How Payment Apps Are Speeding Up Cash Flow

How Payment Apps Are Speeding Up Cash Flow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pocketsuite apple app store

How Payment Apps Benefit Your Business

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

Accept online payments anywhere

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

Payment apps keep your cash flow flowing

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

Business payment apps are affordable

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

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

Payment apps are convenient for you and your clients

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

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

The Features Every Business’s Payment App Needs

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

Client invoices

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

Subscriptions

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

Packages

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

Start Collecting Payments with PocketSuite

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

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

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

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

pocketsuite apple app store

Frustrations with Square Appointments





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

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

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

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

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

INTEGRATION DIFFICULTIES

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

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

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

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

DEPOSITS AND CREDIT CARDS

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

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

CUSTOMIZATION CHALLENGES

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

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

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

LIMITED CALENDAR SYNC

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

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

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

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

TECHNICAL ISSUES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unacceptable!

EMPLOYEE DIFFICULTIES

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

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

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

RAISING FEES

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

As Erik Sherman from Inc.com points out:

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

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

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

MISSING FEATURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





When to Use Google Voice Business for your Business

Is Google Voice Great for Business Use?

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

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

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

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

Why A Business Line is Essential for Growing Your Business

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

Business Cards

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

Text Messages

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

Group Messages

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

Separate Business and Personal Contacts

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

Quick and Customizable

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

Voicemail

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

Forward to your Cell Phone

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

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

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

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

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

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

pocketsuite apple app store

The Drawbacks of Google Voice for Business Use

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

Contact Management

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

No Support for Team Members and Phone Number Sharing

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

Only Works in the United States

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

No Personalized Responses

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

Limited Forwarding Options

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

Headache of Multiple Apps

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

PocketSuite – a Better Alternative to Google Voice

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

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

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

Manage Your Business With One App

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Frustrates Me About Square Up

What Frustrates Me About Square Up

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

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

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

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

High, Complicated Costs & Fees

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

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

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

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

It shouldn’t be this complicated.

Hardware is Necessary

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

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

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

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

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

Feature Overload

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Am I Being Too Harsh?

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

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


Get PocketSuite – The Best Square Up Alternative

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

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

square vs pocketsuite

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

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Hear what customers about switching from Square Up to PocketSuite

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

App works awesome. 

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

Michelle Duncan, 10/30/2018

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Square is for squares. PocketSuite is for professionals

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

Anonymous User, 06/15/2019

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Best app, way better than Square

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

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

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

Skg1991, 07/17/2016

pocketsuite apple app store

How To Review Small Business Apps with Merchant Maverick

Small Business Reviews Merchant Maverick




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

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

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

Merchant Maverick

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

POTG Amad Ebrahimi

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

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

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

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

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

Amad Ebrahimi Interview

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

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

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

Merchant Maverick In Depth Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authority Magazine

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

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

10 Years Merchant Maverick

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

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

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

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

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article





History of Thumbtack and Changes For 2020

Thumbtack for your Business




If you’ve had a small business for even a day much less a year or more, you know how important online leads are. Getting new clients is tough and the easiest way to do that today is online. If you’ve read our Guide on how to Generate Leads for your Service Business in 2020, you know that we recommended trying out Thumbtack.

We also discussed some Pro Tips on how to make the most of being on the platform.

Today, we’ll dive deeper and talk about the history of the platform and recent changes to it.

We’ll also share some recent issues the company has been facing.

Lastly, we’ll give you more Pro Tips you can use to grow your business effectively on Thumbtack.

Thumbtack Changes in 2020

THE HISTORY OF THUMBTACK

Thumbtack was founded in 2009 by Marco Zappacosta, whose father was the co-founder of Logitech.

The company has raised over $200M in funding, with another $120M H series round closed in 2020.

Some of their “big name” investors include Google Capital and Sequoia Capital.

Today, Thumbtack provides services in hundreds of categories, from Plumbing to Wedding Photography to Belly Dancing.

The company has been called the ‘biggest startup you’ve never heard of’ because of its elusive nature as the middle-man between local businesses and consumers.

“Sure,” you smirk, “I’ve heard of Thumbtack. But what makes it different from any other player in this market? There are tons of other companies that do the exact same thing…”

Thumbtack vs other Directories

HOW IS THUMBTACK DIFFERENT FROM OTHER DIRECTORIES?

Directories like Yelp or Angie’s List are a great way to find a local service provider.

Typically, these directories attract brick and mortar service businesses.

Thumbtack, on the other hand, focuses on mobile solo businesses and small business owners.

Finding a restaurant or beauty salon is easier with the directory model because these types of businesses have walk in availability and require you to show up to their location.

Plumbers and handymen, on the other hand, must be scheduled to arrive at your residence at a specific time.

Thumbtack promises to make it easier to find a pro that is available in your area at your chosen date and time.

Thumbtack is competing against Amazon Local Services and Taskrabbit to name a few in order to generate leads for mobile service businesses.

This makes sense, considering the size of the local services market.

Research firm BIA/Kelsey estimates $64.6 billion is spent on local advertising to generate business leads every year.

Thumbtack is an active member of this market and has since passed the $1B valuation mark.

This means it has achieved Unicorn status in the startup community.

Top Issues of Thumbtack

ISSUES WITH THUMBTACK

The online giant’s most recent round of funding was a flat round for $120M, which may mean the company’s investors are unsure of the company’s future.

The down round could also be an indication that they’ve experienced growth challenges.

One possible factor could be the lower quality of their leads.

All you have to do is check out Thumbtack’s 1-star rating on Trustpilot (out of 195 reviews) and its 446 complaints on the BBB website (and counting).

Small business owners are even writing extensive articles warning others not to advertise with Thumbtack.

Common criticisms include:

  • Fake leads
  • No returns/refunds on fake leads
  • Leads outside of service area
  • Bad customer support
  • Consumers who are cheap
  • A 10x markup on lead price

It seems consumers are very price-conscious when deciding which service professionals to book on Thumbtack.

Other reviews mention that the leads are going to folks outside of the service professional’s service area.

Still others are adamant that more Pros are receiving the same leads, creating more competition for the Pro and devaluing the lead.

Consumers have a worse experience when 12 different Pros are constantly following up with them vs. 4 to 5 Pros.

The outlook seems negative, but don’t worry! You can still make Thumbtack a reliable and profitable source of leads for your small business – here’s how:

Competition on Thumbtack

HOW TO MAKE THUMBTACK WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS

We covered some of these points in our article on How to Generate Online Leads for your Service Business in 2020.

Recently, Thumbtack introduced a new pricing structure that doesn’t let Pros see how much the cost per quote is until after they’ve contacted the client.

This has raised an uproar among Pros who are paying 4-10x what they used to for the same quote.

Paying much more for quotes causes your Average Cost per Lead to go up, which makes it easier to find cheaper leads elsewhere online.

You should still give the platform a shot, seeing as how it controls a large portion of the online leads market for service businesses.

Here’s how to make the most of it:

BUILD A SOLID PROFILE

If you decide to create a Thumbtack profile for your business, make sure to get at least 10 reviews for your profile from past clients.

Thumbtack will provide a way for you to input your past client’s email addresses and will automatically send them an email asking them to review your profile.

You should also set your profile picture to be something captivating and professional.

Many Pros report that smiling human faces work great as profile pictures.

Use Real Faces on your profile

RESPOND QUICKLY

It’s also incredibly important to follow up quickly with all online leads, including Thumbtack ones.

We’re talking almost immediate – less than 5 minutes to have the best chance at turning those leads into clients.

For this reason, you should install some sort of notification system to alert you of new quote requests as they come in.

Being the first to respond to a quote request can put you miles ahead of the competition, especially if you combine that with including your PocketSuite online booking link in the quote.

This way, clients can click the link in your response and book your services directly from their phone or computer.

No more playing phone tag or getting voicemail every time when you follow up with your leads!

You can even take it a step further by setting up a Smart Campaign to automatically respond to quote requests with your booking link – this saves you a ton of manual work!

Simply set the timer to 0 and your Smart Campaign will respond to each quote request on your behalf.

SPICE UP YOUR DESCRIPTION

You should also make your business description appealing – talk about the selling points of your business:

You could create a short explainer video for how your business works and post it on your Thumbtack profile in the pictures section.

Overall, think about what you would want to see as a consumer that would build trust between you and a possible hire and do that.

We hope these tips will guide you on your journey to profitability and success with your small business.

We know firsthand how hard it is to build a small business from the ground up and make it successful.

For this reason, we recommend you check out PocketSuite’s free plan to make your life that much easier.

From Business Messaging to Payments, Invoices, Accepting Cards, and much more… you need PocketSuite on your side to lighten the load.

See how PocketSuite works for your industry, or check out some of our other articles below.

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article





The Benefits of Using a POS Card Reader

Card Reader for your phone




There are so many ways for you to accept payment from clients. From cash to cards to mobile payment apps, it has never been easier to ensure your business is paid promptly and smoothly after every appointment. Today, we’ll be covering the benefits of using a POS Card Reader for your phone.

You’ll also learn:

  • What to watch out for when using card readers
  • The history of this technology
  • How you can best use it to benefit your small business

Tap Swipe or Insert

 

TAP, SWIPE, INSERT HERE, PLEASE

Have you ever been to a farmer’s market?

Have you ever purchased products or services from a solo business or small business?

If so, you’re already familiar with what a card reader is.

The technical term for this technology is ‘Payment Terminal.’ This is usually part of a Point of Sale System.

We wrote an entire article on POS systems, but today we zoom in on the benefits of using a POS System with hardware.

The portable version of this technology is affectionately known as a ‘Card Reader.’

Card readers are typically dongles that can be attached to any phone. Small businesses and freelancers use them to swipe credit or debit cards.

In this article, we’ll show you how to use this technology to accept cards for your small business.

We’ll also discuss the history of these convenient devices, potential pitfalls, and what makes PocketSuite’s card reader so awesome.

Get your RFID-proof foil hats on, because today’s discussion is going to be magnetic!

THE HISTORY OF CARD READERS

Did you know that the magnetic strip on your credit card was originally bonded to the plastic by heating it up with a household iron?

An IBM engineer was frustrated that none of his methods of bonding worked, until he came home and his wife suggested he use their iron to bond the magnetic strip to the card.

Before this invention, merchants used barbaric instruments called Charga-plates to accept payments.

These crude devices looked nothing like modern day credit or debit cards:

Abraham Straus Credit Strip

Later, Ron Klein invented the credit card strip, but made surprisingly little money from his patent.

EMV (Chip) cards are the most recent development in the card payment space.

Originally created in the late 90’s, ‘Chip Cards’ have since become the standard for card payments.

Today, there are over 600 Million payment cards in circulation, and this number is growing every day.

In fact, Mastercard Advisors did a survey that showed that 80% of American’s spending was cashless in 2013.

This trend isn’t going away and small business owners are taking notice.

If your business is able to accept credit cards, you immediately become an easier person for potential clients to do business with. 

PROBLEMS WITH CARD READERS

With such widespread use of credit cards, it should not be surprising that there have been some security concerns related to these convenient devices.

In 2018, one study showed that magnetic strip technology exposed card owners to bluetooth-based attacks and remote access vulnerabilities.

Fortunately, the problem was corrected when the software that runs these swipers was fixed.

Overall, swipers have proven to be safe and secure.

They are also incredibly convenient for your clients. Let’s find out why:

BENEFITS OF CARD READERS

CONVENIENCE

Imagine being responsible for paying a vendor, but not having any cash.

What do you do in this situation?

Previous generations of folks would scramble to find an ATM or sheepishly offer to write a check.

However, nowadays most small businesses and freelancers are able to accept credit and debit cards via a Card Reader on their phone.

Simply hand your card over to the merchant, watch them insert, tap, or swipe it on the fob attached to their phone, and then sign on their phone using your finger.

It couldn’t be easier to collect payment from clients and run your business smoothly.

SECURITY

Clients think card readers on the phone are more secure than taking a picture of their credit card.

If a mechant takes a picture of your card, you’re running the risk of them inputting the wrong amount when they go to charge the card later.

You also don’t see the transaction in your bank statement until the next day, which gives scammers time to make a clean getaway.

Additionally, with the relatively recent iPhoto security breaches, keeping card information on your Camera Roll may not be the most secure option.

SPEED

If you are a small business, freelancer, or solo business that processes a high volume of client payments, you’ll also benefit from the speed of collecting payments using a Card Reader on your phone.

Instead of accepting cash and giving out change to clients, using a bulky cash register, you can simply swipe and go.

There are also no checks to collect, which run the risk of bouncing when you deposit them later.

ANONYMITY BENEFITS

Using credit or debit cards allows customers to pay for services relatively anonymously.

Unlike handing a check to the merchant, there’s no personal info to divulge with a simple swipe.

There is a certain anonymity that comes with swiping – clients don’t have to share their address or phone number with you.

Simply insert, tap, or swipe the card and let the card terminal process the payment.

This leaves no room for scam merchants to potentially memorize the client’s card number, cvv code, and expiration date.

It also keeps the client’s location hidden in case there is a dispute or problem related to the transaction.

HOW TO BEST USE CARD READERS IN YOUR BUSINESS

There is a right way and a wrong way to do just about everything.

Choosing a Card Reader for your phone and your business is no different.

In our article entitled ‘What Frustrates Me About Squareup’, we discussed the pitfalls of a popular Card Reader from Square.

The reality is, there’s a much better way to process your client’s cards to accept payments.

Enter PocketSuite.

Charge Card in Pocketsuite

Let’s say your customer hands you a card to charge:

  • You enter the amount you’d like to charge into PocketSuite.
  • You swipe, insert, or tap it using PocketSuite’s Card Reader on your phone.

That’s it!

The card is stored for future charging, which makes recurring appointments a breeze.

If that was it, PocketSuite wouldn’t be much different than other Card Readers on the market.

Here’s what makes PocketSuite different:

Since you can use PocketSuite to manage your entire business from 1 app, now that you’ve inserted, tapped, or swiped, you can also:

  • Connect the payment to any sent invoice or scheduled appointment
  • Store the client’s card on file for future charging
  • Use the low payment processing fee – lower than you’ll find anywhere else!

Managing Your Business with Pocketsuite app

What about if you’re selling products and have inventory?

PocketSuite has an entire inventory management system that allows you to keep track of your products.

It will even alert you when you’re running low by giving you a reminder to stock up again.

It’s no wonder why the ASCP recommends PocketSuite as their go-to app!

START ACCEPTING CARDS TODAY

If you’ve thought about whether you should accept credit cards in your service business, now is the time.

Your customers want it and it will make your life super easy.

Join the tens of thousands of pros using PocketSuite to accept credit and debit cards in their small business.

Check out PocketSuite’s free plan to get you started and start swiping cards today!

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article





How to Charge Clients Credit Card After Each Appointment





As a small business owner or solo business, have you ever been in the position of having to call a client after the appointment has been completed in order to get their credit card details? If so, you’re probably very familiar with how awkward a call like that can feel for you and your client.

That is, if they even answer (leaving a voicemail about it is even more awkward).

If you’ve been self employed for any amount of time, you know that as soon as your appointment is over, clients are way less likely to be responsive. It’s not that they are dodging you. It’s just that you are immediately lower on their priority list. You may not be at the very bottom, but you are far from the top, especially if they know you haven’t secured payment from them yet.

Weirdly, you become a little like a “creepy” debt collector.

Your time is spent calling past clients who suddenly are always busy and unable to take your call. You desperately need to get paid for a backlog of past appointments.

You may even lose out on income by not being able to reach that client – they’ve effectively ‘ghosted’ your business, and after getting such great service from you. They literally fall off the face of the earth and are nowhere to be found.

Relax, I feel your pain. That’s why here at PocketSuite we developed a tool called ‘Complete-and-Charge,’ and it’s revolutionized the way solo businesses and freelancers like you charge clients and run your business.

Complete and Charge with Pocketsuite

Not only does it minimize bad debt income by allowing you to charge your client’s card as soon as you complete the appointment, but it also stores your client’s card securely so you can charge them again and again after every future appointment, without ever having to call them for their payment information again.

That’s right – you can store your client’s card details using PocketSuite while remaining fully PCI compliant.

No more shameful, sheepish conversations asking your clients for payment.

Let’s unpack how Complete and Charge has changed the game for businesses and freelancers using PocketSuite. It can do the same for you.

HOW ‘COMPLETE-AND-CHARGE’ IS CHANGING THE GAME 

Require Credit Card to Schedule Pocketsuite

More and more, consumers prefer to pay for everything these days with credit and debit cards.

In fact, a 2017 study by payment processor TSYS found that “fifty-four percent chose debit cards, while 26 percent selected credit cards, and only 14 percent specified a preference for using cash.”

Doing some back-of-the-napkin calculations, that means that a full 80% of consumers (out of a sample size of over 1000) preferred paying with plastic.

That being said, how could you ignore such an important trend by not accepting credit or debit cards for your business? Four out of every five of your potential clients prefer it!

Not only that, but the same study also found that clients are becoming increasingly comfortable with in-app mobile payments – this should further solidify the idea that folks are getting used to paying for things within an app:

Mobile App Payments Data

Another study done by the SCPC in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that…

 

  • “In 2017, 12 percent of consumers reported that they did not pay with cash, even once, during the year.” 
  • “In 2017, one-third of all consumers made a mobile payment, compared with just one-fourth in 2015.”
  • “Fewer than 80 percent of consumers who had paper checks on hand reported using them even once in 2017.”

 

 

 

 

 

I hope by now you’re sold on the idea that you need to accept credit cards. Fantastic.

Now let’s get down to business…

If you’ve recently come to this conclusion, you’re probably faced with a dilemma – what’s the best way to process these transactions?

In fact, we wrote an entire article on this topic, but today we’ll just be covering how to complete and charge repeat appointments.

The fact of the matter is, for the longest time, small business owners were forced to get in touch with clients after every appointment to book the next appointment and collect payment details for the last appointment.

This, of course, came with a set of challenges – clients wouldn’t answer the phone, business owners would get stressed out, and the vicious cycle would repeat itself over and over again.

However, PocketSuite has made a big contribution to breaking this unhealthy cycle by creating a method of payment called ‘Complete-and-Charge.’

For freelancers and business owners using PocketSuite, long gone are the days of calling pesky clients who can’t seem to have a minute to pick up the phone once you’ve delivered the service to them.

You will no longer feel that dread creeping up on you as the workday approaches its end and you still haven’t called the clients for that day to collect payment.

From now on, all you need to do is to with one tap complete the appointments on your calendar for that day.

As soon as an appointment is complete, you select the appointment on your calendar and tap ‘Charge,’ which brings up a screen that allows you to modify the total; select the client’s preferred credit card (if they have one on file); and even hand your phone over to them so they can add gratuity (a tip).

Setting up an Appointment in PocketSuite

This brings an Uber-like convenience to your transactions and eliminates all of the pain and frustration of having to chase down clients for payment.

It’s no wonder that over 50% of payments that occur on PocketSuite are of the ‘Complete-and-Charge’ type.

This is a massively useful and popular feature for a reason.

Say goodbye to outstanding invoices and unpaid bills – you don’t have to be the pushy salesperson that’s calling again and again because you need to get paid to pay your bills.

In fact, you only have to collect your client’s card once and never again.

From then on, the card details are securely stored and fully encrypted within PocketSuite, which means you can keep charging their card after every appointment without having to chase them down or harass them with multiple phone calls.

Better yet, using PocketSuite’s handy online booking form (which by the way, you can put on your website, Facebook, Instagram, and email signature) you can have them add their credit card details into your booking link, and eliminate the need for asking for their card details over the phone entirely!

Appointment Confirmations in Pocketsuite

So how exactly does this work on your end?

Once you tap on the appointment (unpaid job) you’d like to charge, it will bring up a screen where you can tap on ‘CHARGE’.

From there, you can add your client’s credit card, accept gratuity (if you like), and process payment.

Check out this video for additional details on how a client experiences booking an appointment with you through PocketSuite.

As a freelancer or business owner, your time is precious, and you should be spending it on the most valuable activities – delighting your clients.

Instead of spending hours chasing down clients, why not invest that time in your Facebook/Instagram marketing, getting more clients, and growing your business?

Let PocketSuite do the heavy lifting by using ‘Complete-and-Charge’ today.

One tiny improvement, all from 1 app, can change the game for you, forever.

There’s even a free plan to get you started, so you have no excuse not to start charging your clients directly after every appointment.

Get ahead of the game and take this advice today. Your future self and healthy business will thank you.

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article





Top Reasons to Take Client Reservations as a Freelancer or Service Business

Taking Reservations as a Freelancer




Have you ever needed to book a multi-day stay for your dog while you went away on vacation? How about hiring a contractor for a bathroom remodel that will take at least 3 days? What about hiring a photographer for rehearsal dinner one day and a wedding the next day?

If you’re a pet sitter, pet boarder, contractor, or photographer – you understand the idea of offering multi-day reservations to clients.

The question that most of these service industry professionals typically ask when they get started is – how do you handle reservations effectively, while making use of the latest technology to create a seamless experience for your clients?

Today we’ll talk about just this – and we’ll also touch on the pros and cons of offering reservations.

We’ll also cover best practices for taking reservations so your client experience is an absolute delight.

Using these strategies, you can ensure that your customers and your staff are happy at the end of the work day, all while increasing your bottom line.

But first, a brief interlude, as we delve into the history of reservations. It turns out, they haven’t been around as long as you probably think…

HOW BUSINESSES STARTED TAKING RESERVATIONS

Historic Graph of Dinner Reservations

Here’s a graph of the prevalence of the phrase “dinner reservation” in books, thanks to Google Books.

As you can see, the phrase appeared briefly in 1915-1925, and then didn’t get used again with any regularity until 1950.

According to an unbelievably in-depth article from the Atlantic, reservations only became a thing starting in the 1950’s and only became commonplace as late as the 1960’s.

WHY DID RESERVATIONS BECOME COMMONPLACE?

With the advent of reservations in the restaurant industry, chefs were able to predict the flow of their night smoothly, which led to less food waste and lower wait times for hungry patrons.

Some restaurants take reservations at all hours, while others only take reservations for their busiest times, such as for the ever-popular mid-day meal known as brunch.

However, choosing to take reservations comes with a downside – folks can frequently show up late or skip out entirely, causing you to lose potential income.

How can service professionals avoid this issue when flakey first timers, fueled by impulse scheduling on social media are driving reservation cancellations to reach an all-time high?

Social Media and Reservations

THE PROS AND CONS OF TAKING RESERVATIONS

The obvious benefit of taking reservations is that you have a predictable flow of traffic to your small business, and you can plan accordingly to save yourself and your clients time and frustration.

The primary con of taking reservations is that you’re limiting your schedule for walk-ins, which may mean losing out on potential revenue.

In fact, more and more busy establishments have been refusing to offer reservations in recent years, which has steadily increased wait times for customers.

This means they’re turning away entire groups of people, and the Yelp blow-back is an ever-present threat and cause for concern.

No Reservations as a new business

If your business isn’t busy or you’re just starting off, you may not want to take advantage of reservations (unless you’re utilizing the pro-tip outlined below). Since exclusivity is part of the charm of reserving a service, there’s nothing that can suck the excitement out of a magical evening like showing up to an empty restaurant.

If you’re a service provider, make it easy on yourself by offering reservations online using a booking link such as the kind available at PocketSuite.

The deciding factor for whether your business should accept reservations boils down to the following metrics:

Do you have a lot of foot traffic? If so, you may want to consider not accepting reservations since you’ll be filling up your schedule with walk-ins. If you don’t have lots of foot traffic, reservations can offer predictable income.

Do you have a waiting area? If so, reservations may be ok, since guests have a comfortable place to wait their turn. If you don’t, watch out, since guests will often simply leave your business and find someone else who can serve them right away.

Are you certain of the duration of your appointments? If so, reservations may smooth out wait times since you’re familiar with how long an appointment will take. If your appointments typically take a variety of different lengths of time, depending on the client and service, reservations may be a bad idea since your appointments may take longer than expected and eat into another client’s reserved time. Picture your doctor’s jam packed waiting room – that’s a bad client experience – you don’t want it to be like that.

If you do decide to take reservations, make sure you don’t overbook. There’s nothing more infuriating than calling ahead to reserve a spot and then having to wait anyway.

Pro-tip: PocketSuite’s online booking form allows you to display your live availability to customers, so you’ll never run the risk of being overbooked and damaging your reputation both on and offline.

So there you have it – a systematic breakdown of the Pros and Cons of taking reservations for your business.

The next thing to think about is how can you best use technology to ease the burden of managing your schedule and free yourself of pen-and-paper calendars?

There’s got to be a better way! Luckily, you’ve come across the right article.

PocketSuite is the #1 app for anyone with clients. It is a seamless app for managing your reservations, period. Whether you’re a contractor, a photographer, a consultant, or any kind of pet sitter or pet boarder, read on to discover how to take the stress out of running your business with just 1 app.

HOW TO ACCEPT RESERVATIONS WITH POCKETSUITE

Accept Reservations with Pocketsuite

PocketSuite arrives as the knight in shining armor for any solo business or small business owner looking to #ditch pen-and-paper scheduling.

No more flipping through your calendar, erasing no-shows from your appointment book, and stressing over filling up your schedule with reservations so you can pay your bills.

You can accept reservations (also known as partial-day or multi-day appointments) in PocketSuite easily.

This comes in addition to being able to accept deposits, send reminders, and offer clients the ability to self-book their reservation online.

Simply specify the name of the reservation, the duration, the price, and your chosen deposit amount.

You can also require clients to confirm a multi-day reservation by paying for their deposit via a credit or debit card – PocketSuite will even text them a link so they can pay online!

Multi Day Reservations with Pocketsuite

Not only that, but PocketSuite takes it a step further by allowing you to display your reservations on your online booking form, which means clients can find you online and book a reservation on the spot, right from their phone or computer!

Reservations and Online Booking

Clients don’t have to download an app.They simply receive a text message with a link to confirm their reservation, which leads to a form where they can input their card details to pay your deposit.

Additionally, PocketSuite makes it easy for you to keep all of your reservation and client information in the same place.

Reservation Text Confirmation with Pocketsuite

You’ll be able to see when they confirm their reservation, any payments, and client communication – all in one thread!

You can also sync with your Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal directly.

Now that’s a powerful tool to manage your reservations, if I do say so myself.

Here’s to a full schedule, happy clients, and more income for you!

Don’t have PocketSuite yet? Start managing your reservations using the free plan today.

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