After originally relying on an accounting firm, Trigg Wilkes decided there had to be a better way to manage his books, on his time. And with the help of FreshBooks and Bench, he’s been able to.
Company: Tennessee Performance
Industry: Sports Management
Location: Franklin, TN, USA
Difficulty managing multiple platforms for payroll, bookkeeping, and invoicing
FreshBooks coupled with Bench Bookkeeping
Simplified billing and bookkeeping for thousands of customers every month
As former CEO of the YMCA, Trigg Wilkes is no stranger to a spreadsheet. But since retiring from that role 7 years ago, he now dedicates his time to developing the athletic abilities of youth volleyball and basketball players with his company Tennessee Performance.
After originally relying on an accounting firm, Trigg decided there had to be a better way to manage his books, on his time. And with the help of FreshBooks and Bench, he’s been able to. All while building a business within the projected 30 billion dollar industry of youth sports.
We spoke to Trigg in-between practices to learn more about how FreshBooks and Bench helped simplify his bookkeeping and accounting—for both his team and clients.
Can you give a little background on what you do—and how Tennessee Performance got started?
Trigg: We are a youth sports organization primarily focused on volleyball and basketball. Volleyball is a club program, and so we do have a significant amount of money through events—but the majority of our money comes through club dues of the kids who participate in the program.
I was previously the CEO of the YMCA—and I just felt like there was a void in competitive youth sports. And so when I retired from there, I want to say…7 years ago, we started this program—and I’ve just been building that ever since. And the great thing is, volleyball’s the fastest growing sport in the country, so we have found a real niche with that so far.
Where in those 7 years did you first hear about FreshBooks? And how did you decide on it versus, say, Quickbooks?
Trigg: Yeah, good question. And I have used them all, by the way. But I just came across FreshBooks when I was doing some searching on other opportunities—because one of the pieces that we struggle with in our world is having to use different platforms.
The recurring billing is really simple. And it’s a huge piece of what we do. And I have to trust that those invoices go out on the first of every month. And so far, we haven’t had any issues with that at all.
We need scheduling software to manage the workers, the turf, the birthday party rooms, and all of the events that take place. And then, of course, we need payroll and bookkeeping.
But for whatever reason, nobody has brought all the platforms together. With FreshBooks, you guys took one step into offering the bookkeeping side with Bench, as well as our taxes and all the elements that go with bookkeeping where others were not able to.
How has Bench helped in terms of tax time and bookkeeping?
Trigg: Bench has been incredible. They have been responsive, willing to listen to me, and patient with me because I’m new in their world. They haven’t had someone of the magnitude of the sports that I work with.
So right now, we’re just cleaning up the books, lining up all of our terminology with our minor and major accounts—making sure we understand what we’re saying to each other. We’ve been through a pretty elaborate process of getting all that square, and this year will be our first tax year. I just think they’ve been amazing.
What was your accounting setup like before FreshBooks?
Trigg: We had an accounting firm we worked directly with. And because I was the CEO of the YMCA, I’ve got enough accounting background that I can navigate or at least understand balance sheets and what we’re trying to produce.
But the fees tied to an accounting firm, and having to work on their schedule instead of my schedule—those types of things were a problem. Because at 3 o’clock every day, we’re packed. And so our schedules are so different from anybody else’s. And so from a scheduling standpoint, this has worked extremely well for us.
Are there any features, in particular, you’ve found surprisingly helpful?
Trigg: Yeah, the recurring billing is really simple. And it’s a huge piece of what we do. And I have to trust that those invoices go out on the first of every month. And so far, we haven’t had any issues with that at all.
And in today’s world, with split families and all that, the ability to tag multiple people on those invoices has been important for us too. We weren’t able to do that with other software.
You mentioned you’ve been using recurring billing and credit card payments. How have they helped your team and customers?
Trigg: I need it to be simple for me and our coaches. But my benchmark is: How do our users feel about it? Because I’ve got to believe we’re billing, I don’t know, a million and a half dollars. And I haven’t had one complaint about it, which is really unusual for us—so I’m happy.
Are there any particular ways FreshBooks and Bench helped you in terms of saving time and effort?
Trigg: I can’t tell you why, but our parents seem to be paying sooner than in the past. Even one of our volleyball directors noticed that we seem to have income in earlier each month than we have in the past.
And because we owe the rent we pay at our current location, he’s looking at his bank statement pretty aggressively to make sure he has everything he needs before he writes the check. So for him to notice that, it told me he’s right that they’re paying faster.
Have you asked your customers why that might be?
Trigg: No, no, no. But when we started with some test invoices on FreshBooks, I just remember thinking they looked clean and not everybody does that. There’s almost like a freshness or cleanness from the customer’s standpoint when they receive it.
And I got to believe that has something to do with faster payments. I don’t have any data to back that up—but if I don’t hear anything from them, that’s really good. It’s when I start hearing stuff, it’s not good. I just hope they pay the damn thing and I’ll be happy.
Is there any advice you have for business owners when considering accounting and bookkeeping?
Trigg: It all comes back to customer service. And I think that both sides of the equation, FreshBooks and Bench, have been so good to me so far. And I mean, I don’t mind telling you we had a hard time even getting Quickbooks on the phone. It was rough… and now when I reach out to you guys and I pretty much got an answer within 24 hours, if not sooner. It feels to me like the people on your side understand the responsiveness that we need.
As a coach, you’ve seen a lot of athletes. Are there any up-and-comers to keep an eye on?
Trigg: Every high-school senior who has played for us has received a college scholarship. And we have athletes currently being recruited by every Power 5 Conference.