there are flash demos that you can be customized with a firm's name and contact info to demonstrate your NetClient CS and Payroll CS products.
The software has integration capabilities that enable users to access a dashboard on NetClient that provides the ability to work with all CS products from one secure portal.
As the products continue to grow you can be sure you will see more and more integration not available in other product lines.
• Tools - You can provide your clients training right from the website. It enables you to utilize the professional created training provide by Thomson Reuters as a tool that you can brand as your own personal training.
The big news for this product is that Thomson Reuters recently acquired Emochila. At the present time it is business as usual for both companies. If you use either of these products there is no change.
If you are looking for new website software you will be sent to the Emochila product and that was the product that was provided for review. You now not only get the power of full line of integrated products but you also get added practice management tools that allow you to send out email blasts with your own customized logo that looks like your website, blogs and updates that feed out to your social networks and the ability to sign you up with local accounting directories.
The website builder product is easy to use. You can set up your own site or you can pay the extra fees to have your own personalized website set up. There are two options for $999 you get a static website or for $1,999 you get an animated website. These are one-time fees.
These products are professionally designed and are your own product when you are done. You also get an account manager assigned to you that will work with you make sure you are satisfied and who will update your website in the future as you need it.
For $70 a month it is definitely provides you with a great value for the cost.
To see a great example of what is possible with this product, go to Template (Free): www.cpahomepage.com Static: www.mytaxesaredone.com www.ronaldbanks.com and www.vpbcpas.com Animated: www.terranovacpa.com, www.hecoxcpas.com, and www.strategicvaluegroup.com.
If you already own other Thomson Reuters products you absolutely need to take a look and add this product. If you are not, you still need to take a good look it. The product is easy to use, it flexible, professional and has all the tools you will need to easily make this a profitable part of your business.
ProSystem fx Site Builder
Price: standard website, $1,290 (first year); and then $995 per year.
ProSystem fx Site Builder
With this product, CCH has a different marketing strategy than the others in the review. It takes the position that your clients prefer to do their financial transactions online.
Chances are most of your clients are comfortable functioning in he online world. In fact, it's probably their preferred way to pay bills, conduct banking and make investments. So when it comes to their tax and accounting needs, they're most likely going to expect the same kind of online convenience from your accounting firm.
Among the tools that CCH says sets its product apart is its expansive tools for Search Engine Optimization that can increase your website ranking by adding relevant key words to each page.
Website designs can also be selected from a growing collection of styles, with just a click of a button. Users can easily add CCH Tax Alerts, Tax Guides, Financial Tools and Premium Content.
In addition, CCH provides the Business Owner's Toolkit, an award-winning content package that is designed to help your small-business owner clients and would-be entrepreneurs start, run and grow their own small businesses
The company also gives you a dedicated account manager who understands your firm's image and needs and stays with you as long as you are a client. Having someone who can help you by sharing items that were successful with other clients and suggest marketing ideas is priceless.
Site Builder is a high-quality product. In the past year, CCH has done a great job of adding updates to make this one of the top if not the top product in this area. The company has added more functionality to increase your visibility on search engines, along with the ability to work with social media.
The content on this product is outstanding that are accompanied by many tools within the content that you could use to add services. You can pull marketing campaigns from the content. And there is the ability to have monthly emarketing of Newsletters.
Site Builder has many features that can make a small firm extremely competitive with the larger firms. The standard website is $1,290 for the first year and then $995 per year after that. The price is more than reasonable for the amount of productivity you gain and image you can present.
• For an example of what some of the sites look like go to www.dchcpas.com, http://dchcpas.com/info_center.html (includes the standard and premium content offerings available) or www.dchcpas-custom.com .
If you are using any CCH products you really want to think about adding this onto your suite. If you are not using CCH products you might want to start here... It is a product that you will earn back every penny you spend. I would take a strong look at this product.
Mountain View, Calif.
Price: $7.99, $19.99 or $49.99 per month
Intuit assumes having a website is a natural part of doing business. And the company values ease-of-use in providing website tools to small business. That is why the company says it makes it easy for customers to get on the web.
Intuit provides the ability to develop a site at an affordable price while maintaining control over content and having the ability to update the site without extra fees. Customers get the support of a team of web advisors and monitor clients to ensure they are getting the most from their purchase. Purchasers also have the ability to contact other business owners on what is effective for them online.
Design tools allow text dragging and dropping, adding images and other elements to make a website in minutes. They have you pick a design, customize it to fit your needs and then show the world. They do not focus exclusively on accountants and offer over 2,000 fully functional website templates that already incorporate basic images and text appropriate for the type of business represented by that website design.
Intuit has the easiest and most flexible do-it-yourself website tools. Templates can be customized so that even a "canned" template can be tailored for a firm's use.
Editing tools can be used to add pictures and edit them on the site. Add-on products can increase your ranking on search engines. And the product has excellent marketing tools that can really help streamline the process to attract new clients.
Intuit has updated the ability to take payments from your clients via Paypal to other options. You have the ability to connect to all social media. By using their website you get signed up to over 100 directories to allow people to find you very easily. They have several purchase options. You can pay $7.99, $19.99 or $49.99 per month depending on your needs. It is a wonderful product.
Here are some examples:
Basic website: http://www.edenicecider.com/
E-commerce site: http://www.fenadesigns.com
E-commerce with SimpleStore for Facebook: http://www.ArinMadison.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arin-Madison-Fine-Children-Accessories/255254967828084?sk=app_163689600379405
The downside on this product is that unlike all the products in the review it is not geared specifically for accountants. Therefore, it lacks the strong tax and accounting content and tools that make the other products attractive.
However, for those that don't need the customized wording and added content, this is a great product at a very inexpensive price point regardless of which package you choose. It is definitely a great product to suggest to your clients who need a professional website and at great cost.
Now that you have read this, get a plan in place to take advantage of the tools that are available for you. All of these products are quick and easy to get set up. You can at least start to have a web presence at a time when it is vital to your business. If you have a website but are not thrilled it with it, you will now have some added knowledge to make an informed switch as soon as tax season is over!
Either way, determine your needs and start using one of these outstanding products as soon as possible. It will help increase your profits by saving your time and adding the ability to enhance your communications with your clients and prospects.