How Payment Apps Are Speeding Up Cash Flow

How Payment Apps Are Speeding Up Cash Flow

Time is money. This common idiom, widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is what drives a great deal of innovation in today’s tech-meets-business world. Mr. Franklin could not have anticipated mobile payment apps, but I bet he would recognize what they mean for today’s on-the-go entrepreneur slowed by the invoicing slog.    

Invoicing creates bureaucracy and doubts over when and how (and sometimes even if) entrepreneurs will be paid. All this uncertainty causes worry about cash flow. For entrepreneurs providing services like home repair, lawn care, or house-cleaning, visiting multiple locations each day, invoicing is often done in the car between jobs or at home after a day filled with work.

In today’s mobile world, your business should instead automatically and instantly receive payment the moment the work is done. Mobile payment apps make the payment process easy for you and your customers. With payment apps, you can easily collect payments from your customers or clients.

Popular apps like Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Cash App, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and PayPal, are increasing for people to swap their wallets for smartphones. These technologies are building momentum within the service professional community, allowing no-touch transactions promptly after service delivery. There’s no invoice, no drawn-out payment cycle, and no harassing follow-up calls to clients who are late to pay (think Uber). Some payment apps even come with physical card readers to process credit card payments in person.

As an example, think about how you might currently invoice your clients. You have to log into your PayPal account, create an invoice, and send it to the client through PayPal. Once they get the invoice, their team can immediately pay the invoice with their PayPal account or they can follow the specific payment instructions outlined in the invoice. Another example is the increasing trend of retail business using services like SquareUp‘s Point of Sale system (POS) to handle payments. Customers in their stores can use the Square Reader to insert their credit cards and make a payment. 

Not only do new tools exist for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs to streamline their billing, but many consumers are already using the technology. Mobile payment apps might just be the nimble entrepreneur’s new best friend, and one of his or her most valuable tools for building a successful business.

Want to use one of the best payment apps around? Check out PocketSuite on the App Store and Google Play to collect payments and help grow your business:

How Payment Apps Benefit Your Business

For many service-oriented businesses, client payments can get complicated. Creating invoices, sending payment reminders, collecting credit card info, and other monotonous tasks eat up valuable time for both you and your clients. Payment apps make payments much easier. By just sending an invoice to your client’s email address or phone number, they can make immediate payments to improve the payment process. Payment apps provide numerous benefits including: 

Accept online payments anywhere

Perform a service, get paid. That’s how mobile payment apps drive business, disrupting traditional invoicing so there’s no cumbersome process or the ongoing game of chase-and-remind for clients who are behind. With payment apps, you can get paid digitally and customers can use their credit cards or bank accounts to pay you through their mobile device. This instantaneous payment frees up small business owners to put their time where it counts – on their actual work. With extra time on their hands, entrepreneurs can finish more projects and win more clients.

Payment apps keep your cash flow flowing

Business credit has been tight since 2008, making it hard for entrepreneurs to rely on credit to support their operations. Being paid immediately means more small businesses that rely on their cash flow will survive, grow, and thrive, while more accurately monitoring their balance sheet to simplify budgeting. This opens the door for tenacious entrepreneurs ready to take the startup leap.  

Business payment apps are affordable

Typically, business owners who accept credit and debit card payments have to invest in a merchant processor account. These accounts come with a number of baked-in costs, including gateway fees, statement fees, monthly minimum fees and transaction fees, totaling between $25 to $35 per month depending on who you use. Mobile payment options allow entrepreneurs to process credit and debit card transactions without a merchant processor account and receive payments in their bank accounts within a few business days. Many of them have monthly fees along with fees for each payment processed. 

Mobile payment options free entrepreneurs from long-term contracts and numerous hidden fees, offering clear pricing and fast deposits for a fraction of the cost. These services still come with a small processing fee, but as the space becomes more competitive (as I anticipate it will), those fees will shrink.  

Payment apps are convenient for you and your clients

Payment apps are loved by businesses and clients because of their ease of use. While you’re enjoying life without invoicing and waiting for payments, your clients will enjoy a life with a lot less check writing, cash withdrawing, and reminder pinging. It’s freedom for both parties. At the same time, mobile payment apps can help entrepreneurs protect themselves from the repercussions of cancelations by automating billing on their cancelation policies.

Mobile payment apps make life easier for today’s entrepreneurs but they will also launch more small businesses into existence. Professionals will find the independence, flexibility, and support they need to take back their time and turn it into success.

The Features Every Business’s Payment App Needs

Most payment apps come with the very basic feature of sending or collecting payments. Apps like Venmo, Cashapp, Zelle, Google Pay, and others are more consumer-focused. They’re not focused on building the features needed to support businesses. For businesses that want to get paid, you need specific features. For example, Cashapp is great for sending and collecting money from friends and family, but it’s not an app designed for businesses to use. Here are the features to look out for when researching payment apps for your business:

Client invoices

Invoice your clients at any time and send them through email or text. Clients can pay their invoices through their phones and won’t have to rely on using cash to make payments.

Subscriptions

Subscriptions are a very popular payment option these days. Clients can pay a pre-determined amount each month without having to worry about keeping up with payments. For example, if you run a personal training business, you can use subscriptions to automatically charge your clients for their workouts at the beginning of each month. You can even give discounts to clients who sign up for long-term subscription plans.

Packages

Does your business bundle services and products together? For instance, estheticians often sell products while providing beauty services to their clients. With support for Package features, you can create a package to sell both your services and product in one simple pricing plan, rather than creating individual line items for each service and product sold. 

Start Collecting Payments with PocketSuite

There are plenty of good choices available for payment apps. But most payment apps are just that – they only focus on collecting payments. Wouldn’t it be great to have an app that handles payments, but also helps you run your business? That’s where PocketSuite comes in! 

PocketSuite is a leading mobile app for any business with clients. PocketSuite makes it easy for your clients to regularly book you, pay you, contact you, and more. With PocketSuite, you can do the following to run your business: 

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Payment processing
  • Manage and send invoices 
  • Create a POS solution 
  • Manage subscription/membership payments
  • Send automatic appointment reminders
  • Message clients 
  • Marketing campaigns 
  • CRM database of all your contacts

Get started with PocketSuite today on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Frustrations with Square Appointments

Square Appointments is marketed as a flexible, easy-to-use app that allows small business owners and solo-preneurs to make use of online scheduling for their small business. It boasts a free plan for solo-preneurs, cancellation fees, client reminders, and calendar sync. Sounds like a perfect fit for small business owners at first glance…

In this article we will be discussing the features of the Square Appointments app as well as some frustrations that many independent professionals have with it.

The history of the Square Payments app lies in the acquisition of BookFresh, an appointment scheduling app.

The strategy behind this seems to be for Square to acquire businesses that share commonalities in terms of being different “tools that Square could offer through their core merchant experience.”

Sounds perfect! Now you can set up online booking and manage your appointments from the Square app, right? Not so fast…

INTEGRATION DIFFICULTIES

Unfortunately, as opposed to integrating BookFresh features into their main app, Square chose to keep the apps separate, which means more confusion and complexity for small businesses.

BookFresh was a pre-seed startup and was never integrated in the Square platform. It is siloed, which means independent businesses need to download and use multiple apps.

There are some ways to integrate the two, but they are far from robust.

One option actually requires a third-party app to integrate everything. A third app! You should visualize me shaking my head right now because that’s bonkers.

DEPOSITS AND CREDIT CARDS

Another drawback is the fact that you can’t take deposits – you must submit a payment request twice, once for the deposit and another time for the payment.

You also can’t store your customer’s credit cards on file, which makes it inconvenient because you need to ask for the credit card each time you do a transaction. Imagine how cumbersome that becomes for repeat clients!

CUSTOMIZATION CHALLENGES

Additionally, the ability to customize the app is definitely lacking.

The rigid structure of the app is reminiscent of Square’s other apps – namely, the main POS app as well as the Cash app.

Your head will be spinning by the time you’ve figured out how to customize anything that pertains to your workflow. There’s no way to collect any additional information from clients when they book you, nor can you get them to sign any waivers or contracts.

LIMITED CALENDAR SYNC

The app also features a Calendar sync, which can be helpful if you’re currently using Google Calendar.

Which is great… unless you’re using iCal. Where’s the integration with one of the most popular calendars in the world, the default Mac calendar?

There was an online request for this on the Square Seller Forums back in 2016, with zero responses.

Another difficult thing about setting up Calendar sync is that you must do it on desktop – there’s no way to set up calendar sync between Square Appointments and Google Calendar on your mobile. How dated is that!

TECHNICAL ISSUES

The appointment app has also run into multiple technical hiccups which resulted in unhappy customers. Eventually the engineering team intervened to solve the issue, but it had to be debated in a public forum (rather than advocated for by a dedicated support team) in order to resolve it. Hmm!

You’d think a company that prides itself on its dedication to small business owners and solo-preneurs would be able to handle the issue offline instead of having their dirty laundry out for everyone to see.

In another public fiasco, customers using Square Appointments were appalled that the app didn’t have the capability to display their availability properly, resulting in these business owners missing out on appointments.

As a small business owner, I can assure you that every single possible customer that I can get for my business matters a whole lot.

It can be the difference between being profitable this month and bleeding red (losing money).

So I need a solution that is going to work properly and display my availability correctly.

Just imagine a client books an appointment with your business that you can’t honor because you have a scheduling conflict! That’s nerve-wracking to you because you have to reach out to try and reschedule, possibly losing the client forever.

It’s also frustrating to the customer because they were probably searching awhile for a service provider that is available at the specific time that they need.

Once they confirmed with you, you doubled back and informed them that now you can’t do that appointment…

This looks unprofessional, feels frustrating, and usually results in the customer canceling the appointment completely because they’ve lost confidence in you and your business.

Unacceptable!

EMPLOYEE DIFFICULTIES

What if you have employees? At the 5-10 employees range, you’re paying upwards of $90 per month.

How about if you have more than 10 employees? You’re paying a pretty penny (they call it a ‘custom price’ for software that should cost about $90 per month, when you could have unlimited employees for about the same price.

It’s strange that the more I try to expand my business, the more money I have to pay for the exact same technology. Does that sound predatory to you? It does to me.

RAISING FEES

As Square continues to hike fees, desperate business owners are looking at less expensive and less bloated alternatives in order to continue to run their business lean and profitable.

As Erik Sherman from Inc.com points out:

“2.75 percent of $21,000 is $577.50, which is $302.50 higher than the old monthly fee. If you can swipe all the transactions, then the only way to keep your fees with Square under that $275 number is to process no more than $10,000 in monthly transactions. Not exactly a smart goal for an entrepreneur.”

As a small business owner, I can agree with that. Why is it that whenever you try to become more successful, there are forces pushing you back down and punishing your success?

It takes an iron-willed business owner to pay that much in transaction fees, especially once you get into the $20 – $40k per month range. Isn’t that the goal, though? Sounds like a great incentive *not* to grow your business.

MISSING FEATURES

At the very least you’d expect an app that’s charging *that* much to provide some extra features besides appointments and online booking, right?

For example, where is the ability to store payment information for recurring clients?

What about information about your clients in general? I’d like to be able to take notes about my clients’ preferences in the same app, not have to bust out a notepad. That’s just unprofessional.

And don’t even get me started on business messaging. As we’ve discussed previously, business messaging is a critical tool for business owners for multiple reasons:

  • Easier to separate business from personal
  • Group messaging is a breeze
  • Ability to send out automated SMS campaigns with discounts, promos, etc. to generate more bottom line income

Where is this capability in the Square Appointments or main Square POS app? Nowhere to be found, to the chagrin of all Square clients.

PocketSuite is a great alternative to Square Appointments for the following reasons:

  • Everything packaged in 1 app – run your whole business with it
  • No excessive fees
  • Business Messaging included
  • Smart Campaigns included
  • iCal integration included
  • Flat rate for unlimited employees
  • Responsive customer service team

Try PocketSuite for free today and transform the way you run your business, forever. You won’t want to miss this!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2020, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

When to Use Google Voice Business for your Business

Is Google Voice Great for Business Use?

You’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, independent service professional, or freelancer, and you’ve decided to take the plunge and get yourself a business phone number. Congratulations! You’re ahead of the pack, as more solopreneurs rarely separate their business and personal information. This mindset of combining your personal and business contacts can lead to a lot of confusion, not to mention potentially lost income.

One popular phone option for a lot of new business owners is using Google Voice as their business’s phone system. After all, it’s a free service so it’s great because you don’t have to spend money on it when starting out a new business. Google Voice uses the Voice over internet protocol (VoIP), so you can make phone calls as long as you have an internet connection.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the topic of using Google Voice as a business phone line or alternate business number separate from your personal cell phone. We’ll discuss the key reasons why you’d want to do this as well as walk through a quick tutorial on how to set up a Google Voice number. You’ll also learn the main perks of why many small business owners elect to use a work number through Google Voice as well as the potential drawbacks and features you’re missing out on by going with Google Voice for your business.

I hope you are on the edge of your seat because you’re about to get a brand-spanking new business line! Look at you. You are official and you’re moving up in the world! 😉

Why A Business Line is Essential for Growing Your Business

First of all, let’s talk about how much more professional your business looks when you have a business line.

Business Cards

You can put your phone number on your business cards and not worry about giving everyone your personal cell phone number.

Text Messages

Texting with clients and customers is becoming more common. You can encourage your clients to text your business number if you don’t have time to take a call.

Group Messages

How about group messages (for example, if you offer classes, events, or a team?) Google Voice allows that as well.

Separate Business and Personal Contacts

Finally, you can separate business from personal in a convenient way. No longer will you see an incoming call and wonder if it’s a client or your close friends asking why you haven’t called them in ages. You can also forward calls to your personal number if needed.

Quick and Customizable

Additionally, Google Voice is a great choice because you can get your number in literally one (1) minute. All you need is a Gmail account and you’re good to go! Not to mention, you can even customize your phone number, such as choosing your area code and several different combinations of digits. Anyone who has ever wanted a vanity phone number, this is your opportunity! 😉

Voicemail

You also get a voicemail that Google automatically transcribes and emails to you. So you get an audio message and a written email message for any call that you miss when a client leaves a message. That being said, the voicemail transcripts can be spotty at times (i.e. Customers may be asking for deep cleaning, but it comes across as “cheap feeling”). I assure you these are not the same and may leave you confused and need to seek clarification for what should be a straightforward request to begin with. Lol. Excuse me for that chuckle.

Forward to your Cell Phone

How about forwarding your business line to your cell phone? Of course, this is possible – it wouldn’t be very useful to have a business line that didn’t ring to your main phone. Text messages get forwarded also, although thru email, which is pointedly less convenient (for obvious reasons) than regular SMS.

All in all, getting a dedicated Google Voice number is a great choice for your business. Its ease of use makes like easier for business owners. How do you go about doing such a thing? Ask no more! The good news is, it couldn’t be easier.

Simply go to voice.google.com (don’t you love how easy Google makes it to find their services?) Then choose For Work from the selection, which will route you to Google’s cloud services. It’s basically the same thing as the Google Voice app for personal use, but with some extra features.

What’s that I hear? You were looking for a free solution? Well, that’s what most people say, and for that reason, I’d recommend that you click Back and click For Personal Use instead. (Note that I’m not advocating breaking any terms of service)

However, it’s a shame that Google doesn’t offer some pretty sweet and much-needed extra features for busy professionals. For example, how awesome would it be if you could do any of the following with your brand new business line? (Unfortunately you can’t do any of the following with Google Voice.)

P.S. Want a better alternative to Google Voice? Check out PocketSuite on the App Store or Google Play Store to see how our phone system has more features than Google Voice, and how it can help grow your business.

The Drawbacks of Google Voice for Business Use

While Google Voice does have its benefits, the truth is that it lacks the critical features needed to run a business. Here are some of the drawbacks to using Google Voice for businesses:

Contact Management

What if you could add your missed calls to your contacts automatically? How much time would that save you digging thru your missed call records and emails trying to figure out which client reached out from which number? Ugh, annoying!

No Support for Team Members and Phone Number Sharing

Google Voice numbers are limited to the Google account the user signed up with. If your business is large enough that you have multiple team members who need to share a phone line for customer service, Google Voice can’t support that feature. You’d have to use a separate phone system to share phone numbers across multiple team members.

Only Works in the United States

Running a business in Canada or any other part of the world? Unfortunately, you can’t set up a phone number for international countries.

No Personalized Responses

What if you could send a personalized response to one or more clients based on certain criteria? (Such as the date of their last booking, or whether they owe you money, or on their birthday or anniversary, or when their package is going to expire, or when you have special classes, extra availability, promotions, discounts, etc) – can’t do any of that with Google Voice personal (or business!). I know, I know it’s tragic…hang in there.

Limited Forwarding Options

What if you need to forward your number to another line that is not your mobile phone? Like when you drop your phone and have to leave it in the repair shop overnight or when you are away on vacation out of the country and don’t have an international voice plan, or you just hired an assistant and want him to answer all of your calls. So sad, can’t do that with Google Voice either.

Headache of Multiple Apps

Google Voice is great because it gives you a free number, but does that truly mean it’s good for business? If you’re using Google Voice for your business line, which app or software are you using to manage your clients’ bookings? Which app are you using to process client payments? How about contracts…do you have an app for getting them signed online? Where are you storing notes, class info, etc? That’s right – you have to use multiple apps, which makes everything exponentially more difficult, manual, and inefficient.

PocketSuite – a Better Alternative to Google Voice

How can you take advantage of these amazing business features without having to shell out $30 per month to Google Drive, Google Wallet, and more? The answer is a tool that you may already have heard about since you’re reading this article:

An amazing mobile app called PocketSuite, it’s an all-in-one solution:

1. MISSED CALLS ADDED TO CONTACTS AUTOMATICALLY – every missed call you get (remember, these are only business calls because you get a dedicated business line with PocketSuite) will be added to your contacts automatically. No more sifting through missed calls or staring at a number, wondering which client called you!

2. SMART MARKETING TO SEND PERSONALIZED RESPONSES – Send personalized, automated responses to your new leads and clients based on any criteria you set – hello discounts, hello promotions, hello increasing your bottom line income!

3. CUSTOMIZABLE FORWARDING INCLUDED – Easily forward your line to your admin or support team, and start spending your time growing your business while your team (or assistant) takes care of the support tasks! Unlike Google Voice, with PocketSuite your business line isn’t attached inseparably to your cell phone number. It default forwards to your cell phone but you can temporarily or permanently forward it to any other phone, including (ironically) to a Google Voice number.

Manage Your Business With One App

Finally! Running a business these days already requires so many moving pieces. It can be overwhelming. That’s why if you have a business line, you shouldn’t have to use a separate app just to manage it. With PocketSuite you get a business line integrated into the same app that you already use for payments, messages, scheduling, contacts, and pretty much any other task you need to do for your business. Phew!

Not to mention PocketSuite also allows you to get a brand new number easily and quickly, customize the area code and digits, and the best part…

If you already have a current Google Voice or Google Voice Business line and you love it, no problem! You can easily port your current number to PocketSuite and keep the Google Voice number that you already have (and that your clients have). Boom! You can have it all!!!

If you’re just looking for a business line and that’s it, you can get one from PocketSuite for the nominal cost of $9.99. However, for an extra $10 you also get the entire PocketSuite app with all the amazing features that I outlined above. And that’s still less expensive than Google Cloud’s Premier solution, which doesn’t have any of the features that I referenced above.

It’s a no brainer to do a test drive, even if it’s on PocketSuite’s free plan. There is also a 30-Day FREE Trial – so you have no excuse. Check it out!

So what are you waiting for? We’ve discussed all of the steps to getting either a Google Voice line or a PocketSuite business line or BOTH – now it’s time to make use of this information because you’ll never get back the ten minutes you invested in reading this article. Carpe diem! (Seize the day!) As service professionals, let’s be bold and keep expanding and growing our brand and income. We’re laying the foundation for our continued success, one delighted client at a time!

If you liked this article, you’ll love PocketSuite’s Business line – try out the 30-Day FREE trial Premium plan, if you’re not sure, you’ll get the business line benefits! You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2020, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

What Frustrates Me About Square Up

What Frustrates Me About Square Up

AND WHY IT’S A HUGE DEAL FOR SMALL BUSINESSES. I’m going to try my best to have an unbiased view of Square Up. It’s tough, however, to not be partisan when I talk with small businesses every single day who complain about the costs, malfunctioning card readers, and unresponsive Square support.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Square Up is perfect for specific industries like retailers, restaurants, and food trucks because of its ease of use. With a Square account, you can collect payments, schedule appointments, and more. You even get a free Square card reader. Square Capital can give businesses in these industries the small business loans and capital they need to get up and running. Square Up works well for businesses with retail locations, but it’s got a lot of limitations for service-based businesses.

For many of the service professionals that I speak to each day (like therapists, estheticians, stylists, personal trainers, yoga/pilates instructors, dog trainers, cleaners, coaches, contractors, tutors, and more), Square Up tends to have a number of key issues. The feedback is simple: It can be really, really, really frustrating. 

Here are some of the common complaints we hear about Square.

High, Complicated Costs & Fees

The Square Point of Sale system makes it easy for businesses to accept credit cards. And payments are deposited in your bank account within 1-2 business days. But the biggest limitation to accepting credit cards is high fees. Most business owners can relate to that. Cash flow is very important to small business owners, so keeping costs simple and low is a must. The pricing structure for companies like Square Up, Authorize.net, American Express, and even PayPal are still stuck in the stone ages.

There are processing fees, per-transaction fees, batch fees, hardware fees, monthly gateway fees, setup fees, and more. The unspoken truth is in the fine print, unfortunately.

To make things even more complicated, the fee structures are different depending on how you accept payment. A swipe? An online payment? An invoice payment? A card entry? Most on-the-go business professionals don’t want to have to stop and think about how much in fees they’ll be paying based on how their clients will be paying using their credit card or debit card. 

Innovations in payment processing technology have accelerated in recent years. That means these processors should not be confusing their customers with complex pricing schedules. There should be a single transaction fee…a low transaction fee.

It shouldn’t be this complicated.

Hardware is Necessary

When a client is paying for services, the customer is not always directly in front of the professional. Most of the businesses we speak to each day are invoicing clients, collecting deposits, accepting online bookings/payments – they need more than point of sale credit card processing through Square Register.

Square is best known for its swiping – when the client is right in front of the business owner. Because of this, hardware (or the “Square reader”) is mandatory in order to perform the very act of swiping a credit card in person (or inputting a card into a larger reader if EMV chips are involved).

In our “attempt” at humor, we published a Top 10 Ways to Ditch Your Square Reader…highlights include attaching your reader to a SpaceX rocket ship or planting it in your backyard to see what grows 🙂

Ok, back to the serious stuff like the problems with hardware. The hardware can break. It doesn’t plug in if you have a smartphone case. You can’t ever seem to remember to pack it. The hardware doesn’t store the card information of your recurring clients.

Credit card readers make sense at a Starbucks, restaurant, or in a food truck. After all, card readers can only be used in a single situation – in person. Most on-the-go professionals need more than that.

Feature Overload

Square Up touts how it helps service businesses “run their business”. But in the real world, there are limitations to that marketing message – you need more than just a credit card processor to run your business.

For example, here’s some feedback we received from Tim who runs a fitness business:

“I am using Square Up for processing (@3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered), use Google Calendar, use Zoho for billing, and have to run monthly credit card payments manually.”

So for Tim to run his business, he needs more tools (than just Square Up) with more features. He uses up to 5 other apps and tools to help him with the day to day.

To address this problem, Square has also invested in building adjacent tools and (supposedly) complementary apps.

Here’s a quote we received from Susan who runs a small tutoring business in Texas. Let me know if you can guess what her issue might be here:

“I use the Square Cash app, Square Appointments, Square Invoices, and Square Payments via my website.”

She uses more Square tools than just a credit card processor. However, she uses 4 different Square apps to help her run all the parts of her business.

She spends most of her time hopping in and out of each Square-built app – in many ways not any real difference from Tim’s problem above. The Square apps are not integrated, they don’t sync, and they each cost their own ongoing monthly fees or transaction fees.

A lot of frustration comes from the fact that Square Up is a payment processing company at its heart, and business owners are having fundamental issues using Square to “run their entire business”.

“I can’t get anyone from their support team on the phone!”

If I’m using Instagram, and I run into a bug or have a question, I don’t necessarily panic. I’ll email Instagram’s support team with more of a “heads up” about the issue and not really lose sleep over it, and definitely do not expect to get someone on the phone to discuss the issue.

Why? Because I don’t rely on Instagram to survive (i.e., collect payment for my business). But for business tools, high-quality/real-time support is something that is absolutely crucial.

What if your client is having trouble paying you? You can’t charge a credit card? You’re waiting on a deposit and want to know when it will arrive? All of a sudden your reader breaks?

Square Up has limited phone support. That means the busy professional can’t speak to a real human being on demand…A human with real feelings who can be empathetic about the fact that they’re trying to run a real business, collect payments and are experiencing a serious roadblock.

Am I Being Too Harsh?

I honestly don’t think so. My concerns here aren’t made up. These are concerns that I’m echoing from real business owners, with actual concerns, who are trying to each build something awesome – their own business.

Square Up is not the future of small business technology. It’s the past. Most single small business owners don’t have a voice loud enough to make a significant change in technology. So it’s on us to voice their concerns, address their issues, and come up with a practical solution.


Get PocketSuite – The Best Square Up Alternative

Square Up is a popular option for businesses because it’s been around for so long. However, as a legacy system, it can’t keep up with the needs of modern small businesses. That’s why we created PocketSuite. PocketSuite is the #1 App for anyone with clients. We make it easy for your clients to regularly book and pay you. Even better, we give you the tools you need to grow your business. 

See the table below to see how PocketSuite compares to Square Up. 

square vs pocketsuite

Get started with PocketSuite today. Learn more about PocketSuite’s features by clicking the button below:

Hear what customers about switching from Square Up to PocketSuite

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

App works awesome. 

“I am a pro user. Was using Square and clients prefer PocketSuite. Customer service is top-notch too! Very responsive to issues.”

Michelle Duncan, 10/30/2018

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Square is for squares. PocketSuite is for professionals

“I love this app. The creator must be a genius but it does everything for my Business. I upgraded to premium because I have a fitness center where clients book classes online and you can sync with employees etc. the customer service is so awesome, responds almost immediately through the app or email, phone. I hope this app stays forever because it helps my business run smoothly.”

Anonymous User, 06/15/2019

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Best app, way better than Square

“This is the best app ever. Ha ha. I mean it really is though, I can run my whole business from my phone with ease and my clients love the ease of paying by text, e-signing contracts, and I love the low processing fee!

I cannot wait to see where this awesome team takes this app and cannot believe how great they are! The greatest and easiest customer service that I can reach within the app and get a lightning fast response! What!? Yep!

Download this! You can thank me later. ;)”

Skg1991, 07/17/2016

How To Review Small Business Apps with Merchant Maverick

Small Business Reviews Merchant Maverick




Have you ever been confused about which app to use for your small business? With so many options available, you have probably tried to find a good review site to distinguish between top companies and bottom feeders. After all, the reputation of your own business is on the line, depending on who you decide to go with.

When considering who to use for payment processing, you have probably found that most software review sites have a lot of questionable practices – untrustworthiness, “pay-to-play” marketing, and biased (and even fake) reviews.

We decided to interview the founder of one of the most transparent and trustworthy review sites – Merchant Maverick.

Merchant Maverick

Check out our full interview with Amad on PocketSuite’s Professional On The Go Podcast.

POTG Amad Ebrahimi

Merchant Maverick is one of the leading app review websites because of its commitment to raising the bar for business apps and supporting developers who want to improve.

The website was started by none other than Amad Ebahimi of Santa Monica, CA.

Amad was turned off by all of the “pay-to-play” tactics used by other online business app review sites. They do just about anything to promote apps that advertise with them.

The big question that Amad was trying to answer when he started Merchant Maverick was:

“How can we improve transparency and integrity in the online review industry for small businesses?”

Amad Ebrahimi Interview

A fan of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and video games, Amad explains his reasoning for founding Merchant Maverick: 

Amad: I was inspired to create Merchant Maverick because I had had some bad personal experiences with finding a reputable credit card processor. There was a general lack of transparency in regards to pricing and contract terms. The processors themselves lacked transparency to me and the review sites back then in 2009 seemed pretty shady, and they seemed to be handing out high-ratings to processors that would pay them the most. I used that pain point as an opportunity. In the immediate years prior to starting Merchant Maverick, I was working as an internet marketing manager for an online tour company and a network hardware company.

This sounded like a great reason to start a review site. There was clearly a pain point in the industry that needed to be solved for small business owners.

Merchant Maverick In Depth Reviews

Next we dove into what Merchant Maverick offers and who their clients are:

Amad: We offer in-depth reviews focused on business software, apps, and services. For example, point-of-sale software, booking and scheduling apps, or credit card processing services. We also write informative content pertaining to the small business industry as a whole. Ultimately, we take on the burden of in-depth research so entrepreneurs don’t have to, freeing up time for them to focus on running their businesses.

Our “clients” can be classified in two-ways: 1) our review site readers or users who are small business owners looking for advice and direction, and 2) our vendors or partners that we have commercial relationships with. We serve as kind of a broker between those two “clients.”

As Amad mentioned, this type of “flywheel” business relies on two types of clients – businesses offering services and consumers looking for them.

However, Merchant Maverick has separated themselves from the pack by using a transparent ‘Consumer Reports’ strategy as opposed to the classic ‘Yelp’ online review model.

We were curious as to what the differences are between the Consumer Reports business model and Yelp’s online review model.

How did Amad decide which model to use at Merchant Maverick?

Amad: The difference is that Consumer Reports is focused on expert-based editorial reviews and Yelp is an aggregator of actual customer-reviews. The Consumer Reports model requires them to really understand the product that they’re reviewing, spending hours testing products against each other to determine the best of breed. Yelp, on the other hand, relies on gathering as much customer reviews as possible to calculate an average score based on all of those individual reviews. Merchant Maverick is a bit of a hybrid of both models but we place most of our focus on our own expert-based editorial reviews. We do, however, still allow customers to leave their own experiences, but our ratings are based on our editorial team, not an aggregate of customer-ratings. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing each company or product to develop our own assessment. I chose this model, long-form reviews backed by research, because I felt that it was best suited for my goal to educate small business owners as much as possible. 

We were also curious about the difference between 5 Star Business Apps and those that aren’t? Are those business apps just better products or is there more to it?

Amad: I think it largely depends upon the review site. To speak for our own process, we use several different review guidelines to measure business apps against each other, including ease-of-use, pricing, feature set, transparency of sales and advertising, customer support. We clearly outline how we determine our ratings so that our readers can engage in that research themselves and see if they draw the same conclusion. I’m sure there are some other review sites that might be accepting money for high ratings, but I’m not particularly aware of who that might be. 

On that same note, what is Amad’s take on the “pay to play” tactics that happen in this industry? How can small businesses best spot and avoid online review sites that do this?

Amad: It depends on what you mean by “pay to play.” If by that phrase you mean review websites that accept money to manipulate star ratings, then the only way to spot a review site that is “pay to play” would be to only trust the sites that clearly outline how and why they determined their rating. In other words, using those sites that provide full transparency and breakdown of the review and all of the details that went into the research.

Given this, what is Amad’s vision for bringing “journalistic transparency” and integrity back to the Online Review world?

Amad: Honestly, I think that we are already doing it, at least in the categories that we operate in. When Merchant Maverick first started, most of the review sites that existed around credit card processing all had the same two or three credit card processors listed as their top three. Once we launched and the market was able to see the level of research that we put into our reviews, and the fact that we did not rate those aforementioned top three as the highest rated, those same review sites begin using our top three as their own. They were essentially forced to rearrange their so-called top credit card processors because of our in-depth reporting on the market. So, again, the only way to bring journalistic transparency to the online review world is to review business apps with the level of detail that an investigative journalist would. Conduct your research and lay out all of the facts so your readers can trust your process.

Authority Magazine

Amad is a guest writer for Entrepreneur.com – check out his bio and articles!

Merchant Maverick also recently celebrated their 10th birthday – as a special celebratory gesture, Amad posted this on their Instagram:

10 Years Merchant Maverick

This company is truly coming to the rescue of small business owners, as evidenced by the photograph above.

It’s a weight off our shoulders to know that there are still review sites out there that truly care about providing transparent information to small business owners.

If it’s helpful to SMBs and solo businesses, we’re all about it!

Check out our full interview with Amad on PocketSuite’s Professional On The Go Podcast.

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article





9 Most Popular Dog Training Methods





Rewards of being a dog trainer

Dog training is a lucrative vocation for anyone seeking a rewarding career working with canines. Being a Dog trainer enriches the lives of dog parents by providing a structured method for them to interact with their fluffers and waggers and vice versa. Not only can you provide a significant positive impact for entire families by training a once-aggressive pooch, but you can also provide much needed structure for said pooch to thrive in.

When dogs know their place in the pack, it creates calmer and happier pets.

However, just like any training program, Dog training has its differences in methods and applications.

Focusing on positive rewards is one popular style, but there are many regimens you can choose from when selecting your preferred training approach.

If you’re interested in learning about effective methods of Dog training, you’re barking up the right tree.

Let’s get started chewing through this delicious bone of knowledge by clearing up the confusion about Dog training styles.

Dog Training Styles

Here are the most popular methods of Dog training:

(Although we’ve broken down training methods into specific categories, the reality is that trainers often blend styles together.)

  • Alpha Dog (Dominance) Method (Compulsion)
  • Positive Reinforcement
    • Clicker Training
  • Scientific Training
    • Classical Conditioning
  • Electronic Training
  • Model/Rival (Mirror) Training
  • Relationship-based Training

You can also break down Dog training into the following overarching theories:

  • Traditional Dog Training
  • Modern Dog Training
  • Balanced Dog Training
    • Respect Training

A third way to break down Dog training styles according to research:

  • Reward Based
  • Punishment Based
  • Neutral

With such a diverse taxonomy of training methods, it is understandable why there is so much debate about the best and most effective dog training approaches.

Scientifically speaking, the types of Dog training are not black and white, but instead fall on the ‘Dog Training Spectrum.’

Your best bet when choosing a training style may be to learn the basics of each and build your own hybrid technique.

Battle of the Styles

BATTLE OF THE STYLES

There is much controversy and debate between members of different training schools.

As we investigate these training styles, we’ll also mention any known criticisms to give you the most balanced view possible.

Let’s dig in!

ALPHA DOG (DOMINANCE) METHOD (COMPULSION TRAINING)

This method, popularized in part by Cesar Milan, relies on teaching the dog that you are the pack leader. For example:

“If your dog wants to go out, then they have to sit before you open the door. If they want to eat, then they have to wait calmly while you prepare food.”

Some modern trainers believe that this training method is outdated in light of new research on pack mentality.

Also called ‘Compulsion’ training, this is the oldest method of Dog training that exists.

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING

Positive Reinforcement has been touted by celebrities such as Victoria Stilwell of Animal Planet’s TV show It’s Me Or The Dog, as well as Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, who trained the Obamas’ dog Bo.

The overall approach for this type of training is that owners reward desired behavior with treats such as food, and do nothing when the dog exhibits undesirable behaviors such as barking or biting.

Clicker training is also included in with Positive Reinforcement training, and relies on using an audible ‘click’ to reward desired behavior.

Steven R. Lindsay (author of ​Applied Dog Behavior and Training​​) explains that “rewards lead to greater active strategies, such as searching, exploring, and risk taking. In contrast, punishment tends to lead to hesitation, ritualization, and risk avoidance as well as generally more passive behaviors.”

There are numerous critiques of positive-only training, with the most common being that it doesn’t work as well for submissive dogs and generally doesn’t help eliminate undesirable behavior.

Positive Reinforcement Training

SCIENTIFIC TRAINING

Science-based Training blends classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

There are some positive rewards, but also negative punishments.

Some researchers believe you should also condition dogs to behave properly without rewarding them each time.

Science-based training is too broad to categorize accurately, as new studies are always coming out to alter the landscape of this training style.

ELECTRONIC TRAINING

The lay-term for this is known as ‘shock collar training,’ although collars containing a spray of Citronella can also be used.

This training is best used at a distance, when the dog’s proximity to the owner is far and a leash can’t be used effectively.

Studies indicate that this causes a great deal of stress to dogs subjected to this method of training.

MODEL/RIVAL (MIRROR) TRAINING

This method is based on the idea that dogs learn by observing.

Trainers will use other humans (or the owner) as models for completing desired behavior and being rewarded for it.

This is the ultimate version of ‘learning by example.’ The method works best when the dog already has a strong bond with its owner, which makes it more likely to follow suit by learning from its owner’s actions.

RELATIONSHIP BASED TRAINING

This method is a hybrid of other training styles that relies on the connection between the dog and its owner.

Relationship-based training requires more patience from both parties, as its basis is building on the dog’s current successes.

One manifestation of this style is to thoughtfully consider why the dog is behaving in an unwanted fashion, and addressing the root cause of this instead of just punishing the dog into compliance.

What about the meta breakdown of Traditional, Modern, and Balanced Dog training?

Relationship based training

TRADITIONAL DOG TRAINING

The ‘traditional’ approach would encompass the Alpha Dog (Dominance) Method – showing the dog it’s place in the pack.

Some examples of this type of training would be to eat before the dog or walk through doorways before the dog.

However, modern research has shed light on the fact that dog packs would rarely organize themselves into such a rigid, coherent system.

These studies have paved the way for new strategies often called ‘modern’ dog training.

MODERN DOG TRAINING

The Modern approach incorporates Positive Reinforcement, Science-based Training, and subsets of each such as Clicker Training and the positive elements of Classical or Operant Conditioning.

The modern approach focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors rather than directly ‘correcting’ bad ones.

BALANCED DOG TRAINING

This method incorporates both of the previous styles – both the negative corrections and positive rewards of Classical or Operant Conditioning.

A balanced Dog trainer may use a clicker when the dog is just a puppy (positive), but also correct unwanted behaviors with punishments once the dog matures.

Most balanced Dog trainers use both methods because of the assumption that positive reinforcement alone is not enough.

Some Dog trainers are now calling for the method to be called ‘Crossover’ training, as they feel that using ‘balanced’ terminology is misleading in that it presupposes a better approach than positive reinforcement only. 

Says Bob Maida, who trained Ronald Reagan’s dogs:

“I hate using the term (alpha dog) because it’s a buzzword that prompts the ‘positive crowd’ to near criminalize people that correct dogs,” Maida says. “You need balance. It’s like cooking – if you put too much salt in the dish, it’s not going to taste good.”

Now that you’ve learned about some popular Dog training methods – which one will you apply in your puppy bootcamp?

Did we miss anything? Email us at support@pocketsuite.io and let us know!

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article





Different Types of Dog Training Apprenticeship Programs

Dog Training Academies




Are you an aspiring Dog trainer seeking an apprenticeship program? Apprenticing under an experienced Dog trainer may be the single best thing you can do to step your Dog training skills up and kickstart your new career as a Dog trainer. While there are plenty of Dog training and Animal Behavior certifications available on the market, nothing teaches hands-on skills quite like in-person experience.

For this reason, in this article we’ve broken down the different types of Dog training apprenticeship programs available on the market today.

It’s time to sit up and pay attention, because you’ll be a whole lot dog-gone smarter when it comes to approaching your Dog training career after you finish reading.

DOG TRAINING APPRENTICESHIPS

In previous articles, we’ve discussed the merits of becoming a certified Dog trainer.

We’ve talked about how to get certified as well as the wide array of certifications available.

Today, we’re switching focus and discussing a much more specific topic – apprenticeships.

What is a Dog training apprenticeship?

The Department of Labor defines an apprenticeship as a “learn-while-you-earn” business model that “combines on-the-job training, provided by the employer that hires the apprentice, with job-related instruction in curricula tied to the attainment of national skills standards.”

In essence, you get hands-on experience in the Dog training field by working with an established Dog trainer or company.

As an apprentice, you can gain invaluable experience by learning to understand the key behavioral differences between breeds.

For example, a German Shepherd may exhibit traits of a guard dog while a Beagle will always find its way home.

Apprenticeships generally last between 1 and 6 years. Apprentices typically take classes while they are working, which combines real life experience with theoretical knowledge.

These two methods of skill acquisition are complementary and deliver lots of benefits to both the Dog trainer and the employer:

EMPLOYER BENEFITS

As a veteran Dog trainer or Dog training company, you form a symbiotic relationship with your apprentices while enjoying the following benefits to your business:

  • Low cost, skilled labor
  • On the job training for potential full-time Dog trainers
  • Lower employee turnover – an estimated 91% of apprentices stay with their employer after the program ends

APPRENTICE BENEFITS

As a Dog training apprentice, you get lots of perks that you wouldn’t have access to just by receiving a Dog training certification:

  • On-the-job training
  • Higher chance of being hired full-time once apprenticeship is complete
  • Credentials signifying apprentice is qualified for a career in Dog training
  • Steady wage increases
  • Learning new methods and training techniques
  • Potential college credits

Dog trainers or Dog training businesses may choose to perform screening procedures to select the best apprentices.

This may include minimum qualifications such as being 18+ years of age and being a college graduate or enrolled in college.

It may also include more complex benchmarks such as aptitude tests, interviews, transcripts, or previous experience working with dogs.

While there is no formal Dog training apprenticeship system in the US, we have compiled a list of the most prominent Dog training apprenticeship programs that we could find. Let us know if we missed any, we’re happy to add them as well.

SELECT DOG TRAINING APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS

Wags and Wiggles Training

Wags and Wiggles – California

Laurie Zurborg CPDT-KA has been featured on Animal Planet and runs a prestigious Dog training apprenticeship program under the name Wags and Wiggles.

Wags and Wiggles started in 1999 and remains one of the top Dog training apprenticeships.

House of Dog Training

House of Dog Training – Colorado

The House of Dog Training features multiple certified Dog trainers and runs an apprenticeship program that costs $2500 for 1 year or $5000 for 2 years.

They can help you earn hours towards your certification and even help you with the application process to receive your certification.

PAWS Training Group

PAWS Training Group – Massachusetts

This 150 hour long apprenticeship program prepares you for home appointments, private sessions, training camps, and fostering dogs.

PAWS was founded by Shari-Ann Murphy, who has been training and fostering dogs for over 25 years.

Little Angels Service Dogs

Little Angels Service Dogs – California

The Little Angels Student Trainer Apprenticeship Program has a tuition-free option available, which is the only one we’ve come across so far.

The company operates as a non-profit, and their goal is to “better the community through dog training education, and specifically to assist the disabled through trained assistance dogs.”

Service Dog Academy

Service Dog Academy – Illinois

Mary McNeight CCS, BGS is the head trainer for Service Dog Academy, and was a featured speaker for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers 2013 Conference.

If you’re interested in training medical alert dogs or service dogs, their apprenticeship program may be a good fit.

Front Range K9

Front Range K9 Academy – Colorado

The Front Range K9 Academy apprenticeship is a $2500 program that typically lasts 2-6 months.

Jennifer Hime started Front Range K9 after studying under Dog Trainer Paula Mitchell of Animal 

World, and has been in the Canine training world since 1990.

thisable veteran

thisABLE Veteran – Illinois

The apprenticeship program for thisABLE Veteran is a paid program in Illinois that teaches you to train service dogs for veterans.

This non-profit has been operating since 2011 and was founded by Behesha Doan.

my little dog training academy and daycare

My Little Dog Training Business – Oregon

For residents of Oregon, My Little Dog Training Business is offering an apprenticeship program that prepares you to take your test through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. 

Suzanne Brean started the Academy as an adjunct to her Dog training business, and has the following certifications to back up her knowledge:

  • CP.D.T.-KA, 
  • C.P.D.T.-KSA, 
  • S.T.A.R. Puppy Trainer, 
  • C.G.C. (Canine Good Citizen) 
  • C.G.C. Community Canine Trainer, 
  • C.G.C. Urban Canine Trainer.

Doggie Academy

Doggie Academy – New York

The Doggie Academy apprenticeship program is headquartered in New York at the Brooklyn Dog Training Center.

The internship is free and unpaid, and you must sign a non-compete document stating you will not train dogs in the Brooklyn area for at least 1 year.

BADDogs

Bad Dogs Inc – California

Led by Barbara Davis, the Bad Dogs Inc apprenticeship program is called DogTAP.

Barbara has been certified by both the CCPDT and IAABC, which are two of the most prominent certifying bodies for Dog trainers.

Good Dog Autism Companions

Good Dog! Autism Companions – California

The Apprentice Trainer position for Good Dog is a volunteer position at a non-profit.

It lasts 16 months and is an unpaid apprenticeship.

Good Dog Santa Cruz

Good Dog Santa Cruz – California

Mardi Richmond CPDT-KA, CC heads up the Good Dog Santa Cruz apprenticeship program.

Mardi specializes in force-free training methods, and offers a 1 year program at $400 per month.

whos walking who

Who’s Walking Who – New York

The apprenticeship program for Who’s Walking Who was started by Stacy Alldredge, who has been working in the Canine world for over 24 years.

Legends Dog Training

Legends Dog Training – California

The apprenticeship program for Legends Dog Training comes at a cost of $950.

Amanda Gagnon Dog Training

Amanda Gagnon Dog Training – New York

This apprenticeship program comes in at $4500, but doesn’t require any previous experience with Dog training.

So there you have it. Armed with this knowledge, go forth and learn all the ins and outs of being a professional Dog Trainer by joining an apprenticeship program near you.

You may also want to check out our other Dog trainer-specific articles:

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Did we miss any popular Dog training apprenticeships? Drop us a line at support@pocketsuite.io and let us know! We’d be happy to update our article to include your feedback and suggestions.





Most Popular Skincare Services by State

Top Skincare Services by State




Have you ever given someone a triple oxygen facial? Have you ever done a brazilian wax right before a client leaves for her exotic vacation? If so, you’re probably an esthetician (or #beautyboss). From facials to microdermabrasion to chemical peels, today, we’ll discuss all of the treatments available in the market to make your client’s skin softer, their eyebrows thinner, and their extensions even more fab.

I write this article because I was curious about which treatments clients in different states love most. 

Does a client’s skin and hair treatment preferences shift based on where they live?

Curious to know the answers, we analyzed data from tens of thousands of Estheticians who are using PocketSuite to schedule and collect payment from hundreds of thousands of beauty clients.

After analyzing this Esthetician data, we created the map above to answer the question – we hope you’ll join us as we nerd out on some Beauty Industry statistics!

(Psst.. If you’re new to the PocketSuite blog, we’ve also written a lot on the topic of How to Market your Esthetician Business on Instagram, How to Get your Esthetician License, and How to Get More Clients for your Esthetician Business on Yelp.)

Today, we’ll discuss some common trends in the beauty industry as well as share the most popular skincare services for estheticians by state based on PocketSuite client booking data.

But first… what’s been going on in the beauty industry as a whole?

THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY

‘Skincare Specialists’ is the technical term used to describe Estheticians and Beauticians by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The beauty industry is popular and growing fast – the employment of Skincare Specialists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026.

The beauty industry is growing and expected to reach $180 Billion by 2024. 

With all of these positive growth indicators, plus the unemployment rate being at a low 2.2% (prior to Covid-19) for Estheticians, it makes sense to commit to this field if you’re just starting out in your career.

WHAT DO ESTHETICIANS DO?

The BLS defines the job description as “cleansing and beautifying the face and body to enhance a person’s appearance.”

Common terms for Skincare Specialists include Estheticians, Beauticians, as well as sub-categories of specialists like Eyelash Technician or Hairdresser.

Well trained Estheticians should be able to do the following easily:

  • Sterilize equipment and clean work areas, now in the age of Covid-19 more than ever
  • Examine clients’ skin to evaluate skin condition and appearance.
  • Cleanse clients’ skin with water, creams, or lotions.
  • Demonstrate how to clean and care for skin properly and recommend skin-care regimens.
  • Apply cosmetic products, such as creams, lotions, and tonics.

HOW MUCH DO ESTHETICIANS MAKE?

US News determined that the average Esthetician and/or Skincare Specialist makes around $30,080 per year:

Skincare Specialist Median Income

The BLS estimated the median hourly wage of an Esthetician was $15.05 in 2018.

However, this number varies dramatically by area.

For example, Estheticians in the Virginia Beach area earned more than $55,000 in May 2011 while those in south central Wisconsin earned less than $23,000.

Here’s a closer look at average salary by state:

Annual Mean Wage of Skincare Specialists

Given this large chunk of change, it’s no surprise that the industry is growing quickly – an estimated 6,800 Skincare specialist jobs are expected to be added between 2016 and 2026.

However, there is a barrier to entry to becoming a certified specialist in the Beauty field.

Typically, the price of admission is the cost and time it takes to earn a certification.

According to IPEDS, the tuition for a 2 year degree in Esthetics ranges from $3,393 in public institutions to $10,546 for out-of-state private institutions.

Check out our article on how to get certified – we can guarantee it will cost you less if you do it online than at an institution, however the in-person training could be worth the expense.

If you don’t have an official college degree, don’t worry!

A full 89% of Estheticians have no Bachelors degree, so don’t let that stop you.

Additionally, there are other opportunities available in the field besides actually being an Esthetician – you can try medical esthetics, aromatherapy, or permanent makeup.

“You also have the option of becoming a teacher, representing or launching a skincare line, or managing a spa.”

Now that we know what an Esthetician does and how much they make, let’s talk about the most popular services offered by Estheticians in the US.

Most Popular Skincare Services in America

THE MOST POPULAR SKIN CARE SERVICES IN AMERICA 

We looked at the entire US and highlighted the most popular skincare services in each state.

The absolute #1 most popular service across all states is General Waxing (pictured in grey above).

TYPES OF WAXING

There are a variety of waxing treatment available, including Bikini Waxes, Brazilian Waxes, and waxing individual body parts.

There are also different techniques – Soft and Hard waxing according to Women’s Day:

“Soft wax is done with paper or muslin strips, and hard wax is removed without strips.” 

Just make sure you don’t go tanning up to 24 hours after your wax, or you’ll be really itchy and uncomfortable!

Tied for 2nd place with 5 states each are:

  • Eyelash Extensions
  • Facials
  • Face Cream

Let’s dig a little deeper with each one of these so you can understand which of these treatments may be right for your clients.

Who knows – you may even discover your new favorite service!

TYPES OF EYELASH EXTENSIONS

There are many types of popular eyelash extensions available:

Mink – The most desirable and usually the most expensive. Natural look.

Sable – Ultra fine, not recommended for those with allergies to animal fur.

Fox – Require more work – must be permed to maintain the curl. 

Man-made – No need to curl or perm them! 

Silk – Heavier, best for special occasions.

Synthetic – Heaviest, least natural looking.

Volume (Russian) – choose between 2-6D. Usually cost more and take longer to apply.

Choose wisely – and expect to pay roughly $80-$150 for your first set of lashes.

TYPES OF FACIALS

Fun fact: Over 7 Million consumers have had a Facial in the last 6 months.

There are so many different kinds of facials you can get:

Classic – Involves cleansing, exfoliating, extractions, a mask, and a moisturizer.

Lymphatic Massage – Minimizes puffiness by massaging certain areas of the face.

Microdermabrasion – Sprays small crystals onto your skin and then vacuums up the exfoliated skin cells – often called an ‘Instant Facelift.’

Electric – Contours the face by applying small electric shocks using a microcurrent device.

Anti-Aging – Similar to a Classic Facial, usually with antioxidant-heavy serums and collagen added.

Brightening – Evens out your skin’s color (hyperpigmentation) using Vitamin C.

LED – Uses specific wavelengths of light to lower breakouts and inflammation.

Laser – Resurfaces your skin by removing the top layer with a laser (don’t worry, this is a lot less like an episode of Star Trek than it sounds)

Go try giving your clients or your best friend one of these facials, especially one you haven’t tried yet! You might just discover it’s your new favorite to give clients.

TYPES OF FACE CREAM

There is a ridiculously large number of choices when it comes to face cream.

It may be more useful to talk about the different face cream regimens of which there are a variety as well.

Here’s an article that summarizes 8 rules Estheticians live by.

Here are 6 top regimens from the best Estheticians in the world, including Kim Kardashian West’s go-to Esthetician.

Studies suggest that about half of women will choose their skincare products based on the ingredients, so keep an eye on what’s inside and check the label before you buy!

Now that you’re well versed on the most popular Skin Care services in America, why not try using PocketSuite to treat your entire Esthetician business to a “face lift”? Estheticians use PocketSuite to look more professional with clients. You can schedule, collect payments, receive intake forms, and get contracts signed by your clients all in one app, completely from your phone.

We even have a free plan for beginner Estheticians.

There’s a reason we come recommended by the ASCP!

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article





How StyleSeat Works for Hair Stylists and Salons

Hairstylists and Salons in Styleseat

It’s 9:30AM, your first haircut is scheduled for 9AM, and your client still hasn’t showed up. Then you get a text message saying they won’t be able to make it today because of an emergency situation that probably has to do with them oversleeping. What do you do?

For most Hair Stylists, it’s time to suck it up and get back to adding more “before and after” shots to your Instagram profile.

But for you, it means charging them a late cancellation fee and actually getting paid for the time and energy it took you to get to work this morning.

How do you do that? Just log into your StyleSeat account and charge the customer a cancellation fee.

If you’re a Hair Stylist or Salon owner, you’ve probably heard of StyleSeat from your friends or clients.

The platform is geared towards helping Hair Stylists and Salons manage their business.

The app helps stylists and salons manage their schedules with online booking, and of course, with charging late and cancellation fees.

In today’s article, we’ll reveal the history of StyleSeat, how it works for Hair Stylists and Salons, and highlight some unusual practices that you may not know about StyleSeat.

Styleseat Logo

STYLESEAT ORIGINS

StyleSeat was founded in 2011 in San Francisco, CA by Melody McCloskey.

StyleSeat has raised $40M to date, backed by “big name” investors like Ashton Kutcher and Uber co-founder, Garrett Camp.

The company has hired popular people such as Andrew Dempsey, previously the Director of Business Intelligence at Netflix.

They’ve also added two high profile executives to their team.

Travis Kalanick (the former CEO of Uber) and Melissa Kim from Minted joined their Board of Directors.

StyleSeat even acquired BeautyBooked in 2016 in order to expand their customer base and secure a partnership with Allure.

The company’s focus is to become “the OpenTable for beauty salons and independent hairstylists.”

CEO Melody McCloskey
StyleSeat Founder / CEO Melody McCloskey

CHALLENGES WITH SCALING

The female founder has talked openly about how she spent 2 years over-thinking before starting the business.

McCloskey had a hard time convincing investors of StyleSeat’s viability as they were primarily male and couldn’t relate to the female target market.

Most of the hair stylists working on the platform are women, and half are minorities. McCloskey said this turned lots of potential investors off.

Despite challenges, the startup has processed over $3B in payments so far.

Even with this massive expansion, there’s still lots of room for growth in the $445B Beauty industry.

For example, competitor Wahanda has raised $75M in the UK.

It seems the beauty industry is experiencing an infusion of technology unlike any we’ve ever seen.

Next we’ll cover how StyleSeat has attempted to be the go-to solution for both Hair Stylists and Salons.

Styleseat to You

A SOLUTION FOR HAIR STYLISTS AND SALONS

StyleSeat’s mission is to help all Hair Stylists and Salons in the same way OpenTable is helping restaurants get more customers.

The company has guaranteed new hairstylists that would join the platform 70% revenue growth in 15 months.

The company is also pursuing Salons, not just independent Hair Stylists.

In fact, StyleSeat has been toying with the idea of integrating with Booker, which would make it accessible to 90% of salons in the US.

In addition, they’ve launched a feature called To You, which lets customers book hair stylists to do their hair at their home or office.

The company will be taking a 10% cut on these appointments.

Because of these unique plays, StyleSeat came in at #5 on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2013.

Part of StyleSeat’s success has been offering an equity-based model to their employees, which has helped to galvanize the team and create a strong culture.

The CEO has proclaimed that they’ve walked away from a multi-billion dollar business model by not trying to fill their stylist’s schedules and charging customer acquisition fees. In otherwords by not focusing solely on becoming a marketplace.

The company also famously does not focus on marketing and instead acquires customers mostly through word of mouth.

The company is poised for meteoric growth, but it’s not without its challenges, as we will discuss next.

Style not without challenges

UNUSUAL TACTICS

Despite having over 1M reviews on the App Store with a 5 star rating, StyleSeat has some complaints when you look beneath the surface.

For example, the company has a 1.5 out of 5 star rating on the Better Business Bureau.

Most of the BBB reviews are from customers who were unhappy with their hair stylists, but several are from unhappy hair stylists and salons complaining about the lack of basic features such as Google Calendar sync.

Scraping the internet to collect data on Hair Stylists has also been a shadowy tactic employed aggressively by StyleSeat.

This questionable practice helped them to create profiles for Hair Stylists that haven’t joined the platform yet.

StyleSeat created temporary placeholders on these Hair Stylists’ profile pages, saying ‘This Provider Can’t Be Booked Here.’

In effect, StyleSeat hijacked leads from Hair Stylists and Salons who are not their clients without their knowledge or approval.

Tips for Hairstylists and Salons

TIPS FOR HAIR STYLISTS AND SALONS

It’s difficult to choose an app to manage your small business as a Hairdresser or Salon owner.

CHOOSE A PLATFORM, NOT A MARKETPLACE

Pro Tip: Be wary of depending on an app that is both a marketplace and a platform.

Marketplaces usually aren’t focused on the Pro.

In fact, they typically utilize the Pro’s SEO traffic for their own benefit, as shown in the example mentioned above.

This usually means the company is less focused on building tools to help Pros grow and more focused on getting traffic to their website to make more money.

CHOOSE AN APP THAT HELPS YOU GROW

Another drawback for Hair Stylists using StyleSeat is that everything must be done inside the platform.

There are no widgets to share with your community.

PocketSuite, on the other hand, has tools Pros can use anywhere.

From online booking to online leads to online chat, you can place these widgets on your website or your Facebook / Instagram to get online bookings from new and existing clients anywhere you market online.

NO NICKEL-AND-DIMING

Another benefit of PocketSuite is that you can add an unlimited amount of contacts, unlike StyleSeat.

StyleSeat nickel-and-dimes you by asking you to pay for this basic feature.

If you’re going to choose an app to manage your Hair Stylist business or Salon, go with one that focuses exclusively on their Pros.

You’ll have everything StyleSeat offers you, and more.

For example, with PocketSuite you’ll be able to:

  • Manage your schedule
  • Accept online bookings and credit card payments
  • Message your customers thru the app
  • Collect deposits
  • Charge cancellation fees
  • Manage your staff (if applicable)
  • Sell products
  • Manage your inventory
  • Get a dedicated business line
  • Unlimited business texting and calls
  • Automated marketing
  • Income and lead reports

And so much more…

It’s important to go with an app that gives you the freedom to grow your own business and supports you as much as possible to making the income that you deserve.

PocketSuite genuinely wants the best for your business.

We’ve even written an entire article specifically explaining How to Get your Hairdresser License.

Don’t settle for less, go with the best.

You want to partner with an app that cares about your business, not a self-centered marketplace that wants to own the relationship with your clients.

See how PocketSuite works for Hair Stylists and Salons.

Check out PocketSuite’s free plan to get started today.

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