“Automation” is nowadays one of the most popular words.
More often than not, it’s connected to “productivity”, “grind”, or even “smart”. Because if you’re clever enough, you can use automation to work less without compromising your revenue — or work even more, thanks to saved time.
And of course, everyone wants a piece of this delicious cake. Whether you’re a web developer, graphic designer, or a marketing specialist, you can find myriad ways of making your business run itself, even while you sleep.
One of those ways is to invest in a business management software that can help you deal with your paperwork, set up recurring invoices, improve client onboarding, ease capturing leads, and so much more.
And if by any chance you’re an accountant, you’ll be happy to know that some tools can be used for your accounting firm just as well. One of them is Dubsado.
Dubsado: Quick Summary
Even though we went over Dubsado several times already — for example, we compared it with Tave, Plutio, or 17hats — it still keeps growing, like a successful SaaS software should. So if you’ve read our previous articles there might be some new surprises, and if you’re new, let us quickly go over what Dubsado is, exactly.
Dubsado, using its own words, is a business management solution, universal enough to be a good fit for any industry. It was founded back in 2016 by Becca and Jake Berg, a married couple who noticed a lack of an all-in-one solution for freelancers and small businesses. At that time, you had to settle for several different apps in order to handle all aspects of your business, which was ineffective and time-consuming. Not to mention, multi-tasking does more harm than good in the long run.
Moreover, Dubsado is entirely self-funded. This means that there are no investors pushing for never-ending growth, which is impossible, or implementing fancy features that are unnecessary, but trendy.
This makes Dubsado an interesting software worthy of your consideration. Not only its creators are aware of all the challenges small business owners face, but they also won’t overbloat the software with random features, like some of the tools are known for (hello, SuiteDash).
Without further ado, let’s see what Dubsado for accountants has to offer.
Dubsado: The Features
First of all, as an accountant, you need to give a way for your new clients to set up any appointments with you, be it free consultations or paid meetings.
To do that, you need to create a scheduler template for each type of appointment you want to offer. For those you’re already in touch with, you can send a direct link, and for others, you can guide them toward your page, where you can embed URLs.
Scheduler comes with two settings: basics & advanced. In the first section, you can choose the name of the appointment, its duration, and when it can be booked (indefinitely, within a specified date range, or a rolling day window for a specified number of days). Then, you can pick your slots and decide if you want to be shown as available or busy during that appointment. Last but not least, you can include the URL of the location where the meeting will take place and customize the email that will be sent to the client.
In the advanced section, you can decide how many hours in advance your clients can book you, in order to avoid any sudden meetings that could take you by surprise.
You can also set up buffer time before and after the appointment, as well as increments, so that your meetings won’t happen right after another.
After that, you can set up a limit for how many appointments per day you want to have and how many times the scheduler can be used — so in practice, you decide how many meetings in total can be booked.
Then, choose your welcoming message visible on the scheduler and select confirmation email from your canned responses. Dubsado comes with many prepared templates so thankfully, you don’t have to write your own from scratch.
You can also include an additional form your clients have to fill out before the meeting. This way, you’ll have all the necessary information you need and won’t waste time on the meeting itself.
Then, if you have your own confirmation page that looks the part, you can use it to replace the default page.
Last but not least, you can issue an invoice before the booking to secure it, set up a reminder notification email, and enable the scheduler’s monthly view.
Overall, the scheduler template has everything you need to offer a smooth-sailing booking process. You don’t have to worry about accidental double booking or having whole days filled with appointments — thanks to buffers and limits, you can rest assured that you’ll never find yourself in a pickle.
There’s a downside to the scheduler that we haven’t mentioned yet. For some, it might not be a big deal, but it could have made the whole process smoother.
Once your client books a meeting, they won’t be automatically saved as a lead on the platform. To make that possible, you have to use a workaround in the form of workflows.
In the workflows section, you can create whole chains of triggered actions to help you automate as much of your job as possible. We’ll look at this feature more closely further down the article, but for now, know that one of the actions you can automate is sending the appointment scheduler.
You can decide which action triggers that and what action should follow — for example, a change in the project status, so that it can be saved as a lead.
Unfortunately, there’s a catch — you need to have a project already set up in place and it only works for those clients who get the direct link from you. It won’t work for those who book a meeting on your website. Which is a shame, because this could make the whole process smooth like butter.
There are definitely better solutions when it comes to lead capturing (SuiteDash, for example), but it’s good enough to satisfy simple needs. If you care more about other functionalities, don’t cross Dubsado off your list just yet.
The project section comes with an unassuming list of all your projects. Most importantly, it comes with project statuses, which gives you a quick overview of what’s happening at the moment in your business.
There are four categories of project statuses: Leads (potential clients you’re in contact with), Jobs (booked projects), Combined (all projects, no matter their status), Archived (cold leads or past jobs).
You can additionally divide Leads and Jobs with custom statuses, so that it reflects your internal processes. You can keep it short and sweet, but you’re also free to create more complex pipelines that take into account every single step of your work.
Now, let’s take a closer look at individual projects. You can access them simply by selecting one from the list.
In the project, you can access seven tabs: emails, invoices, forms, appointments, workflows, tasks, and notes. On the left, no matter which tab you’ll switch to, you’ll find relevant information to the project — from tags and project status to connected contract, assigned team members, and client portal.
While this gives you everything you need in one place, switching between tabs should have gone out of fashion a long time ago, especially since most of them are rather empty, anyway. We much prefer having everything on one page, the way HoneyBook does. In this day and age, we prefer scrolling.
While tasks might seem a bit hidden, they’ll all appear on your dashboard, both in the Calendar section (if you’ve included a deadline) and under “Tasks”. This way, once you get comfortable in your home office with coffee at hand, you can quickly get up to speed and realize what should have been done by yesterday.
Moreover, you can access tasks just as easily through the left sidebar, where you’ll get a list of all the tasks from all your projects.
While we appreciate the pipeline with project statuses, the projects themselves could use some work, so that there’s less switching involved. Overall, it’s rather simple and intuitive in use, but don’t expect Asana-like quality of project management. For those who like creating tasks with subtasks and their own subtasks, Plutio might be a better choice.
To make customer experience as pleasant as possible, we shouldn’t only focus on the quality of delivered services, but also on everything that happens in between. That’s why first impressions, client onboarding, as well as thank-you messages should be well-thought-out, so that we’ll stay on the minds of our customers for longer.
Also, it makes clients more forgiving if they see just how hard we try to make them satisfied and happy.
The worst thing you can do in your client relationship is to stay silent. We should aim to build long-lasting business relationships founded on trust, and there’s no trust if you keep your clients guessing.
That’s why you should always be transparent about what’s happening in the project, especially in case of any mistakes or delays. Sweeping things under the rug can only lead to disastrous consequences and broken trust.
Does it mean you should strive to bury your clients in back-and-forth emails with updates on every single thing you did? Not at all. Instead, you should make sure that your chosen business management software comes with a Client Portal, a dedicated space for customers to view engagement letters and all the other documents, messages, exchanged files, and more.
To kick off your Client Portal in Dubsado, you need to go to Settings and find the “Portal” tab under “Brand Settings”. There, you can customize the Portal by including a welcome message, banner photo for desktop and mobile, as well as set your colors, among other things. You’ll also find a link and embed code to either share it with other people or post it on your website.
To activate the Portal itself, you need to go to your chosen project and find the “Portal” section on the left sidebar. You’ll be able to activate and deactivate it anytime you need, as well as set a password, to keep all the stored information confidential.
From that place, you can also view the Portal to see how it looks for yourself.
Each Portal comes with four tabs: Home, Projects, Email, Profile. Again, it would have been cleaner to keep everything on one page, instead of having four half-empty tabs, but for some, it might not be such a big deal.
Is there anything a client can do in their Client Portal, or is it just for view?
Unfortunately, while the client can view all the email messages, they can’t answer. So they still have to depend on email when it comes to communication, making this feature rather useless in practice.
It’s the same with invoices — clients can view, print, and download them as PDFs, and that’s the end of it. Finalizing payments happens outside of the platform, which is a missed opportunity to stand out from the competition.
Thankfully, there’s at least one thing the clients can do, which is to sign contracts. Contracts are legally binding and there can only be one contract per project. If you need more, you can include sub-agreements if any additional requests pop up.
The Client Portal is very basic. The client can passively check on the status of their project, see if they have any messages, view invoices, and sign legally-binding contracts. But it could have been more interactive, making it a useful center of operations — out of Dubsado’s competitors, Zendo does it best, which we’ll present at the end of the article.
Now onto the most important part of your business — collecting payments.
As business owners, we want the process to be as fast as possible. Some clients might struggle with paying on time for various reasons, which doesn’t have to be malicious. Sometimes it’s a matter of simple negligence or forgetfulness. Other times, it’s because the process is long and time-consuming.
So it’s really in your best interest to make that process smooth and effortless. The less information clients have to provide and the fewer clicks they have to make, the better.
That’s why your chosen business management tool should support you in that and not add more to your plate.
First of all, the payment gateways. Dubsado thankfully gives you the choice between free popular options: Stripe, PayPal, Square. Good old bank transfers are also possible, but only for US residents.
Secondly, it’s good to give your clients a variety of options when it comes to how they want to pay. After all, full deposit isn’t always suitable in case of complex, custom projects that might take months to finish. That’s why offering split payments or subscription options might make your services even more attractive.
In Dubsado, you can nitpick your invoices in the Projects section, but you can also prepare templates for future use. Simply look for the Templates tab in the left sidebar and access Payment Plans from there.
On the new page, you’ll find five payment plans ready for your use: 50/50, Three Installments, Fixed Deposit, and Pay In Full. It’s worth noting that some software, like SuiteDash, don’t really offer any premade content that you can use, so we really appreciate what Dubsado did here.
If you want to create a new payment plan, you get a lot of options to play around with. You can add as many installments as you want and choose their due date. The date can be relative — for example, you can set it 10 days after project end date or one month before project start date — fixed, which requires you to enter a date, or TBD (to be decided).
Then, you can set up the due payment amount. You can divide the amount equally, by percentage, or just enter a fixed amount.
Last but not least, you can configure the reminders for both you and the clients that the payment time is near. You can choose when the email should be triggered and which canned email should it be — again, you can choose the premade messages Dubsado comes with, so the initial setup is much quicker.
In the project itself, you can also configure recurring invoices. They can be sent out weekly, monthly, and yearly. You can set the date when the recurrence stops or leave it on indefinitely, to be manually turned off later on.
When crafting your invoice, you can either manually add items with discounts and sales tax included, and their quantity. If that’s too much work for you, you can create whole packages and save them as templates, which goes in the spirit of productized services.
If your accounting business is all about subscriptions or productized services, Dubsado will support you wholeheartedly. You can create all sorts of invoices with split payments, which can be paid for through the most popular payment gateways (Stripe, Square, PayPal). Therefore we can say that Dubsado offers solid invoicing that will satisfy even the most demanding of users.
Now, onto the best feature Dubsado offers and which always gets praised to the heavens — workflows. A great functionality that isn’t the easiest to handle, but mastering it pays off in the form of smoothly automated processes. If you dream of your business running itself (up to a certain point, of course), you can achieve that with Dubsado.
To create a workflow, you need to enter its name and then you can choose the Payment Plan that’s applicable — this way, you’ll have more triggers available that are related to the chosen payment plan.
Then, you can build your processes around the following actions: changing project status, adding tags, sending documents, emails, and appointment schedulers, creating todos, activating and deactivating the portal, pausing the workflow, holding actions until a specified time, starting a workflow and archiving project.
You can choose whether the actions should be triggered on a fixed date, or should they be relative — hours, days, weeks, or months after another action is complete. For example, after an invoice gets paid in full, after an appointment is scheduled, after a client signs a contract, or when all the previous actions are completed.
As you can imagine, this gives you a huge variety of options and possible scenarios that could reflect many parts of your business. But there’s a catch.
The process you build is very much fixed. You need to know perfectly well how you want your processes to look, and then you need the experience to know if that’s feasible. Otherwise, you’ll have to test it as much as possible in order to avoid any awkward situations, where the wrong emails get sent out or in the wrong order.
Also, you should keep tweaking it as you go, look for new possibilities and ways to keep polishing the customer experience. It might take a while, but it’s entirely possible to build a sound workflow that will automate much of your work, at least on the administrative side.
If you want to speed up your business processes, ensure that your clients will get instant replies, and forget about writing individual emails every single time, Dubsado can help you with that. But there’s a steep learning curve you need to conquer first to reap all the benefits.
Last but not least, let’s talk about how Dubsado can help you track your individual income and expense transactions.
First of all, we get a tab just for tracking our invoices, which can be filtered by date, status, and project, and get notified if one of them is overdue (although from our perspective, the warning sign could have been bigger). For convenience, we can easily download the invoices as a CSV file.
Next, in Transactions, we can keep an eye on our income, for which you can create separate income categories, as well as expenses, and taxes. Similarly to invoices, everything is listed in a simple table format. For a much better overview, you can head over to Reports and admire the graphs detailing your finances.
Then, you can see your profit and loss in the Chart of Accounts section within a specified time range for easier comparison and forecasting.
The newest feature is divided into two sections: Project Sources and Project Breakdown. The former is simply used for adding project sources you wish to track; for that reason, it’s necessary to add project sources tags to individual projects. The latter simply visualizes it, so in our opinion, it could have been included in the previous page.
If you’re looking for simple bookkeeping tools, Dubsado will deliver. But otherwise, if you’re really into analyzing your business from too many angles to count, you could consider an alternative. For example, Scoro offers rich reporting options, along with complex team management capabilities.
Dubsado: Final Verdict
Is Dubsado the right tool for your accounting business? It depends on what you’re looking for, of course.
If your most pressing issues could be solved by automation, rich invoicing options, canned emails, and a simple client portal protected by password, then this could be what you’re looking for. Compared to its competitors, Dubsado is an average software that mostly stands out with its workflows — otherwise, it’s simple enough.
For the more demanding vendors, it might be a little too simple though. After all, Dubsado isn’t that great when it comes to task and project management, and it also doesn’t offer any new solutions to the sales process itself. It still depends on the email as the main communication channel, and the client’s role on the Client Portal is passive.
That’s why we’d like to propose an alternative that covers these areas.
Zendo: True Client-Vendor Collaboration
Zendo is an all-in-one solution that supports all kinds of services, from custom to productized and subscription-based. It comes with a Client Portal that allows your customers to take an active part in the projects of their requests, giving them a sense of control and promoting a much healthier business relationship based on trust and transparency.
Most of the time, the Client Portal offered by various companies is a simple page that only shows documents and messages, with hardly any interaction possible — Dubsado isn’t really the exception to that rule. But Zendo is.
Instead of giving access to a separate page, Zendo gives the clients access to the platform itself; of course, as long as that’s what the vendor wants.
The client can log in to the platform anytime they need. They’ll see a dashboard where they can view all the new messages, files, and documents that might require their attention. Most importantly though, they can see their requests, which can be submitted directly on the platform, or through a Service Catalog.
A Service Catalog can be made public and embed a link to it on your website or any other page. Just as well, you can simply share the link with chosen individuals. You can also decide who can submit requests, either everyone, or only those who made an account in your workspace.
On the Service Catalog, which is fully customizable, your clients can look through your offer and pick what suits them best. If they need a bespoke service that can be adjusted with addons, a simple, productized service with a rush delivery included, or just inquire about the service with no strings attached, they can do so.
Before they can submit their request, they have an Order Form to fill out. The form is also customizable, so you decide what kind of questions they should answer. Additionally, you can ask them to send any files, share URLs, or choose answers from a drop-down menu. You have everything you need in order to collect all the necessary information to deliver the project.
In the case of subscriptions, clients will have to pay for them upfront in the Service Catalog. Then, they can submit individual requests pertaining to the subscription, as long as they fit within limits set by the vendor.
Once the request is made, it will show up in Zendo for all the parties involved — meaning you, the workspace owner, your team members that you have assigned to this kind of project by default, and the client.
In what form will the request appear on Zendo? Well, prepare to be taken by surprise.
Because Zendo appreciates communication above everything else, the request will be shown as a conversation thread in chat.
But then what happens to all that information we’ve gathered so far? Don’t fret — everything is saved and easily accessible through the chat on the right sidebar. So anytime you need to check on the filled out form, you can always find it there, no matter the number of messages already exchanged with clients.
Zendo’s chat isn’t limited only to clients — you can also quickly exchange some words with your teammates through internal notes, which are hidden from clients. No need to switch between channels or conversations!
But it would have been boring and very restricting if messages were all you could exchange in chat. Of course, you can also send the standard fare — like files and emojis — but the best treats are just ahead of us.
Using the Zendo chat, you can issue invoices, send quotes, and ask for their approval. Thanks to Zenbot, you can even set triggers to make that happen automatically.
Your clients can of course view and download all these documents, as well as either reject or accept quotes. But they’re even more empowered now, because they can finalize any payments with just a click.
That’s right — most of the action happens directly in chat, where clients can make payments in the middle of the conversation, which is quick, easy, and ridiculously convenient.
We’re not sure if you’re ready for the cherry on top, but here we go: Zendo’s Starter plan is entirely free, forever. It gives you access to most of Zendo’s features, with the option to invite another user and use the renewable premium tokens to try out the premium functionalities.
The second subscription option, called Growth, costs just $19 per user, per month. Compared to Dubsado, to get the most out of it, you need to spend $40 per month (to learn more about Dubsado’s subscription plans, read our article on Dubsado pricing).
Zendo doesn’t come with any short-lived trials requiring your credit card details, so sign up today and enjoy preparing your workspace for the business opportunities of your life.
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What Is Dubsado?
Dubsado is a business management solution meant for freelancers and creatives from all around the world. The software is universal enough to be used by many business owners, no matter the industry. But you’ll notice content created for wedding photographers, graphic designers, or coaches. Dubsado’s biggest strength lies in workflows, which help you set up smooth and semiautomatic processes. Thanks to that, you gain back your time and can focus on much more pressing matters.
Is Dubsado A Good Choice For Accountants?
Dubsado is a universal tool that has a broad target audience, from photographers to consultants and web designers. So if you don’t need accountant-specific features and only need a hand in task and project management, then Dubsado might be a good choice for you.
What Is Zendo?
Zendo is a powerful yet easy-to-use tool for freelancers and small to medium businesses that focus on selling custom, productized, or subscription-based services. With its help, you can improve your teamwork, introduce transparency, optimize your internal processes, and last but not least — polish your customer experience. With the customizable Service Catalog, easily accessible Client Portal, and white-label features, you can impress your customers with how smooth you run your business.
Can You Create Subscriptions In Zendo?
Yes, it’s possible to create subscription services in Zendo, along with custom and productized ones. You can bill your clients weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly, create many different packages for each service to bring more variety into your offer, as well as set up request limits to avoid exploitation. With Zendo, the world is your oyster!