I recently interviewed Jeff Pickard about best practices in the software industry.
Jeff Pickard is the President & CEO of Lucion Technologies, LLC, makers of FileCenter. Jeff founded Lucion in 2005 and immediately laid the groundwork for their award winning paperless office software product known as FileCenter. He brings over 15 years of management experience and innovation to Lucion. After three years as an attorney with the Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis, Pickard founded zCalc, LLC, a software company which served the needs of professionals in the estate and financial planning fields. In 2005, he sold the company to Thomson Fast-Tax and then began to focus his attention on paperless office software. Jeff graduated cum laude from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.
Jeff, tell us about your firm.
Lucion is a small technology company, located in Orem, Utah. Lucion’s products are designed for small to medium sized business. Lucion has two products, FileCenter and FileConvert, that have appeal in all verticals.
FIleCenter allows you to scan, organize, and edit your files and helps you go paperless. You can scan in your paper documents to searchable PDF, organize all of your scans and computer files together in easy-to-use cabinets, and create and edit PDF files. It is network and cloud compatible.
FileConvert allows you to batch convert image files into searchable PDF files.
Tell us about the challenges facing software companies today.
The biggest challenge facing small software companies including Lucion is exposure. There are so many software companies out there. In addition, selling to the small office market is extremely challenging. There a vast numbers of small office to sell to but reaching them is a challenge. Most of our target market is offices with 5 to 20 persons, with no professional IT staff. The decision maker is the head of the office who doesn’t attend any IT trade shows or read any software journals, etc. They need scanning software so they Google “scanning software”. That is, there aren’t one or two places we can go to reach large numbers of our target market.
What is your firm doing to overcome these challenges?
Since our big issue is exposure and given the nature of our target market, we have had to become experts in search advertising and search engine optimization (SEO). We are always on the lookout for creative ways to reach our market. Just adding your product to the hundreds of online software sites doesn’t really get you there. You need people pushing your product not just listing it as one choice among hundreds of other titles. This year we have engaged a PR firm to help us with that push.
Subscription sales models are becoming more common in the software industry. Do you use, or have you considered, a recurring sales model?
Currently, our model is you buy the software and get one year of maintenance with the initial purchase. We then send out an optional maintenance invoice one year later. Maintenance is about 25% of the original purchase price. We have long considered trying to move our product to a subscription product but the nature of our product just didn’t seem to lend itself to that model. What has panned out for us, however, is the best of both worlds. We are getting about a 90% maintenance renewal rate on our product which in a sense converts our product into a subscription product. And we still get that larger up-front fee that would have had to be reduced in a subscription model.
What do you consider to be software industry best practices?
Taking care of and being responsive to our customers is our daily goal and needs to be the best practice for a small software company. For example, one of our competing products is called PaperPort which was purchased a while back by a big company called Nuance. One big reason we have been able to cut into their market is that PaperPort customers have difficulty getting support or responses from Nuance. We get this feedback all the time so they start looking for alternatives and they find us. Funny enough, our best Google advertising campaign is “PaperPort replacement”.