Extending QuickBooks with Fishbowl Inventory

Millions of small and medium businesses use QuickBooks, at least according to maker Intuit that pegs the number around four million. Add in micro businesses using Quicken as the entry point, and who knows how high that number goes. But no product does everything, and if you need serious inventory support for thousands and thousands of items, you may find yourself looking at a name you never saw before: Fishbowl Inventory.

When Intuit opened their developer kimono to let other companies tie into QuickBooks, the parent company of Fishbowl was ready. By 2003 they had the most popular inventory system add-on in the QuickBooks catalog.

“We were doing some inventory control software development for another company,” says Fishbowl CEO Dave Williams, “when we found out Intuit was coming out with their software development kit. We went whole hog.”

Their sweet spot is wholesale distribution and light manufacturing companies. When you get 100,000 parts and more to count and manage, or need to coordinate multiple warehouses, QuickBooks can't keep up. As companies grow, the relatively weak inventory functions in QuickBooks can be a real problem, making for a hard decision.

Once you swim upstream from QuickBooks Enterprise, you've left the world of affordable software. “Companies are looking at moving away from QuickBooks and spending up to $200,000 to replace it,” says Williams. “We offer a way to stick with QuickBooks and expand it for $30,000 to $50,000. Most companies find that an easy choice.”

There's the lingering impression that QuickBooks tags users as “small” companies, no doubt an impression fostered by competition. But reworking the accounting guts of your company hurts, and costs enormous amounts of money, time, retraining, and lost focus on the important parts of your business.

“Some companies really use our inventory software as the front end of all their accounting operations,” says Williams, “and leave the general ledger part of QuickBooks in the background.” If you're a distributor, that makes sense. Many more of your employees will be focused on moving inventory in and out than on accounts receivable and payroll.

Surprisingly, many of the customers that buy Fishbowl Inventory are still using pencils and paper pads or spreadsheets to manage their inventory. One recent customer, a furniture maker with revenues north of $50 million per year, just upgraded from paper.

Worried about making that type of leap but making a mistake on your software and not realizing it until too late to get your money back? Don't worry, that's a common fear because you don't really know enough about the software until you've lived with it for months. That's why Fishbowl just announced their new customer satisfaction guarantee.

“More than 92 percent of companies that receive training after 90 to 120 days will renew their yearly support maintenance contracts,” says Williams. In other words, if you buy the software and get the necessary training to be successful, you and the software will get along fine. If not, Fishbowl will refund 100 percent of the cost of the software purchase.

Grow and expand without worrying about buying the wrong software: that's a pretty good guarantee. And you get to keep the QuickBooks you're used to as part of the deal.

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