Which Version of QuickBooks Is Best for Ad Specialty Distributors?
There are five versions of QuickBooks, each designed for specific applications, and the ad specialty business was not one of their selected specifics. Ours is a complex and unique business. We require both order management and accounting to handle the “big data” that our orders generate, and we need to produce three critical order forms in addition to tracking profitability.
Knowing our business and having examined all five versions, the best choice for most ad specialty distributors is QuickBooks Premier:
- It is designed for a business with less than 20 employees and less than $1,000,000 in annual sales
- It can support up to five simultaneous users, with the purchase of additional licenses.
- By way of a single input form, it produces our three critical order forms: customer sales orders, supplier purchase orders and customer invoices.
- It keeps a history of bank and credit card reconciliations (needed if you are audited).
The Premier version also offers some additional specificity in the form of “industry specific editions”.
For us, the best edition match is the Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition.
The Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition of QuickBooks Premier—when properly set up—is a very good accounting software program for ad specialty distributors. And it is surprisingly affordable. A 2015 edition—single license—is $499.99, and there are no further fees until the recommended upgrade. The software is supported for three years. After three years, it is best to upgrade to the current version. An effective cost of around $167 per year for this software is more than reasonable. And, you can often find it at a discounted price.
As mentioned, there are other QuickBooks versions:
QuickBooks On-line: This is for basic start-up companies without purchase orders. Intuit is pushing this mightily right now and making upgrades, but for the time being, it is not a good choice for an ad specialty distributor. Also, it is charged on a monthly basis, and it is only accessible if and when your internet is up and running.
QuickBooks Mac: This is designed specifically for Mac computers. It requires a specially-trained QuickBooks expert to teach users how to use it, of which there are few. In my experience, distributors who use Mac computers purchase QuickBooks Premier and run it on a parallel Windows system.
QuickBooks Pro: This is a simplified version of QuickBooks Premier. Pro does not allow for sales orders, which is the central input screen for our critical three-order forms. It also does not keep a history of reconciliations. It is not the best choice for an ad specialty distributor, but it is the version that accountants and CPA’s not familiar with our business will most likely recommend. (You have to experience our business to appreciate its complexity.)
QuickBooks Enterprise: This is QuickBooks’ top-of-the-line offering. It is designed for large businesses with more than $1,000,000 in sales and 20 to 250 employees. It is beyond the needs of most ad specialty distributors, and it costs thousands of dollars.
Harriet Gatter, owner of Accounting Support LLC, was an ad specialty distributor for 23 years and an adjunct professor of accounting at Neumann University. She sold her ad specialty business in 2012, became certified as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and now works exclusively with ad specialty distributors nationwide on their QuickBooks and accounting needs.
Please email accounting questions you would like considered for the column to HGatter@AccountingSupportLLC.com with the subject line of "Ask the Accountant."