10 Ways to Accept Payment – POS

Today we’ll review Point of Sale systems, which industries use these types of systems, and how it can benefit you and your business to have one.

Can you guess what was the first organization to use a Point of Sale system? Read on to find out…

Are you a small business owner or solopreneur that accepts credit cards for your service business (or wants to)?

If so, here’s a follow up question – let’s say it’s time for your client to pay for your services. Have you ever experienced the following:

You’re trying to accept payment from your client, but your client is hesitant to give you their credit card details.

Whether it’s because they don’t want you to take a picture of their card or because they’re simply uncomfortable with the idea of providing you with their private financial information in the first place…

Either way, a Point of Sale system is the solution to this challenge because it addresses those concerns and allows clients to just ‘swipe’ their card to pay you.

“Can’t I just swipe it?”

A Point of Sale system is any system that allows for the payment of goods or services – essentially it’s the toll booth where you pay for whatever you’ve bought or services delivered to you.

This can take the shape of a cash register, a swipe dongle, or even Point of Sale software.

Although the acronym POS can stand for many different things, (including slang terms we won’t be repeating here) for the purposes of this article we’re referring to Point of Sale systems whenever we use this acronym.

Having a Point of Sale system (or POS for short) may be the mark of a tech-savvy solopreneur or small business owner, but the fact of the matter is, POS systems have been around for at least 3 decades.

THE HISTORY OF POINT OF SALE SYSTEMS

One of the earliest, rudimentary Point of Sale systems was actually used at McDonalds.

The first digital Point of Sale system ran on an Atari system, which is famous for being one of the first video game consoles.

In light of the advent of micro-processors (post 1990’s) most Point of Sale systems started to include bells and whistles such as inventory management and reporting for accounting purposes.

Post 2000’s POS systems typically stored information in the cloud, which would add a layer of security and redundancy to ensure data remained safe.

Check out this breakdown of the differences between the old-school On-premise POS systems and the newer Cloud-based systems:

Doesn’t it seem a whole lot easier to go with a software-based Cloud POS system?

  • Instead of purchasing licenses, you just sign up for a membership (in PocketSuite’s case, there’s even a free option)
  • Instead of updating and maintaining the software, cloud-based software is updated automatically.
  • Instead of requiring dedicated IT personnel, it can be managed by a single person.
  • Instead of requiring costly hardware purchases, you can just download an app on your phone!

All in all, it seems  like business owners could benefit from and would vastly prefer having a cloud-based POS system within reach.

The convenience and low up-front cost is simply too appealing to resist.

You can rest assured that cloud-based POS systems are safe as they use the latest in 256 bit encryption to secure your transactional data.

Newer versions of cloud-based Point of Sale systems are even safer due to load balancing and further redundancy, so your data will be fine even if an entire data center is burned to the ground (such as in Microsoft’s case) or hacked (like Subway’s was – to the tune of $3M).

WHICH INDUSTRIES USE POINT OF SALE SYSTEMS

The retail industry is a key player in the world of POS systems.

Hospitality businesses also use Point of Sale systems regularly – think of any fast food chain restaurant to get an idea of how prevalent this technology is.

Imagine the following businesses, as they all use POS systems:

  • Spa / Esthetician
  • Barber Shop, Beauty Salon
  • MakeUp & Nail Salons
  • Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Retail Shop
  • Dog Trainer
  • Pet Groomer
  • Fitness Trainer
  • Contractor
  • Mobile Detailer
  • Movers

For the purposes of this article, however, we’ll be focusing on the small business and solopreneur side of things.

The reality is, as a small business owner, you need a quick and reliable way to charge a client’s card if they hand it to you, or if they share their card details over the phone.

In addition, for regular clients, it would be especially useful for your Point of Sale system to be able to store the client’s card details for future use.

Any POS system worth its salt will have this capability and more.

But your best bet is to use one that’s connected to the app or software that you use to manage your business.

Imagine having a Point of Sale system that’s siloed from the app where you handle your business messaging, your customer notes, or your payroll.

That’s invaluable data that must be kept together if you want to make sense of what’s going on in your business.

In terms of cost, almost half of all businesses spend about $1,500 per year on their Point of Sale system, according to Capterra.

The Point of Sale industry shows no sign of slowing down – in fact, according to research by MarketsandMarkets, it’s expected to hit $3.73 billion by 2023.

YOU SHOULD HAVE A POINT OF SALE SYSTEM

We’ve touched on the importance of having a Point of Sale system already.

You can accept credit cards from your clients in the field or over the phone.

More importantly, your POS system should be tied to your business management app, which gives you reporting and other capabilities.

There are lots of Point of Sale systems on the market and if you’re shopping around – try choosing one that has competitive rates.

Most will have transaction fees and monthly fees as well so do the math and pick one that makes fiscal sense.

Read on to learn how PocketSuite elegantly solves both problems by offering an affordable, yet powerful Point of Sale system with lower rates than you’ll find anywhere else, but also includes a suite of tools that rivals an entire business management platform – all in a single app.

HOW POCKETSUITE’S POINT OF SALE IS DIFFERENT

Although all credit card processors do charge a fee per transaction, PocketSuite allows you to save on processing fees at 2.9% + 30¢ per payment, compared to Square or PayPal.

PocketSuite also automatically stores your customer’s card for future purchases, which eliminates the friction and pain of having to ask for their card number with every transaction.

You also get the benefit of being able to tie in your messaging and scheduling data with PocketSuite’s business management tools.

Normally when you’re shopping for a Point of Sale system, you have to ensure that your POS vendor integrates with your payment processor / gateway. Not so with PocketSuite – it’s all integrated in 1 convenient app!

For example, with PocketSuite you don’t just get a POS –  you can handle business messaging, payroll, staff scheduling, inventory management, contract e-signing, and a ton of other features for your service business.

This gives you the ability to do the following:

  • Reference any invoice
  • Reference any scheduled appointment
  • Manage your clients
  • Manage your inventory
  • Sales Reporting

Imagine having all of that power at your fingertips, all wrapped up in single app.

Not only that, but there’s a Premium FREE trial to get you started – talk about a good deal.

If you’d like to read more about PocketSuite’s Point of Sale system, check out this article.

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article

Grow your business as a Boutique Gym Trainer

Are you a trainer at a boutique gym? Are you looking to lift your business to the next level?

Maybe owning a gym has always been your dream since you did your first set of curls, and you’re just now starting out on your solopreneur journey as a small business owner.

Perhaps you already have an established gym and you’re interested in ways of growing it like you have your muscle tone (or making it more profitable!)

Whatever the reason, fitness services are growing in popularity, we will share the earning potential of boutique gym pros, as well as explain how to grow your specialty fitness business step-by-step.

As a fitness enthusiast, you are likely familiar with the concept of dedication and hard work.

However, you probably also know that the most determined gym rat that’s employing the wrong techniques with diet and exercise still won’t achieve their desired physical goals.

As Tony Robbins says, if you’re running East looking for a sunset, it’s not going to happen no matter how much you run!

Let’s funnel your effort and sweat equity into the most productive and effective methods of growing your small fitness business.

Ready to learn the correct form and hit your first set of business owner reps?

Before we plunge in, let’s cover the popularity and earning potential of boutique gyms.

ARE BOUTIQUE GYMS POPULAR?

The answer, in short, is yes.

Boutique gyms (otherwise known as specialty gyms) are known for instructor-led classes, group classes, and have a wide range of fitness plans available – from barre workouts, to monitoring heart rate, crossfit training, pilates, and even powerlifting.

From 2015 to 2017, membership in boutique studios climbed 15%, while conventional club membership declined 3% during the same time period.

The New York Times attributes this phenomenon to a lack of human connection at most big-box gyms. The big gyms like Crunch, 24 Hour Fitness, Bally’s seem soulless.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 10% growth in the Fitness Training sector, which is higher than the market overall.

IBIS estimates that Fitness is a $30B industry, so there’s lots of opportunity to go around.

But one thing that may surprise you is that Boutique Gyms are also quite profitable.

ARE BOUTIQUE GYMS POPULAR?

The answer, in short, is yes.

Boutique gyms (otherwise known as specialty gyms) are known for instructor-led classes, group classes, and have a wide range of fitness plans available – from barre workouts, to monitoring heart rate, crossfit training, pilates, and even powerlifting.

From 2015 to 2017, membership in boutique studios climbed 15%, while conventional club membership declined 3% during the same time period.

The New York Times attributes this phenomenon to a lack of human connection at most big-box gyms. The big gyms like Crunch, 24 Hour Fitness, Bally’s seem soulless.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 10% growth in the Fitness Training sector, which is higher than the market overall.

IBIS estimates that Fitness is a $30B industry, so there’s lots of opportunity to go around.

But one thing that may surprise you is that Boutique Gyms are also quite profitable.

HOW TO START A BOUTIQUE GYM

Let’s take it step by step. Here’s a great source of information that explains the basics in great detail, but we’ll summarize it for you here:

  • Get your Personal Trainer Certification and Become CPR Certified
  • Consider costs for space rental, employees, insurance, and equipment
  • Write a business plan
  • Find your niche
  • Form a legal entity (such as an LLC)
  • Register for taxes
  • Open a business bank account
  • Set up business accounting
  • Obtain necessary permits and licenses
  • Get business insurance
  • Define your brand
  • Establish your online presence

With the basics out of the way, let’s talk about how to get your boutique gym training business off the ground.

HOW TO GROW YOUR BOUTIQUE GYM TRAINING

With the above checklist in mind, you must be on the edge of your seat and excited to plunge in headfirst!

Keep in mind that the price of entry isn’t a nominal fee. Entrepreneur Magazine estimates that starting your own gym can cost between $10,000 and $50,000. How do you raise the money? Keep reading. 

HOW TO RAISE MONEY

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you should probably be looking at obtaining unsecured funding. Unsecured funding is a loan with no collateral required. Read more about how to do this here.

HOW TO GET CLIENTS

We wrote an article about how to generate online leads for your business. As a business owner today, this should be one of your top priorities.

Consider building your online presence, which includes creating a Facebook page, Instagram profile, and website for yourself.

Incidentally, you can put your PocketSuite online booking link on any of these platforms to encourage potential clients to book your services online.

You should also consider running paid ads on Google (formerly called Google AdWords), which PocketSuite can help you with as well through our partnership with Google.

Lastly, make sure to do some offline marketing as well! Word of mouth, flyers, and referrals are all amazing to get more clients for your boutique gym.

Now let’s talk about some of the practical ways to grow your boutique business that involve capitalizing on battle-tested tactics that work in fitness.

OFFER A FREE TRIAL

One gym owner said she retained 67% of her clients after offering a two-week free trial to her classes.

CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF REVENUE

Besides your monthly membership fees, you should consider providing other value added services for your patrons, which will increase your income per customer.

Other sources of income include nutritional juices or smoothies, coffee and healthy snacks, and gift shops containing logo t-shirts, towels, and other apparel. You can also consider providing childcare during workouts and nutritional guidance.

In the next section of this article we’ll unveil some major hacks to take your boutique gym training business to the next level.

USE POCKETSUITE TO GROW YOUR BOUTIQUE GYM

Here are some of the features that boutique gym owners as well as fitness trainers love about using PocketSuite to run their business:

Memberships – charge your members a monthly fee to be part of your gym.

Classes – fill up your Crossfit, Cycling, or any other type of classes and make the most of your gym space

Messaging – Stay on top of client communication over text without using your personal cell phone number

Smart Campaigns – Create automated client follow-ups that help you get more bookings and keep your gym full

Thousands of boutique gym trainers are using PocketSuite to make six figures. Isn’t it time you did the same?

Try out the Premium plan FREE trial on us – we promise you’ll love it. No strings attached.

If you’re already using PocketSuite, here’s how to set it up for Fitness professionals.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this primer how to grow your boutique gym. We’ve covered how to get started, how to get clients, and even how to make your life easier using a special app called PocketSuite.

Now go out there and max out your business. I expect you will have all kinds of income gains!

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article

Why do many choose to use Quickbooks self employed

Are you a fan of QuickBooks Self-Employed?

Maybe you own and operate a small business, or you’re a solopreneur and you’ve heard that QuickBooks Self-Employed is the best way to file your taxes.

Maybe you’re a Lyft or Uber driver and you heard that they have partnered with QuickBooks Self-Employed to help you file your taxes and get reimbursed for your mileage.

Alternatively, you might be a freelancer, Real Estate agent, or eCommerce site owner that needs to file a schedule C.

Whichever position you’re in, you’ve clicked on this article because you want to learn more about how to use this software successfully.

So here we’ll dive into what makes QuickBooks Self-Employed a great choice for filing your taxes and/or  mileage tracking.

We’ll also cover the best ways to use the software as well as what supplemental business tools you may be missing in your solopreneur toolbelt.

As a small business owner, it’s impossible not to know about Intuit (the creators of QuickBooks and TurboTax) in the blog-o-sphere. They’ve been around since 1983 and are the market leader as far as tax filing.

Created in 2014, QuickBooks Self-Employed is actually one of the newer additions to the Intuit family.

Compare this to QuickBooks Online, which is more suited towards larger companies.

QuickBooks Self-Employed is the perfect choice if you’re a solopreneur or small business owner that’s working for yourself and building your own empire – one brick at a time.

We salute you as charting your own course in life can be a challenging journey. So let’s see how QuickBooks Self-Employed can be an ally on your journey.

IS QUICKBOOKS SELF-EMPLOYED RIGHT FOR YOU?

Here are some general guidelines you can use when deciding if QuickBooks Self-Employed is right for you:

  • Do you primarily pay for expenses in your business with cash or cards?
  • Do you need to file a Schedule C with Form 1040?
  • Do you not have any employees or contractors? (QuickBooks Self-Employed Self-Employed doesn’t have a payroll function)
  • Do you accept credit cards as payment? (Not more than 10 invoices per month)
  • Do you generally not write many checks?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to most of these, you’re a prime candidate for using QuickBooks Self-Employed.

If you have employees or contractors, you may want to check out the features of QuickBooks Online.

TOP FEATURES

Business owners and solopreneurs use this software to separate their business expenses from their personal expenses.

You can track vehicle expenses, home office deductions, healthcare expenses, office supplies, equipment purchases, and more.

If you haven’t put much thought into which business expenses you should be deducting as a freelancer, check out this article for ideas.

Users also take advantage of the available accounting features, although it must be said that QuickBooks Self-Employed is primarily tax software with some accounting tools added.

If you’re a driver, you can plug the software directly into Google to enable location-tracking, which makes mileage tracking super easy.

With QuickBooks Self-Employed, you can use the mobile app to scan receipts and track expenses (no more throwing receipts into a box in your closet!)

One of the most magical features is the OCR technology they use to automatically scan your receipts and input the data automatically – no more manually punching numbers into Excel!

The software also has some bookkeeping capabilities, which helps you as a solopreneur to get insight into your business – especially the numbers side of things.

You can pay estimated quarterly taxes and file federal and state income tax returns (if applicable) right from the app.

The tax reporting also lets you pay your estimated quarterly taxes online – how convenient is that!

The system also gives you with a handy Tax Checklist to give you peace of mind.

You can also add your logo to invoices, send payment reminders, and even accept payments online using QuickBooks Payments.

QuickBooks Self-Employed also gives you a client portal that clients can use to view and pay invoices online. You can send receipts after the client has paid you for your services.

You can even track your business assets with the Asset Management feature as well.

PRICING

You can get the software for only $10 per month, or $17 per month if you’re opting for the Tax Bundle (which includes TurboTax integration, another Intuit product).

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what QuickBooks Self-Employed helps you accomplish and what’s included, let’s talk about some of the key features that are missing in this software that are essential for most small business owners. 

FEATURES NOT INCLUDED IN QUICKBOOKS SELF-EMPLOYED

As we know, QuickBooks Self-Employed is a back office tool.

For the accounting enthusiasts out there, you’ll find that QuickBooks Self-Employed doesn’t offer true double-entry accounting, but for most solo-preneurs this is a minor setback.

Here are some functions you may need that QuickBooks Self-Employed won’t be able to provide:

  • Contact Management
  • Inventory Tracking
  • Business Messaging
  • Invoicing (over 10 per month)
  • Invoice Customizations
  • Send Invoices thru SMS
  • Sales Tax support
  • Send Estimates

Here’s how you can double down on your business productivity – use PocketSuite to handle everything listed above and make your life easier.

PocketSuite is a tool that allows you to run the entire front-end of your business from a single app.

You can export data from PocketSuite to QuickBooks, which is how the majority of Pros using PocketSuite prefer to do it.

In fact, here’s what some industry Pros using PocketSuite say about the 1-tap experience:

“OMG… I just tapped one button in PocketSuite and all my data is right in QuickBooks… like the old Staples quote goes, that was easy!!”

Jennifer R. – Dog Walker – Pasadena, CA

“…I itemized all of my travel expenses in my invoices so I can just put those into QuickBooks…”

Robert W. – Limo Driver – New York, NY

So how can PocketSuite help your business succeed beyond what QuickBooks Self-Employed can help you with? There are so many additional functions you can turn on, we’ll take them one by one.

PocketSuite allows you to…

  • Manage your business Contacts (add notes separate from your personal contacts)
  • Track your Inventory (with smart reminders to replenish stock when necessary)
  • Handle Business Messaging (so you can run your business over text)
  • Take care of Invoicing (unlimited # of invoices)
  • Make Invoice Customizations (fully customizable)
  • Send Invoices thru SMS (so your clients actually receive it promptly and you get paid within 24 hours instead of having to wait 14 to 30 days)
  • Sales Tax support (no more manual calculations on your part – put away that calculator!)
  • Send Estimates (thru SMS as well)

It’s never been easier to put your business on auto-pilot. Now you’ll be able to export your data to QuickBooks Self-Employed so you can manage your expenses, track your mileage, and file your taxes with ease.

It really is as easy as 1 tap in the app.

Let PocketSuite do the heavy lifting while you go build your empire!

In fact, if you haven’t tried PocketSuite, there’s a Premium FREE Trial that’s beckoning for you to give it a shot. You can download the app here and get set up in minutes!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

 

How to run your real estate photography business with pocketsuite

Are you a solo real estate photographer or run a small real estate photography business?

If so, you don’t want to miss out on the tips we’re sharing in this article, as they may just change the way you run your business forever.

There’s no question that Real Estate photography is an awesome career and here we’ll discuss the practical aspects of how to dominate your local market as well as run your business smoothly as it grows.

You may be wondering how important Real Estate photography is when it comes to selling more homes. The answer is very important.

Homes with professional photography sell 32% faster, and homes from $200k-$1M sell for $3,000-$11,000 more with high quality photographs.

Redfin even found that homes listed between $400,000 to $500,000 sell 18% better in the first six months with high-quality photography.

Knowing this, it should be no surprise that NAR found that 87% of home buyers listed photos as the most important factor in their decision to make an offer.

With 90% of home buyers finding their home online, it’s more important than ever to have great photos for real estate listings.

Recently, real estate agents have even started using drones to take awesome pictures and videos of their listings in order to get them sold faster at higher closing prices.

The opportunity to make great income for Real Estate photographers is well within reach as salaries range from $100K to upwards of $500K according to FixThePhoto.com.

It’s no question that Real Estate photography is a booming industry.

Just imagine you wanted to buy this home… which pictures would make you want to buy it more? (Keep in mind, this also features staging as an essential add-on):

HOW TO START YOUR REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS

If you’re a Real Estate photographer, chances are you’re always on the go.

You’re busy getting confirmations, collecting deposits, and creating relationships with potential clients.

Your main clients are probably either Real Estate agents or folks with high net worth that have boats and luxury properties.

Unfortunately, for you and your small business, typical Real Estate agents will hesitate to recommend your services to other agents for one big reason – they don’t want another agent to have high quality photos, since they’re directly competing with them in the local area.

This puts the onus of drumming up new business squarely on you as the owner and operator of your solopreneur Real Estate photography business.

After all, you can’t count on referrals if your clients are stingy with their recommendations, especially to other agents in their market.

This is why it’s vitally important for the success of your business to proactively reach out to new Real Estate agents.

You can find directories of Real Estate agents on sites like Zillow and Trulia, as well as by looking up local offices of popular brokerages such as John L Scott, Windermere, or Keller Williams online.

Contact these agents by giving them a call and offering a discount on first-time services, or send them an email. 

The great thing about contacting Real Estate agents is that it’s very easy to find their contact information, and due to the nature of their job, most are likely to pick up the phone or view your email.

You should also consider your area’s specific rules and regulations regarding photography. You may need to obtain some permits or licenses, depending on where you operate.

Format recommends to set your prices differently for different sized homes, as this may impact the amount of shooting and editing time that it takes to finish the job.

Some Real Estate photographers even offer 3D modeling using a special 3D camera, so they can give the agent and clients a virtual walkthrough of the property. This helps clients get a sense of what it is like inside the home directly from their computer or phone.

You should also consider setting up a relationship with a printing company so that you can quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively process and print completed photos for your clients.

You can also consider offering premium services such as drone phones, 3D models, color/glossy/matte printing, and more.

This article is especially geared toward the business aspects of your photography operation, but we would be remiss if we didn’t include a section on how to provide an amazing end-product.

This article details a more exhaustive checklist of items to keep in mind when shooting photos, which we don’t have room to cover in this article, such as: 

  • Use a 16-35mm lens to add foreground and minimize ceiling
  • Sunrise shots for optimum lighting
  • The dusk/dark technique
  • Vertical line correction
  • Avoiding diverging lines
  • Lens correction tools
  • Optimum exposure for indoor shoots
  • Adjustment brush in Photoshop / Lightroom
  • Bounce flash
  • Light painting

We highly recommend you visit that article to learn what separates Real Estate photography from other types, and how to do it properly.

As a Real Estate photographer, you probably offer standard, boiler-plate packages to your clients.

Every photographer takes pictures of the various rooms in the home, an outside shot of the front, the back of the home, etc.

Keep in mind that all of these will go into your portfolio, so you want to do your very best on each shoot to highlight your skills and peak the interest of future clients that may be checking you out online.

One way to protect your work is to watermark your images so others can’t use them in their advertisements without giving you photo credit.

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of how to run your photography business well, let’s dive into how PocketSuite can make your life easier and boost your bottom-line income as well!

HOW TO RUN YOUR REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS WITH POCKETSUITE

It’s extremely important to collect payment up-front, so when you deliver the photos you already have the full amount in your bank account (or at the very least a deposit).

This helps you to protect your time and energy in case your client cancels last minute.

One way to do this is to use PocketSuite’s deposit feature to collect advance payment before you spend your gas money and time to travel to the location and take the pictures.

Some Real Estate photographers even give their clients access to a customer portal, where they can order their services or special prints whenever they want (such as when they have a new listing).

One way to do this is to give your agents a link to your PocketSuite booking form so they can book their next photoshoot in a flash (pun intended…haha) and fit right into your schedule.

Another tip is to provide your agents with a way to book and pay you online – such as by sending them a link to your PocketSuite online booking widget – this way they don’t need to use cash, and they save time because they don’t need to meet you at the property. They can simply provide you with the lockbox code for access and you’ll handle the rest.

Here is an article from PocketSuite’s Help Center on how to set up PocketSuite as a photographer – keep in mind we have thousands of photographers on our platform and they love it!

If you haven’t tried PocketSuite yet, try the Premium FREE Trial and revolutionize your Real Estate photography business forever. You can get set up in less than 5 minutes!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

How to win Chargeback Disputes

Chargeback disputes are frustrating to deal with.

They’re often unfair, illegitimate, and place the burden of proving innocence on the business owner.

However, every small business ill at some point need to deal with this nuisance, so let’s discuss the best way of handling a client chargeback.

First of all, if you’re not taking payments online, you should be. Only 15% of consumers prefer to pay in cash – a whopping 80% prefer using debit and credit cards.

However, with accepting credit cards comes the risk of chargebacks. This occurs when one of your customers decides to dispute the transaction either because they didn’t like the service your business provided or because they’re attempting to defraud your business.

In either case, there’s a proven strategies for fighting these disputes and in this article we will be covering the basics of how to put your best foot forward while increasing your chances of winning disputes and coming out ahead.

So what are the most common reasons for chargeback disputes?

WHY DISPUTES ARE A PROBLEM

If a merchant regularly has client disputes, your payment processor may impose a monitoring program to keep an eye on you. If this trend continues, your processor may end their relationship with you.

You may even be added to the MATCH list (a blacklist that will restrict you from being able to accept credit cards) if your rate of chargebacks exceeds 1.5% of your total payments.

If you are an online merchant, a good idea is to highlight information on your website about how you handle customer service complaints, refunds, and cancellations.

You may also want to give clients a way to contact you for support and share information on how you respond to unhappy customers on your site. This type of transparency helps prevent confusion from clients who may feel like they didn’t get what they paid for. If they have that feeling and it isn’t addressed, they file a dispute to get back at you or your small business.

A STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO WINNING CHARGEBACK DISPUTES

First, let’s go over the basic steps that take place when a chargeback occurs.

  1. Your client submits a chargeback dispute with their bank.
  2. If their bank accepts the dispute, they issue a provisional refund to the client.
  3. Their bank contacts your payment processor and gives them a code, which explains why the chargeback was filed (usually the terms to describe the types of chargebacks are: credit not processed, duplicate, fraudulent, general, product not received, product unacceptable, subscription canceled, unrecognized).
  4. Your payment processor lets you know about the chargeback.
  5. You choose whether to accept or fight it.
  6. If you choose to fight it, you need to submit information to your payment processor (usually proof that the charge was authorized).
  7. Your payment processor reviews the information that you’ve submitted – if they believe it’s sufficient, they submit this information to your client’s bank for review and a decision.
  8. Your client’s bank reviews the information that you’ve submitted – if they believe that the charge was indeed authorized and your client’s claim isn’t valid, they decide in your favor and your payment processor returns the funds to you. Your client’s bank takes up to 90 days to decide on a dispute. Once the decision is made, your processor immediately returns the funds to you.
  9. If you do not receive a favorable decision and you do not believe the ruling was fair, (you or the client) can request a second arbitration to decide if your client’s bank’s decision will be upheld.

If you’re still with me, you’ve learned that a critical step in you winning chargebacks is the evidence you submit to your bank to prove the transaction was indeed authorized.

Here are some great examples of evidence you can submit – try to collect as many of these items as possible and send them to your bank:

  • Sales receipts
  • Order forms
  • Tracking numbers
  • Transcripts of email communication between you and your customer
  • Delivery confirmation
  • Records of previous transactions that were not disputed

Here are some more examples of evidence that we’ve seen our customers utilize to win disputes here at PocketSuite:

  • Phone transcripts of conversations you’ve had with your client
  • Photos / videos of the completed job or service (if you’re in the service industry)
  • IP address of the client matching their location to the service address
  • Match the address on the credit card to the service address
  • Signed proof of delivery (if you sold a product)
  • The terms and conditions that the customer agreed to at the time of purchase
  • Messaging history between you and your client
  • Signed contract by your client
  • Completed intake forms
  • Appointment confirmations
  • Gratuity/tip payment receipts to prove client was happy with service

Here are some more tips to prevent chargeback disputes from occurring in the first place:

  • Check the client’s name and address on their ID – make sure it matches the name on the credit card. If it doesn’t match, get authorization in an email or text message from the credit card owner.
  • Have your terms and conditions visibly displayed on your website, including on your booking form
  • MyMoid recommends using customer service to resolve the dispute
  • Make sure you fight the disputes – otherwise you’ll damage your reputation with payment processors

Here is a graphic that displays a more detailed list of dispute reasons with associated codes which was referenced at a high level above – make sure you are familiar with these codes when you’re submitting your evidence. Your response should be targeted to disprove the specific reason given:

Note that if you’re using Venmo for your business, you’re not allowed to fight chargeback disputes.

Similarly, if you’re using Square, their dispute resolution library is really confusing, difficult to navigate, and almost impossible to take action on.

Instead of using a standalone payment processor, why not use one that comes with integrated business tools like booking, contracts, forms, notes, and more? You get invaluable data (such as client, transaction, and sales data) which makes it so much easier for you to protect yourself from disputes, in the first place and effectively fight them when they do arise. 

Imagine if a credit card company gave you insurance – that’s what it’s like using PocketSuite to process your payments and protect your from chargeback disputes.

If you’re going to be processing credit cards, you need a payment processor that has your back.

In fact, we’ve heard of customers leaving Square because they didn’t hear back from them when trying to resolve a dispute.

One client mentioned “There was no notification from Square, the money was just taken out of my account… I didn’t hear back from them, and by then the fraudsters were long gone…”

Another former Square client explains:

“I had an extra fee dispute fee, and I didn’t hear back about anything happening with the process. I submitted information and didn’t hear back if it was considered – I had to wait 90 days before I heard anything. The money was held up for that amount of time – then I lost the dispute and I didn’t even get an explanation for why.”

PocketSuite helps you collect additional proof that your terms of service were agreed to and your payments were authorized, which can expedite your client’s bank’s decision.

We will give you a heads up before the official dispute is filed as we get advanced notification from our technology platform partner, Stripe.

This gives you an additional window of time before the dispute is official to contact the client and resolve the issue, even if you need to split the difference with them.

This way a chargeback dispute doesn’t give you a bad mark and the entire payment isn’t clawed back by your client’s bank. As they say in healthcare, prevention is better than cure.

So go with a payment processor that helps you prevent disputes before they even occur.

This way you can rest easy knowing you’re taking all of the necessary steps to prevent disputes before they happen and are armed with all of the tools to help win disputes that you will inevitably get (hopefully, very infrequently) on your journey to achieving your business and income goals.

Winning disputes doesn’t have to be hard – you just need a payment processor that has your back.

Speaking of payment processors, why not give PocketSuite a shot? We have a free plan to get you started accepting credit cards ASAP.

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Should I Implement a Live Chat Feature?

The eternal question of Live chat – should you install it on your website or not?

The pros are more clients, more sales, faster support, and a more professional looking site.

Some of the drawbacks include having to respond to client inquiries quicker than phone or email support, and not being able to install the widget on your social media… until now.

New studies suggest more than 30% of customers expect you to have live chat on your website.

On a mobile device, that number shoots up to a staggering 62%.

Even though live chat has been around since the 1970’s (believe it or not) it has been getting more popular recently.

In this article, we’ll get into the specific reasons why live chat is great for closing more sales, stepping up your customer support game, and automating your followup.

You’ll learn the practical ways that live chat can increase your bottom line revenue as well as make your prospective clients happier, and your current clients more satisfied with your outstanding service.

It’s easy to discount live chat as ‘just another widget,’ but let’s take a closer look at why this is one of the most game-changing features that you can add to your website. (Or as you’ll learn in this article, to your social media as well!)

WHY LIVE CHAT IS A MUST-HAVE FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

When clients land on your website, chances are they’re looking for information – more specifically, answers to their questions.

They generally either want to know more about your business to decide if they will become a paying client, or they want to get in touch with you because they have an issue with their upcoming, current, or past service.

If you have a live chat feature on your site, this can be a wildly successful shortcut because it eliminates most of the searching that a customer needs to do in order to get the answer(s) they want.

For example, here are some ways that live chat helps:

INCREASE IN SALES

Live chat builds trust by reassuring the potential client that there is a real person behind your business.

By receiving answers to several questions about your business in real time, they can rest easy knowing that they aren’t just inputting their credit card information into a website that’s built by some scammer or con artist.

You can also have them input their name, email, or phone number, which allows you to take the follow up off-line and onto a communication platform that’s more accessible to them. After all, they’ll leave your website soon enough, and after that you need a way to be able to reach them for follow-up to close the sale!

Essentially, live chat becomes a lead generation system to help you close additional business by providing you with leads.

You’re essentially converting your website visits into client leads, like magic!

Really you’re just capitalizing on the website (or Instagram) traffic that is already visiting your page by converting them into a lead that you can call, text, or email!

To back all of this up, Forrester found that there was a 10% increase in order value from clients who engaged with a rep in live chat before buying.

HELPS WITH SUPPORT

Having a live chat feature also cuts down on the back-and-forth of email and eliminates the wasted time of having to look up answers from past client responses/message threads/emails.

One of the worst things you can do to a frustrated client is force them to be inconvenienced or have them wait to hear back, because this can lead down the road of them leaving negative online reviews on platforms such as Yelp or Google, which will negatively impact your credibility in the eyes of future potential clients.

The quality of your response matters, too. Kayako found that 19 out of 20 clients would prefer a high quality response, even if it took more time.

This can even cut into your current business, if your current clients happen to look your business up online!

Just make sure you respond – SuperOffice found that 21% of live chats get ignored. Don’t become a statistic!

OTHER LIVE CHAT PLATFORMS

Other live chats that you can make use of as a small business owner or solo-preneur are generally  platform specific. We’re talking about Facebook (Messenger), Instagram (DM), and Yelp (Message My Business Feature).

There are also a number of standalone live chat platforms such as Intercom, Weebly, Wix, and Olark.

The problem with these platform specific chat programs (as well as the standalone ones) is that they’re all generally stuck to the platform that they operate on.

PocketSuite is changing the game by having a portable live chat feature.

That’s right, you can now place your live chat directly onto your own website without the knowledge of how to code or get your programming degree!

But websites aren’t the only place you can install PocketSuite’s live chat feature…

LIVE CHAT ON YOUR FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM

How’s this for a mindblowing idea – did you know you can install Live Chat on more than just your website?

That’s right – PocketSuite allows you to install your live chat widget anywhere, including on your Facebook and Instagram profile!

You can engage your clients in real time while they’re browsing your social media, which is probably the best time to engage with them because you’re top-of-mind and they’re not distracted by the million other things that are occupying their busy day.

POCKETSUITE LIVE CHAT HIGHLIGHTS

The PocketSuite live chat widget defaults to OPEN, so your client’s definitely won’t miss it.

When clients submit their info or start a live chat with you, you instantly get a notification in your PocketSuite app, which allows you to start a conversation with them in real time.

You can message them through the PocketSuite app (which you’re hopefully already using for all of your other booking and payment needs) so it couldn’t be any easier to stay in touch.

Once the client inputs their phone number into the live chat, it will send them a text, which they can essentially use to continue the conversation with you.

Texts have a 98% open rate, so you can rest easy knowing that your clients have received your communication.

Just make sure you respond quickly – on average, customers have to wait over 2 minutes for companies to respond to their live chat inquiry. That’s troubling!

From there, they simply respond to the automated text, and their response gets funneled directly into your PocketSuite app for follow-up! PocketSuite automatically marks Live Chat messages as “LIVE” so you know to prioritize responses to those messages, if your Inbox is too full and you need help triaging responses.

It’s simply the best way to convert your website or social media visitors into leads and then into clients!

Speaking of getting more clients and making your current clients happy, have you checked out the best way to run your business using just 1 app – PocketSuite?

Upgrade your business with online booking, accept credit cards, process payments, scheduling, business messaging, and a wild array of additional features that will free up your time to focus on answering all of those live chats coming in!

Try the Premium plan if you’d like to take a look at one of the most powerful business apps out there. Of course, don’t forget to turn on Online Chat and add it to your website, social media, and any other online sites.

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019 and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Billion Dollar Bully: How to get more 5 star Yelp reviews

Are you a small business owner? Then you’re very familiar with Yelp, which is one of the largest review communities for small businesses on the internet.

This article will share the backstory on why businesses are claiming Yelp is basically the digital mafia. We’ll also give you proven tips on how to get lots more 5 star reviews.

One of the most highly anticipated films of 2019 is Billion Dollar Bully, a documentary film about Yelp’s alleged extortion of small business owners.

This topic was so popular, after the trailer was released in March of 2015, Yelp’s stock fell by more than 4%.

Almost 4 years later, the movie was acquired by Virgil Films Entertainment, the same producers that brought us Supersize Me.

As of May 21, 2019, the full-length film is available on iTunes and Amazon Video.

WHAT’S THE MOVIE ABOUT, ANYWAY?

The claims made by hundreds of business owners alleged that Yelp “routinely manipulates reviews by reordering them so negative reviews appear at the top or removing positive mentions if a company doesn’t buy advertising.”

One small business called The Wheelhouse claims that they were hit with a ‘Consumer Alert’ pop up (the equivalent of a Scarlet Letter) on their Yelp page after refusing to buy Yelp ads.

In 2013, the CEO Jeremy Stoppelman claimed on the Charlie Rose Show that Yelp is basically like Wikipedia, where consumers can go to find honest information.

Yelp claims to have an automated system that filters out unfair reviews. A spokesperson for Yelp said:

“Our recommendation software has always been engineered to surface the most useful and reliable reviews, and has been improved over time to be even more effective at sifting fake and biased reviews, and attempts by businesses to game the system.”

These claims ultimately led to an FTC investigation that ultimately didn’t pan out. Yelp routinely points to this as evidence of no wrongdoing on their part, but this is far from reality as Kaylie Milliken, one of the creators of the film, points out:

“That doesn’t necessarily mean a case won’t be reopened eventually. The FTC has a very limited budget and the amount of cases they can bring against a company is small.”

Yelp correspondents also point out that a Harvard study disproves that Yelp was engaging in any form of extortion or manipulation of reviews based on whether a business pays them for advertising or not.

HOW IS YELP DOING IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS?

Yelp is still a popular platform, dominated by what is called the ‘Yelp Elite,’ which are consumers that are awarded Elite status for being active review posters on the site.

However, new evidence suggests that The Yelp Elite are becoming obsolete, according to Eater.

In fact, in 2015, South Park parodied the whole situation by having Cartman in a plot line to extort free food from restaurants in exchange for not acting on his threat of leaving a 1 star review.

To add insult to injury, Anthony Bourdain said in 2017 that “There’s really no worse, or lower human being than an Elite Yelper,” declaring them “universally loathed by chefs everywhere.”

Sensing the shifts in the public’s perception of them being a fair platform, Yelp has fought back by buying the domain BillionDollarBully.com and redirecting it to a page on their site where they claim that they don’t extort business owners.

They also bought Google Ads searching for Billion Dollar Bully to attempt to direct folks searching for information on the movie to their landing page where they deny any allegation of extortion:

It seems small businesses have a grudge against Yelp because Yelp has leverage over them.

Yelp, in karmic turn, has a grudge against the only platform that has leverage over them, which is of course, the almighty Google.

Yelp has famously had a grudge against Google for a number of years, with the CEO Jeremy Stoppelman on Twitter accusing Google of snatching reviews from their site and using them in ads:

Ultimately this culminated in the European Union fining Google $2.7B (the largest anti-trust fine in history) for unfairly favoring its own services over its competitors. However, this had nothing to do with Yelp specifically, because it was targeted to Google Shopping.

Oracle was another large company that supported this fine, among other tech companies.

In summary, lots of small business owners hate Yelp for having leverage over them and Yelp in turn hates Google for having leverage over it.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

What is a small business owner or solo-preneur to do about all of this online infighting?

You are probably concerned about your online reputation (as you should be if you own a small business) so let’s unfurl some of the ways that you can mitigate this alleged extortion and come out on top.

One idea is to take a page out of David Cerretini’s book (owner of Botto Bistro) and simply ask customers to leave 1-star reviews as a publicity stunt.

But for those of us that don’t have nerves of steel to undertake such a bold stunt, let’s discuss more practical strategies…

HOW TO BEAT YELP’S ALLEGED UNFAIR PRACTICES AND GET MORE 5 STAR REVIEWS

If you’re a small business owner, you need every trick and edge that you can get.

Your competition is likely using these same tactics to beat you, so why not learn how to dominate your competition online and come out on top?

You’re fighting for survival in an over-saturated market, so you need ways to stand out and online reviews are one big way to do just that.

However, with Yelp’s alleged demands to pay them a monthly fee for ads or risk having your good reviews filtered out, how are you able to manage this?

Several proven tactics are currently being shared within private industry Facebook Groups, small business forums, and the Darknet.

Some of the more promising ones include:

  • Having an internal review system
  • Asking your happy customers to review you (via email and SMS)
  • Marking filtered reviews as Useful
  • Asking customers who submitted a filtered review to add their friends on Yelp

Here they are broken down with instructions:

1. Have an internal review system – Allow unhappy customers to have a chance to review you internally before running to Yelp. Send an email, phone call, or SMS message to ask them about their service after it’s complete

2. Ask your happy customers to review you – Once customers rate their service as great, follow up with an email / SMS asking them to review you on Yelp – and include links to your Yelp page

3. Marking filtered reviews as Useful – Go into your Filtered Reviews and mark them as useful, which will help bump them out of the Filtered section (use a proxy or VPN so you’re not doing this from your own IP address

4. Ask customers who submitted a filtered review to add their friends on Yelp (so their profile gets a greater reputation in Yelp’s eyes and the review becomes unfiltered)

I’m confident that these tips and tricks will help you get more 5 star reviews for your business!

Speaking of having an unfair advantage in your business, PocketSuite can help offload some of the routine tasks you do every day so you can focus on growing your business and getting more positive online reviews.

With PocketSuite you get online booking from Instagram/Facebook, the ability to accept deposits online, scan credit cards in person, online payments, scheduling, remarketing campaigns that you can use to request reviews from existing clients, and a whole host of additional features at your disposal. Try the Premium plan and give yourself a high five when more 5 star reviews start rolling in!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

How to become a Licensed Eyelash Technician

Are you a beautician or esthetician solo-preneur who specializes in lashes?

Alternatively, do you own your own salon and employ other beauticians or estheticians?

No matter which one describes you, you’ve probably seen and heard more about lashes and lash extensions lately than ever before.

There’s a good reason for this, as Teen Vogue estimates that lashes and lash extensions are now becoming more popular than mascara (at least in the UK).

That’s right – getting your lashes done is now more popular than makeup. How is this possible?

Well, for one, it makes your clients’ morning routine that much easier. (Phew!)

Getting your lashes done is basically a perm for your eyelashes (hope that helps to paint a picture).

If you’re a beautician and you haven’t been offering this service yet, here’s a complete guide on eyelash extensions (for those that have been living in a cave for the last few years).

In fact, folks have even been inventing some incredibly popular techniques for applying lash extensions at home.

With the meteoric rise of popularity in lashes and lash extensions, it is a great time to cover the basics of why it’s important to get your beautician or esthetician license, as well as the practical real world steps to getting licensed.

After all, any additional services you can offer that increase your income is generally a good thing (especially if you’re building on this growing trend).

Get that stray eyelash out of your eye and say hello to the Disney Princess look, because we’re about to reveal the complete How and Why of becoming a licensed eyelash technician.

After reading this article, you’ll be able to make your clients’ eyelashes more lush and beautiful, all while building your solo-preneur or small beauty business at the same time!

WHY YOU SHOULD BECOME A LICENSED EYELASH TECHNICIAN

First, we’ll dive into why becoming licensed to perform your lash treatments and lash extension services above-board is essential for your success as an independent business owner.

In fact, we’ll take a review 3 reasons why that is the case:

1. Becoming a professional

2. Avoiding legal action (don’t get sued!)

3. Financial benefits

Let’s take this step by step much like you follow your step-by-step process for lash curling treatments!

BECOMING A PROFESSIONAL

First off, getting licensed makes your business appear that much more professional and on-point.

It’s a way to differentiate yourself in a $1.7B market chock-full of eyelash technicians, estheticians, and beauticians all vying for your client’s attention.

In fact, ABC News characterized it as a ‘booming market’ in their article on the topic, which also features clips from Kim Kardashian’s tutorials that have helped to drive demand.

One way to stand out is to feature your license on your Facebook or Instagram page.

You can literally just snap a picture of yourself holding your license and post it.

This helps potential clients (that are inevitably researching you before committing to scheduling a service with you) to trust you.

You could argue this is essential if you’ll be applying a bonding solution to their eyelids or otherwise servicing them with chemicals and/or sharp objects in the vicinity of their face and eyes.

You’ll get more bookings straight from your Instagram (shameless plug: putting your PocketSuite booking button on your Instagram page can help with this as well).

AVOIDING LEGAL ACTION (DON’T GET SUED!)

Here’s a recent question posted on Avvo about whether it’s possible to sue a beautician for being unlicensed when they performed a lash extension service.

If you’re operating unlicensed, you are classified as unregulated by the Board of Cosmetology.

This comes with several problems from a legal standpoint, the biggest of which is that you can actually get sued for misrepresentation of your official business status.

Take it from the experts at Lash Affair:

Nearly all states require a lash artist to have a cosmetology or esthetician license in order to apply lash extensions. … Otherwise, artists are not able to have a home salon that is unregulated by the board of cosmetology.

So that’s that. If you’re operating under the table, you’re putting yourself at risk of legal action.

You don’t want a disgruntled client with burned eyelashes or superglue in their eyes to file a suit against you. (I also hope you’re using actual bonding solution for eyelash extensions, not superglue!)

FINANCIAL BENEFITS

Let’s not forget that becoming a licensed eyelash technician comes with actual financial benefits.

For example, Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP for short) is the official industry organization that has thousands of licensed members.

Being a part of this organization will allow you to network with others and exchange valuable business tips, go to conferences, get educated on the latest market trends and techniques, and even get referrals from fellow business owners!

In order to join, however, you must be licensed.

Another prominent organization, The National Association of Lash Artists (commonly known as the NALA Global Directory) can help you find an accredited course to help you on your journey to get licensed. More on this in the next section on How to get licensed.

So now that we’ve covered all of the potential benefits of becoming a licensed eyelash professional, let’s continue to the juicy part – How do you actually do it?

HOW TO BECOME A LICENSED EYELASH TECHNICIAN

While it’s true that there are varying laws by state regarding becoming a licensed eyelash technician, Chron probably has the best answer I’ve found regarding this:

“In most states, eyelash technicians must be either a medical professional or a licensed barber, cosmetologist or esthetician. … If you do not live in a state that issues a specific eyelash technician license, you’ll have to choose between completing a training program in cosmetology or esthetics.”

So in other words, to become licensed to do eyelash extensions and eyelash treatments, you’ll need to go through the following checklist step by step:

1. Determine the laws of your particular state (assuming you’re within the US) – do you need to become a licensed esthetician, cosmetologist, medical professional, or barber?

2. Take an accredited course and complete the required hours of training in order to graduate and receive a certificate.

3. Go to your state’s Board of Cosmetology (or Esthetics) and take your licensing exam.

Here is a directory of accredited courses from the National Association of Lash Artists (the organization mentioned previously).

There is also continuing education available as well as advanced courses, specifically for experienced eyelash technicians.

You can choose between Classic Courses, Volume Courses, Combo (Classic + Volume), Lash Lift and/or Lash Tint certification courses as well as Extended Learning courses for experienced Eyelash technicians.

For starters, I would go with the Classic courses. If you’re more experienced try one of the other ones to expand your knowledge.

Ultimately, this journey that you’ll be taking to get licensed will result in more money in your pocket, less sweat on your brow, an end to all of the worries about being sued for unlicensed practice and a wealth of connections and partnership opportunities.

Your new life as a licensed eyelash technician awaits. Will you grab it or let it slip away?

Speaking of changing your life, PocketSuite can give your esthetician, beauty, or barber business a whole new look.

Say hello to online booking from your website/Facebook/Instagram, accepting deposits and payments online, scanning credit cards on your phone, scheduling, and a whole lot more. Try the Premium plan and thank me later.

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Why you should get your Cosmetology License – Hairdresser

Let’s say you’re a solo-preneur hairdresser out to build your business. You may be asking yourself if you need to get a license.

Or let’s say you own a salon and still haven’t been licensed to do hair in your state.

You may we worried about the risks associated with operating without official state approval.

You may even take pride in operating under the table, believing that your life is easier when you only accept cash, Paypal or Venmo. (or any of the other plethora of money-sending apps).

There are some issues with this, however:

1. Legal risks

2. Hidden expenses

3. Missed “money making” partnerships

If you are licensed and you haven’t realized all of the benefits of being “legit”, we’ll help you connect those dots.

First, we’ll tackle why you should get your cosmetology license as a small business owner that does hair.

Then we’ll discuss the practical steps that you can take to get your license.

But first, we’ll talk about why this is important.

In this article, we’ll absolutely answer that question, so you can rest easy on your silk pillow (so you don’t mess up your beautiful hairdo!)

WHY YOU SHOULD GET YOUR COSMETOLOGY LICENSE AS A HAIRDRESSER

Globally beauty is a $382 billion a year industry and it keeps growing at an insane rate.

Hairdressers are a huge part of this industry primarily because of how popular these services are.

TWO CATEGORIES OF HAIRDRESSERS

There are several subcategories of hairdressers – in this article, we’ll make the distinction by breaking up the industry into two main parts – those that do braiding/weaves and those that use chemicals.

The main reason we’re separating folks into these two categories is because those doing hair braiding/weaves typically don’t need a license. On the other hand, those using chemicals (to do perms, for example) have to get a license to operate legally.

If you are doing braiding or weaves, you don’t need a license because there are typically no chemicals used.

On the other hand, if you’re using harsh chemicals (or even some eco-friendly alternatives) to deliver services like coloring, dying, and some forms of curling and straightening, you are most certainly a candidate for getting your cosmetology license and going all the way with your salon services.

Speaking of harsh chemicals, the Women’s Voices Organization created a very useful list of chemicals to avoid when you’re working with clients, as well as chemicals to be wary of.

If I were you, I would pay close attention to this list and try to avoid as much contact with these chemicals as possible!

At the very least, wear eye and mouth protection to limit your exposure when dealing with these harsh substances.

But I digress… let’s discuss the specific reasons why getting your cosmetology license is especially important for hairdressers.

The first is the legal ramifications of not being licensed.

LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS

In just one year, the Better Business Bureau received more than 2,400 complaints about hair stylists about everything, “from bad cuts to severe scalp burns.”

Apparently, the possibility of chemical burns is a serious and ever-present threat when subjecting yourself to an unlicensed hairdresser.

Not only that, but under-the-table salons use super-glue instead of proper bonding solution to apply hair extensions, further damaging their clients’ hair and their reputation as well.

Here’s what Anthony Civitano of the Hair Dresser Institute had to say about unlicensed cosmetologists, specifically hairdressers:

“When you get into chemical work, or your working with sheers, sharp instruments around somebody else’s body, it’s really very important that you have the proper training and dexterity.

Unlicensed salons or solo-preneur hairdressers can easily get a $500 citation for operating under the table – how’s that for motivation to get licensed!

OPPORTUNITY COST

If you are unlicensed, you’re missing out on opportunities to work with payment providers that can help you with online booking, accepting credit cards, and paying your salon staff (if you have a salon).

Most payment providers will want to see proof that you are operating with a license, as this protects them from potential chargebacks from unhappy clients with damaged hair who are not happy campers.

You may also be turned away for emergency funding (should your business require it) in the event of a downturn, an economic crash, or another calamity that may leave you penniless and force you to close up shop and run to the safe harbor of a full time day job.

Wouldn’t that be a shame! If you need money for your business and your passion, it’s always good to have options in case you need to use them.

So another reason for getting licensed is that it opens up your business to a whole new world where you can accept credit cards, put an online booking form on your Instagram, and other perks.

Additionally, typical costs of hairstyling services for licensed versus unlicensed pros range from 3-4 times, so you’re leveling your business up to another tier of additional income by getting licensed.

PARTNERSHIPS

There are many professional organizations, such as the Professional Beauty Association (or PBA for short), that require you to be licensed in order to join. It is an exclusive group that also gives you access to perks and business opportunities.

One of the business opportunities that is very popular at the moment is becoming a hair product reseller.

The way this works is, you receive the product and get a white-labeled, personalized website built for you. All you need to do is find the clients and sell them the products, and you get a generous cut of the profits.

However, being unlicensed prevents you from taking advantage of opportunities like this.

So with no license, there’s less income for your business and less money in your pocket at the end of the day.

When you get your license, you’re opening up your business to new types of clients and diversifying your income (such as being a product reseller) so that you can grow your bottom line and build on your current success.

HOW TO GET LICENSED AS A HAIRDRESSER

Finally, we arrive at the practical steps that you can follow to get this accomplished and start to sleep better at night.

The first step would be to check with your state licensing board as every state is different.

Here are the education, exam, and other requirements necessary to get licensed, according to Study.com:

Required Education

Cosmetology training program at a school or through an apprenticeship.

Exam Requirements

Written tests on theory and procedures, practical demonstrations of skills in eight areas and written tests on state regulations.

Other Requirements

Minimum age requirement, HIV/AIDS training (specifics vary by state).

The next step is to find a cosmetology school that offers programs for hairdressers.

Here are some frequently asked questions that explain how to find a school and goes into detail on the requirements and process for getting licensed.

You can also find more information here on a state-by-state basis.

Once you’ve completed school and graduated (many of these you can do online, although the exam may be in person), you can go to your state licensing website to apply for a license.

Here’s what California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology website looks like (you would go here to apply for your license if you lived in California, but like I said it varies by state, so find your state’s website through Google):

In this example, you would click on ‘Breeze’ on the bottom left and then follow the prompts to get your license.

And there you have it – the main reasons you should get your license, as well as how to do it.

I hope this article has clarified why you should get your cosmetology license as a hairdresser.

Now go out there and make the world beautiful, one hairstyle at a time!

If you haven’t already, you can try PocketSuite for free to manage your hairdressing clients, accept deposits and payments online, process credit cards in person using their built in credit card scanner, manage your bookings online and from Instagram & Facebook, sell products, and practically everything else you’d want to do in your business. So you can do your job “making your clients deliriously happy” – worry free! 🙂

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!