March 24, 2009
When facing uncertain economic times, investing in new technology can often feel like a crapshoot – even when that technology stands to save you both time and money. That's why the makers of Fishbowl Inventory for QuickBooks, an inventory management application – decided to offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee to all of its new customers.
If you're unfamiliar with Fishbowl Inventory, it is client/server-based software designed to integrate with Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software. According to Fishbowl's CEO David Williams, Fishbowl Inventory offers small-to-medium-sized businesses affordable access to advanced multi-location inventory control, point-of-sale, manufacturing, distribution, serial/lot number tracking, pick/pack and ship functions.
While you can also use Fishbowl Inventory as a stand-alone product to track assets (IT equipment, for example), Williams said that most of the their customers – from startups to mature companies with revenues of up to 100 million dollars – use it with QuickBooks.
"Take, for example, a company with one or two people using QuickBooks," said Williams. "As companies grow, Fishbowl Inventory lets them stay with QuickBooks longer than they might otherwise. It does the heavy lifting while QuickBooks becomes the ledger."
The program is designed so that all of the front-end customers use the Fishbowl interface instead of opening QuickBooks. The invoicing, profit-and-loss – any data that needs to appear on the financial statement – gets pushed to QuickBooks, Williams said.
The company counts many startup businesses among its customer ranks (40 percent of its sales are to companies with two simultaneous QuickBooks users or less), a fact Williams attributes to the long lifecycle Fishbowl Inventory affords QuickBooks users. "We have customers that started with five or 10 simultaneous users and now many of them have 30, 40 or 50," he said.
He added that Fishbowl Inventory is being compared with higher-end programs such as Sage MAS 90, 200 and 500, Microsoft Dynamics and even SAP. "There's a bid dead space between integrating with QuickBooks and the high end," said Williams. "We play the small-to-middle space, and I don't know of a single customer that's left Fishbowl because we couldn't handle its inventory needs."
Here's how it works: customers have up to six months after they purchase Fishbowl Inventory to use the product and to complete a minimum of 20 hours of training. Training can take place on the customer site (i.e., a Fishbowl rep comes out to train the individuals who will use the program), at Fishbowl's physical location or online.
Once they've completed training, they then have 60 days to decide whether they're happy with the product. If the customer isn't satisfied, they then have another 30 daysto return the software and Fishbowl will refund 100 percent of the software cost.
Williams said the preferred method for training is on the customer's site so they can see how people really work with their own processes. The key to being satisfied, said Williams, is training.
"The magic and the gold is in the training," said Williams. "Among our customers who completed the training, we have a 92 percent renewal rate.
He added that Fishbowl Inventory has done exceedingly well in the Intuit Marketplace – where third-party companies offer applications specifically designed to work with QuickBooks. "We're very proud that, since 2004, we have been the number one requested add-on software out of more than 400 applications," he said.
Pricing for Fishbowl Inventory varies depending on the number of simultaneous users you employ. A single-user license costs $1,900, which includes the first year of maintenance, support and training. A five-user license costs just under $6,000.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com