Dubsado is a fantastic system for creative businesses but like anything new, it can be a little daunting when you start using it. What should you do first to get your systems up and running?
One of the many great things about Dubsado is that you get to use everything for free until you have added three clients. This gives you lots of chance to get the whole system set up perfectly for your business and to test out some pretend clients to make sure everything is working – my first two clients were Meredith Grey and Meghan Markle!
This post will run you through the first 6 steps to take when you start using Dubsado. I will be going into each of these steps in more detail in later posts.
1. brand settings
If you click on your business name at the top right of the screen, a drop down will appear where you can choose brand settings. That’s the place to personalise Dubsado for your brand – you can:
- enter your brand details/add your logo/add an accent colour for use on Dubsado buttons
- set up the client portal
- add users (three are included with your subscription; 4+ cost extra)
- set up teams
- change international settings (currency and time zone)
- settings to receive money (you can connect to Square or Stripe – not both – and/or Paypal)
- connect to Quickbooks or Xero
- change email settings/get API keys and change your URL meta info
You don’t need to do all of these things right at the beginning but it’s good to get Dubsado looking a bit more personalised to your brand right from the beginning.
2. business worfklow
This isn’t a task to do inside Dubsado but is an important step to take with a good old pen and paper. In order to get Dubsado working to its best for you and your business, you need to write down all of the steps in the journey that your client takes from the moment they make their first enquiry with you, right through to giving you the go ahead, signing the contract, approving the work, paying the final invoice and your handover/offboarding process.
Include all of the information that you need from the client at each stage to enable you to move on to the next stage. The key here is to be very detailed as this will form the basis of your documents and workflows inside Dubsado.
Once you have written out the whole workflow, go through and highlight anything that is a document which will need to be created as part of your relationship with the client, eg contract, proposal.
3. business documents
You may already have these, especially if you have been in business for a while or are transferring from another client management system. But if not, or you’re just starting out, now is the ideal time to get all of your business documents typed up and ready for your clients.
Another great thing about Dubsado is that there is a library full of templates for questionnaires, contracts, and sub-contracts for all sorts of business types – this is a great starting place when you create your own.
Depending on what your business is, some or all of these will apply, but you need to think about client questionnaires, proposals and contracts. In Dubsado you can set up as many questionnaires as you need, so, for example, I have a very short ‘name and address details’ questionnaire for clients to fill out early on, and then a much more detailed ‘website design’ questionnaire for them to complete once they’ve signed the contract and paid.
As part of this process, you also need to think about the different packages that you offer. You can set these up with prices and they can easily be applied to proposals and invoices.
Once your contract is drafted (and make sure it is appropriate for the country you are operating from if you are using a template), you can set it up so that clients can sign electronically before being taken smoothly through to their invoice.
The invoice template in Dubsado is pretty fixed but you can choose a few options and also but some free text in the ‘terms’ section – maybe add your bank details if you’d like to be paid by bank transfer.
4. canned emails
Canned emails are a super helpful feature of Dubsado. The idea is that you save the emails that you will use frequently so that you can quickly apply them to your client without retyping the whole email each time. You can add smart fields for the client’s name and document links etc, so the whole email is done for you automatically – save for a quick check before you send it.
So you would set up canned emails for each of the various stages where you need to contact your client and/or send them something. For example, you could set up:
- thanks for getting in touch via the form on my website
- here’s your proposal, contract and invoice
- here are the client portal details
- please fill out this questionnaire
- payment reminders
- and so on… you’ll probably think of others as the need crops up when you start using Dubsado.
5. lead capture form
A lead capture form is placed on your website and is designed to capture that initial information from a website visitor who becomes a new lead. It does not need to be super long, in fact that would probably be off-putting. Mine asks for name, email and phone number (because the next stage after that is to have a discovery call) and a couple of basic questions about their existing website and requirements for the new one.
Once you’ve designed your lead capture form (and you can have several if you need or want to), you can embed it on your website by copying the code (go into your form in Dubsado and click the share button on the top right – the code will pop up). On a Squarespace site, for example, you’ll just paste the code into a code block on your page.
6. dubsado workflow
Now that you have set out all of the information above and have thought through all of the steps from lead capture to completed job, you can create your workflows in Dubsado. This should be pretty straightforward but it is best to test and tweak your workflows to make sure they behave how you’re expecting. Dubsado workflows are trigger based and you can pause the workflow to take manual steps if you prefer, before restarting the automatic workflow again. Dubsado seem to update and increase the amount of triggers on a regular basis so they are getting even easier to use. Even if you don’t want to use an automated workflow for the whole of your client process, it may be well worth using one for part of the process. So for example, when somebody completes my lead capture form, I have the workflow set up so that they automatically receive an email with a link to scheduling a discovery call. The workflow is then paused until that call has happened.
Because of the three client free trial on Dubsado, you really can take the time to get yourself set up before you need to subscribe. Even if you set up pretend clients to test your workflows, that doesn’t eat in to your free clients – you just need to email the team (or use the live chat) and they’ll reset your free client number.