QuickBooks ProAdvisors — Changes to Intuit’s Find a ProAdvisor Website Launched Nationwide

QuickBooks ProAdvisors — Changes to Intuit’s Find a ProAdvisor Website Launched Nationwide

The Find-a-ProAdvisor website receives over 400,000 unique visitors annually.  These small business owners (SBOs) and QuickBooks users are looking for someone to help them with QuickBooks.  The Find-a-ProAdvisor website is a a great source of leads, referrals and new clients for many QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors (you must be certified to be listed).  Thus, when Intuit makes changes to the Find-a-ProAdvisor website, we want to know what changed and how will it impact me?  Hopefully this blog post will help answer those questions. 

First, I want to clarify a few points in the interest of full disclosure:

  • I have a close relationship with Intuit.  I’m one of their national trainers, write courses for Intuit Academy and consult with product development.  I  try to represent accounting professionals and  when necessary, I contact Intuit to convey comments, feedback or complaints that I hear from accounting professionals.
  • I have my own business and I’m an Advanced Certified ProAdvisor so I’m impacted by these changes too.  I’m usually the first one listed in the Kansas City area (including the various suburban cities) since I’ve been Certified since 2004, have other certifications, ratings, etc.  I get a lot of referrals and clients from the Find-a-ProAdvisor website.
  • Ian Vacin, Intuit Product Manager for the ProAdvisor Program, wrote a letter explaining what changed, why things changed and more here. I would encourage you to read his letter too.

What Has Changed?

When someone searches the Find-a-ProAdvisor website, they enter a zip code and can select a range of 5-500 miles (the default is 30 miles).  They see the search results of Certified ProAdvisors who meet this criteria (92 in my area, 387 in New York and 361 in LA).  The initial search results are based on several different factors including:  advanced certification, certified in current year, number of years certified,  other certifications (QuickBooks Enterprise and/or QuickBooks Point of Sale), ratings, distance and picture on profile.  Advanced Certified ProAdvisors are almost always listed first and for several pages in many metro areas.  Most  users will use the initial search results to contact a ProAdvisor and the rankings have not changed.

Select and Send Request

What has changed is the ability for a user to quickly select a ProAdvisor and send them a request. When the user mouse-overs over a name/profile, a Select button appears under the name.  If they click Select, then on the right they see the selected ProAdvisor and they can Send Request.  They can select several ProAdvisors and send a request to them all.

Plus, on each ProAdvisor’s profile page, there is a ‘Add to Selection’ button at the top.

When the user clicks on Send Request, an easy to complete form (as shown below) generates a confirmation email to the user and to the Selected ProAdvisors.  I encourage you to test it — select yourself and send a request so you will see the emails generated to the user and ProAdvisor.

  • I like this change!  Providing the ability to Select and Send Request makes it much easier for users.  Hopefully this will lead to more referrals and requests for us!  Plus, I like that the request is via email instead of a phone call.
  • According to Eric de Guzman (Intuit engineering team) and Ian Vacin (Intuit Product Manager) “our studies have shown that making it easier for SBO’s to contact you with fewer clicks of the mouse (and not requiring cut-and-paste or going to another room to borrow a pen to note it on a planner) do help generate more opportunities for you to add more clients.   It’s an especially helpful nudge to those SBO’s who may have a tendency to procrastinate.”

Instead of an Advanced Search button, the QuickBooks user looking for help can click on Refine Results (to select Products You Use, Services You Need or Your Industry).   They can also Sort By various factors including name, distance, certifications or highest rated.

  • The option to Sort by Highest Rated is one of the bugs Intuit is aware of and currently working to fix.  It is not calculating properly so a person with one 5 star rating can show before someone with numerous 5 star ratings.

Help Me Choose

The Help Me Choose button (as shown in the screen shot above) is new.  If the user doesn’t know who to select from the initial search results, they can click on Help Me Choose.   Clicking on the Help Me Choose provides them with four ProAdvisors — two Advanced Certified and two Certified ProAdvisors.  These four are selected from the initial search results and will be rotated providing the user with choices from newer Certified ProAdvisors to Advanced Certified ProAdvisors.

  • Note:  The Help Me Choose results will not change unless you change the search criteria or actually send a request to those ProAdvisors.  To change the search criteria, you would need to change the number of miles, select a Product, etc.   I changed the distance and product (to search for QuickBooks Online) and in both cases I did see different search results.
  • However, when I choose a product of QuickBooks Enterprise or QuickBooks Point of Sale, I would expect the results to include only ProAdvisors with those certifications.  It appears to list ProAdvisors who indicated that they support that product as part of their profile information.  This makes sense for most products (QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Mac, etc.) so I’m not sure if this is a bug or as intended.
  • Some ProAdvisors are concerned that the Help Me Choose seems to imply an endorsement from Intuit for these four people.  The four people are a subset of all Certified ProAdvisors in the search results so wouldn’t Intuit be endorsing all Certified ProAdvisors?  Any Certified ProAdvisor can and will show up in the Help Me Choose results on a rotated basis.   Help Me Choose just helps the confused or overwhelmed user narrow down the search results.
  • My Suggestion for a change:  I would like to see the default distance changed to 10 miles instead of 30 miles (at least in metropolitan areas with a lot of Certified ProAdvisors).  Then, the Help Me Choose Results would provide ProAdvisors closer to the actual location.

How Will the Changes Affect Me?

For Small Business Owners or QuickBooks Users:

Hopefully the Select and Send Request will help users more efficiently contact ProAdvisors who might be able to help.  For users who are overwhelmed by the number of ProAdvisors in the search results, hopefully the Help Me Choose will help by providing them with fewer choices representing a variety of ProAdvisors (from newer to advanced) to meet their needs.

For Advanced Certified ProAdvisors

I think the Select and Send Request will help provide more contacts and hopefully referrals.  Since Advanced Certified ProAdvisors are usually at the top of the list, this should benefit you.

For the Help Me Choose, two of the four ProAdvisors will be Advanced Certified and should be listed first (after it is fixed).  Hopefully this will help the users connect with a ProAdvisor instead of being overwhelmed and not connecting with anyone.

For Certified ProAdvisors

The Help Me Choose should help you receive more referrals since half of the results will be Certified ProAdvisors.

In some areas, the Select and Send Request will help you too.  However, in those areas where there are a lot of Advanced Certified ProAdvisors, you still may not be listed high enough for this to help you.  Continue to pursue your certifications and earn the Advanced Certification.

My Conclusion on the Changes

I think the Select and Send Request should help facilitate more connections and referrals which will probably benefit Advanced Certified ProAdvisor more since they are at the top of the list.
The Help Me Choose should provide Certified ProAdvisors with more opportunities for referrals which they may not receive otherwise.  I think it is important to help provide them with some referrals and connections as well so they remain ProAdvisors and work towards the Advanced Certification.

Advanced Certified ProAdvisors still have a definite advantage on the Find-a-ProAdvisor website.  We usually take up the first page (or multiple pages) of the initial search results.  We get the majority of the referrals and calls from the Find a ProAdvisor website.  Since we have been certified for so many years, it is extremely difficult (or impossible) for other, newer Certified ProAdvisors to get any referrals from the website.

Advanced Certified ProAdvisors represent a small minority of ProAdvisors (based on my rough calculations – less than 10% are Advanced Certified) but we probably receive the vast majority (if not all) of the referrals from the Find-a-ProAdvisor website.  We have a big advantage (monopoly?) on the Find-a-ProAdvisor website which has benefited us disproportionately for years.  Remember — I get a lot of referrals and business from the website too!  However, I get calls from people who are not a good fit for me and would be better suited for another (or newer) Certified ProAdvisor.  If the Help Me Choose helps someone find and contact them initially, then I’m ok with it.  Advanced Certified ProAdvisors still have an advantage in the Help Me Chose (as 50% of those listed and at the top of the list).

As Eric mentioned, “we are hoping that you will give this new Find-a-ProAdvisor version a chance to succeed… but at the same time, please don’t hold-back on the feedback… especially about bugs in which I’m mostly interested in. Thank you all for your help and understanding. Like it or not, we are all in this together. :-)”

Please post your thoughts and comments below.


13 thoughts on “QuickBooks ProAdvisors — Changes to Intuit’s Find a ProAdvisor Website Launched Nationwide

  1. Todd Smitherman

    I sent a request to myself, as Michelle suggested. I noticed that there were two fields on the request form that were optional: Number of employees, and a comment box. Even though I filled in both of those fields, neither one appeared on the contact email I received – only the name, email address and phone number. What good is the comment box if the ProAdvisor does not get that information in the email?

  2. Stacey Byrne

    Upon receiving one of the new leads last week, I contacted the client in the time frame they requested. They never got back to me.

    It was interesting to track my sales by lead type. Found that 97% of my business comes from referrals by existing clients and their CPA tax preparers. Only 3-4% of my income comes from referrals from the FAPA website and most of them are not quality clients. I have only come across 2 clients who found me on the FAPA site since being certified in version 2007 that have turned into long term clients.

    The biggest value for me in the Pro Advisor membership is technical support, followed by the ability to use the Intuit logos on my website and business cards. Payroll for accountants also has its benefits.

    I am hopeful that the changes they are making will encourage more QUALITY leads, not just the price shoppers and free advice seekers. However since the first lead I received never got back to me, I am not sure what to expect going forward.

  3. Joanne Baker

    Michelle, I am glad you posted this. I got a lead last week, and forwarded it to spoof@intuit.com, since it looked so strange. I got an e-mail back from Intuit that they were aware of the spamming!
    Then, I followed your suggestion to send myself a lead, as a test. I hate the new system, since it ignores my profile that says I will contact a new lead withing THREE business days. I do not always have the ability to contact someone withing ONE business day.
    Also, the prospective lead doesn’t have to tell us what they need. Some of us pro advisors do bookkeeping, some do taxes, some do not. How about a check list the lead can use to tell us what they want?
    I answered the e-mail I got from Intuit that says “will you follow up or not” but the web page button to submit comment is broken and I cannot tell Intuit my comments. This is obviously a work in progress.

  4. Joanne Resnick

    I’ve seen the “help me choose” 4 suggestions show ProAdvisors that are certified last in 2010. I would like to see the criteria to show up in this “help me choose” search that a ProAdvisor be certified in the current year. I don’t think it looks good if you help choose someone who is not keeping up with the program certifcations.

    I am happy to hear that they are still working on the “sort” issues. In my area, the “certification” and “highest rank” sort are also not working properly. If you choose either of these sort types, the system brings up a list that is not always correct by those sort types. If I then click the “go” button next to the zip codes the sort resets itself and comes up with the correct list by that sort type chosen.
    Needless to say, I will watch the site this week for changes.

  5. Rebecca Neilson

    Living in a rural area it is not unusual for me to travel 20-25 miles one way to get to a client. I factor in traveling time on those that are somewhat off the grid, and my clients accept that. But if they used the current site they probably would never find me. There is always some shake down time when changes are made and I am willing to see what happens.

  6. Laura

    I agree with the distance change. One of the requests I received this week was out of my normal onsite range.

    It might also be useful to incorporate Remote and Onsite work settings in our profile. A lot of us do remote work so distance is not an issue. The PA referral system does not account for that possibility.

    Another thing I would like added is the requirement of the seeker to include information. One request only had an e-mail address, phone number and zip code. This was the first request using this new process. I deleted it because I thought it was spam. I guess I missed Intuit’s announcement on their new system.

  7. Keith Gormezano, Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and Quicken Expert in Seattle

    I agree with your suggestion that the default distance in large metropolitan areas should be changed to 10 miles. One could easily write some code that if particular zip codes or the first three numbers (981XX) are chosen, then the results would reflect that.

    However, from what I have heard from my customers, they already shop by distance anyway because they perceive that someone 30 miles away would not come to them. Perhaps, Intuit needs to add a field for maximum distance the ProAdvisor is willing to travel to get around that limitation when larger distances are chosen by the customer or by default.

    1. Michelle Long Post author

      Good comments ‘Murph’ & Keith. Good suggestion on the distance criteria Keith. However, I think it would need to indicate how many miles would you travel for onsite support. I support clients nationwide via remote access. Also, sometimes clients are willing to pay for travel expenses for someone to come onsite. So, it gets more challenging and complicated to try to program it.

      Maybe there should be no default and the user would have to choose the distance themselves??? Maybe it isn’t that important and Intuit will leave it as is (default of 30 miles). 🙂

  8. William Murphy

    I have received 6 of the new request messages from the website within the last 4 days; 2 of them came in a slightly different format, the last 4 were all identical in format, I chalk it up to it not being fully working when the first 2 came.

    I really find this change preferable to simply getting a call because it give us the ability to know exactly to whom we are speaking and some basic information about them including the problem, issue or interest they have (aka: looking for set-up help, or needing training, etc.) ahead of time.

    The Find A ProAdvisor website has always been an excellent source of referrals, but now it is not only ‘information’ for the individual needing the help, but provides us with basic lead information we otherwise might not have received.

    Now what would really be nice is if this information could ‘flow’ directly into the ‘lead center’ of our 2012 QuickBooks file…….wouldn’t that be something.

    William “Bill” Murphy – Oklahoma City

  9. Roger Chanc

    I saw your blog on changes to the web site. I personally do not like your suggestion to change to 10 miles. I get most of my new clients through the web site and referrals from other Proadvisors and clients. I travel the St Louis area including small outlying towns. I go to areas that other ProAdvisors will not go because of the distance. I believe my job as an accountant and business consultant is to provide good quality services to small businesses giving them the added knowledge for them to run their business without having to hire an employee(s) with HR, financiang and other business management skills which most cannot afford but need. A lot of my clients are in the 30+ mile area. My rates are lower than most. Am I making alot of money, no. Am I helping businesses get back on their feet and move from a loss situation to profitability, yes. Am I helping these small businesses understand what their costs are and how to run and read reports to watch what is going on, yes. Am I helping these small businesses create new jobs, yes. That is my goal. If you limit the area there are some small businesses that need my help that would not know I am out there ready to help them.