How Melanie’s Accounting Firm Builds Better Client Relationships with FreshBooks

Easy-to-use Project Profitability and Time Tracking tools are a great fit for this CPA’s owner-managed businesses.


case study highlightsAbout a decade ago, Melanie Schroeder was working as a financial coach for small business owners and she noticed a pattern. She would develop action plans for her clients so they had a clear blueprint for what they needed to do to be successful. And then they…wouldn’t do it.

Her clients knew that her advice was sound, but she couldn’t convince them to take action. This prompted her to go back to school to get a diploma as a registered professional counselor.

Now, with her own firm, Out of the Box CPA, she runs what she calls a holistic accounting and bookkeeping practice. When working with a client, she and her team take into account the whole person, including their personal goals, personalities, beliefs, and values, to ensure they actually take action toward their financial goals.

Recently, Melanie has become a FreshBooks Accounting Partner to better help small business owners on their journey. We sat down with her to chat about how FreshBooks has impacted her practice.

I’m wondering what led you to want to work with small businesses in particular?

Melanie: It’s always been owner-managed businesses, any firm I’ve ever worked in. I really want to help people that don’t get the same opportunities that other people do. The larger corporations have access to resources that smaller businesses don’t.

It makes sense, given your interest in counseling that you would gravitate in that direction because those are the people who you can help the most. So, what was your first experience using FreshBooks with a small-business owner?

Melanie: One of my clients…super, super smart guy, but I could never get him to do his own invoicing. I tried. And I’m a trainer—I’m trained in training! And he was just like, no. It wasn’t intuitive enough really is what it boils down to. And then I was like, well, I’m going to show you this other software. It’s super easy to use. And I didn’t even really have to show him, I just walked him through it by voice over the phone.

Melanie Schroeder, Accountant Case Study

What was initially interesting to you about FreshBooks?

Melanie: I just like that it’s easy to use. And it’s more visually appealing. It’s well laid out and it’s not overrun with features. You guys have good software, it’s been around for a long time.

I know you use different software with different clients. Why would you recommend FreshBooks specifically to a client over a different solution?

Melanie: For clients that don’t have inventory, they don’t have a ton of reporting requirements, it’s a really good choice. And also, there are people that get overwhelmed—like I myself get overwhelmed—with all the different options that are often in software. And then it’s easy to give up, especially when you’re learning something new.

I have a client now that’s on QuickBooks and the project reporting and tracking is not that great in QuickBooks. And I started looking for another solution, and I was looking at FreshBooks for them. I really like the Projects module. And that’s why I recommended it and why they’re looking at it. The Projects, the Time Tracking, sending out proposals, that type of thing.

It sounds like you’re referring to our Project Profitability tools. From an accounting perspective, what do you like about Project Profitability reporting in FreshBooks?

Melanie: Well, I know whether my clients are profitable or not. Super important! … I just think FreshBooks is doing [project-based reporting] better for clients that are heavily into projects and project reporting with time. This client is a consulting client. Everything is time-based. And so it’s really important for them to know if their time-based projects are profitable.
Melanie Schroeder, Accountant Case Study

What’s been the initial feedback from that client about FreshBooks?

Melanie: The first comment when I showed it to them was that it looks a lot more modern. They were quite happy. It’s simple to use. They liked the time-entry features better. Everything was positive.

You mentioned a client you switched over to FreshBooks from other software. What changes have you experienced with them?

Melanie: What’s different with them is that they’re actually doing their own invoicing now, which is awesome. They never got around to it with the other software because they couldn’t figure it out or the app wasn’t working for them or whatever the reason was, they just were never getting around to it.

Is there anything that you really wish FreshBooks had that it doesn’t have?

Melanie: An integration with Dext. I’m actually hoping to switch my own firm over to the FreshBooks platform at my fiscal year-end. There’s a couple of things I like. But I’m pretty heavily invested in Dext for all of my clients. So that’s one little hiccup that I’m hoping can be fixed.

But now that FreshBooks has the Balance Sheet and the Profit and Loss and that and the Accounts Payable… I mean, those are the biggest things that were not in it before that were kind of missing for me. So, I can’t think of anything else right now.

You were one of the first FreshBooks Accounting Partners. What was the appeal of becoming a partner?

Melanie: I really like the values and the mission that FreshBooks has. I think it aligns a lot with my own—how I feel about small businesses and supporting them. And I was looking to add another piece of software to what I offer because I was finding that QuickBooks wasn’t meeting the needs of those smaller businesses.

What have you liked about being a FreshBooks Accounting Partner so far?

Melanie: I like the presents. [Laughs] No, I like getting the chance to have input about what’s going on. And being able to do things like this. I really do like having the opportunity to have an impact on the community, and I am really passionate about trying to get firms to integrate mental wellness into the whole firm and how we deal with clients.

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What do you think accountants and bookkeepers should know about FreshBooks?

Melanie: I think that there’s a great opportunity with FreshBooks to reach a lot of small businesses and right now I really believe that small businesses are going to be what helps our economy really get going again. So it’s a great business opportunity. I really do think that there are a lot of people that are going to be doing these side gigs, the side hustle, starting their own businesses. And it’s a great opportunity to support them with FreshBooks. And it’s software that’s easy to use and easy to get people started on.

So, I heard a rumor that you’re launching something exciting.

Melanie: Yes, my membership model! I’m launching a membership site with educational content and opportunities to ask me anything. I’m going to have different experts come in as well. Lawyer, financial planner, marketer, that kind of thing—people that business owners would be interested in talking to. And the content will just keep building out. And with the different levels of membership, the middle membership level is going to include FreshBooks software for their business and then the top membership level will include their tax return at the end of the year.

I’m hoping to launch it next week. So there’s going to be a mad creation happening. It’s not going to look pretty when it gets launched, but it’s going to get launched. Ready, fire, aim!



about the author

Content Marketing Manager, FreshBooksShannon Kelly is a Content Marketing Manager at FreshBooks.