Cougar Mountain: Managing $ and Not Just Tracking it

Yesterday I had a delightful conversation with Jim Stone, Chief Operating Officer of accounting software vendor Cougar Mountain Software based in Boise, Idaho and in business since 1982.
Cougar Mountain’s three product offerings include:
1) Their bread and butter “all in one” solution for sales, inventory, accounting, and etc which competes directly with Quickbooks and Peachtree
2) Fund accounting software for non-profits such as schools, governments and notably many Red Cross chapters.
3) Point of Sales – this is a totally integrated solution that links with accounting and inventory. Jim explained that unlike solutions from Intuit and Microsoft, at the end of the day there’s no batch job needed to reconcile accounts. With batch job reconciliation of accounts (meaning not done in real time) it’s quite possible to sell an item you really don’t have.
Cougar Mountain’s new Denali product line is SQL based and with this upgrade will make it run more stable and faster.
Although Cougar Mountain is not nearly as large as Intuit or Sage, Cougar Mountain’s software is the product of choice, once companies realize they have outgrown QuickBooks or Peachtree and realize that these products can’t do for them what they thought it could do or need it to do.
Jim was “delighted” that Quickbooks finally had audit trails on all the time and wondered why it took them so long. He said that employee fraud is a HUGE concern of small business customers. Not having an audit trail only heightens this problem.
A lot people using Peachtree and Quickbooks don’t have an accounting background and use the software to simply keep track of the money they have. Cougar Mountain kicks things up a notch and wants to not only help a business owner know how much money is in the bank but help her manage the entire business better – improve and lower costs; analyze inventory; and manage account payables better.
Instead of charging a customer’s credit card at the point of sale, Cougar Mountain helps its customers be better vendors to their customers by delaying the credit card charge until the end of the month. Maybe there’s a hardware store using Cougar Mountain software and for its favorite customer it will credit the hardware store’s books that a purchase has been made, but only monthly charge the money to the customer’s credit card. The hardware store still gets their money and the customer can better manage their cash flow and loves the hardware store that much more!
There’s a lot of features in any software product and Cougar Mountain is no different. In order to ensure it’s customers can maximize their use of the software, Cougar Mountain offers telephone training, in class-room training and access to 150 e-learning courses to use Cougar Mountain’s software better.
Jim said that although Intuit says that QuickBooks Enterprise is US$3,000 – it’s really US$3,000 PER YEAR. Cougar Mountain does not bundle in support with their software, as Intuit does but at a cost of $3,900 for unlimited users or $1,500 for the basic accounting package Cougar Mountain is a low cost and powerful accounting solution.
While many companies are rushing to sell “software as a service” solutions, Cougar Mountain, in what I guess is true Idaho fashion is selling Cougar Mountain software as a service but with a twist. Working with, a company that helps software vendors turn their PC based software into a service, Applianz Cougar Mountain can deliver it’s software as an appliance which is easily connected to a company’s network and setup in 30 minutes or less.
This solution is branded Cougar Mountain SinglePoint. The customer or their solution provider types in the appliance’s IP address, firewall IP address, activates the appliance and that’s about it. From then on Cougar Mountain (or its designated support – consultant, etc) can upgrade the software remotely , back it up and support it remotely. The other neat thing about Cougar Mountain’s solution is that a corporate office could install the appliance version of Cougar Mountain and setup remote point of sale locations connected via the Internet to the corporate office to enable “out of office” or remote sales.
The $5,000 appliance allows 5 remote and 5 local users
Although Jim is competing with Quickbooks more than he wants, Cougar Mountain is admirably holding its own and loving its customers.
An example of that love?
Cougar Mountain’s customer service center web site is not just a bunch of downloads but contains USEFUL information to help its business customers grow their businesses.
A Red Cross chapter in New Orleans relocated offices, but forgot to take their backup data with them. A Cougar Mountain consultant was at the Red Cross chapter in 24 hours and helped them get back up and running. That’s loving your customers.