Report Card: Pearls of Wisdom From the Top of the Class

May 1, 2007

FreshBooks Report Cards Benchmarking service has now been released. The release was very successful both with FreshBooks users who sent an enormous volume of positive feedback, and with various thought leaders who understand the value the report card service for under-served small businesses.

Shortly after the release I wrote about “What’s Next for the FreshBooks Report Cards Service”. Part of our dream is we want to connect best performers in various report card metrics with other FreshBooks users so that they can help other business owners learn and improve themselves. Below is some helpful insight and advice from top performers in the Gross Revenue and Short Collections Report Card metrics. Their insights can be boiled down to hiring right, implementing simple intelligent processes and extraordinary dedication and communication with customers:

Revenue Gross — Top Performers

“We put our customer’s best interests above our own interests… Daniel, all I ask is the you put the line “may peace prevail” with my quote.”
—Skye Southwick, Sky IT Support

“Right now I would just have to put it down to the close relationships we maintain with our customers or perhaps our emphasis on quick support.“
—Chris Puram, Springboard Net Solutions

“If I had to pick one reason why we’ve been successful it would be that we don’t compromise when we hire. We would rather turn down business because we don’t have the capacity than hire the wrong person just because we had to.”
—Doug Heestand, Vital Networks, Inc.

“One reason we have continued to be a top performer is our single-minded focus on the things that make money, or the more more-important business building activities. With this focus we can let go of all the other ‘little’ things that take up time and don’t make money. One of the many tools that help us focus on the big issues is of FreshBooks. It substantially decreases the amount of time required to invoice and collect money. For that we thank you.“
—Nicholas Beames, Aspire Human Capital Management

Short Collection Periods — Top Performers

“I think I receive quick payments from my customers because I do require payment upfront for any item under $1200. My business is service only and I must enforce this rule to make sure I’m compensated for time spent on projects.”
—Becky Perry, Designs by CM

“Many of our clients like to prepay by debit card although others pay online using PayPal etc.”
—MWC International S.A

“I have the audacity to ask for a 50% down payment with 50% of the down only refundable within 14 days if the project is cancelled for any reason. I acquired the audacity after a few bad experiences.

Also I like to surprise customers with discounts which are not talked about before hand, when the project is completed, I send an email announcing that I will be sending their final invoice, in the email I specify a generous discount for paying Net 7, Net 14 etc, I let it simmer a little.

Most people don’t use the online payment systems, since they find PayPal to be to confusing and cumbersome and distrust other avenues, depending on the client. Some people jump at the opportunity to save 10%, and usually call or mail the check right away.”

“FreshBooks being so easy for clients to pay with credit cards- What helps our quick payment time is making sure the client is 100% satisfied before requesting funds. This is both for invoices to commence projects and invoices due at the end of projects. Before mentioning payment terms or asking for a down payment we always make sure we’ve answered all the clients’ questions and clearly explained all the upcoming steps for completing the project. This builds the clients trust and shows that we’re more focused on the task at hand, rather than just getting paid. When it comes to finishing a project it always seem that when we exceed the clients’ expectations they cannot wait to make the final payment to receive their product.”
—Justin Rockwell, Twilight Pictures

The whole exercise gives a hint of where FreshBooks is going, creating and enabling a community so that users can reduce their dependence on costly professionals and consultants and get the advice they need to build their business. We’ll be continuously rolling out improvements to the Report Card service every quarter. As always we welcome your feedback and thoughts on what you’d like to see.

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.