If you’ve been around me for more than five minutes, you’ve probably heard me talk about how much I love my client management program, Dubsado.
Without a doubt, Dubsado is one of the biggest reasons that I’ve been able to grow my small business while still working full time.
Prior to Dubsado, I was building my quotes in InDesign, going to my printers/suppliers’ websites to calculate costs for each project and sending proofs attached via e-mail. This meant that I was limited to doing work only on my home computer where the files were saved, quotes took 2+ hours per project, and proofs were confusing and messy in my client’s inbox. I had clients paying me through Paypal, through checks in the mail, or in cash in person, and had contracts saved in my inbox, sent through the mail or sometimes (gasp) not signed at all. I was spending most of my time trying to track down who paid what, when, who had signed their contract, and doing other “administrative” tasks. Guess what – I didn’t start my business to do paperwork, and I am going to bet that you didn’t either.
Dubsado has allowed me to completely release control of the “administrative” side, knowing that it is done correctly, automatically and best of all for a designer – beautifully and on brand.
So today I’m sharing how I use Dubsado for my stationery business, what specifically I use it for, and how it has completely changed my business!
If you’re interested reclaiming your time and not being a slave to the administrative side of your business, you can use code “LAURENPERRYSTUDIO” for 20% off your first month or first year of Dubsado – which is SUCH a good deal. Let me just say – I purchased the forever plan (which they unfortunately no longer offer) within 2 weeks of trying Dubsado. It’s THAT good.
Before Dubsado, inquiries lived in my inbox, in my Insta stories, or wherever else they landed. I’d send a quote to a client, or respond to an inquiry, and quickly lose track of what stage things were at. Did Catherine who wanted 100 envelopes in the Kelsey style for her November wedding ever get back to me to set up a meeting? Or was it Kathryn who wanted custom wedding invitations for her November wedding? When you’re juggling many different potential clients with similar names, wedding dates, etc. it’s easy to get things mixed up.
You don’t want to send an e-mail asking Kathryn to set up a calligraphy addressing consultation, just to have her write back that she was looking for invitations and you’re supposed to be meeting tomorrow. Not only is it a bad first impression, it is clear to your clients that you aren’t organized – and makes them start to wonder if you’re the right gal to hire after all.
In Dubsado, you can create a beautiful inquiry form to collect all of the important information from your clients, and embed it on your website. When potential clients fill it out, the information is automatically logged into Dubsado. From there you can change the “Lead status” based on what stage the lead is in. I use “inquiry answered”, “meeting set”, “follow up”, “awaiting booking” or “ghosted/cold lead” depending on where each inquiry is. If you get inquiries from instagram, you can log them in to Dubsado to make sure everything is in one place and no one is forgotten.
When an inquiry is received on your inquiry form, you can even set up a workflow to automatically respond to the inquiry with additional information, a pricing list, a quote and a contract. Which means you could get an inquiry, send a quote/contract, and have your client book WITHOUT LIFTING A FINGER. Personally, I prefer to respond individually to all inquiries, and create custom quotes since each of my clients want unique printing styles and details, but the option is there!
There are tons and tons of different ways to do proposals in Dubsado, so you can play around with what options work best for you. You can add photos, create spaces for your clients to automatically fill in their stationery quantities and create add-ons for details like wax seals for your clients.
But, perhaps my favorite part about proposals in Dubsado is the packages! These have allowed me to create a proposal for my couples in less than 10 minutes. All of the line items you see above are “packages”. I have a package created for each printing style that I offer. Within each package, the per card price for each size in the suite is listed, and all I have to do is quickly change the quantity to whatever the couple is looking for.
Hate sending a contract to your couple after they’ve agreed to a quote because it’s like, 98792583 steps? Fear no more. Also – I think clients like to be sure that they agree to the quote, and the terms of the contract, before booking with you! In Dubsado, you can link contracts/agreements to proposals, so that on the first tab your client can agree to the quote, and on the second tab they can sign your contract. The image above is the top of one of my proposals. You can create different proposals based on the different types of business you conduct (for me calligraphy, vs. stationery), so that your calligraphy agreement can be linked automatically to a calligraphy proposal, and your invitation agreement will automatically show on any invitation proposals!
As if it isn’t already exciting enough, you can link invoices to your proposals as well! This means that your client can click through the quote, contract, and then pay their invoice without you lifting a finger. It eliminates the awkward in between time, expedites your client booking process, and makes it really easy for your clients to have all of the important info at their fingertips. I hear all the time about how thankful my clients are to not have to mail checks, print out contracts to sign, or deal with paper copies of anything!
Depending on your process, you may have your clients pay you in stages. Personally, I ask for 50% at booking, and the remaining 50% is due before we go to print. If we’re also doing day of details, I will pull that amount out to be paid separately. Using payment schedules, you can set up pre-planned payments in amounts or percentages of your choosing, at times of your choosing. This can be on a specific date like August 5, or at a variable time like 16 weeks before a project ends. Your client’s payments show up at the bottom of their invoice for you or them to view at any time, so everyone is clear on what was paid when, any overdue payments, and what is due next.
My biggest goal is streamlining the process for my clients, but it certainly doesn’t hurt if it also makes things easier for me at the same time! Rather than e-mailing your clients 400 different times first for their RSVP date, then for their parents’ names, then for their middle names, then for their details card information, you can create a questionnaire! I’ve created a questionnaire for my invitation clients that asks them all the questions that I need to know, along with prompts to guide them through the process. It’s pretty long, but within one questionnaire, I’ve written out guidance on when to set their RSVP date, what information is typically included on a details card, and all the frequently asked questions that come up with invitations! I can send it to my clients, have them fill it out at their leisure, and save us all a bunch of e-mails in our inbox. It also helps me make sure that I don’t forget to share any important information with my couples!
One of my favorite recent additions to Dubsado is the ability to upload files within a form. You can add an upload section to any form – but my favorite is to use them with either questionnaires or proposals. In questionnaires you can have your clients upload their engagement photo for their save the date card, or in proposals you can have a calligraphy client upload their address list when they book! The uploaded file can be downloaded directly from the form, so you won’t have to search through all of your e-mails with your client to find the attachments.
Before Dubsado, I was sending proofs via e-mail. I’d often get client feedback that wasn’t exactly clear. If they ask to add their venue address, do you know if they wanted to add it on the invitation card, or the details card? It can be confusing. With Dubsado, you can include an image, with a space for notes and comments directly following the picture. It helps keeps everything organized, and ensures that you have only one place to look when reviewing proof comments, rather than digging through 10 different e-mails. You can also add yes or no questions, or drop down boxes, depending on what works best for the feedback from your clients!
Print Agreements are one of the most important pieces of the stationery design process. It is so important to make sure that your clients can easily see the designs to proof before they go to print. Using Dubsado, you can include a large image of each piece of the invitation suite, along with checkboxes for your clients to follow through as they’re proofing. I like to have them click that they’ve double checked the spelling of their name, etc. to be sure that everything is in perfect shape before we go to print. It is so easy to be focused on the design elements, and not pay attention to things like the wedding time or date. But – those are the most important pieces of an invitation! The more you can make the process streamlined for your client, the more comfortable they’ll feel and more confident you can be when placing the order for that expensive foil die!
Have e-mails that you send all the time? You can save canned responses in Dubsado, complete with links to your client’s invoice, proofs, and even gifs. I use canned e-mails to be sure that I’m sharing all of the information I need to, at the correct time, with my clients. There are a lot of details that go into stationery design, so I don’t want to dump it all on them up front in a PDF – ain’t nobody got time to read that! Using canned e-mails, I can be confident that I haven’t left anything out, and that I’m sharing only what they need to hear, when they need to hear it.
I use Workflows very sparingly, only because each of my clients are so different, and I always want to maintain a personal touch to my correspondence. However, they can be used for something as simple as adding a form to a client’s portal or as complicated as sending pricing to your inquiries!
If you’re ready to use Dubsado to take your business to the next level, you can use code “LAURENPERRYSTUDIO” for 20% off your first month, or year, of Dubsado!
I could honestly rave about Dubsado for days, but in the interest of keeping this post to a reasonable level – I’ll end it here! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about how you could implement Dubsado into your business, or if you’d like to see more “behind the scenes” of how I use Dubsado!