Report Card Season is Approaching

Coming soon to your FreshBooks account is a report that looks like that school report card that you used to dread arriving every semester. The difference is that instead of Cs in Algebra, this report card has valuable business benchmarks for your small business. My guess is, instead of dreading it, you will be counting down the days and hours until your report card is available. In it will be a quarterly summary of how your business is doing and how it measures up to other businesses that are doing the same type of work as you.

report cards

These report cards are available to all active users of FreshBooks. If you have not designated a profession for your business, you will not be able to measure yourself against other businesses, but you will still see your report.

We see these benchmarks as being very useful for small businesses that do not have access to market data, or expensive research reports. If you business is growing, it may interest you to find out the average revenue of other businesses to see if you are just hitting your stride, or nearing your peak potential.

report cards

The report cards also display how others are benefiting from FreshBooks to get paid faster and collect more money.

FreshBooks report cards will be available every three months starting this April. You have a few weeks to start performing before your parents find out your marks!

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  • Peter Quinsey

    Nice! That’s hot, Levi.

  • http://stormer.com James

    Fantastic! Can’t wait.

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  • http://www.oceanic.com.fj jonathan

    bula,

    I think this is a great feature and look forward to it.
    Some time ago, I had enquired about invoice forecasting which, in some ways, is significantly more valuable to me then what has happened in the past.

    The problem I have stems from the way Freshbooks handles recurring invoices. I simply want to be able to determine how much money is coming in during the next month (or the next quarter, etc…). Right now, the only information visible in recurring invoices is date of the last invoice and that has little value (to me, at least).

    This would seem to be just a custom report I’m looking for. Is there any solution you can recommend that might be able to satisfy me here?

    I suppose this might best be again left in the “feature request” section of the forum but I thought of it again upon seeing these report cards.

    Thanks, guys.

    jonathan

  • anonymous

    I HATE this concept. I know that my business is doing well, and quite frankly, I don’t need anyone else knowing that. This is great for NEWER businesses, but it attempts to leverage my experience and kills my competitive advantage. BTW, I’m not alone. Expect others like me NOT to participate, thus throwing off the numbers significantly. In the end, it will backfire because the new businesses, for whom this is useful will be aiming at targets that do not reflect reality. From me to them: good luck suckers. …and to guys at FB: quit luring your users into a false sense of security.

  • Dwight Yugliez

    The troubling aspect of this “report card” is that the people at FreshBooks are peering in on all of their customers data.

    In order to accumulate this data you must allow them full access to all your confidential data.

  • http://www.oceanic.com.fj jonathan

    Dwight: I don’t this that’s the case at all. The Freshbooks team has made it clear that it’s all anonymous data they’re aggregating and at the end of the day, it comes down to an issue of trust anyway. All of my “rented software” could possibly be looked into by the companies providing it. I trust them.

  • http://www.accmanpro.com Denis Howlett

    Anonymous – you’re missing the point. This is not about you alone but about how you compare with others in your segment. How can you be so arrogant as to presume that you are performing better than others? You can’t possibly know that without some benchmark comparison. It’s a tried and tested method of providing valuable feedback to industry participants at ALL levels. Never heard of Hackett?

    Levi and the folks at FB are providsing a service you simply cannot get any other way. We can argue emthodologies if you like but don’t piss on something about which you know nothing.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#michael Mike McDerment

    Dear anonymous – thank you for your feedback.

    First off, please know that we don’t look at your numbers – there aren’t enough hours in the day for us to do that. Instead, everything is calculated programmatically and delivered to you in real time without human involvement .

    Next I’d like to address the issue of industry comparison. While you may be satisfied with how you are performing, is there not always room for improvement? And as Dennis points out (and he is an accountant for what it is worth), until you compare yourself to some kind of benchmark you are only shadow boxing.

    With regards to weakening your competitive advantage, due to geographic distribution and a variety of other factors very few FreshBooks customers actually compete with one another. And I would encourage you to consider looking at knowledge sharing in a different light. Giving away ideas and helping to educate others is one of the best way to build your brand and reputation and attract partners who can help grow your business. Also, keep in mind the fact that success in business is all about execution. Many of the greatest business leaders frequently give their ideas away knowing full well that their real competitive advantage lies in their ability to execute against those ideas, and that great execution is very, very hard to replicate.

    Finally, as you correctly point out, this service is by participation only. So, you have the prerogative to not opt-in. If you choose not to participate we will still calculate your business’ metrics for you. Most small business owners never take the time to make these calculations and they are insightful even without the industry benchmarks to compare them to. Better still, we have a slew of new metrics we will be rolling out in future report cards that we think are going to even more positively impact the way FreshBooks companies look at their businesses and in turn help them generate more revenue – just by having an ever deepening understanding of the health of their business. We are truly excited.

  • anonymous

    Denis, thanks for your input, however, it *is* all about me. It’s my business and it’s my data. I spend my days making sure my business is being successful — first and foremost. I do not spend a single second thinking about other people’s businesses. Remove yourself from FB for a minute and think about it from a business owner’s perspective. I don’t know your experience or background, but your post indicates that it may be limited.

    If my comment sounded arrogant, it’s probably because no one knows my business better than I do. Don’t assume that because I’m using FB for some of my invoicing and payment needs that I’m some new business started by someone right out of school. I’m an old fart and I’ve been in business for 32 years. Trust me, no one knows my business better than I do, and most business owners in my community all think similarly.

    Furthermore, while I agree with your point that all businesses can improve themselves and I’m well aware of benchmarking data that can aid them in this quest, it’s questionable how relevant it is to most of the small businesses using FB. As Mike points out, these businesses are so geo-distributed and not in competition with each other that comparing them probably doesn’t make sense. Either way, my data won’t be part of the system and I strong recommend anyone who thinks they’re doing well NOT to contribute their data. Instead, use the tried and true measure: be involved with your local community and other/similar businesses in your area. Understand how they are doing. Make friends with them and you will know over time how you stack up. It’s worked for decades and it still works today.

  • James

    >>Remove yourself from FB for a minute and think about it from a business owner’s perspective.

    umm.. we are *ALL* business “owners” here? Even the kind gentlemen who run FB?

    Any additional information I can learn to help improve my business I will take it. I’m smart enough to understand what information “will” help and “won’t” help.

    Please for the sake of SCREWING UP all our data, please PLEASE… don’t involve yourself. It will really wack out the business who want to understand more.

  • James

    And furthermore… if owning a business turns me into a GROUCHY OLD FART LIKE YOU then, the heck with it. I don’t want to be a business owner. It’s not worth it to end up with YOUR attitude 32 years latter. How horrible!!

  • John

    Dear anonymous:

    Your tight-fisted approach brings to mind the attitudes of other companies who have tried to approach business on the internet with old-school mentalities they learned 32 years ago. =) Those companies fail on the internet side of business… the companies that become wildly successful are the ones who have learned to take the vast amount of data generated BY their users, and mold it into a beneficial service FOR their users.

    Instead of running from it, learn to use it.

  • magic carpet express

    There is no catagory for carpet and upholstery cleaning, or floor care businesses. Is it possible to creat one, please? Thanks.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#levi Levi Cooperman

    Hi magic carpet express,

    We currently have a category for Janitorial services. I realize that doesn’t exactly align with your business, but until we have more carpet cleaning companies using FreshBooks, that might be the best way to benchmark your business with others.

  • http://www.aspirehcm.com Nicholas Beames

    Bloody teriffic!

  • http://www.columbusmag.com Roopan

    I love it! I can’t wait. I wish there was a way to track the sales of individual reps and give them a report as well.

  • http://www.canfone.com Ben

    Great stuff!

  • http://www.yourcreativedept.com Katie

    Sounds like a great idea. Grade away! Is there going to be a score that allows us to see how fast our customers pay us compared to others?

    It seems that I wait a long time for some of my customers to pay me and I would like to see how that compares to the my business counterparts.

    Thanks!

  • James

    Seems there is always a certain percentage of customers who pay late. I’d love to give the fast payers a break and a reward, but those are the folks that carry the late payers. :(

  • James

    Katie, I think that would be a good thing to see! An average percentage of the late payers across the board in the current/30/60/90. Then see how our companies stack up against other companies.

  • http://www.pinpoint-graphics.com Pinpoint

    I am sure the report card will be impressive. But there are things we (the FreshBooks community) have been asking for that are still outstanding issues. To me it would be of the utmost importance to have a feature that can allows me to create a quote, send it off and then turn it into an invoice. It would be so helpful in eliminating one huge step that still has to be done outside of FreshBooks. But the developers are coming up with all these fancy things that catch attention in press and media, ignoring the desire for very important basic features that would be so beneficial.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#michael Mike McDerment

    Hey Pinpoint – I’ll tell you it’s never easy to make decisions around what to develop next. That said, we’ve already developed some of the pieces you are talking about, and as soon as the Report Cards are out the door, our development efforts and next few releases are going to be focused on delivering exactly what you are asking for. We’ll have more news very soon along these lines. Stay tuned and thanks for sounding off.

    – Mike

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  • http://www.solertium.com Alison Heittman

    Please add definitions for each profession, so that we’re all talking about the same thing when we select one…

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#michael Mike McDerment

    Alison – this is an aspect of the Report Cards service we are going to be refining as the service evolves. Which is to say: thank you for your feedback – we are on the exact same page as you.

    Cheers,

    – Mike

  • http://Reactionweb.com Mary

    I think it would be fun to have a graph like report that woudl generate at the bottom of our clients invoices that tells them where they rank on payment times compared to our other clients. Like “Hey you pay within 30 days, you’re above the average client” or “Oops, it seems you take 55 days to pay your invoices on average, most of clients are paying faster then you at 30 days!” LOL! I would love that! :)

  • http://www.techhelp247.com Jorge

    I like the report card idea, but i would reather see a proposal option that can be converted into an invoice. Currently I make invoices as proposals and if the client does not accept the proposal then I am forced to delete the invoice.

  • http://www.yourcreativedept.com Katie Sanborn

    Mary, I think that might be an “ok” idea to have the option of displaying, but in reality I do not think I would use that feature. There are some of my clients that pay late, that I simply accept that fact and deal with it. To rub their nose in it wouldn’t be a good business move on my end. Also, I wouldn’t want my good paying clients to think they are special for simply paying their bills on time – they SHOULD pay them on time. :)

    However, I like the idea of some information being printed on the invoices that pertains to their business status…possibly total annual sales compared to last year…not sure, but definitely something to explore.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#michael Mike McDerment

    Jorge – that is something we have been working on in the background. You can expect it soon.

  • http://na N

    Hi,
    Our demographic is we’re in Sydney, Australia. Small business of 5 people. IT Parts and Support to medium size businesses…

    What does it matter. The results are JUST AN AVERAGE of the users on FreshBooks.

    If you are getting 10% and the average is 31%, of course the data is useless, EVERYONE USES F.B. FOR A DIFFERENT REASON. All industries are different.

    I would also like to say :: I DON”T USE FRESH BOOKS FOR ALL MY BILLING. MY ANNUAL TURNOVER DOES NOT REFLECT MY FIGURES IN HERE!!!

    Does not anyone understand this?!?!?!?!?

    FORGET Comparing INDIVIDUAL Data with the entire group. Just have INDIVIDUAL STATS, this would be far far far more useful.

    I don’t see why this is so complicated…. Also would be good to know a breakdown of outstanding debts, what is the labour component etc, what is parts, what is each particular item and how much of it.

    Just my 2 cents…

    My team is happy with FreshBooks. Fast, easy to use (could do with a few bigger buttons) but the best online system out there i’ve come accross…..

    Cheers.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#michael Mike McDerment

    Thanks N – just so you know we presently have about 80 service related professions that people put themselves in. They are pretty niche (i.e. dog walking, strategic consultant, web designer, etc) and we are going to be working towards refining and adding more professions with each report cards release we make (i.e. every quarter).

    I should also point out that each profession only compares people who are in the same country AND collecting in the same currency. So, while the sample sizes may be small in some cases, you are only going to be compared to people in your profession in your country who are sharing in your currency AND are active FreshBooks users who send more than X invoices in a quarter. For these reasons we believe the data should be quite good, and while it won’t be perfect (data rarely is), you quite literally can’t get this information anywhere else in the world (that we are aware of), with the exception of the government who does not share and cannot calculate it with the level of granularity that we can. Once we add the next level of things and connect you with top performers in your profession for various metrics who can offer free advice and insight, we believe there will be significant value in this service.

    – Mike

  • http://thriftywebdesign.net Robert

    I for one am looking forward to this, but at the same time am a bit leery. I am just a small little tiny web hosting service. Compared to others I am probably a gnat on an elephant. I know this in my heart, but to see it in a report. LOL!

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  • http://www.kubalek.com Kimberly Kubalek

    Cool. I’m intrigued and look forward to checking it out. The fabulous folks at FreshBooks haven’t let us down yet. I say let’s have a look before going all crazy .

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  • http://www.asfdesign.com Dmitri

    I have two FreshBook accounts link together (one for Canadian Customers connected to Canadian payment gateway, and another for the US clientèle, connected to US payment gateway). Accounts are linked together and share resources.

    Right now my report calculated for these two separate accounts. It would be neat to have a report based on data from both accounts.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#michael Mike McDerment

    interesting…probably a little ways off for us Dmitri, but definitely a neat idea.

  • wes

    Simply amazing! You guys are driving something very strong.

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  • http://www.firstmarkcap.com/team/kim Heekyung

    Wow – congratulations on the great next step for your company. As one of the leading thought-leaders in the SaaS space, I am very excited to see how the quarterly benchmark plays out.

    As a follow-up to a few comments here, I would be very interested in seeing who opts in and who doesn’t, and how the data compares for opted-in pool vs. comprehensive pool.

    Fascinating — congratulations on the impressive execution..

    Cheers

  • http://www.firstmarkcap.com/team/kim Heekyung

    Ooops – excuse my grammar.

    I mean to say — Freshbooks is one of the thought-leaders in the SaaS space, and I am very excited to see how the quarterly benchmark plays out for the company and the industry.

    Sorry – I was too excited for this news. Congratulations on this great next step!!