How to get more clients on wag!

Are you a dog walker that gets clients from Wag?

If so, chances are you’re looking to build your dog walking business and need more clients, which is why you turned to Wag in the first place.

In this article, we’ll be shedding some light on Wag’s business model, the history of the company, as well as great strategies that you can use to make more money and get more 5 star reviews on Wag.

(source: Larry French AP)

THE DOG-WALKING INDUSTRY IS GROWING

Pets are a huge part of our lives, and recent policy changes make it possible for us to be even closer to them by sitting with us at restaurants to enjoy meals together and even tagging along with us at work.

Millennials have been having kids later in life so it makes sense that pet ownership has surged as a substitute for raising children

Americans spent an estimated $70B on their pets last year. An increasingly larger chunk of this cash is going towards dog-walking services from apps like Wag. 

Wag is a dominant player in the dog-walker industry. They raised $650M in funding and are referred to affectionately as the “Uber for Dogs”. It’s a fitting comparison because the app pairs walkers with dog owners in the same way Uber pairs drivers with commuters.

Wag was founded in 2015 by two ex-Facebook game developers, Jonathan and Joshua Viner.

There are so many savvy solopreneurs building their own dog walking and sitting businesses using a competing service called Rover (and its subsidiary called DogVacay).

Rover has been branded the ‘DogBnB’ because of the endless listings of dog care providers available for hire.

Wag, on the other hand, is earning lots of business from evolving beyond simple dog walking to things like pet grooming – specifically mobile dog washing

Additionally, signing up to be a Wag walker is an entirely different thing from posting your dog sitting business on Rover.

Although easy to get onboarded, there are some limitations in using Wag as compared to Rover.

For example, unlike Rover’s directory-type setup (similar to AirBnB’s home listing model) the way Wag operates is more like a ride-sharing app.

To qualify to be a Wag Walker, you must be 18+ years old, legally authorized to work in the US, and be able to physically walk 20 minutes or more.

Once you sign up to be a Wag Walker, you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire that rates your experience with dogs.

You’ll also be required to request some recommendations from friends.

You need to provide the email addresses of several references at which point Wag will send them an email with a form to fill out.

You will then be asked to go through a background check.

One thing to note is that you will most likely have to pay the $25 fee for the background check, which is not standard operating procedure for an online marketplace. Usually, marketplaces that do background checks cover the upfront cost of the check on their own and/or pass those costs onto only the service providers that are approved to join their platform.

Once you’ve been given access to the marketplace as a service provider, you will start getting new walking gigs as they come in.

It’s common knowledge that these opportunities typically get picked up quickly, so don’t delay

Wag customers can choose between a 20-minute walk, a 30-minute walk, or a 60-minute walk. Once you get your first job, you’ll be able to see the address, the type of dog, and the length of walk options.

Wag’s hours of operation are between 7AM and 11PM, so you have a large window of time to claim jobs.

Wag also supplies lockboxes to the customer, so you are able to easily get in and out of the customer’s home to pick up the dog when it’s time for their walk

Here’s how much you will get paid based on the length of the walk (not including tips):

  • $9 for a 20-minute walk
  • $12 for a 30-minute walk
  • $18 for a 60-minute walk

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL WAG WALKER

SET YOUR PEE AND POOP-PINS ACCURATELY

Yes, you read that right. Wag allows you to mark via GPS where the dog you’re walking went to the bathroom, and that is transmitted to the owner via their app:

Remember, each customer receives a ‘report card’ from you at the end of your walk with a photo of their dog, a map of the walk, and a “pee-poop” status update.

Remember to fill yours out accurately!

BE COURTEOUS – YOU’LL RECEIVE MORE TIPS

A big part of your income will come from tips, as it’s common knowledge that many of the customers using Wag will tip you – but only if you do a great job and are super-friendly.

Brush up on those customer service skills that you learned in the retail job that you had in college as these will help you earn more tips and ultimately a higher dollar-per-hour income.

Another benefit of being courteous and friendly is that Wag customers can request you for their next service, or even set up recurring walks with you.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE REFERRAL SYSTEM

You can earn $25 for each new customer that signs up for Wag by downloading the app and booking a walk.

The customer will also receive a $20 credit towards their first walk, which is good enough for a 30 minute walk according to Wag’s pricing structure.

When you become a Walker with Wag, they will send you business cards that you can write your custom referral code on.

Try leaving these in the lobbies of busy apartment complexes (especially in the downtown area of your city) where time-strapped, high income professionals can find them and book you for a Wag Walk.

You should also target luxury apartment complexes and high-rises as these are apartments are full of Wag’s ideal customers.

You can also try pinning your business cards to bulletin boards in grocery stores and community centers.

WALK DOGS DURING YOUR LUNCH BREAK

A great way to use Wag to make money as a side-hustle is to take advantage of your lunch break at your 9 to 5 job and spend that time getting some fresh air and exercise! 

You’ll also make some extra cash and you won’t ruffle any feathers at work.

Since you can choose which gigs to accept, you can choose one with a time interval that works well within your designated lunch break.

Say hello to more money in your pocket without sacrificing extra time outside of your working hours!

TREAT THE DOGS (AND CUSTOMERS) WELL

After news reports of Wag walkers physically assaulting dogs while supposedly caring for them during their walk, clients are wary of potential mishaps related to their Wag experience.

Avoid using any kind of physical force when coaxing or restraining your customer’s dog. Otherwise, you might even be subject to legal action.

Another tip would be to actually walk the dog – not just sit in the customer’s apartment pretending to walk the dog.

Remember – you are being tracked via GPS when you use the Wag app. Behave accordingly!

Lastly, remember to keep a firm grip on the dog’s leash, so you’re not blamed for a lost or runaway dog. Here’s an example of some Wag clients who had a walker that lost their dog. 

In a worst-case example, your customer’s dog may even be hit by a car and killed.

Here’s another example of this unfortunate, but uncomfortable common occurrence.

Be careful out there!

BRANCH OUT AND BUILD YOUR OWN DOG WALKING BUSINESS

 

There are thousands of Canine pros using PocketSuite to manage every aspect of their dog walking, dog sitting, or dog training business.

If you’re already using PocketSuite, here’s how to set the app up specifically for Dog Walking pros.

If you’re sick of having to rely on Wag taking 40% of your revenue to provide you with dog walking clients, why not give PocketSuite a shot and build your own business?

Thousands of dog walking pros are already making six figures using Pocketsuite – why not you

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 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!

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!

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!

Do I Need Quickbooks for My Small Business?

Ah, good old Quickbooks. Don’t fret! There is no reason to pull your hair out – thanks to the wonderful software from our friends at Intuit – your accountant has everything they need to keep your books in order. You don’t have an accountant, you say? Ok, let’s talk.

I’m being a tad dramatic for illustrative purposes, (and possibly a touch perplexed about why cheap, high quality, hair transplants aren’t a thing yet). Still, the fact remains, Quickbooks is the market leader for small business accounting tools. And, also, it is a source of unending frustration for small business owners and solopreneurs who don’t have deep accounting skills.

In this article, we will dissect, piece by piece, the beast that is called Quickbooks Online. We won’t be touching on the desktop version as this software is frequently used by Quickbooks power users (translation: bookkeepers, accountants, comptrollers) and can also be a bit outdated, depending on what version you have.

Instead, we’ll be exclusively discussing Quickbooks Online, and whether or not YOU as a small business owner actually need it for your business.

Now, I’m not disputing that basic bookkeeping and accounting (or at least knowing your numbers) is important for small business owners, in fact, it might just be one of those basic principles that must be understood in order to survive – money is oxygen for your business and when you run out of money, your business dies.

So of course, I won’t be bashing being a “bean-counter” of sorts, but rather we’ll take a look at how to best utilize something like Quickbooks so that your brain doesn’t experience severe trauma and eventually initiate complete shutdown, resulting in an autopilot response of grabbing a pint of Haagen-Daz from the freezer and sulking on your couch watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother. (Note: This example may or may not be based on personal experience.)

Here are the basic assumptions behind our main question, which is… “Do I need Quickbooks for my small business?”

BASIC ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT YOU

Assumption #1: You have a business and clients.

Assumption #2: You know that you should be doing accounting and bookkeeping, but you haven’t been staying on top of it.

Assumption #3: You may have subscribed to a Quickbooks plan, but the complexity made you give up or barely ever log in (I’m guilty of this.)

If you answered “Yes, that’s me!” to 2 or more of the assumptions above, keep reading.

Now that we have those out of the way, let’s go more in-depth into whether Quickbooks is the right solution for you.

BUSINESS ISSUES: THE PROS AND CONS OF QUICKBOOKS

ISSUE #1: YOU NEED TO TRACK YOUR NUMBERS

Pros of using Quickbooks:

You know you should be tracking your numbers… you’ve just purchased Quickbooks Online, you’re now subscribed to the monthly fee, so you figure you’re “paying to get that problem out of the way” – problem is, now that you have the numbers, if you don’t use them to take the right action, you might as well have wasted the money or used it for something more valuable like marketing to get more clients.

Cons of using Quickbooks:

You’re in Quickbooks, at most, once a month. It’s not exactly a mobile-friendly setup and with all of the different dashboards it can be difficult to figure out any clearly helpful information. Balance this, counterbalance that… ugh, I have a headache already. Just let me work on my business without needing an advanced degree to do it!

ISSUE #2: TIME PRIORITIZATION

Pros of using Quickbooks:

If you eventually learn how to use Quickbooks, it can be an amazing tool to help you to trackt expenses, file & pay your taxes on time, create a more profitable business, and manage your monthly or quarterly budget.

Cons of using Quickbooks:

The learning curve on software like this can be so steep, that it almost makes it so that you need an accounting degree or bookkeeping certification just to be able to use it effectively and to its fullest potential. Ain’t nobody got time for that! You have a business to run for crying out loud. You should be out there chasing down new clients, building marketing campaigns, and doing everything that nobody in your business can do except you – not something you can pay any assistant or intern (i.e., undergrad student a measly salary to do for you)! (I’m not advocating underpaying college students with student loans they’re broke enough as it is.)

ISSUE #3: FRONT OFFICE VS BACK OFFICE

Pros of using Quickbooks:

Similar to issue #2, Quickbooks is mostly back-office work. Yes, back-office work is important to the overall health of your business. However… If you’re stuck doing that, who’s steering the ship? If you crash into an iceberg, no amount of back office work is going to help.

Cons of using Quickbooks:

As a business owner, you need to be out in the field (or on the phone or computer), selling your product or service. Not buried deep in Quickbooks looking 3 weeks back for X, Y and Z.

Most business owners would agree that if you’re the owner and operator of your business, you need a business tool where you can wake up in the morning and…

  • Check on the health of your business
  • See who’s happy and who’s not, and
  • Put out fires – fast – wherever needed.

Not buried deep in numbers trying to figure out if you hit your budget projections from 3 months ago!

For this reason you probably need an app where you have a closer connection to the dirt rather than the clouds. You need to know the nitty-gritty of who needs what, not a 40,000 foot view of your performance against theoretical annual goals.

Yes, having perspective helps and can make the difference between steering into an iceberg and making it to the promised land, but… if you just focus on the numbers, you won’t be acting on the few key responsibilities that only the CEO of your business can – namely, at least at the beginning – sales and marketing.

That’s where PocketSuite comes in.

With PocketSuite, it’s easy to get a grasp of what’s happening in your business.

Just open the app and Boom! You can see exactly what’s going on right on the homescreen. They affectionately call it your “Dashboard”, taking the ship steering metaphor to heart. Smile.

Need to look up past payment history from a client or check on your income? You’ve got it tap on the Income Dashboard.

Need to double-check your sales or inventory from last month? Two or three taps on your Items Dashboard, and you’re there.

How about looking up if your invoices? Tap your Invoice Dashboard. Have you been paid yet?  What’s up with all the outstanding invoices? Time to go into bill collector mode! I know where you live.

You get the picture. There’s lots of things you just need to look up in a flash when you’re on-the-go not stuff you should be cracking open your laptop or booting up your PC to find. (Or worse, rifling through stacks of papers on your already-too-cluttered desk.)

Bottom line – You need a solution for being on top of your business finances and PocketSuite makes it uber easy to accomplish this – no professional certifications required!

Dealing with the numbers in your business has never been easier.

Try the 7-Day FREE Trial of PocketSuite today, you won’t be disappointed. And instead of chasing that accounting degree, you might even have time to scale your business to the next level!

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 Set up Appointment Reminders with Google Calendar

In this article, we will be delving into exactly how to set up Appointment Reminders with Google Calendar.

You’ll learn the step-by-step solution that will cut down on your no-shows, increase your attendance, and make sure your clients are ready for you when you arrive.

But first… why are appointment reminders useful to begin with?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a solopreneur or small business owner and in search of a practical way of setting up appointment reminders for your business.

Not just reminders for you (although that is obviously useful), but for your clients, as that is what will really make a huge difference in your small business.

Appointment reminders are a critical part of any service business, considering how forgetful and scatter-brained we all are these days with all of the distractions. (Or is that just me?)

As a business owner, it’s fairly simple and straightforward to keep track of your appointments because that’s literally the lifeblood of your business, and you most likely have them top-of-mind.

Think about it from your client’s perspective, however. It’s so easy to forget an appointment, considering that most of your clients are also juggling 3 other appointments that day, not to mention work meetings, family commitments, etc.

Most times the busiest folks are the ones that need your service the most!

By setting up appointment reminders for your business, you decrease no-shows (which eat into your bottom line income) and also increase the chances that your clients will be ready for you.

Given that you can automate this with technology fairly simply, it’s a no brainer to set this up for your business!

So you’ve decided it’s time to get organized and put a system in place to do the work for you. Congratulations! If you’re thinking this far, you’re a step ahead of the competition.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how we can best remind your clients to keep their appointment and to get prepared for it as well.

Now you may be thinking – what’s the simplest and most practical way of getting appointment reminders set up for my clients? Well, one solution that comes to mind is Google Calendar – a free, easy-to-use calendar that includes appointment reminders and a whole lot more.

There are many other calendar solutions there, but for simplicity’s sake you’ve decided to go with Google Calendar. (I mean, how simple can it be, right? Everyone has a Gmail account!)

Ready? Don’t worry, there’s no height limit to ride this attraction, but you’d better make sure your safety device clicks all the way down because we’re going on a roller coaster ride! (Kind of what it feels like to run a business, right?)

The great thing about Google Calendar is – if you have a Google account (Gmail for example) then you already have access, for free.

Let’s dig in:

STEP 1: CREATE THE APPOINTMENT IN GOOGLE CALENDAR

The first step is to open up Google Calendar and double click (or tap) on a date you’d like to add your appointment to.

A screen will show up similar to this:

STEP 2: FILL OUT THE APPOINTMENT DETAILS

Create a name for your appointment. You can use something descriptive that will communicate the appointment reason clearly in the title, such as:

YOUR NAME <> CLIENT’S NAME [SERVICE]

The next step is to add the date and time.

Finally, make sure that you add the client’s email address to the Guests field.

This is the critical step that will ensure they receive appointment reminders via email.

Now, hit the Save button and you’re finished! Now your clients will receive appointment reminders via Google Calendar (which will be sent to their email address that you input in this step).

Unfortunately, there are numerous functions that are not available in Google Calendar, such as Payments, Deposits, Cancellation Fees, and SMS Reminders. Keep reading to learn how to integrate these powerful tools into your business…

FEATURES YOU MAY BE MISSING OUT ON…

Have you ever noticed that your clients don’t get back to you as quickly as you’d like when you communicate solely via email?

It’s not surprising, considering that email open rates are hovering around 20% vs 98% open rates for SMS. In addition, it takes roughly 90 seconds for your clients to respond to your text, as opposed to roughly 90 minutes via email.

Given the sad state of communication, one would only hope that there would be a more pertinent solution to alerting and reminding your clients of their appointment.

Lo and behold, PocketSuite emerges from the mist, ready to save the day once again!

Here are some of the pro-level tools that PocketSuite allows you to take advantage of (that you’ll be sorely missing out on with Google Calendar):

1.SMS REMINDERS – As we mentioned already, with the shamefully low open rates for email, you can instead deploy automated SMS reminders with PocketSuite to ensure that all of your clients are receiving every appointment reminder, every time. This actually has farther reaching benefits than you may think as I will explain below…

2.PAYMENTS – Wouldn’t it be great if you can store payment information in Google Calendar events, so that you can just charge the client when the time is right? Well, with PocketSuite you can. Not only that, but you have the client’s entire profile to access if you need to jot down some notes.

3.DEPOSITS – With PocketSuite you’re able to secure deposits (for example 50%) with each appointment, which can help to alleviate any troubles with credit cards not having enough money in them to charge when it’s time to bill your clients. You’re a service provider and business owner, not a debt collector, after all! This also makes your clients more serious about their appointment, since they have cash on the line! This brings me to the next point…

4.CANCELLATION FEES – You can enforce cancellation fees on your clients, which makes your clients take your time more seriously and also gives you two concrete benefits:

  • Causes clients to become more serious and committed about their appointment, which decreases no-shows and also ensures they ready for you at the right time
  • Allows you to recover some of the lost income from cancellations (income that other clients would have happily paid you for).

5.CUSTOM APPOINTMENT REMINDERS – Don’t you wish Google Calendar had a way to set when your clients will receive the reminder? With PocketSuite, you can set it so that one client receives the reminder 1 day before the appointment, and another receives it 3 days before the appointment. This is a big differentiator when comparing the scheduling capabilities of PocketSuite and Google Calendar. For example, if you remind some of your clients 3 days early, it’s as good as not reminding them at all. Alternatively, other clients just need a 24 hours heads up and they are good to go.

All in all, PocketSuite provides a bundle of tools that vastly overshadow the scheduling only functionality of Google Calendar. From automated, custom SMS reminders to being able to collect deposits, payments, and cancellation fees from your clients… PocketSuite is the epitome of the all-in-one business app. Did I mention there’s a free plan to get you started?

And while we’re at it, why would you use multiple apps to manage your business anyway?

You can just pull out your phone (just like you do 80 times per day on average) and make scheduling changes, add a client or payment info, and basically manage your entire business from 1 app.

Give PocketSuite a shot and you may just find like 10,000+ other small business owners did, that it’s the secret ingredient to help you automate your business and grow your income auto-magically. Just as modern technology should!

Now you’re a wizard, Harry. Go forth and build your empire!

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 Esthetician Business with PocketSuite

Are you an aspiring esthetician, a full-fledged esthetician-solopreneur, or an skincare business owner?

You’ve probably run into challenges managing your clients – after all, between making other people beautiful, creating beautiful marketing campaigns, and getting your beauty sleep, who has time for all of the admin work that’s involved in making your business run smoothly? You’re busy making your clients’ skin smoother than butter! (Shea butter of course)

Well, have I got a doozy for you. In fact, I’m about to share one of the industry’s best-kept secrets.

It’s no wonder that the ASCP (Association of Skin Care Professionals) deems PocketSuite “The app for Estheticians.”

There’s also a reason why over 10,000 folks have been using PocketSuite to manage their business.

In this article we’ll go over the best features that PocketSuite has to offer specifically for the Esthetics industry.

Get your Jade Rollers and Skin Scrubbers ready, because we’re about to take your Esthetician game to the next level!

In this article we’ll cover:

  1. Getting your Esthetics Business set up on PocketSuite
  2. Importing your Clients
  3. Setting up your Services
  4. Setting up Payments
  5. Key Features (important!)
  6. Best Practices

HOW TO RUN YOUR ESTHETICS BUSINESS WITH POCKETSUITE

You probably offer different services to your clients – from microblading to facials, maybe you even offer monthly discounts on recurring packages!

Either way, PocketSuite has you covered.

The first step would be to sign up and get your PocketSuite account set up.

You can easily go thru the onboarding process, which takes 30 seconds and will customize the app based on which industry you’re in. In your case, we’ll be selecting Health and Wellness -> Esthetician.

Now here’s where the magic starts to happen.

Next, we’re going to set up your services.

SET UP YOUR SERVICES WITH POCKETSUITE

Now we can get to the fun part!

Start by adding your services, ideally in groups of 3 (studies show that psychologically folks like to see items in odd numbered groups). If you have more than 10 services, turn on the “Categories” feature so you can group your services in a way that makes it easy for your clients to click and checkout online.

If you have 3 different prices, keep in mind that most folks will choose the middle price. Set up your pricing accordingly!

Finally, you can add your current clients. PocketSuite makes this easy because of the free importing provided to all signups, even on the free plan!

SET UP PAYMENTS

Are you currently accepting credit cards from your clients? If not, you can easily set that up with PocketSuite. Here’s 10 different ways you can accept payments using the app.

For now, we’ll walk you through setting up payments via accepting credit cards from your clients.

The benefit of this is you have their card on file, they get an automatic receipt texted to them, and you don’t have to ask for payment each time because their info is stored in your system!

It also makes you look like much more of a professional Esthetician. The kind they can feel comfortable referring to all of their friends!

You can also use these tips to help you get more referrals – after all, in the Beauty industry word of mouth is everything!

KEY FEATURES

Here we will be discussing the key features of PocketSuite that Estheticians in particular rave about. I hope you’re wearing 2 pairs of socks because the first pair is about to get blown off!

Online Forms

You can create beautiful forms for internal use (taking notes about your clients’ preferences) or client-facing intake forms (in order for clients to fill out their personal health history and skincare needs/preferences).

Waivers & Contracts

Say goodbye to using 3rd party apps to send liability waivers or contracts to your clients – a few taps, a signature, and PocketSuite has got you covered.

Products & Inventory Tracking

It’s a shame you’ve been tracking all of your products and inventory manually, since PocketSuite has a built-in online product sales and inventory tracking feature!

Gift Certificates

Gone are the days when you were searching for a third party tool that can send out gift certificates. Or were you just creating them manually in Google Docs? How do you even track those? Forget all of that, you can sell gift certificates and track the purchases with ease from your PocketSuite dashboard. Log in to the app today and try it out!

Smart Campaigns

We’ve got you covered here – auto-send SMS campaigns to your clients encouraging them to book their next appointment, share skincare tips and aftercare guidance, or even offer holiday/special discounts.

Did I mention you can re-engage past clients to build your recurring client base? Yeah, PocketSuite actually helps you to build your business and increase your bottom line. Which makes it practically pay for itself, not once but many times over. And that’s not even considering all the time you’ll save not typing the same message over and over, and customizing it for each client. Hooray for more money in your pocket and more time in the day to spend with your family!

BEST PRACTICES

Signing up new clients is a breeze with PocketSuite. You can literally take all of the pain out of the process. No more relying on spas that barely send you any new clients, just to take a huge percentage of your income.

Now you can be your own spa (not literally, but essentially you’ll have the back office that a spa typically gives you).

For example, a lot of folks get their massage therapy license, and then go back to get their Esthetician license in order to be able to give facials as well as deep tissue massages. The major reason is that they don’t have enough clients for their massage therapy business – but the issue is, the same problems that hinder your massage therapy business will also limit your esthetician business.

The reality is, if you have a stream of clients coming in, you need a system to manage all of them. How are you going to keep track of client preferences, payment info, client intake forms, liability waivers, recurring appointments, cancellations, and charges?

With PocketSuite, you basically get an app that does all of that and more.

Top Estheticians are crushing it with PocketSuite, simply because it gives them more time to focus on what they do best – namely top-of-the-line facials, extractions, and general skin care regimens.

How, you ask? Let’s dive into that now and I’ll give you the low down:

CLIENT MANAGEMENT

How about when clients cancel on you? Now you need to go back into your excel spreadsheet and mark that they canceled. What about keeping track of repeat offenders?

And then of course there’s the waitlist feature. If you’re all booked up, and somebody cancels, the waitlist feature automatically tees up the next person into the time slot that was canceled.

You can literally send out a group message that will alert all of the folks on your waitlist that a spot has freed up. All of this with just a few taps on your phone. No more digging thru SMS threads to find your customers and trying to remember which one wanted the time slot!

PAYMENTS

Not to mention that payment info is stored automatically so you’re not worrying about collecting credit card info or cash from your clients every time.

Your clients can update their own credit card information, saving you the hassle of having to ask them for a new card when one expires.

CANCELLATIONS

Want to initiate late cancellation fees? No problem, you need to protect your time and this also decreases no-shows dramatically (no surprise, huh?)

MARKETING / SALES

Now let’s move on to marketing. I’m assuming you have a Facebook and Instagram page for your business. If not… go make one now!

Okay, now that you’ve made one (or already have one and are puzzled that I even needed to ask) it’s time to hook up your PocketSuite booking widget to your social media.

That’s right, folks can book appointments with you right from your Facebook / Instagram page. I know you’re getting giddy because this is the future!

How about selling products? Facial creams, tweezers, powders… whatever is in your inventory, PocketSuite’s new Inventory Management feature allows you to keep track of how many products you have, how many you’ve sold, and even alerts you when it’s time to re-order.

Not only that, but your products can be separate transactions from your services. It also allows you to apply different discounts on services without compromising your bottom line when selling your products.

Most top Estheticians make a handy profit by up-selling their products after the service, so if you’re not reaping this reward already, you need to get in on it! Studies show that 40% of top esthetician income is typically from product sales. That’s how you’re going to grow your business and ultimately your bottom line. If you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table.

What about following up with current clients? The handy Smart Campaigns feature handles that effortlessly. Simply tee it up and personalized SMS messages will automatically be sent out to your current clients. You can use this to upsell them, offer discounts, and ultimately get them coming back for more (the best way to increase your income without having to find and get more customers).

THE BOTTOM LINE…

If you’ve been puzzled wondering how your competition seems to run huge businesses without breaking a sweat, realize that every part of your business (except the direct services that you provide to clients) can be broken down and streamlined.

Additionally, when you then realize that most of these systems can be automated with a single app, it makes it a no-brainer to give PocketSuite a try.

There’s not a single app on the marketplace currently that makes it easier to run your entire esthetics business from soup-to-nuts.

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!

SquareSpace Buys Acuity

So, you’ve just recently heard about Squarespace buying out Acuity.

We actually recently featured Acuity in our article on Scheduling Apps for your business.

So when we heard about this acquisition, we thought – Fantastic! Now it should be easier than ever to integrate the two, right?

Not so fast! In this article we’ll be discussing the Pros and Cons of using Acuity with Squarespace.

We’ll discuss the possible Pros of having everything under one roof as well as the mind boggling cons that make us scratch our heads in amazement.

For example:

We found the buyout actually made it *more* complicated to integrate the two, not less.

What? Yes, that’s right.

We had to dig for a while and read 2 complicated articles (1 from Squarespace and 1 from Acuity) to determine how to integrate the two, and we’re still not sure how to do it!

Now, I’m sure this will change as the companies merge, but for now the integration is still a totally mystery.

Now, don’t get me wrong – this is the very first acquisition for Squarespace so I’m sure they’re just ironing out the kinks.

Acuity is a 13 year old company that provides scheduling, which Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena suggests will help Squarespace website builder users to integrate a scheduling widget into their site.

However, is this ultimately necessary for the end user?

For example, if you’re using the Squarespace website builder and you’d like to integrate a scheduling or booking widget into your site, how easy is it to do with other scheduling software?

With PocketSuite you simply copy 1 line of code, paste it into your site, and viola! Your PocketSuite booking / scheduling widget is instantly installed. You can also make it an iFrame or a part of your site easily.

This is in direct contrast to the 20+ steps needed to integrate Acuity. It makes me wonder why things need to be so complicated, especially when it’s all under one roof!

The other great thing about the PocketSuite booking widget is that you can customize it based on your preferred color palette and which services you want to display, so you can only show certain services on certain pages.

Here’s a handy example of how this would work:

“You can add the keyword “#newclients” in the description of one or multiple services you save in PocketSuite. This will also support private services (services you choose to NOT show online on your primary widget) to show online.”

Neat, huh?

You can also include multiple booking widgets on your page, or create a form instead of a widget which works the same way.

Not to mention everything is secured with SSL, we verify customer’s phone numbers before allowing them to book, and customers don’t need to download PocketSuite in order to book with you.

But that’s not all.

What if you don’t have a website. Can you still use PocketSuite’s booking widget?

The answer is – absolutely!

You can grab your code and put it on your Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platform.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if customers could find you on social media and book directly from there? Well, now they can.

Looks good, eh?

Now here’s the other concern we found. If you’re on mobile, how easy is it to integrate Acuity with Squarespace?

It’s hard enough on desktop, but being on mobile makes it near impossible.

Not so with PocketSuite – everything is mobile first with us, so there’s no plethora of unnecessary steps to complicate your efforts to connect the two.

Seriously, just grab your booking link and paste it wherever your want. Done!

Squarespace also built their own in-house email marketing product that they launched last year – spreading their efforts across not just website building but also trying to be a Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign.

From the perspective of the customer, I would rather have something that’s easy to integrate from my phone than a bunch of bells and whistles I’m not going to use. But that’s just me.

Also it makes it difficult because there are other email marketing companies that do their job full-time, so I’d rather use software that’s designed especially for its purpose, not as an afterthought or as an add-on to my website.

That’s like if WordPress decided to create their own email marketing. Would you use that, or continue using the proven systems of Mailchimp, AWeber, ActiveCampaign, etc?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Why complicate things when you can just go with the industry standard?

Squarespace’s director of product Natalie Gibralter said she wants to turn “Squarespace into an “all-in-one platform” for businesses.”

Is this a move that is going to spread Squarespace even thinner, diluting their efforts to create the best website builder around?

Many have already complained about Squarespace’s website builder issues that still haven’t been resolved – for example the recent mass-spread outages or the inability to add CSS or scripts to your site on the basic plan.

Not to mention the constant duplicate content errors and inability to customize that we were feeling when we were using Squarespace ourselves.

That’s right, we didn’t just try Squarespace for 15 minutes and read some articles. We at PocketSuite were dedicated, loyal clients of Squarespace for several years – but ultimately the annoyance and continuing issues caused us to shift to WordPress.

It doesn’t really matter what CMS you use, the point is that you need something that works. There’s tons of them out there – WordPress, Wix, BigCommerce, Shopify, Weebly, etc.

Especially if you’re mobile friendly and you’re using Squarespace, you need something to integrate your scheduling that’s going to be mobile friendly as well.

Otherwise, if you have to run to your laptop or boot up your PC every time you need to make some changes… are you truly going mobile, or still stuck in dinosaur-land?

Ultimately, your decision needs to be based on what’s better for you and your business.

If you’re a fan of digging in and really trying to unravel the strings and figure out how the puzzle pieces fit together, Acuity may be a great fit.

However, if you’re mobile-first and you just need something that works without all the hassle and headaches, give PocketSuite a shot.

And if you are opting for Squarespace, at least avoid their personal plan. Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • You can’t use it for eCommerce
  • You can’t add CSS, so you can’t customize the appearance of your site
  • You can’t add scripts, so you can’t customize the functionality to your site
  • It’s hard to make a personal plan GDPR compliant, since to do so you need to put scripts into the header
  • You can’t capture customer emails and send to Mailchimp or AWeber or any other email marketing platform – you can’t even use Zapier to do so manually!
  • You can’t use promotional pop-ups (which studies show increase visitor-to-email-subscriber conversion rates significantly)
  • You can’t add an announcement bar

The templates Squarespace have are nice, but look – you can’t even compare the amount of templates available in Squarespace to something like WordPress – it’s like comparing a grain of sand to the ocean.

Squarespace websites are mobile friendly and do use AMP, which is a Google-backed project that speeds up mobile landing pages.

But you can only use that on blog posts! What if you want to use it on your product pages? Nope.

One of the really frustrating things about using Squarespace templates is that you can’t change certain features in certain templates, and you can in others.

For example, in certain templates you can’t change the size of the blog header’s font, and in others you can.

This is super frustrating because when you get to that point in the design process, you need to back up and choose another template because of this random restriction.

That can waste hours of your time spent designing and in my view you really should be able to change or alter these in some way. It doesn’t make sense that you can do it on certain templates and you can’t on others.

And if you need to call them? Sorry, no phone support.

Customers have also complained about the lag time between customer support issues and resolving them, which can be aggravating when you’re trying to build something on a deadline.

Another challenge with using Squarespace is their SEO options are very limited:

This can be frustrating when WordPress offers such awesome SEO plugins as Yoast.

If you’re building a website, chances are you’d like it to rank high organically for search terms on Google.

With Squarespace it just makes it difficult to do so.

Now keep in mind, Squarespace does allow you to design beautiful websites and their onboarding has improved drastically since 2016.

However it seems it’s built for designers in mind, but with something like golden handcuffs that both make it easier than WordPress, but also limit functionality to a degree that you have to weigh the pros and cons yourself.

We were happy with Squarespace for years, but ultimately outgrew the platform and decided to go with something more robust and customizable.

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!