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!

How and Why you should get your Massage Therapy License

Calling all unlicensed massage therapists!

Your call to action has finally arrived – in this article we’re going full shiatsu on why it’s critically important to get your massage therapy license if you want to compete in today’s saturated market of 385,000 massage schools and students.

Becoming licensed takes time and effort, so ideally you want to be certain you’re allocating your time and resources to get the best bang for your buck in terms of investing in your massage therapy business and yourself as a business owner.

We’ll discuss what to focus on, provide resources for training and certification, as well as additional resources for your perusing pleasure.

We’ll also cover the basics of why this is important to begin with. After all, if you’re going to invest time and energy in upgrading your business to the next level, it’s important that you’re not running East looking for a sunset!

This article will be your north star in terms of guiding you to licensed salvation.

We’re going to get deep in with our elbows and really unravel this knot of confusion that stresses most unlicensed massage therapists out – getting licensed – how and why?

Self help gurus advocate that the how always follows the why, so let’s take a page out of their personal development book and follow that same rhythm.

PART 1: WHY YOU SHOULD GET YOUR MASSAGE THERAPY LICENSE

According to an IBIS report from 2017, massage therapy is a $16B market.

One of the best ways that you can differentiate yourself from the competition (of which there is plenty) is to become a licensed massage therapist.

The benefits of this are numerous and self-evident, but here they are regardless:

 

  • Become a Trusted Pro
  • Grow Your Client Base
  • Take Advantage of Special Business Opportunities

 

In our usual fashion, we’ll be tackling these one by one. Let’s start off with the trust aspect.

1) BECOME A TRUSTED PRO

If someone wanted to touch your body (roughly), wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing that they’ve been trained and certified to perform those actions?

That’s exactly how your clients feel.

You may be acutely aware of all pressure points, danger zones, and warm-up routines that constitute a consistently invigorating massage experience for your clients. (By the way, all puns intended!)

But they don’t know that!

So how are you going to communicate this to them? Just tell them?

You’d be falling into the all-too-common trap of the Self-Serving Bias (also known as the Self Preservation bias – basically it means that folks are more likely to say things that would be beneficial to enhance their own self image).

Instead of being the dime-store huckster who’s constantly selling themselves to everyone, why not prove your worth by putting in the time and effort to earn a certificate which binds a trusted seal of approval to your name and your brand.

2) GROW YOUR CLIENT BASE

We already mentioned that you’d be winning over more clients and leading with a trust symbol that captures their attention and makes them more comfortable with booking a deep tissue with you.

Ideally, you could accomplish this by displaying your license visibly in your place of business and also in your social media. Facebook and Instagram are great platforms to post a picture of yourself holding your license!

Make sure to also include the logo of the accredited state institution from which you hold a license on your website. You could even put it on your PocketSuite booking form to increase trust when folks book you online.

All of these tips will help clients choose you over the competition, which ensures the long term health of your massage therapy business!

3) BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

There are tertiary benefits to becoming licensed. Not only do you get more opportunities to work with trusted lenders as well as payment processors (that want to see a massage therapist with a license since it mitigates their risk and increases your lifetime value. If you are licensed, you are likely to have less unsatisfied clients who request refunds or dispute their credit card payments to you.)

You’re missing out on some serious networking opportunities by not being part of professional massage therapy organizations as well! A lot of these organizations will only include licensed massage therapists as members. It makes their network appear to be more exclusive and, thus, more valuable to those who want to do business with massage therapists from large brands to consumers looking to book sessions.

Further, these organizations really teach you how to turn your massage therapy business into a full-fledged career. Don’t miss out on this!

One last tip for you on this: if you are planning on hiring other massage therapists, make sure they’re licensed as well to mitigate your own risk.

Okay, now that we’ve chopped and kneaded this issue into submission, let’s move on to the brass tacks of it all. Namely, how to actually get your massage therapy license.

PART 2: HOW TO GET YOUR MASSAGE THERAPY LICENSE

According to AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) there currently exist in excess of  265+ accredited massage therapy institutions in the United States alone.

Here is an abbreviated 3 step process for getting your massage therapy license that is recommended by the AMTA itself:

  1. Complete a training program at a massage therapy school that will qualify you to practice in your location.
  2. Upon graduation, meet the requirements of your state or municipality (such as obtaining a license or other credential, if you practice in an area where massage therapy is regulated). This will most likely require passing the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx).
  3. Find a school or program near you: see a listing of AMTA School members.

You can also find a list of schools by state here.

In simpler terms, you need to go through a training program and then pass the MBLEx!

Click the link above to find an accredited school to get your training program under your belt.

Then, once you’ve graduated from training, go to the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMFB) and apply to take the MBLEx.

There is a varied assortment of practice tests available online that you can take before putting up the cash to take the actual MBLEx.

Make sure you practice at least once before diving into the exam as it is known to be challenging!

For example, here’s one of the test prep questions:

Quite a doozy, no doubt – study up!

Make sure you’re prepared. I have faith in you! Thousands of massage therapy pros are killing it on PocketSuite and so can you. You can easily make a $100,000+ a year in income as a licensed massage therapist.

Dealing with messaging, payments, recurring appointments, scheduling, and administrative hassles can become quite a burden as you grow your massage therapy business.

For this reason, I would recommend saving yourself some time and headaches and finding a solution that can take the work out of your massage practice, and enable you to focus on what you’re best at.

Speaking of, once you’re licensed, you should give PocketSuite a shot if you need an app that can run your entire front-end business for you, so you can focus on healing, de-stressing your clients, and running your massage therapy business.

You’ll finally be at peace and can breathe a sigh of relief as your business runs on auto-pilot. Imagine that! Now go make it a reality. You’ve got nothing, but glory ahead. 🙂

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 and Why you Should get your Esthetician License

Are you an esthetician-in-training, professional Esthetician solo-preneur, or running your Esthetics small business?

If so, you’ll get invaluable advice in this article about the basics of getting your Esthetician license and ensuring you have all of your professional credentials up to date throughout the life of your skincare business.

No more waxing, exfoliating, or pore cleansing under-the-table.

That’s right, you’re going to signal to the world that you are a pro and take your Esthetics business to the next level!

But before we crack in, we’ll discuss the basics of why you should even bother to get your Esthetician license in the first place. (By the way, all puns are intended.)

This article consists of the following parts:

  1. Why you should get licensed
  2. How to get licensed

First off, let’s discuss why you should get licensed to begin with!

Get your lancet ready because we’re about to poke some holes in the argument that you don’t need your Esthetician license.

WHY YOU SHOULD GET YOUR ESTHETICIAN LICENSE

This is pretty straightforward. We’ve come up with 4 reasons why you need to get yourself licensed if you are a practicing Esthetician, and outlined them below:

  • Professionalism
  • Gaining Trust (and clients)
  • Training Others
  • Missed Opportunities (Financing, Payment-wise)

Let’s take these one at a time:

PROFESSIONALISM

First off, being a licensed Esthetician is critical in order to appear more professional and distinguish yourself in the market.

We routinely see Estheticians showcasing their license on their Facebook and Instagram profiles, in order to prove to the world (and to potential customers doing their research before booking with them) that they are a true pro.

GAINING TRUST (AND CLIENTS)

It’s not enough that you are marketing your services to clients – once they find you, they also would like to have confidence that you will deliver on your promise, whatever that is.

If folks will be trusting you with lancets and creams around their face, it’s fairly plausible to assume that they will be more comfortable with a high degree of certainty that you know what you are doing. Clients often fear the worst, “what if the chemicals burn my face?; what if I have a bad reaction to the creme?; or is there a chance I pay you and I don’t see any difference on my face?”

For this reason, it’s immensely important to showcase your license to folks in any and every way possible, so that you get a higher conversion rate of folks seeking out your facials and waxes and full body scrubs to people who actually book you.

TRAINING OTHERS

At PocketSuite, we have an eye on Estheticians who are killing it, and a lot of them actually train other Estheticians once they get their license.

This can be an additional income stream for your business with the added benefit that you don’t have any inventory expenses. What you are delivering is your knowledge and experience to others who are just starting out.

This means your profit margin will be substantially higher when you train others. Time to take some of those extra profits and treat yourself to a pamper session (especially if you already work in a spa or salon!)

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Think about all of the missed opportunities that will inevitably pass you by if you aren’t licensed. We’re talking financing, payments, etc.

For example, your business may not be eligible for financing from banks if you aren’t licensed.

Also, you won’t be able to get access to a reputable payment processing platform to accept client credit card payments if you don’t have that license hanging on your wall.

Payment processors do this to ensure that they are not hit with massive disputes chargebacks, for example should your clients pay for a facial and decide they are unsatisfied with the treatment because their unlicensed Esthetician didn’t do the “Swedish facial” the way that they  like it.

Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median hourly wage of a skin care specialist is $14.55 as of May 2016 or $30,270 per year in salary.

This is dated info, but it should still motivate you to get licensed for one simple reason…

“The highest paid specialists are those employed in dermatologists’ offices or otherwise working with physicians, making an hourly wage of $19.33”

Source: Chron

Try getting that hourly wage without a license!

So now that we’ve reviewed the key advantages of having an Esthetics license, let’s shuffle on to how you can do this with minimal time and effort on your part.

HOW TO GET YOUR ESTHETICIAN LICENSE

TRAINING & CERTIFICATION

There are a number of authorities on this.

One community that comes to mind is Associated Skin Care Professionals, or ASCP for short, and they dominate the market in terms of being one of the largest professional organizations for Estheticians.

Their group consists of Professionals, Students, Educators, and Employers.

Navigate to their signup page, enter your email, and get connected with some resources that will launch your Esthetics game into the stratosphere.

What about finding a school? This varies by state, but there are resources out there to help you find one that works for you.

In order to find an Esthetician school in your state, you can go to this page on estheticianedu.org and click on your State, which will bring up a list of all the accredited schools in your state where you can get certified.

I would also recommend looking into getting certified on a national level, in order to further distinguish yourself and get more professional opportunities. You can do so by checking out the NCEA – according to them, getting the National Esthetician Certification is the highest voluntary credential for Estheticians in the United States.

LICENSING

So now that you’ve gone thru an Esthetician school and received your coursework completion diploma, let’s get you licensed on a State level!

There are 3 parts to getting your State license:

  • Go thru a school or apprenticeship (this part you’ve already completed)
  • Take the licensing exam and pass it
  • Maintain your license

First of all, depending on what state you live in (assuming you’re in the US), you should be able to contact your local state licensing board in order to get licensed.

This process is different in each state, but to get started just go to good ol’ Google and type in:

*your state* esthetician license

From there you should have a link to an official .gov website that is relevant to your specific state, which will have links and information on how to apply for your Esthetician license.

Here’s what Washington State’s licensing website looks like to get your Esthetician license:

First you would click on “Cosmetologist, Barber, Manicurist, Esthetician, Hair Design, or Master Esthetician” (yes, that’s all one category)

Then click on ‘Graduate of a school or apprenticeship’ and complete the prompts that follow.

Remember, this may vary by state so make sure you follow our instructions and figure out how it works in your state.

Once you pass the exam, consult the school of your choice on the best practices for maintaining continuing education, as these requirements vary by state as well.

So, what are you waiting for? Go find a school, take a course, get licensed, and start raking in the extra cash! You might even have enough to get some new facial creams or exfoliating treatments to expand your inventory and offer more options to your clients.

Here are some additional resources for your consideration:

If you’re an Esthetician and you’re looking for a one-app solution to run your business on-the-go, give PocketSuite a shot today. We come recommended by the ASCP!

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 and why you should get your Dog Training License

Are you a new dog trainer, dog-trainer in training (with a dog training trainer?) or a solo-preneur dog trainer who already has clients, but wants to take your business to the next level?

In this article, we’ll discuss the top reasons why getting your dog training license may be the best move you’ve ever made for your dog training business.

It can be ruff out there for a new dog trainer, so let’s make it easier for you to grow your base of happy fluffers and satisfied owners, as you construct your dog training empire one hound at a time! (By the way, all puns are intended.)

Take it from us, we’ve seen countless entrepreneurs in the Dog Training field use our platform to make six and, in some cases, 7 figure incomes. I promise we don’t bite!

HOW TO GET YOUR DOG TRAINING LICENSE

There is only one major accredited institution that provides certification for professional Dog Trainers.

It’s called CCPDT, short for Certification Counsel for Personal Dog Trainers.

According to Cheryl Aguiar, PhD, owner and founder E-Training for Dogs:

“It is the only professional certifying organization that requires all of its certified members to pass a knowledge assessment that is a validated instrument in addition to proving experience in the field as a trainer or behavior consultant.”

Once you decide to get certified, there are three major options to choose from on the website:

  • Dog Trainer Certification
  • Behavior Consultant Certification
  • Continuing Education

New dog trainers should opt for the basic training, otherwise known as Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). This measures ethology, learning theory, dog training technique, and instruction.

It consists of 180 multiple choice questions and you can take the test on-site at one of their locations.

To get this certification, there are some prerequisites:

  • You must have already completed 300 hours of dog training in the last 3 years.
  • You must provide a signed attestation statement from a CCPDT certificant or a veterinarian (basically a form that says you completed the course)
  • You must sign two forms (I’ve linked the PDFs below):
  1. Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
  2. Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) Effective Behavior Intervention

After you’ve completed this certification, you can also get the Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge and Skills Assessed (CPDT-KSA) certification, which involves more testing and even submitting a video of you performing assigned exercises with an actual dog.

More experienced trainers may choose to go with the Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA), a step up from the regular certification that includes canine behavior modification training.

The requirements are the same as the CPDT-KA test, except the 300 hours of required dog training experience must include canine behavior consulting (on fear, phobias, compulsive behaviors, anxiety, and aggression).

Okay, now that you have all the info to get your certifications, let’s talk about why they’re important.

REASONS TO GET YOUR DOG TRAINING LICENSE

There’s a reason that droves of Dog Trainers are applying to get certified and accredited by a professional institution, and it’s not because they have an abundance of time on their hands.

Let’s talk about some of the practical reasons this would benefit your business, as well as possible missed opportunities if you ignore this advice and operate without a license, the top 3 being:

  • Professionalism
  • Missed Opportunities
  • Continuing Education

PROFESSIONALISM

Demonstrate that you are a true Dog Training professional by getting a license.

When someone entrusts their furry friend to you, they want to know deep down that they can trust you.

As a consumer, they’re faced with a predicament because they don’t actually *know* you.

That being said, having an accreditation that certifies you as a professional Dog Trainer does help immensely to more quickly gain the trust of your prospective clients. It signals that you take this work seriously and will apply best practices when working with their beloved pet.

We routinely see PocketSuite pros taking selfie photos with their license and posting them on social media to demonstrate that they are indeed licensed.

There’s a reason business owners are doing this and it’s not just because they want to grow their Instagram following.

Building trust with the client is a mission-critical step towards gaining a greater share of their wallet.

Here are a few more reasons why getting your Dog Training license is a great idea – there are a number of missed opportunities that will inevitably slip through your fingers if you ignore this massively important step in building your Dog Training business.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

If you are operating as an unlicensed dog trainer, you may find that you’re missing out on certain opportunities, such as:

  • Financing – If you need a loan for your business, banks may not feel comfortable providing startup or working capital financing for your business without a professional accreditation.
  • Payment Processing – You may be turned away from certain payment processing companies if you’re not certified (important if you want to be able to accept credit cards, not just cash from clients!).
  • Developing Team/Staff – If you decide to grow and need help, you will need to recruit or partner with other awesome dog “whisperers” like yourself, it may be hardgoing if they see that you aren’t certified. They too understand the value of credentials in building your brand and your business.
  • Acquiring Clients – Circling back to the increased trust that a license provides, (for better or woofs) certain clients may choose to only work with licensed dog trainers in order to make sure their pooch is in the best hands possible.

CONTINUING EDUCATION

If being a Dog Trainer or building your Dog Training business is your passion and lifelong career goal, then it’s a safe assumption that you’d like to be among the best Dog Trainers / business owners by delivering a great experience and top value to your clients.

For this reason, it can be helpful to stay on top of the wave of new trends and techniques that are proliferating the Dog Training world in this age of constant communication and interconnectedness.

More than ever, it’s important to distinguish yourself from the competition by providing an edge that other Dog Trainers just don’t have – and Continuing Education can be that edge.

How else will you stay afloat of trends happening in your industry? Youtube?

Continuously renewing your license will help you to differentiate yourself immensely and should not be underestimated as a marketing strategy.

Chron estimates that dog trainers can make upwards of $120 per hour. That’s a pretty penny and well worth the investment in accreditation!

Another tip is to take a dog training class as a student. As the Animal Humane Society points out,

“Visit local dog training classes that use science-based positive reinforcement techniques.  Watch how the trainer in each class teaches and how the dogs respond. If you own a dog, consider enrolling him in the class, even if he has had previous training.  This will allow you the perspective of a student as well as a prospective trainer.”

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

We consistently hear Dog Training solo-preneurs and small business owners mention that their business needs an all-inclusive system to manage everything – classes, packages, cancellation fees, discounts, sales tax, inventory management, payments, messaging… the list goes on!

If you’re anything like them, you probably also need some help managing your dog training business. The good news is, thousands of Dog Trainers run their business using PocketSuite, and I’m sure you’ll love it as well.

Here are some testimonials from real PocketSuite Dog Trainers:

You’ll be surprised how easy PocketSuite makes it to run your business (which is effectively how you’re spending a major part of your day).

Learn more about how Dog Trainers use PocketSuite to bring their competition to heel.

If you’re already using PocketSuite, check out our support article specifically on how to customize the app for your dog training business. There are some great best practice tips from dog trainers who are making a $100,000+ each year.

Give PocketSuite a shot and you’ll forever transform the way you run your Dog Training business!

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!

 

Written by Ilya Ornatov

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 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

How to Market your Esthetician Business on Instagram

Are you a solopreneur Esthetician or an Esthetics business?

Then you’ve probably noticed (in between ordering more facial scrubs and checking your inventory of lancets) that Estheticians are killing it on Instagram. Why do you think that is?

In this article, we’ll cover the absolute need-to-know tips for crushing it on Instagram with your Esthetics business.

But before we dive into that, the first thing you need to realize is…

Instagram is basically the modern-day landing page.

When clients look up your business, they’re officially more likely to check out your Instagram page than your website.

“Why is this strange phenomenon happening?” you might ask, bewildered.

The answer is something you might not expect and it’s called… honest signals.

HONEST SIGNALS

Honest signals refers to the concept that there are certain things you can fake in order to convey something and other things you can’t fake.

A website is something you can fake. Nowadays, with the advent of easily-accessible and idiot-proof website builders like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, it’s easier than ever to make your business come across divinely professional with little-to-no coding knowledge.

Just slap together a website in 10 minutes using a pre-built template and you’re good to go!

A business Instagram page, on the other hand, although containing less overall info than a website is actually more of an honest signal because of one thing: the pictures.

Most of us grew up with the web, so we’re accustomed to fabricated images (i.e. stock pictures) and can easily discern between them and “real” pictures.

On the other hand, creating a website professionally and easily at a low cost is now a widespread commodity, making it more difficult for us to determine a business’ professionalism just going by their website alone.

10 years ago, if the business had a nice website, you were able to trust that business with a high degree of certainty. It was an “honest signal” because 10 years ago websites were actually arduous, required custom development work, and super expensive to build, conferring onto their owners a true honest signal of value and trust.

This is what the client thinks:

“Well, if they can afford a website like that, or invested that much into it, they must be a legit company.”

Nowadays, just because you have a nice website, doesn’t mean your business will be the right fit for a client.

As of this writing, with that same website, the client thinks:

“The company probably just used a template from Godaddy website builder or Wix to throw it together in a few minutes.”

Instagram, on the other hand, features prominently the photos that you choose to display.

And unlike a cookie cutter website template, it’s hard to fake good photos (given what we discussed before regarding how folks typically have an eye for spotting fake vs real photos).

So now that we’ve exposed the tricky way Instagram forces business owners to put more of the ‘realness’ of their business on display, instead of hiding in front of a well-crafted template, here is the real question:

How do we as business owners take advantage of this format instead of letting it scare us into not posting anything? (Which might be the worst thing of all – to the modern-day world of service business clients, you basically don’t exist if you don’t post online)

There are three things I’d like to discuss:

  1. Useful, relevant content (for *your customers*)
  2. Calls-to-action (you have to ask your customers to *buy*)
  3. Using the bio link wisely (you only get one)

The first of which is useful, relevant content.

USEFUL, RELEVANT CONTENT FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS

The first mistake I see Instagram business profiles make is oversell (too many calls to action) without any actual substance (useful content).

The issue with this is that your content isn’t engaging, and doesn’t draw folks in.

So your Instagram page looks like a wall of tacky neon and multi-colored flyers for your business. In fact, this may be the majority of the content you post anyway.

Think about what would be useful for your customers to know.

One great example is to post ways that they can actually avoid using an Esthetician and do it themselves.

For example, post content about how clients can take care of their own faces so they don’t need to get a facial or extractions.

Believe it or not, this actually makes them want to come see you because it does the following…

  1. Builds trust – in this example, you or your business is the authority on the topic of skin care
  2. Provides actual valuereciprocity is a strong human urge. You can delightfully encourage folks to give back by using your service to thank you for the value you’ve given them, expecting nothing in return!

More examples of useful, relevant content for Estheticians:

  • How to set up your morning skin care routine
  • How to keep your skin young with [Insert Product Here]
  • How to prepare for your first extraction or facial
  • What to do after you have a facial so you don’t ruin your perfect skin
  • When to use mud versus milk versus oatmeal versus algae
  • Why massaging your skin can be game changing
  • How to deal with the sun…is SPF1,000,000 sunscreen high enough
  • Why using too many products on your skin can be very dangerous
  • How vitamins and water are literally all you need

So now we’ve talked about Instagram business profiles that have lots of substance and value added content (and as a result growing follower base and great engagement), we’re going to take it to the other extreme:

An Esthetics business owner who posts only great content, but never asks for the sale.

CALLS TO ACTION

You’ve got to ask for the sale!

Consider this, studies show: 90% of customers won’t buy unless you ask.

With a figure like that, and all of these possible customers browsing your Instagram, you’d be crazy not to at least ask occasionally for the sale!

But what’s the best way to do that?

Several ways:

  • You can use the comments section in each of your pictures to refer folks to your bio link, and have a link to your online store or your PocketSuite booking widget there.
  • Then there’s the bio link, which some folks will directly access without looking at the comments or your pictures.
  • Instagram Stories are a great place to put a call to action (it can literally be a video of you asking folks to swipe up to claim their offer) but your account needs at least 10,000 followers to enable it, so if you have less you’ll need to direct people in your Stories to access the offer by tapping the link in your bio
  • Finally, we have the description, where you should be placing an offer so irresistible that your potential customers are just aching to tap that bio link! As an Esthetician, try a free facial with purchase of a recurring membership.

At last, we arrive at the best practice tip, which is how to make best use of the sole link in your bio.

USE YOUR BIO LINK WISELY

…because you only get one!

Instagram’s single-bio-link “feature” constraints mean you can only have 1 link in your bio.

So how do you take full advantage of this?

The best advice I can give you is simple and to the point – paste PocketSuite’s booking widget in there so clients can book your services online, right from their phone or computer.

Combine this with an amazing offer in your description and you’ve got a recipe for a bunch of new bookings coming in out of the blue from your Instagram!

Trust me, you’re going to wonder how you ever lived without it.

Aside from that, with a service like Linktr.ee you can add a whole bunch more!

I hope these 3 tips have given you enough actionable content so that you can market your Esthetics business or yourself as an Esthetician solo-preneur on Instagram effectively.

If you haven’t checked out PocketSuite’s booking widget yet, try the 7-day free trial to test drive it!

Once you’re signed up, paste it into your Instagram and let me know how many extra online bookings you get!

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!