Graphic Design and Branding
Using Zoho Invoice since:
Plotwist Creative is a design agency based out of Atlanta, Georgia. It was started by Brandon Brown, a design expert with more than 9 years of experience. Brandon kickstarted his career as a freelancer designer, and with the knowledge and expertise he gained, he created his own brand: Plotwist.
The fact that there are over 260,000 graphic designers in the US alone indicates that surviving in this industry and staying competitive involves a lot more than just good quality design. Businesses have to be unique to stand out of the crowd. “Every brand has its story. Bringing life to its narrative and delivering it to the right audience is an art. That’s what we do at Plotwist. Our award-winning team of professionals aspire to create powerful stories. This, combined with our superior customer experience, helps us stay afloat,” says Brandon.
When considering a ‘superior customer experience,’ invoicing can be easily overlooked as an important factor. However, here is a classic example of how Brandon Brown carved a niche by adopting the best invoicing practices in his design agency.
A few years ago, Brandon used to create invoices as Word documents and email them to his customers. While the process initially appeared easy, he realized this was not a feasible long-term solution.
As Plotwist started offering a wider range of services like brand identity, web design, content creation, and creative production, they realized they needed a tool that could keep track of what services were rendered and for whom.
“Our business reached a level where we needed a smart invoicing tool. We wanted automation, and we wanted to have signatures on our invoices. We didn’t want to scroll through a Word document and waste 15 minutes just to insert a signature!”
They wanted a tool that could streamline the invoicing process so they could focus more on the creative side of the business. After thorough research and several comparisons, they chose to go with Zoho Invoice.
When they get an order from a customer, Brandon’s team estimates the number of hours it would take to complete the job. Based on this information, they prepare an estimate and send it via email. Brandon wanted to offer exceptional customer service. He created a portal for all his customers using the ‘Customer Portal’ feature of Zoho Invoice. Each of his clients can now access their transactions and accept/reject estimates once Brandon sends them.
They’ve set up their preferences such that estimates, once accepted, are automatically converted into invoices. Payments are then collected online using the Zoho Invoice - PayPal integration. This makes the ‘quote to cash’ process faster and more efficient.
“Following up with customers regarding unpaid invoices was another task that took a big chunk of our productive time. With automatic payment reminders set up in Zoho Invoice, I can forget about the unpaid invoices and focus on reaching our targets!”
After understanding his deep passion and expertise with design and branding, we were especially eager to hear his experience with the invoice templates that Zoho Invoice offers. To put it in his words: “I just love it! I like the extent to which the templates can be customized. Besides the PDF templates, we’ve designed our email templates with Zoho Invoice, which reflects our brand and what we represent.”
Once the process was set up and the invoicing needs were taken care of, the growth figures slowly emerged. To quote Brandon: “We’ve experienced 2x the growth in revenue with an 82% increase in productivity since we started using Zoho Invoice exclusively.”
When asked about his favorite feature in Zoho Invoice, Brandon mentioned without a second thought: “It’s the customer portal, hands down!”
Plotwist uses Zoho Invoice to generate all financial transactions - estimates, invoices, customer statements, payment reminders and more.
“Though customers have these in their inbox, it’s great to have a place that has everything in order. They don’t have to wade through their inbox to find the details of an invoice that was sent 6 months back.”
After experimenting with the customer portal for more than a year, Brandon strongly recommends it to any business that wants to show how much they care about their customers’ time. “It’s a one-stop solution for so many customer questions:
- ‘Where can I view the balance of the invoice you sent last Monday?’
- ‘How can I update my card information?’
- ‘I need our statement of accounts for the last fiscal year to file taxes.’
The ‘customer portal’ is the answer for all of these! Of course, searching through transactions and sending them again is not a problem, but with the portal, the customers feel like they have access to something on their own and that we truly value their business.”
Why Plotwist loves Zoho Invoice:
Brandon is someone who is always on the hunt for the right tools for his business. He says:“Even after we started using Zoho Invoice extensively, I used to sign up for various other invoicing tools to see if they fit our needs better. Some apps appear light and easy to use, but they lack certain functions or are complex. After thorough research, I concluded that Zoho Invoice is the best for our invoicing. It’s simple, intuitive and gets the job done!”