10 Ways to Accept Payment – POS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can’t I just swipe it?”

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

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

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

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

THE HISTORY OF POINT OF SALE SYSTEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHICH INDUSTRIES USE POINT OF SALE SYSTEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOU SHOULD HAVE A POINT OF SALE SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW POCKETSUITE’S POINT OF SALE IS DIFFERENT

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

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

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

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

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

This gives you the ability to do the following:

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

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

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

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

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article

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!

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!

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 do Basic Accounting in Excel for your Service Business

Okay, this is a doozy. Most folks that start a small business or are solopreneurs are definitely not comfortable with accounting (very few people in the world are – seriously, who understands that stuff?)

Sadly, because of how important accounting is for businesses (especially new ones) it can be a real Achilles heel for business owners who don’t manage their books because they don’t have basic understanding of their numbers.

In the end, your business is all about numbers – numbers about how much you make, how much you keep, and how much you give to the “Man”.

No, not the Man in the castle in the sky, I’m talking about the Tax man!

And if you just got a rush of anxiety, it’s because you’re not abiding by this simple rule:

“Clarity brings confidence.”

In other words, it’s time to dispel the fog and wade into the murky waters of your business numbers. We’re going to take a plunge into what’s actually going on in your business, and hopefully resurface more knowledgeable and equipped with a game plan to make you even more successful.

So you’ve heard of Quickbooks – it’s probably the most recognizable small business solution for accounting on the planet.

You’ve maybe even reviewed some online tutorials on how to use Quickbooks and your eyes have started to crisscross and glaze over. I can’t blame you, the same thing happened to me!

That’s why in this article we’ll discuss very simply how to do basic accounting for your business in Excel.

No need for an accounting degree – let’s investigate how you can easily track your business finances using just one (1) excel sheet.

We’ll also dig into how you can actually use PocketSuite to track your financials as well, and how this is a happy compromise between Pen and Paper (are we in the stone age – why not just break out the abacus?) and Quickbooks (I’m getting brain damage as we speak).

SOLUTION #1: EXCEL

Step 1 is to open Excel or Google Sheets and create a new sheet.

Name the overall spreadsheet something like “[YOUR BUSINESS NAME] FINANCIALS” or, if you prefer something more practical and less formal like “[YOUR BUSINESS NAME] PERFORMANCE”

Now name this first sheet “Expenses”

Step 2 is to create the following columns:

  • Expense
  • Expected
  • Actual

Viola, we just created your first expense sheet!

Just list your monthly expenses here, one in each row. If you’d like to break things apart by month you can do that as well, similar to this:

The next step is to create a TOTAL column and put this formula into it:

=SUM(B1-B8) (assuming row B is your expenses that you’re summing up, and you have 8 rows of expenses. If you have more, just replace the 8 with however many rows you have)

And now you should be able to automatically see your totals for expenses. Here’s another example with Expected and Actuals broken down by month:

Step 3 is to create another sheet, but this time name it Income.

You’ll also create similar column names:

  • Income
  • Expected
  • Actual

You can use this sheet to track all of your income from your clients.

You may want to create additional column names for client info, or just paste from your Client List spreadsheet (outlined in our Client Lists article).

Are you getting dizzy yet? I’m not done! Don’t worry, I’ll provide a much simpler solution at the end of this article so stick with me!

SOLUTION #2: PEN AND PAPER

If excel is too much for you, you may want to try Pen and Paper.

This is an outdated method and also less secure than storing everything in the cloud (what if you spill coffee on it? I know you’re drinking coffee to try and stay awake as you read through these steps…)

However, for those of us that weren’t born holding a computer mouse or phone, it may be a more comfortable approach to dealing with your finances.

The method to do this is similar – you just take some graph paper (or even better, an actual ledger than you can get at any office supply store) and fill it out with the same column names that I mentioned above.

The drawbacks of this method are that:

  1. You constantly have to manually update your financial statements
  2. Your records aren’t as safe and secure (from coffee spills) as they would be in the cloud
  3. Your records aren’t portable. (Unless you want to stuff yet another thing into your go-bag.)

If you’re scratching your head because neither of these options seem like the quick-fix that you were hoping for, don’t worry! There is still hope for you, young padawan.

What am I talking about? (besides the Star Wars reference, you should know that)

PocketSuite’s user-friendly system for helping service professionals keep track of their finances, of course.

How does this magic work? It’s easy, actually. In fact, it’s the perfect middle ground between being a dinosaur (Pen and Paper) and having a brain aneurysm (Quickbooks).

How does it work, you might wonder?

Quite simple, to be clear. In fact, it might be the easiest option on this list.

SOLUTION #3: POCKETSUITE

How does PocketSuite help you to manage your finances?

The answer: auto-magically.

You see, when you use PocketSuite to manage your business (we’re talking about client lists, payments, scheduling, messages, and almost everything else) you’re already keeping track of these numbers.

Simply export your data in a few taps by navigating to Settings -> Help & Admin -> Data Sync.

Boom, that’s it! You can easily get data like Payment Deposits, Invoices Sent and Paid, Appointments Scheduled, and even Client Details in Excel (or CSV) form emailed right to your inbox.

No more searching through your Pen and Paper records or Excel to find the right info. No more plugging in values into Excel, cross referencing with your client records, as tears of boredom streak down your face…

Just export your data with PocketSuite and you already have the grunt work done for you.

Now it’s time to focus on what’s really important – get more clients and grow your business!

No need to go out and get an accounting degree, or worry about bookkeeping any longer.

And if you still want to use Quickbooks, no worries! You can take your exported data from PocketSuite and plug it right into Quickbooks.

I hope it has become clear that there’s no need to go through the pain and suffering of manually keeping track of your business finances with either Excel or Pen & Paper.

Your bookkeeping woes are all in the past and your business future shines bright and glorious. With a warm glow you fondly recall the memories of manually calculating your monthly income (with an actual calculator), but only for a moment, as you gracefully turn towards the future.

If you follow the advice in this article, you will step into a new world of automation and save oodles of time with PocketSuite as your faithful servant and cheerleader.

Don’t underestimate the minutes, that turn into hours, days, and weeks of your precious life, slipping away in pointless drudgery. This may seem unnecessarily contemplative, and somewhat pompous, but it’s an uncontroversial reality to claim these wasted moments will eventually become how you’ve lived your life. (Deep, I know.)

So consider your choices carefully. If you can automate something like accounting and bookkeeping, then for your own life’s sake you bloody well should!

Now I may be a shameless advocate of automation, but that doesn’t make me any less right. Go out there and build your systems, so you can conquer your business and lead it to success under the flagship of a focused and unrelenting leader!

If you enjoyed this article, do yourself a favor and go give PocketSuite a try – the Premium subscription has a 7-Day FREE Trial. 10,000 small business owners have already experienced the power of automating your accounting and bookkeeping – now it’s your turn.

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!

When to Use Google Voice Business for your Business

You’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, independent service professional, freelancer, or gigster and you’ve decided to take the plunge and get yourself a business phone number.

Congratulations! You’re ahead of the pack, as more solopreneurs rarely separate their business and personal information. This mindset of commingling your contacts can lead to a lot of confusion, not to mention potentially lost income.

How, you might ask?

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive on the topic of using Google Voice as a business phone line or alternate business number separate from your personal cell phone.

We’ll discuss the key reasons why you’d want to do this as well as walk through a quick tutorial on how to set up a Google Voice number.

You’ll also learn the main perks of why many small business owners elect to use a business number through Google Voice as well as the potential drawbacks and features you’re missing out on by going with Google Voice for your business.

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

WHY A BUSINESS LINE IS ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR BUSINESS

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

BUSINESS CARDS

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

TEXTING CAPABILITY

Besides calling, you can encourage your clients to text your business number – any decent business line service such as Google Voice will allow you to receive text messages.

GROUP MESSAGES

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

And don’t even get me started on the benefits as far as your sanity is concerned…

SEPARATE BUSINESS FROM PERSONAL

Finally, you can separate business from personal in a convenient way. No longer will you see an incoming call and wonder if it’s a client or your mother-in-law, Gertrude, asking why you haven’t called her in ages.

QUICK & CUSTOMIZABLE

Additionally, Google Voice is a great choice because you can get your number in literally one (1) minute. All you need is a Gmail account and you’re good to go!

Not to mention, you can even customize your phone number, such as choosing your area code and several different combinations of digits. Anyone who has ever wanted a vanity phone number, this is your opportunity! 😉

VOICEMAIL

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

FORWARD TO YOUR CELL

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

All in all, getting a dedicated Google Voice number is a great choice for your business.

How do you go about doing such a thing? Ask no more!

The good news is, it couldn’t be easier.

Simply go to voice.google.com (don’t you love how easy Google makes it to find their services?)

Then choose For Work from the selection, which will route you to Google’s cloud services. It’s basically the same thing as Google Voice for personal use, but with some extra features.

Here are those extra features (as well as the price tag):

What’s that I hear? You were looking for a free solution?

Well, that’s what most people say, and for that reason I’d recommend that you click Back and click For Personal Use instead. (Note that I’m not advocating breaking any terms of service)

However, it’s a shame that Google doesn’t offer some pretty sweet and much needed extra features for busy professionals.

For example, how awesome would it be if you could do any of the following with your brand new business line (unfortunately you can’t do any of the following with Google Voice):

  1. RANDOM MISSED CALLS – What if you could add your missed calls to your contacts automatically? How much time would that save you digging thru your missed call records and emails trying to figure out which client reached out from which number? Ugh, annoying!
  2. NO PERSONALIZED RESPONSES – What if you could send a personalized response to one or more clients based on certain criteria? (Such the date of their last booking, or whether they owe you money, or on their birthday or anniversary, or when their package is going to expire, or when you have special classes, extra availability, promotions, discounts, etc) – can’t do any of that with Google Voice personal (or business!). I know, I know it’s tragic…hang in there.
  3. NO CUSTOM FORWARDING  – What if you need to forward your number to another line that is not your cell phone? Like when you drop your phone and have to leave it in the repair shop overnight or when you are away on vacation out of the country and don’t have an international voice plan, or you just hired an assistant and want him to answer all of your calls. So sad, can’t do that with Google Voice either.
  4. HEADACHE OF MULTIPLE APPS – If you’re using Google Voice for your business line, which app or software are you using to manage your clients bookings? Which app are you using to process client payments? How about contracts…do you have an app for getting them signed online? Where are you storing notes, class info, etc? That’s right – you have to use multiple apps, which makes everything exponentially more difficult, manual, and inefficient.

How can you take advantage of these amazing business features without having to shell out $30 per month to GoogleDrive, GoogleWallet, and more?

The answer is a tool that you may already have heard about, since you’re reading this article:

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

  1. MISSED CALLS ADDED TO CONTACTS AUTOMATICALLY – every missed call you get (remember, these are only business calls because you get a dedicated business line with PocketSuite) will be added to your contacts automatically. No more sifting through missed calls or staring at a number, wondering which client called you!
  2. SMART MARKETING TO SEND PERSONALIZED RESPONSES – Send personalized, automated responses to your new leads and clients based on any criteria you set – hello discounts, hello promotions, hello increasing your bottom line income!
  3. CUSTOMIZABLE FORWARDING INCLUDED – Easily forward your line to your admin or support staff, and start spending your time growing your business while your team (or assistant) takes care of the support tasks! Unlike Google Voice, with PocketSuite your business line isn’t attached inseparably to your cell phone number. It default forwards to your cell phone but you can temporarily or permanently forward it to any other phone, including (ironically) to a Google Voice number.

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

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

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

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

It’s a no brainer to do a test drive, even if it’s on PocketSuite’s free plan. There is also a 7-Day FREE Trial – so you have no excuse. Check it out!

So what are you waiting for? We’ve discussed all of the steps to getting either a Google Voice line or a PocketSuite business line or BOTH – now it’s time to make use of this information, because you’ll never get back the ten minutes you invested in reading this article. Carpe diem! (Seize the day!)

As service professionals, let’s be bold and keep expanding and growing our brand and income. We’re laying the foundation for our continued success, one delighted client at a time!

If you liked this article, you’ll love PocketSuite’s Business line – try out the 7-Day FREE trial Premium plan, if you’re not sure, you’ll get the business line benefits!

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 Recurring Appointments with Google Calendar

Let’s say you own and operate a small service business and managing clients and appointments with pen and paper is getting daunting.

Or let’s say you’re a solopreneur who’s just now starting their business, and you got your first regular client. Congratulations!

In this article, we’ll discuss the most effective ways of using Google Calendar to manage the clients in your service business.

From there, we’ll list some of the potential drawbacks of using Google Calendar, as well as potential solutions to those drawbacks.

Recurring appointments are the cornerstone of a successful service business. It’s expensive and time-consuming to collect and convert new clients, and a lot more so for recurring appointments. However, the beauty of having a recurring service that you offer is how you can lock in future income and ensure you retain your clients – for as long as humanly possible.

In fact, the majority of your business can eventually come from your recurring clients. Imagine that!

If your advertising stops working as effectively as before, you can actually experiment with other marketing without your income dropping right away.

You can also afford to pay more to acquire new clients, since you know a certain percentage of all new clients will become a recurring client, and the profits generated by them will more than pay for your marketing efforts to generate your one-time clients.

So you’ve got some clients (or at least one) that wants book regular appointments with you, hooray!

But how do you manage them?

Here’s how: Enter Google Calendar.

HOW TO SET UP RECURRING APPOINTMENTS IN GOOGLE CALENDAR

STEP 1

Let’s open up Google Calendar (available at calendar.google.com):

STEP 2

Now we’ll double click on the date that we’d like to set up a recurring appointment for – when you do that, a new page will open up:

STEP 3

Here we’ll add a title and choose the date of the first appointment (even if it was in the past):

STEP 4

Here we’ll choose our desired frequency (is the appointment every week? Every two weeks? Or Custom?) Select it here:

STEP 5

If you select Custom, you can choose which days of the week you want it to repeat on,  choose to repeat every X amount of weeks, or create an End time (either based on a date or after X amount of occurrences – hopefully you don’t have this if your clients want recurring service forever!)

EXAMPLE: I’ve created a Service Appointment with Elon Musk, founder of Space X. As you can see from the Frequency field, I’ll be meeting with him every two weeks on Tuesdays. I’ve selected the Space X headquarters in the Location field as well. Because, who wouldn’t?! 😉

STEP 6

The next step is where Google Calendar does its magic. In Step 6, we add Elon’s email in the ‘Guests’ field. This way, he will be notified via email with Google Calendar, and will have the option to accept or reject the appointment.

We can also select ‘Modify Event’ if we’d like Elon to be able to modify the event date and time. Considering his busy schedule, we’ll go ahead and select that since we’d like to be as accommodating as possible. Becuase, c’mon, it’s Elon Musk!!!

STEP 7

Now in the last step, we’ll hit Save. This will do two things:

1.Send an email to Elon asking him to confirm his appointment. If he selects that he will be attending (pretty pleeeeasseee!), it will automatically add it to his Google calendar. The email also contains an .ICS file in case he’s using a different calendar system. The ICS file is something he can open, which will automatically add the event to whatever is the default calendar on his computer or phone.

2.Send an email to you and put it onto your calendar.

And that’s it! Seven easy steps to getting recurring appointments started on Google Calendar.

Now we’ll look at some of the drawbacks of using Google Calendar, and how there may be a better solution out there:

DRAWBACKS OF USING GOOGLE CALENDAR FOR RECURRING APPOINTMENTS

By using Google Calendar to track your recurring service appointments for your business, you may be unwittingly missing out on some of the following:

1.You’re sending invites out over email – remember, the average open rate of emails has gone from 90% 10 years ago to between 15-20% today. So basically that means that only 20% of your clients (at most) will likely open your confirmation email. Yikes!

2.You can’t collect deposits using Google Calendar. This is a biggie for service businesses because when you collect a deposit in conjunction with setting an appointment, you’re getting all of the following benefits:

  • With a deposit, clients take your appointment more seriously and are way more likely to show up / be there.
  • You can charge a cancellation fee to your clients, making sure that you’re not wasting your time and/or your gas to get to the appointment. If the no show-rate of your industry is 20% for example, collecting a deposit and enforcing a cancellation fee can conceivably bring it down as low as 1-5%.
  • You don’t miss out on the potential other clients you could have booked in place of those cancellations, so your revenue doesn’t dwindle.

3.You can’t put a credit card on file for the client with Google Calendar- this makes it much more difficult to keep track of which clients have which payment methods (if you’re storing that information) or even worse – having to ask for the client’s card every time can be a time-waster for both parties and make you to look unprofessional.

4.If you have team members, your Google Calendar starts to look very busy and disorganized – it could give you a headache! Just think about all of those different colors swirling around – ugh!

What solution do we propose? Why, a simple app called PocketSuite does the trick everytime, specifically for service pros!

HOW POCKETSUITE HANDLES RECURRING APPOINTMENTS

Just look at how PocketSuite handles all of these sticky points:

1.PocketSuite sends out invites over text message – SMS open rates are still a staggering 98% as compared to 20% and below for email – so you can be confident that your message is getting through to your clients, which helps to decrease no-shows.

2.With PocketSuite, you can automatically collect deposits from your clients – this makes it so:

  • Your clients actually show up.
  • You can charge a cancellation fee if necessary, which encourages them to show up even more. (Remember, cancellations and reschedules can eat up your revenue like crazy! Also, you’re not wasting your time or gas.)
  • You’re not missing out on the potential income that could have been generated by another, more serious client, instead of an empty cancellation.

3.With PocketSuite you can put a credit card on file for each client, which is amazing because it frees you up to actually deliver your service and the app handles the payment collection and secure payment method storage headaches.

4.If you have team members, PocketSuite makes it super easy to manage all of their individual calendars – you can still create a meta view if needed (so you can see all of their calendars at once), but as your team grows it makes it way easier to manage 3 or 4 separate calendars for each of your teammates instead of one giant one with everything on it. So basically you’re not limited by Google Calendar and you automatically will have access to calendars with separate views for each team member, including yours.

The best part is, PocketSuite is mobile-first, which means there’s no need to boot up your PC or crack open your laptop every time some scheduling change needs to be made.

Check out PocketSuite if you’re looking to make your life easier and join tens of thousands of businesses as you start running your business over text!

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 Track your Classes with Excel

Are you running a business that has classes and need a simple way to track them?

In this article you’ll find free templates that our Pros use to track their Classes, as well as their Clients, Services, and Packages as well.

Perhaps you’re a Yoga trainer, Fitness Trainer, Pilates Instructor, or any other business that has group classes?

If so you’re probably in need of a way to manage and store that data when you onboard new clients and register them for classes and private lessons.

The thing is – without a class management tool your business is dangerously balancing on a tightrope while juggling multiple balls in the air. If you lose your balance for even a second, you risk dropping balls (and there’s no safety net in business!)

So in order to avoid losing valued clients and also to alleviate the stress of having to manage everything manually, we’re going to share tips on how to manage your classes using good ole Excel spreadsheets.

The great thing about spreadsheets is that they allow you to input all of your client information and keep it in one place. Gone are the days of using email messages and having to scroll past the heap of messages from your family and friends in order to find your clients’ messages.

Gone also are the days of using Notepad or Notes on your iPhone or Android to have a list of clients, their contact info, and class times. Sure, you could do this in a notepad or daily appointment book, but how easily will this get disorganized without having any endless columns to input lots of great details about your clients preferred workout playlist, stretch position, and aching muscle? Just thinking about all of that critical information gives me a migraine…

HOW TO TRACK YOUR CLASSES WITH EXCEL

First, let’s discuss how business owners typically organize their client list pre-excel.

Namely, the fact that there’s an absence of any reliable system that does this for the business owner.

Unfortunately, most business owners nowadays are simply keeping track of everything in Notepad or in their head.

In terms of committing everything to memory, check out what David Allen says in Getting Things Done:

“Your head is a lousy office!”

Or check out my favorite quote by him:

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

What does this remind you of? That’s right – your business in its current, disorganized state. Let’s change that by putting everything into a new Excel sheet, freeing your mind to think of something more productive than your client Karen’s preferences.

So what’s the first step? Of course, let’s get your first excel sheet set up.

STEP 1: SET UP YOUR CLASS SHEET(S)

The first step is to set up your new sheet.

Excel is linear, so you will be setting up 1 class per sheet with the client’s names and date of the class on that sheet.

For each new class you create, you need to create a new excel sheet. I would keep them in the same spreadsheet, and navigate by going to the bottom and selecting the different Sheet tabs.

Ideally the column names you would have are Class Name, Class Date, Attendants, and any other information you can think of to add that would be useful to track for your classes.

If you’d like your very own version of this just like above, simply click on the link below and then click File-> Make a Copy once the sheet comes up:

Class List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LnR_E3ooT13d3bY742m_xA4Ky666J-sQO9eKw4z1U-4/edit?usp=sharing

In addition, here are 3 other sheets to track your Services, Packages, and Clients:

(Remember to click File-> Make a copy)

Services List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qJ9VTgAY73qQ5tcbDn2Ldbln70zcOmvmz0-AdcM5ICw/edit?usp=sharing

Packages List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ToiH4pAQjwQRxw7hsSX_KqPRLLljyshqfrzLZ3bvCbQ/edit?usp=sharing

Client List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16UjQEVnS7MtlsSHE8Iv0_mZEk6jIh1emmZjhQzcpsoo/edit?usp=sharing

STEP 2: FILL OUT YOUR CLASS SHEET(S)

Now you have to keep your sheet(s) updated.

The issue with this is the same as mentioned before – it’s cumbersome and takes a lot of manual effort to manage.

Not only that, but the biggest thing is that your Excel spreadsheet is not visible to your clients (at least they won’t be turned off by all of the data!)

STEP 3: ANALYZE YOUR CLASS SHEET(S)

Having sheets for each class is useful because you can take attendance and mark folks that don’t show up as absent.

The issue is keeping track of all of this manually. What if there’s a cancellation? You need to look at your waitlist (another sheet that you should probably create) and contact everyone on the waitlist, seeing if they can take the spot of the attendee that’s canceled.

You also need to secure the payment information from new clients. Can you see how this becomes super cumbersome and not at all fun? (like running your classes should be)

Well, there’s a solution to all of your spreadsheet tracking woes.

In fact, it’s easier than you might think to keep track of your classes without having to do everything manually in a spreadsheet.

The solution I’m referencing? PocketSuite, of course!

Here’s how it works:

With PocketSuite it works like a database  – if you’re looking for a specific client, you can just search for them (irrespective of what sheet you’re on) and PocketSuite calls up what you need –  you can even search by date, client name, location of class, etc.

There is a lot of flexibility in how you can look for something in PocketSuite, but that’s not all.

By far the biggest benefit of using PocketSuite over Excel spreadsheets to track your classes is that your classes are finally visible to your clients. What do I mean by that?

Right now, you have to: 1) Talk to your clients, 2) Send them paperwork, and 3) Follow up with them 5-6 times to get them enrolled in your classes.

With PocketSuite they can just self-book right into your schedule when you publish classes online – imagine that!

Not only that, but once your clients are booked, you don’t want to spend the first 20 minutes of your class taking attendance.

PocketSuite helps out here as well – it has a roster built-in, so you can check all of your clients in by just swiping on their name in the app. Alternatively your clients can auto check in automatically with the arrival and checkout alert feature. (Neat, huh?)

There’s also the super-useful waitlist feature – if your class is full, PocketSuite will add your clients to a waitlist, and check this out: if there’s a cancellation PocketSuite will auto add your clients from the waitlist to the class, notify them that they are now registered, and process their payment for the class. The great thing here is that they already have their payment info in the PocketSuite system so you don’t have to get it again.

It’s time to dump the spreadsheets and finally try something that will handle all of that manual work for you. Especially, if you’re the kind of Pro that’s always on-the-go, you can’t keep opening your laptop or booting up your PC every time you get a text message from a customer – now with PocketSuite you can handle all of that with one app. (Did I mention PocketSuite also has Client Messaging features? Now everything actually is in one app, period).

A bonus to using PocketSuite for all of your class scheduling and management is that you also get payment processing (accept credit cards from your customers), business messaging, and so much more.

Try PocketSuite for free today, and I promise it will alleviate 90%+ of the stress of running a service business with group classes. Now you can let the app do the work while you focus on building your class schedule, recruiting new clients for your classes, or building out the flow of your class program to deliver even more value and results for your clients.

Sounds like a win-win to me!

Here are those free templates again. Simply click on the link below and then click File-> Make a Copy once the sheet comes up:

Class List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LnR_E3ooT13d3bY742m_xA4Ky666J-sQO9eKw4z1U-4/edit?usp=sharing

Here are 3 other sheets to track your Services, Packages, and Clients:

(Remember to click File-> Make a copy)

Services List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qJ9VTgAY73qQ5tcbDn2Ldbln70zcOmvmz0-AdcM5ICw/edit?usp=sharing

Packages List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ToiH4pAQjwQRxw7hsSX_KqPRLLljyshqfrzLZ3bvCbQ/edit?usp=sharing

Client List:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16UjQEVnS7MtlsSHE8Iv0_mZEk6jIh1emmZjhQzcpsoo/edit?usp=sharing

Download PocketSuite today for free and get started transforming the way you do business forever.

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