This is not going to be one of those reviews. I will admit straight up that I am 100% biased here and am going to tell you one is absolutely without a doubt better than the other.
After using Dubsado to run my digital marketing agency for 6 months and HoneyBook for 4 months, I found a clear winner. And it’s HoneyBook. You will not see me canceling my HoneyBook membership anytime soon. I even added this website, which is my travel therapy resources business, to its own HoneyBook account after seeing the ease with which I’ve been running my digital marketing agency from the platform. Since joining several months ago, I more than tripled my client income in my digital marketing agency. I’ll talk more about that later.
HoneyBook vs Dubsado: What are they?
HoneyBook and Dubsado are both CRMs, which stands for customer relationship management. In basic terms, a CRM is an online tool that helps you to manage and grow your business. They focus on providing a good, streamlined experience for your customers. As a sole business owner of a travel therapy resource company and a social media digital marketing agency owner, I use a CRM for the following reasons:
- Create personalized contact forms that allow potential customers to reach me
- Generate new business opportunities
- Organize my communications between myself and clients
- Schedule phone calls with clients
- Invoice clients and accept payments through a payment processor
How do you know if your small business needs a CRM?
If you’re a small business owner or freelancer and not sure if you need a CRM or not, here are some things to consider.
- How much time do you spend a month preparing invoices and sending payment processors?
- Do you have a system that walks potential clients through the process of working with you?
- Do you have a way to capture leads and respond to them quickly over your website?
- Is it easy/automated for clients to schedule appointments with you?
These are all things that a CRM can help you establish and automate. The CRMs listed in this post today cost between $29-$30 a month. If you’re spending more than half an hour a month doing those tasks above, a CRM may help you free up time by automating your tasks. A good CRM can also make the process of getting leads and booking clients easier and more effective because a CRM makes you look more professional and enhances your client’s experience with your business. A CRM can increase your revenue because it can build trust and elevate your brand professionally, even if you’re a single owner/operator business
My Dubsado Review
Initially, I was in the very place you were. I was stuck between using Dubsado or HoneyBook as my CRM. Both had paid versions that were similar in price, both came highly recommended by colleagues, and both seemed to have the same functionality.
- “Starter Package” for $20/month
- “Premier Package” for $40/month
I initially chose Dubsado for these 2 main reasons:
- Dubsado has an unlimited free trial if you have under 3 clients
- I feared the name “HoneyBook” was too feminine of a name to put as my forward-facing brand when communicating with clients. I’m in a heavily GenX and Boomer-dominated male industry in healthcare staffing. Yes, I know this one is a harsh reality, but I’ve faced 10+ years of being belittled and not taken seriously as a female marketer. So, this was at the forefront of my mind.
Overall, I think the biggest pro of Dubsado is the free trial for under 3 clients. This is a great way for a very small business to use a CRM. If you do find that you like Dubsado and the user interface works for you, you can get a paid version as you grow.
However, I soon realized that Dubsado is not for the weak
If you’ve read other reviews of Dubsado vs HoneyBook, the one major con that people shed light on in regards to Dubsado is that it has a large learning curve. When I read that, I honestly thought it wouldn’t be an issue for me.
I’m good at tech. This website you’re on, I built it. I wrote this post, uploaded it, and understand basic HTML coding. Outside of travel therapy, I do digital marketing for clients where I build websites, design copy, automate posting, and communicate via different channels. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and never met a platform that I couldn’t learn with some exploration on the platform and YouTube.
Not Dubsado (in my opinion at least).
As a skilled digital marketer, I could not learn Dubsado. The amount of time that I was spending trying to learn it was getting crazy.
I estimate I spent over 5 hours watching webinars and YouTubes teaching me to use Dubsado and I still couldn’t figure out how to use it. Finally, I got to a point where I was going to pay $60/hour to have somebody off of UpWork set up my Dubsado. I didn’t do that because I was hesitant that even if I had the systems set up, I still would be stuck on how to implement or change them.
A Dubsado Pro:
I absolutely give credit where credit is due and I will say one of the nice things about Dubsado is that they have free welcome webinars which teach you how to set up your account. The host, a Dubsado employee, was extremely helpful and very kind. I do think that they explained the system well, it is just such a complicated and not intuitive system that the webinars still left me hanging.
It does seem like they have a great community and staff behind their brand that means well. This post does not reflect any against their company, but just that the product was so hard to understand and use.
Then, My Client Got The Wrong Invoices
One of the main reasons I wanted a CRM was because I was shifting from a model of having several clients pay me quarterly or bi-annually to monthly payments. There were 2 clients in particular that I wanted to set up invoices and payment processors for to send. This is also one of the main factors why I wanted to use Dubsado. Your account is free for under 3 clients, so I could run my 2 clients’ invoices for free and call it a day.
However, this is where things got sticky.
Setting up monthly invoices was one of the hardest parts of the Dubsado setup. I watched the webinar, and they showed me how to do it, but it still made absolutely no sense when I got into the project and tried to set up the invoices.
In the 5 months that I used Dubsado, I got 1 client set up with Dubsado. We then had an issue with an invoice in 3 out of 5 months. 2 months, my client got double invoiced after they already paid. Another month, an invoice never went out.
Again, I’m NOT NEW to working online and highly organized. I have a master’s degree and have been working in tech for years. The fact that I couldn’t master sending out a recurring invoice speaks to how difficult the system was. I fully admit that I made the mistakes that led to the errors. I can’t imagine how challenging it might be for somebody who owns a business but doesn’t have a background that’s heavy in using tech.
Luckily, the client that was receiving these invoices was my oldest client relationship (since 2016), so they were very gracious. Had that been a new client, it could have been another story.
A Single Invoice Finally Destroyed Me
The reason that I finally threw in the towel for Dubsado and switched to (paid) HoneyBook came down to a single invoice.
It was 9 p.m. around the 30th of a month when I realized I would have to modify the retainer invoices because my client was going to do add-ons for the rest of the year and the invoices wouldn’t be the same.
Canceling the existing payment automations and creating a single client invoice destroyed me. It was late that night when I ended up canceling the whole client project and signing up for HoneyBook on a whim.
I moved my active clients over to HoneyBook and set up payment processors in less time than it took me to set up my first project automation in Dubsado.
When I say HoneyBook is intuitive and user-friendly, I mean it x1,000,000.
Now, the argument for Dubsado seems to be that you have more control over your CRM and more capabilities. Is that true? I don’t know. My business is fairly simple to manage and all of the capacities that I need are on HoneyBook. I assume if I ever get bigger than HoneyBook I’ll also have staff that I could pass the CRM off to, and then maybe I could hire somebody who could work with Dubsado if needed.
For me, for now, HoneyBook is it.
My HoneyBook review
HoneyBook gave me the confidence and ability to pursue and land high-ticket clients. Once I set up my HoneyBook account, which only took 1-2 hours max, I gained a new found confidence in my business. I felt like my professional front was elevated and I was ready to put a landing page for my services on my emails and website, which I shied away from doing with Dubsado.
The results speak for themselves. Within 2 months of using HoneyBook, my number of clients, and income, tripled.
My fear of HoneyBook being too feminine was just that, a fear. When I send HoneyBook communications to my clients, it appears as “HB”. I’ve only gained clients thanks to HoneyBook, not pushed them away.
What Makes HoneyBook Unique?
HoneyBook has a built-in payment processing system, scheduler, and email system all within the HoneyBook platform. Unlike Dubsado, you don’t need to connect Stripe as your payment processor, or Calendly as your calendar. Everything is conveniently inside the platform and connects to each other. I find this easy to use because everything I need is really self-contained within the platform itself.
HoneyBook also comes with preloaded templates that are easy to modify for you to use.
You have HoneyBook templates for:
How much does HoneyBook cost?
HoneyBook’s starter plan, as of this writing in September 2023, runs $19/month for a monthly subscription. Their essential plan is $39/month and the premium plan is $79/month.
Do you have a HoneyBook promo code?
Yes, I do. If you sign up here you can receive 25% off your annual HoneyBook membership. HoneyBook did not sponsor this content (nor do they know I wrote it), but I may receive a commission on sales if you purchase a plan through this link.
It wasn’t easy to write this and admit my complete failure with Dubsado. However, I know that I must not be alone out there and others may benefit from hearing that there are more user-friendly CRMs out there for small business owners. I’ve had a great experience with HoneyBook to date. I will continue to update this piece as I spend more time on HoneyBook and use it to expand my business.