The 6th annual Sleeter QuickBooks conference kicked off last week with opening statements from Doug Sleeter, founder and president of The Sleeter Group, an organization of QuickBooks consultants and advisors.
Sleeter began offering QuickBooks conferences in 1997 with regional conferences around the country. The first national conference was in 2004, making the 2009 conference the sixth annual national event. While there are many attendees who return year after year, approximately 22 percent of the conference attendees are new participants, according to Sleeter,
More than 400 attendees meeting in Orlando, FL spent four days networking with other QuickBooks accountants and consultants, learning about the latest features of the 2010 version of QuickBooks, and so much more. The attendance at “every conference you go to this year has been down, and we’re up from last year, so I’m kicking my heels!” Sleeter said.
Overall, The Sleeter Group has about 600 members world-wide. According to the company Web site, consultants in the international network help clients set up, troubleshoot, and enhance accounting systems by integrating financial software, such as QuickBooks, with other software and hardware.
The Sleeter Group Certified members have passed a rigorous exam in QuickBooks troubleshooting techniques. Many are also experts in other systems such as Microsoft Office Accounting, Peachtree, Oracle Small Business Suite, BillQuick Time and Billing, Fishbowl Inventory, Results CRM, PayCycle Online Payroll, Legrand CRM, and many other small business accounting and add-on solutions.
“Our people are focused on smaller organizations, we go in and set them up on QuickBooks, train them on how to use the data, and then we go in every month and clean up the messes where they didn’t listen to us,” Sleeter said to a loud round of laughter from the conference audience.
“We’re now evolving into business process consultants. Some of us are doing outsourced accounting services; that’s kind of a new thing that’s coming back – there’s now a whole new set of capabilities that we have, working in the cloud,” Sleeter continued. ”Through this group [present at this year’s conference] we reach over 300,000 clients per year.”
Sleeter also sang the praises of new and relatively new options and features available to SGCN members. The Sharefile portal, for example, available on the Sleeter Group Web site for all SGCN members, has evolved from “oh yeah, it sort of works, to OH YEAH!”
Each year at the Sleeter conference, awards are given to innovative software programs, Web-based applications, and services that help enhance QuickBooks by giving users additional tools for managing their businesses. This year's Awesome Add-Ons were given to nine products.
Allesandria Polizzi, leader at Intuit's APD Academy for Customer & Employees, discussed the importance of the Sleeter conference to Intuit's QuickBooks ProAdvisor program. "One of the advantages is the feedback we get. We're customer-driven, and [the conference attendees] definitely want to share their opinions."
Most of the attendees at the Sleeter conference are already Certified ProAdvisors, Polizzi noted. Intuit provides the ProAdvisor certification to QuickBooks advisors who pass a certification course. Many of the classes offered at the Sleeter conference prepare QuickBooks ProAdvisors for certification. Once certified, QuickBooks ProAdvisors are listed on Intuit's Find a ProAdvisor Web site. "You get exposure, brand, and credibility", said Allison Ball, senior program manager, certifications and partner relations at Intuit.