I came to Dubsado via a reasonably twisted route.  When I began my VA business, it was my first foray into the world of freelancing, and I’d barely heard of a CRM, let alone used one (I was a teacher for a decade before taking this role up).

As my business grew, I knew that I wanted a way of taking on clients that was smoother than writing out a proposal in Word and sending an invoice using Excel (seriously, that’s what I was doing – I knew nothing), so I started to look into CRM’s. 

The first one I signed up for was Hubspot. It was free, what more did I need?  As it turns out, rather a lot more.  For a start, it was a behemoth. I couldn’t work out where any of the features were, and it seemed more suited for sales than what I was doing. I think I lasted for about a week with it.

Hubspot was a failure, but at least I came away from it with a better idea of what I needed.  I knew I wanted something ‘small’ enough to suit the number of leads, and clients, that I’d be getting. I wanted something which allowed me a smooth onboarding process (trying to work out how the bloody hell to onboard anyone in Hubspot had taught me the value of simplicity there). I wanted to have the ability to invoice, and I wanted to be able to use a scheduler both for discovery calls and for regular client calls. Most of all, I wanted a system that was customisable on a client-to-client basis.

And then, in VA groups on Facebook, I started to hear whispers about Dubsado, and its incredibly strong onboarding process.  The fact you could sign contracts within it. The holy trinity of ‘proposal, contract, invoice’. The limitless forms, questionnaires, and contracts. 

I’ll admit it, I was sold more or less before I’d even looked at their webpage, let alone tried it, and it’s probably a good job because it turns out that although Dubsado is a true godsend for service-related businesses, it is an absolute ball-ache to set up.  That’s the pay off.  You don’t get high levels of customisation without a steep learning curve.  

Dubsado has many parts, and some work better than others. I’m going to share with you the bits of it that I’ve found work really well for my VA business.

Lead Capture Forms

What I love most about the lead capture form is not just how many of them I can make (I have three at present), but how much information you can collect with them. The big fat bonus is that as soon as someone fills it out, not only does Dubsado shoot you an email to let you know that someone’s interested, but it will also begin a project for that new lead and all the newly captured – so you don’t have to.  You can collect the usual data such as company name, address etc, but if you need specific data, you can create a custom mapped field then have a question map to it.  BLISS.

Scheduler

So, once the lead capture form has been sent, it’s time to let the customer choose a time for a discovery call. In the olden days I used Calendly, but Dubsado has one built in, which you can sync with your work calendar, so no sneaky double bookings. AND you can integrate Zoom, or Meet, whichever conferencing tool works best for you. 

All of this means that the client can only book when you aren’t busy, and when they book, Dubsado will auto-generate a Zoom link for the meeting too, and give that to the client, as well as popping it into your diary for you.  

Sweet as a nut.

The Holy Trinity

That’s right – this is one of Dubsado’s strongest features, and the one about which I get the most compliments from clients.

Back in the DBD (Days Before Dubsado) the process of onboarding a client took bloody ages and involved a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.  

So, I’d send my proposal. A few days later the client would get back to me to say yes, at which point I’d use Hello Sign or similar to send the contract.  That would take a day or so to get sorted, and then I would have to create an invoice in my god-awful Excel spreadsheet, send it off and THEN try to work out how to get them to sign my GDPR sub-contract with only three free signatures a month from good old Hello Sign. The whole process could take over a week, and I think I probably lost one in three clients along the way as they dropped out or had second thoughts.

With Dubsado, I send my proposal immediately after the call (I’m talking within 10 minutes, because I have a template which I quickly customise for the client). So, the client, high with excitement from our AMAZING call (I may be overselling myself here) gets the proposal and, like Meg Ryan across a table from Billy Crystal, yells “YES” and checks the box.

And then, something incredible happens. Instead of a back and forth ‘sign this, ok that’ email exchange, Dubsado IMMEDIATELY shows them the contract, which they can sign.  So, within half an hour of our discovery call, the contract is usually signed.  But it gets better.

Once the contract has been signed, if you so choose, Dubsado will then present them with, wonder of all wonders, the invoice. 35 minutes have passed since you put the phone down and they have not only okayed the proposal and signed the contract, but they’ve only paid the flipping invoice too.

Seriously – this revolutionised my onboarding process.  I think my rate of clients dropping out since I set this up has dropped to perhaps 1 in 10. I also get a huge number of compliments on how smooth the process it. People who hire VAs are busy. They don’t got time for a long, drawn out onboarding process.

Workflows

Workflows are where the real power of Dubsado lies, because by using them you can automate the parts of the client journey that need to be automated, while keeping the bits you need to customise as manual. 

My initial workflow is very simple indeed and automates sending a lead to the scheduler. When the lead capture form is filled out it triggers a workflow which sends them a canned email with the link to my scheduler.  It also sends a reminder just before the call, and a thank you just after it.  I do the proposal/contract/invoice manually and then tick it off on the workflow. A timer then kicks in, so that if the contract hasn’t been signed in 24 hours it sends a little reminder. It does the same again in 48hrs, and then sends me a to-do email reminding me to follow up with them personally. 

When they DO sign the contract, the workflow opens up their client portal (which stores all their forms and invoices) and sends them a welcome pack.

Automated where it can be, but personalised where it’s important.  It’s huge.

Setting it up

There is no doubt about it, setting up Dubsado from scratch is tough. If you don’t have a good understanding of the different forms, how they could work, as well as how the workflow might aid you then it will never run well.

Add to that the time it takes to create all your images in Canva for the different forms, testing workflows, learning CSS if you want your forms to look a bit posher…it all adds up.

There are a few ways you can get set up.

  1. Do what I did and learn by trial and error. I wouldn’t recommend it; it took me bloody ages.
  2. Use Dubsado’s new education program, Dubsado 101. It’s free, and I reckon you could get through it in a week or so if you concentrate (allowing time for learning by doing). That will give you the basics.
  3. Let someone else do it for you! I’ve recently started offering set up services specifically to VAs. I’m good at it because I understand how the workflow is likely to work, so I know what sorts of forms and other sundries you’re likely to need.  I use it to run my own VA business very successfully, and I can use that knowledge to get you set up and running – just the basics or a posh CSS-style set up.

Overall, I would highly recommend Dubsado to any VA. It has weaknesses, like any system (the tasks board plain sucks and the invoicing works, but leaves a lot to be desired), but that trinity sucker-punch is worth it every time. My renewal is coming up again in a month and I won’t think twice about re-subscribing.  

If you’d like to ask questions or just hop on a call and have a peek into my system to see if it could work for you, you can find me on Facebook, or fill out my AMAZING lead capture form on the website and see how it feels from a client point of view to use the system!

Kate Kurdziej - Olivier Consultancy

Katie Stone

Katie taught in primary schools for 10 years before becoming a VA. She lives in deepest darkest rural Shropshire with her husband, 2 small, feral children and a slightly less feral cat. When she’s not being a VA or a Mum (so about twice a year) she tries to indulge in gaming and the odd bit of profane cross stitch. She has recently begun to offer Dubsado setups for VA’s.

Find Katie online: www.katiestonepa.com