How to Market your Esthetician Business on Instagram

Are you a solopreneur Esthetician or an Esthetics business?

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

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

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

Instagram is basically the modern-day landing page.

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

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

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

HONEST SIGNALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what the client thinks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are three things I’d like to discuss:

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

The first of which is useful, relevant content.

USEFUL, RELEVANT CONTENT FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More examples of useful, relevant content for Estheticians:

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

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

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

CALLS TO ACTION

You’ve got to ask for the sale!

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

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

But what’s the best way to do that?

Several ways:

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

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

USE YOUR BIO LINK WISELY

…because you only get one!

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

So how do you take full advantage of this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Run Your Esthetician Business with PocketSuite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this article we’ll cover:

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

HOW TO RUN YOUR ESTHETICS BUSINESS WITH POCKETSUITE

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

Either way, PocketSuite has you covered.

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

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

Now here’s where the magic starts to happen.

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

SET UP YOUR SERVICES WITH POCKETSUITE

Now we can get to the fun part!

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

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

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

SET UP PAYMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

KEY FEATURES

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

Online Forms

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

Waivers & Contracts

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

Products & Inventory Tracking

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

Gift Certificates

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

Smart Campaigns

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

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

BEST PRACTICES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLIENT MANAGEMENT

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

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

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

PAYMENTS

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

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

CANCELLATIONS

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

MARKETING / SALES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BOTTOM LINE…

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

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

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

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

How to Run Your Private Practice with PocketSuite

Not all therapy practices are created equal.

In this article we will discuss how to efficiently and effectively run your practice using the latest tech.

But before we get into it, let me ask you a question: Let’s say you’re looking for a doctor. Would you choose a practice that’s disorganized and still using pen and paper (read: stuck in time) or would you prefer to go with an MD that effectively utilizes the latest tech to create a seamless pre- and post- visit experience?

If you run your own therapy practice, it should come as no surprise that your prospective patients are seeking a really user friendly, on demand experience from you.

Here’s a follow-up question: How well are you prepared to compete with practices that *are* using modern tech? They don’t need to spend hours sorting through patients files, organizing a pen-and-paper office, and endlessly searching for specific patient’s info.

Not to mention that each part of your therapy practice is essentially a system. From the first moment patients find you (probably online) to when they walk through your doors, all the way to your communication (or lack of communication) post-visit… it all matters, and it all stacks up to create a huge differentiation for your practice.

These small changes especially matter when you start to take into account the effects of a powerful marketing strategy, coupled with solid response management systems in place for smoothing out any friction during the visit, all the way to turning more first time patients into regulars after their first introductory visit.

Practice Management deserves a massive article in itself, but in this article we will touch on the major struggles that most therapists experience and how modern technology (namely the device that’s usually in your pocket – you know, the one you’re probably reading this on right now) can change your practice and your life.

Thinking of the future of your practice is also important. As you grow, take in more patients and expand your office, are you going to hire more therapists, admin, office manager, and take on that additional responsibility? How do you plan on managing them? Read on for the solution that’s worked for thousands of therapists across the country…

The bottom line – you need the right tools to properly run your practice. One of the most important and useful tools in your therapy practice is an app that can help you automate everything. Does an app like this exist? Look no further… PocketSuite is here to give you some “couch time”.

Why Choose PocketSuite?

PocketSuite is a completely customizable Practice Management tool that you can use in many different ways. PocketSuite allows you to “fill in the holes” of your practice, giving you and your in-house staff the ability to focus on core competencies and more creative work.

As a therapist, you must also stay compliant with HIPAA regulations, which has so many different layers to it from data privacy to data storage to business associate agreements and more. By the way, PocketSuite is completely HIPAA certified, making it a smart choice if you’re looking to stay compliant.

Let’s take a look at some features that therapists say are essential to their practice:

Calendar Sync

Still using Google Calendar or iCal to sync your appointments? It’s time for a better solution… utilize PocketSuite’s calendar sync feature to keep everyone on the same page without the messiness of Google Calendar or iCal. This also avoids double bookings and makes scheduling easy for new patients.

Recurring Appointments

Easily create recurring appointments for your practice to ensure your patients are coming back again and again! No more playing calendar tetris with your patients.

Payments

With PocketSuite, you can complete and charge appointments, and also save payment information so there is no need for the dreaded conversation with your patient to request their credit card.

Forms (Private)

Our therapists that manage their practice using PocketSuite love the Forms feature, which is completely customizable, as it allows for note-taking during each consultation. Feel free to send them your existing forms and they’ll get them imported for you in 24 hours. No more messy papers or notebooks scattered about! Those notes are all saved in your client history for easy reference when you are on-the-go. See below a list of forms that are available in your default account:

  • Counseling Treatment Plan Template – set treatment plan goals with your client
  • Therapy Progress Note Template – track your client’s progress
  • Sample Model Template – understand client triggers, responses, and implications
  • Behavioral Activation Counseling Template – empowers clients to keep a journal of their experiences and responsibilities
  • Exposure Hierarchy Template – identify high and low stress points
  • Introduction to Anxiety Counseling Template – plan for reducing stress and anxiety

HIPAA Certified

PocketSuite’s entire platform and everyone working at PocketSuite is 100% HIPAA certified, so no worries! Your data is safe, your business line is secure, and your practice is 100% HIPAA compliant with PocketSuite. If you already have a business line that you would like to use, no problem PocketSuite can port your existing business line in so you don’t need to make any changes.

Discounts

Because you are collecting payments individually when you use PocketSuite, you have the ability to give individual discounts as you see fit. Offering a first-time discount is a popular way to expand your practice and nudge patients who are still on the fence about working with you. With PocketSuite, you can easily apply a special discount for select patients. Most importantly, you do not have to give up your profit margin on all patients.

Surcharges

You can add discounts, and you can also add surcharges as well. This is perfect for rush appointments and last minute changes. PocketSuite also protects your practice by giving you the option of passing along the processing fee as a convenience fee to your patients.

Custom Patient Profiles

In order to ensure that your patients are a good fit, you need to screen them! PocketSuite allows you to customize the fields that your prospect sees when going through the online booking process. You can add any question you want answered along with the traditional details that will help to identify and process your patients.

Leads

Outside of helping your therapist practice, PocketSuite also helps you with lead generation. You can build up and manage your list of patient leads online and all of their information will be accessible from the app.

Questionnaires

As a therapist, you definitely know the importance of the exit interview. Add a survey or a questionnaire and send it directly to patients to fill out post-visit. If you have existing forms, feel free to send them to PocketSuite and they can import them for you. Otherwise, they have great default forms that you can customize and use. See below a few client forms and templates that are available automatically in your account.

  • New Client Registration Intake Form – capture new client information
  • New Client Questionnaire Template – document important health and medical information for treatment
  • Notice of Privacy Practices Template – notification of privacy practices so your clients are aware of how you secure their information
  • No Show, Late Cancellation & Co-Payment Policy Template – helps ensure your time is respected
  • Child Intake Form Template – useful when working with adolescents

Staffing

You can have a closer relationship with your staff through PocketSuite in the same way that you can have it with your patients. PocketSuite allows you to add your team of therapists and admin to the platform. From there, you can assign them clients or they can be booked directly by clients. They can also process payments and you can pay them through the app as well.

Recurring Appointments & Appointment Reminders

You can use the PocketSuite platform to schedule recurring appointments so that you don’t lose track of your patients, even as you build the rest of your practice. Automate the process of custom appointments all at one time, and you will never have to worry about patients falling through the cracks again. You can set appointment reminders for clients based on how much advance notice you think they need to ensure they don’t forget a session.

Contracts

When you have patients that are ready to book, it is time to close the deal in an official way. Sending a contract to your patient using PocketSuite locks in the commitment to you. It also helps you keep your patients on the same page and explains the details that usually require a lot of back-and-forth explanation – now that’s no longer necessary. There is nothing worse than working with a patient and then waiting to get paid because of a miscommunication. The contracts feature helps you get rid of this problem for good. If you have existing contracts, feel free to send them to PocketSuite and they can import them for you. Otherwise, they have great default agreements and waivers that you can customize and use.

Online Booking

Your patients will be able to complete the entire booking process online. You can also place a PocketSuite booking widget directly on your website so patients can book their first appointment with you right when they find you online. Boom!

PocketSuite is more than a mobile payment processing app – it literally automates your entire practice. From initial consultations to post-visit follow-up, it provides the tools that you need to run your practice inside and out.

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

How to Run Your Pilates Business with PocketSuite

Do you own a Pilates studio? Perhaps you’re a Pilates instructor?

In this article, you will learn pro tips for running your Pilates business right from your phone.

Pilates is super popular in the fitness industry. Pilates instructors can and should take advantage of all of the latest apps and tools so they can spend more time with clients and less on paperwork (still using pen and paper, eh?)

Most independent Pilates instructors are fighting against erosion in demand from:

– Pilates apps

– Classpass

– Big gyms that offer pilates classes

With more people than ever discovering the benefits of Pilates, there is a huge opportunity for professionals who want to create thriving businesses. This cannot be done using traditional methods in many cases. There is too much competition in the marketplace, and modern clients expect a seamless experience that may be beyond the capacity of a small studio.

Here are some of the areas of improvement for typical independent Pilates instructors:

Automation – Get each part of your studio organized and well coordinated

Ease of new client sign-up and onboarding – Forget paperwork! Add students to the app of your choice or have clients book themselves online using your booking site – and all the data entry work has been eliminated, just like that. Presto!

Filling classes – Choose an app that allows you to book multiple folks into one slot

Getting rebookings and retaining clients – It’s hard enough running the business, but now you need to try to get one-time clients to rebook and also try to keep your clients from ghosting. How is it possible to do all of this and still have a life? Answer: Technology! You can use Smart Campaigns to auto-text clients, encouraging them to rebook. You can also auto-text your current clients to follow up with them regarding their experience (and offer them incentives to book additional classes or refer a friend or family member!)

Collecting recurring payments and setting up regular appointments – This is a hassle and a nightmare for beginning business owners. Use something that allows you to automatically track and manage recurring bookings, including charging your customers. Ideally you’d want something that can do all of this from 1 mobile app (no desktop needed!)

Tracking client progress and client management – This usually falls by the wayside because of the litany of other tasks occupying your time. Fortunately, with PocketSuite each student gets their own profile where you can track all the most important info for that student. No more rummaging for paper files or looking up client files on your laptop – just pull it up on your phone in 15 seconds.

The overarching solution that I’m advocating is to invest in the right app that keeps everything in one place. In most cases, this kind of app is not easy to find, especially an all-in-one.

Fortunately, PocketSuite allows Pilates instructors to run a full-fledged Pilates instructor business without the need to take on more expenses like additional instructors on your payroll or tons of new, confusing software.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that PocketSuite gives Pilates instructors a chance to focus on their core competencies without losing out on any new client opportunities.

Taking Your Studio to a New Level

The traditional way to expand business is to first increase the capacity of that business to take on new clients and automate some of the paperwork.

In most cases, this means hiring new instructors. You probably have to give them a salary instead of just having them be commission-based, which can really cut into your payroll expenses.

One of the biggest opportunities that PocketSuite provides to small Pilates studios is the ability to automate the paperwork and admin work without hiring new people.

Furthermore, Pilates instructors do not really have time to handle everything needed for a growing business. In order to build and maintain a great practice, Pilates instructors must stay ahead of the latest techniques and sequences. This involves research, taking up time that you would normally use on all of the paperwork for your business.

How exactly does the app help Pilates studios expand?

Appointment Booking

PocketSuite has the ability to give a small studio the full range of appointment booking options. Similar to how instructors have a number of different kinds of appointments, including private individual appointments, group sessions, first-time drop-in classes, and series classes.

In many cases, clients find their new Pilates instructor through social media. Social media management can be extremely difficult for a single Pilates instructor that doesn’t have a staff already and hiring a social media expert can be prohibitively expensive for a solo practitioner.

Some instructors are even responsible for coordinating recurring appointments and there is always the responsibility of making sure you charge for late cancellations and no-shows.

In some cases, Pilates instructors do not have the time to follow up and collect their fees, including late fees. This can lead to lost income and puts your reputation at risk – if clients do not feel as though they have to show up to their appointments that instructor loses respect and is not considered a referenceable business.

PocketSuite automates all of the above appointment types and more. You as an independent Pilates instructor are no longer personally responsible for booking appointments with clients. (Imagine that!)

Clients and prospects can be categorized into various groups and you can send an email or SMS to them for marketing purposes – automagically! The app integrates with Google Calendar and iCal, ensuring that all scheduling for your students is done efficiently.

Using PocketSuite, independent Pilates instructors can also eliminate the burden of having to follow up on late paying customers, late cancellations, and no-shows. All of this is done automatically and on a recurring basis by the app so the “nudging” and “reminders” are always in progress. At the same time, you as the Pilates instructor are freed up to sign up the next batch of students, grow your business, and keep your 5 star reputation.

Onboarding

Strong, consistent onboarding of new clients is a hassle that many Pilates studios have trouble with. Most instructors are usually using a crude paper and pencil onboarding process or hiring an assistant to do the job, which cut into their profit margins. This expense, however, may not always pay off. Pilates studios do not necessarily receive a steady volume of new clients activity everyday. Yet, regardless of your client activity, your employee has to be paid consistently.

Do you see how this may become a problem?

PocketSuite has the ability to automatically book new clients. Not only are you as the instructor relieved of the pressure of collecting client information to book them, but your clients can also choose which class is best for them and book ahead of time online (or even from your Instagram or Facebook page!)

The consistency of the booking process is also super important. Using PocketSuite, you will easily be able to tell if your marketing efforts are working without having to become a professional marketer.

Part of the onboarding processes includes collecting deposits from new clients. This can be an awkward stage in the relationship, especially if the prospect has not fully committed to taking your Pilates class. Delegating that interaction to an app is such a relief! It makes the choice to pay a deposit a more natural and expected next step for the client (as opposed to an awkward request from you).

No longer does a Pilates instructor have to moonlight as a professional salesperson or bill collector – this is now the responsibility of the PocketSuite app (which never gets nervous or scared about asking for deposit money!)

Promotions

Another huge part of expanding your Pilates studio is offering the right promotions. The challenge is how best to offer promotions to the right people at the right time. If you have to offer a discount to everyone at once, you cut into your profit margins because you are offering discounts to clients who can and have paid full price.

With PocketSuite, you can offer promotions one at a time or all at once. You can send messages to specific groups of students who love you and will pay anything to keep working with you. You can send different messages to other individuals or groups who may need a little more prodding to stick with it and keep attending classes. The bottom line is that you have the power to personalize your marketing message and target your communication to specific client audiences.

You can run your promotions through PocketSuite using your social media. You can keep the entire process in a single marketing funnel as well (instead of having to take your prospect through different processes and tools). Once your prospect agrees to take an individual class or group class, you can have the app immediately collect the deposit and confirm the appointment for that specific class. Should that customer need more nudging, you can schedule and send them a personalized message.

Running the Business

As a Pilates instructor, you are responsible for the wellness of your own studio. However, you are also responsible for managing your team. Your team expects you to be professional and three steps ahead at all times, no matter how much extra work is on your plate. On top of that, you have to maintain your position as the people leader, maintain your skill set, and complete the other million things that are required of you in your business.

When do you actually have time to practice your own Pilates alongside teaching and running a business?

This is exactly what PocketSuite was designed to help you do. Not only do you have the ability to automate onboarding and marketing, but you can also easily schedule and manage your Pilates classes.

If you need to get your team together for a group meeting at the drop of a hat, you can do this through PocketSuite. You can keep records of business income and your office calendar to let people know about upcoming changes quickly.

Your team also needs to easily access client information. Depending on your current tools, you may be the only person with total access to client info. Ideally, you should be able to coordinate your team member’s calendars as well as give them access to accurate client info. PocketSuite is the answer here as well.

Creating a bigger, smarter, and better Pilates business is much easier when you have the right tools on your side. PocketSuite is the ultimate marketing, scheduling and client management tool for you if you are looking to grow your business and maintain your reputation as a 5-star Pilates teacher!

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!

Choosing Software – Housecallpro vs PocketSuite

So, you’re looking for an app to manage your on-the-go business where you’re servicing clients at their homes.

In this article, we will be discussing the ups and downs of using Housecall Pro, how Housecall Pro compares to PocketSuite, and what app would be best for your business based on your needs.

Housecall Pro is famous for being especially suited to businesses that perform services onsite at a client’s home.

Since running a service business has a unique set of challenges, it’s important to choose an app or software that allows you to tackle these challenges head-on.

For example, some common characteristics of apps or software that allows you to manage your on-the-go service business are:

  1. Mobile-first design
  2. Scheduling
  3. Online Booking
  4. Estimates
  5. Invoices
  6. Marketing
  7. Etc…

It’s very easy to assume that just about any software that does scheduling and booking can help you. However, let’s take a look at the breakdown of two giants in this industry – Housecall Pro and PocketSuite.

Both apps are designed for pros that service clients at their location, so it’s worth your time to find out which one of these takes the cake in terms of value and pricing.

It’s important to choose wisely, as the software or app that you use will influence your clients perception of your business. You want that impression to be good, so this decision should not be taken lightly!

Let’s take a look at what Housecall Pro is capable of and how it compares to PocketSuite.

Housecall Pro

Features:

  • Scheduling
  • Estimates
  • Online booking
  • Dispatch
  • On-my-way texts
  • Live Map GPS
  • Custom text and email
  • Invoicing
  • Follow-up marketing
  • Payment processing
  • Recurring service
  • Instapay

PocketSuite

Features:

  • Marketing – Google-driven results (Partnership with PocketSuite <> Google AdWords).
  • Online Booking – Your customers can book you from their phone or computer.
  • POS – Charge customer’s credit cards with our built in card scanner.
  • Scheduling – One tap easy booking for you and your clients.
  • Invoicing – Collect payment upfront and/or when the job is done.
  • Discounts – Give specials discounts to brand new or existing clients.
  • Sales Tax / Surcharges – Uncle Sam’s payments are taken care of auto-magically.
  • Gratuity – Let your clients make it rain ☔ by giving you tips!
  • Custom Fields – Whatever customization you need on your appointments, PocketSuite has the power to make it happen.
  • E-Contracts – Send clients contracts over text or email and get them signed within 24 hours.
  • Forms – Complete private notes on the job and save them for future reference.
  • Recurring Appointments – Keep them coming back for more and lock in repeat clients.
  • Appointment Reminders – Your clients will never miss an appointment.
  • Multi-Services – Offer different priced services to your customers easily.
  • Reservations – Let clients book you for multi-day jobs.
  • Estimates – Send estimates with deposit requirements. Convert estimates into invoices and/or appointments with one tap.
  • Packages – Custom packages have never been easier – get paid upfront.
  • Subscriptions – Auto-pay is the easiest way to collect recurring revenue.
  • Staffing – Easy to assign jobs, pay, manage your team from one app.
  • Job Check In & Check Out – Keep tabs on your team and auto-update your clients on arrival times with location tracking.
  • Group Messaging – Business at the speed of thought. Clients just see it as text, but it shows up in your app as a client message!

As is abundantly clear at this point, PocketSuite’s massive set of features is more than enough for any new or established business owner.

It is also important to take a look at the financial commitment that is associated with each of these software tools. After all, it’s important to make sure you’re not throwing money down the drain!

With Housecall Pro, the interesting thing is that you get limited functionality for more money as opposed to PocketSuite’s fully stocked premium offerings that are less expensive and more powerful.

Housecall Pro Pricing

PocketSuite Pricing

PocketSuite’s free plan arguably has more useful features than Housecall Pro’s lowest monthly plan.

Additionally, the premium features that PocketSuite provides eclipse Housecall Pro’s by a longshot.

Let’s take a looksie at some of these extra features that you would NOT receive with Housecall Pro:

PocketSuite Free Version

  • Direct Messaging – Business messaging, the way it should be.
  • Calendar Scheduling – No more Google Calendar / Outlook confusion.
  • Payments – Get paid via Invoice or Point of Sale.
  • Client Note-Taking – Keep track of the critical preferences and other information for each client as your business takes on more and more clients.
  • Industry Leaderboard – See how your competition is crushing it, benchmark your income, and unlock growth!
  • Pay Now Button (Website/FB/IG) – Yes, folks can book your services right off Instagram or Facebook. Victory dance!
  • Flat 2.7% Processing (No Hidden Fees) – Rates lower than my eyelids after a 12 hour workday.

PocketSuite Premium Version

  • Unique Business # – Get a business phone number that you can put on your business cards and marketing.
  • Group Messaging – No more fumbling to send dozens of the same message to your clients.
  • Saved Message Templates – Easily send off messages based on custom templates.
  • Class Scheduling, Auto Check Ins & Attendance Tracking – Easily track job check ins and check outs.
  • Multi-day Jobs – Allow clients to reserve your time for multiple days. Viola!
  • Tasks / To-Do’s – Always know what you need to get done and don’t miss a single task!
  • Data Importing – Come on over. We’ll take care of getting your clients into the system.
  • Questionnaires / Forms – Collect data from your customers with ease. Painlessly organize and sort it.
  • Contract E-Signing – Need to send a contract out? Never fear, PocketSuite is here.
  • Estimates – I’m estimating that you will love this feature, especially how you can convert estimates to invoices directly!
  • Smart Campaigns – Follow up with your clients automatically – schedule follow-ups via SMS that bring folks back for more!
  • Add-On Products – Now you can sell products alongside your services.

I’d also like to mention one thing that normally gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to choosing a piece of software or an app to help you manage your business.

As you know, the learning curve for new technology can be very high. For this reason, should you run into some roadblocks or headaches when it comes to switching providers, it is important to know that the new software or app you’re using has your back.

As an example, I am very impressed with the support I received from PocketSuite when I tried them out.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that their support team is best-in-class, and you shouldn’t hesitate at all to reach out to them if you have questions.

If you run into problems, just shoot them a text (415-841-2300). They respond quickly and are extremely helpful. They went beyond the call of duty to ensure that my experience with their app was a 6 star rating in every way. And as a business owner, that makes me feel taken care of and happy to be a part of the PocketSuite community of Pros.

When it comes to choosing a business management app or software, I need something that is easy to use when I’m on the go (like when I’m doing appointments at a client’s home) and has full-fledged functionality (so I don’t have to look for 10 other apps to get basic business tasks done).

Housecall Pro has limited functionality and is primarily desktop-based. PocketSuite, on the other hand, is mobile-first in design and has all of the necessary tools that I need to run my entire business from my phone, using one app. How neat is that?

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 Generate Online Leads For Your Service Business In 2019

How to Generate Leads Online for your Service Business in 2019

Do you run a service business? Interested in how to generate more online leads for your business in 2019?

In this article, you’ll learn ways to generate enough new leads for your business to do an extra $10,000 in monthly revenue.

You’ll also learn pro tips from real business owners that have been successful using these platforms to grow their service business to $20k, $30k, all the way to $100k in monthly revenue.

You’ll also get a breakdown of how to get started, and any possible risks.

Ready to dive in? Read on…

“Your business can’t be struggling if you don’t check your bank account”

As a service professional, you might be thinking that leads are getting more expensive.

To offer your services to new customers, you need to find them first.

Owning your own business means you run your own marketing team, which means you are the one responsible for driving a steady stream of high quality leads.

Leads Online

With all the competition out there, how can a small business owner get an edge?

In this article we’ll reveal how the top Pay per Lead providers work. For each provider, you’ll learn:

  • How it Works
  • Pro Tips (from real businesses that have been successful on these platforms)
  • How do I set it up?
  • Possible risks

Take advantage of the hours we spent researching. Cut your learning curve by reading this article, applying the knowledge, and learning how to get a head start on your competition with each of these platforms!

Intro to Service Lead Models: Pay per Lead

One customer acquisition model that has been revived from the dead in a big way is the pay per lead or introduction model.

If you enjoy pitching your services to interested clients then pay per lead (“PPL”) might work for you.

PPL offerings have grown in recent popularity as more and more individuals are going out and starting their own businesses (thanks to lower marketing costs, lower legal registration fees, lower healthcare costs, mobile productivity tools).

For the most part, you have to be more a pro-active to get the most out of these PPL platforms.  You – the business owner – can pay for direct access to a client who is looking for specific services that you offer. Then it’s up to you to close them!

This model isn’t new. There are many platforms that offer PPL as a service.
These are the Online Lead providers that we will be reviewing in this article:

  • Home Advisor
  • Angie’s List (now owned by Home Advisor)
  • Thumbtack
  • Talklocal
  • HomeGuide

Let’s get started!

HomeAdvisor

How it works

HomeAdvisor is one of the pioneers of the PPL model. It was founded in 1998, formerly known as ServiceMagic. ServiceMagic was a simple PPL platform allowing professionals of all types (e.g., musicians, handymen, therapists, you name it) to directly pay for incoming leads and pitch their services.

In 2012, the company changed its name to HomeAdvisor, and started to evolve its ad products and focus purely on home services.

As a professional on HomeAdvisor, you can sign up and pay to join the network (similar to Angie’s List it’s a “pay to get access” monthly / annual fee). Once you’re in, then one of the main features is the ability to “turn on” leads.

What that means is you set a budget and HomeAdvisor sends you new business that you can try to win.

That new business comes from clients submitting job requests. HomeAdvisor lets clients complete detailed service requests.

These services include a diverse mix of home service jobs (e.g., landscaping, remodeling, cleaning, plumbing, etc.), the timing, the location, and more.

You – as the service professional – will get notified of these job requests and it’s up to you to close the customer. You can call the client, email the client, text the client – do whatever you think will win you that business.

As you can imagine, this type of marketing platform is ideal if you want to acquire new clients immediately, which would likely appeal to a new business owner. To have good success, you need to be energetic enough to pitch leads and compete for the business.

I highlight the top 3 tips from this blog for using a PPL platform like HomeAdvisor. They are absolutely spot on! These practices will help you maximize your return on investment:

Pro Tips

 1) Call leads immediately – ASAP!

“This is the single most important factor to making HA work for you, even more so than having good reviews.  I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, if I call within minutes of receiving the lead, I get the business. Some customers have even told me that they always choose the first person that calls”

Check out this screenshot from the Lead Response Study linked below:

As you can see, it’s imperative to contact the leads within 5 minutes (or less!) of receiving them. This study was done on sales leads, but service leads are no exception! Source: http://www.leadresponsemanagement.org/lrm_study

2) Sign up for small job leads

“Leads for big jobs are expensive at $50 and up.  With price shoppers all over the place, this can eat into your profits really fast.  That’s why I recommend only signing up for leads for jobs under $15. You will still get your foot in the door and can bank on the return business.”

3) Eliminate leads that don’t pay

“After you’ve been using the service for a while, it’s a good idea to go back over your leads and see which categories pay off and which ones provide mostly junk leads.”

4) Message the leads again

“If the leads haven’t responded, follow up again within 24hrs.”

5) Keep an eye on your costs

“Costs for leads stack up. Make sure you track conversions from leads.”

Get a game plan in place so that when you do turn those online leads ON, you are immediately ready to close them and beat out the competition!

Home Advisor has also invested in tools like Instant Booking and Instant Connect, which allows clients to reach out to you directly if they like your profile and reviews. These add on features are still a small part of the platform activity, but they are growing.

HOW DO I SET IT UP?

Go to the “Pro” section of HomeAdvisor: https://pro.homeadvisor.com/how-it-works/

Watch the 2 mins ins and outs video tutorial. Then you can sign up for free.

The setup process is multiple steps. You need to provide references and background information as part of the registration process.

HomeAdvisor is pretty thorough in terms of its screening process, so setting everything up takes a bit of time. You get a dedicated marketing consultant contact who will reach out and who you can call or email with questions throughout setup.

Then you are prompted to set up your Home Advisor subscription and decide how much you would like to start paying for leads.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

History

In 2012, ServiceMagic changed its name to HomeAdvisor in an effort to re-brand itself. If you Google “ServiceMagic” you will see a laundry list of customer complaints about the quality of the professionals on its platform.

Homeowners complained that the service providers who performed the jobs did terrible jobs. But more so are complaints from the providers themselves talking about how the leads coming to them were bogus in a lot of cases, and they spend all this money to pitch customers with no business coming to them.

To shake their bad reputation, ServiceMagic brought in a new CEO in 2011 and changed its name to HomeAdvisor.

Cost

HomeAdvisor is also pretty expensive. It costs ~$250 per year to just be a part of the network, and then you need to pay to get leads.

We have heard feedback from participating professionals that you need to be careful turning your leads option ON, because if you don’t pay attention HomeAdvisor can send you a bunch of leads in a short amount of time and start charging your card on file instantly…

Stay on top of your online leads option and turn it OFF if you’re busy with work or taking some downtime.

Also, for a lot of business owners, this type of lead ad model is very tough to master. The risk is you spend a lot of money to get these leads with none of them panning out.

Sometimes you were too slow to call the customer so they went with a competing provider. Other times your bid was simply too high. Or customers can change their mind. You call them and they never pick up.

Just be careful on the upfront spend – before you know it you could be in the hole hundreds of dollars without any clients, any clicks, any “likes”, any reviews.

Moving on, up next we have a Pay per Lead platform that most folks are familiar with by now… Thumbtack, of course.

Thumbtack

How it works

The Thumbtack model is similar to HomeAdvisor. The 2 main differences are: (1) there is no monthly or annual fee to join the network, and (2) the industries it services are not just limited to home improvement – but includes all types of service providers like dog walkers, lawyers, photographers, tutors, and more. As far as customer acquisition goes, Thumbtack is a treasure trove of possible clients.

Clients can go through a similar “concierge” flow, specifying their service needs and their job details get blasted to up to 5 professionals for that specific service and geography. Thumbtack sets the opening bid price for a lead’s contact information. If you win the bidding process, you get to pitch that lead – and the cost is paid in “credits”.

Each credit costs $1.67 to buy and leads can cost anywhere from 2 to 9 credits (so $3.34 to $15.30 per lead). That’s another difference between Thumbtack and HomeAdvisor – Thumbtack has more control over which leads you choose to spend money on (based on limited service requests and client demographic information).

Once the credits are spent – then it’s up to you to close that online lead!

Another consumer use-case is when clients actually Google a specific service name and the location, then Thumbtack’s page results actually rank high on Google and the service providers – you – are accessible directly by any customers.

For example, if I Google “dog walkers in Seattle, WA”, one of the results in Google is the link below to one of Thumbtack’s popular list:

Clients are able to review your profile (like description, reviews, photos, etc.) and “Request a Quote” from you directly. Note that you – the professional – will still be required to pay credits to Thumbtack to find out who requested said quote from you (as no website or phone # details are included on your profile for direct contact).

Converting first-time clients into recurring clients is crucial with Thumbtack as well. If it takes you multiple online leads before closing one, then your initial return on investment might not be that great, but if you can convert that client to book with you in the future, then your ROI could look great. Remember, customer acquisition is a long term game.

Pro Tips

  • Respond as quickly as possible – in recent studies, even 5 minutes may not be fast enough. Yes, seriously.
  • Set up software like Calldrip that calls your phone whenever a lead comes in, then calls the lead. It’s like having a concierge connect you to leads automatically whenever they come in. The software even whispers the client’s name for you or your admin before connecting the call. It’s basically magic:
    • Look up your profile from the client’s side. This gives you two great opportunities:
    • See how you show up from your client’s perspective. You never know what you might uncover! (Is that my personal email being displayed on there? Oh boy…)
    • Take a sneak peak at your competitor’s profiles! Get ideas on how to optimize your pictures, your description, and showcase your services in a more appealing manner. This is actually a perfect segway to our next point:

    HOW DO I SET IT UP?

    You can join Thumbtack as a “pro” for free: https://www.thumbtack.com/pro

    The setup process is pretty simple and straightforward. Along with setting up your profile, Thumbtack will give you a link to your specific profile – they encourage you to send this link to past clients to build you reviews. I would recommend doing this. More reviews and content on your profile will make their system rate you as more relevant (and higher quality) and, as a result, will send you more online leads to bid on.

    Setup Instructions:

    1. Go to thumbtack.com/pro
    2. Choose your City and Industry

3. Log in with Google, Facebook, or Email

4. Follow the prompts to set up your brand spankin’ new profile!

5. Need help? Here’s a shortcut: Use GetHuman to find Thumbtack’s best live support number – skip the wait and talk to a person live if you’re having issues!

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

With Thumbtack being a similar PPL model as HomeAdvisor, similar risks around cold leads and tough bidding apply. You can wind up buying and using a ton of credits, and not get any new business when it is all said and done.

There are some reports out there stating on average you win 16% of all leads you buy – in that case you need to make sure you are not spending a lot to buy said leads…or if you are, you need to make sure the final payment you get from the customer is a lot more than the amount you spent on all the other lost leads.

Another risk is that the bidding and pitching system typically leads to a “lowest price wins” game. Meaning, clients will often tend to accept the lowest priced service no matter how many professionals reach out to them.

Thus, similar to discount platforms, this model attracts customers who are looking for low price over quality, and the next time they need a service (the same service done again even), they will go back to the well for anyone who can give them “bottom-of-the-barrel” prices again.

There also seem to be frustrations regarding the quality of leads. Here is a recent post on Thumbtack’s forum that summarizes the issue folks have been having – it looks like Thumbtack is sending online leads to too many providers, and also the quality of leads seems to have diminished.

That being said, Thumbtack is still where droves of customers go to find a quality professional, and thus still remains a viable source of opportunity as far as getting new clients thru online leads for your service business.

Why don’t we go right ahead into our next pick: Talk Local.

TalkLocal

HOW IT WORKS

TalkLocal has a bit of a twist. As a smaller company, it isn’t technically a PPL company, but more of a “Pay Per Conversation” type of app. And just as it sounds, it takes much more over the phone / conversational take to introducing a business to a potential customer.

As a professional, you can preview incoming customer leads for free over the phone (as in you get a call from TalkLocal and you can hear the information about the job request) and only pay when you actually opt-in and speak to a customer. It covers about 50 different service verticals, focusing on home improvement like plumbers, handymen, HVAC, and roofers, which are big ticket services. They require more salesmanship and quality and track record matters in addition to price. So when one of those leads closes, it typically pays for all of the ones that you lost.

Just like on Thumbtack, as a client you can go to TalkLocal and specify your location, the job or service details you are in need of, and contact (i.e., phone #) details. TalkLocal then blasts the most relevant service professionals in the area via automated phone call. When the pro picks up, they can opt in to accept the job over the phone, then TalkLocal immediate connects them to the client by calling the client’s phone. Once the client picks up, the business gets charged the “introduction” fee. Then it’s up to you, the business, to pitch your services over the phone.

HOW DO I SET IT UP?

Head to http://www.talklocal.com/claim/ to claim your business on the TalkLocal site. In addition to entering your business information, you select your job preferences, service area radius, and your desired call frequency/bid level all of which can be adjusted at any time.

Joining the Premium plan will send you a higher volume of leads, which the company says on average costs $16 per call introduction. The free plan only sends businesses jobs that member companies (like Yahoo! Local) have passed on.

PRO TIPS

Just like any other PPL platform, TalkLocal has its own quirks and pro tips. Let’s dive right in!

TalkLocal is sending out an automated phone call to all of the potential leads. This is different because it requires the lead to answer the phone.

But once this happens, TalkLocal then sends a follow up call to your phone – here’s where the magic starts.

Some things to keep in mind from a customer acquisition perspective:

  • Answer the phone professionally. Too many Pros are answering the phone like an individual instead of a business. To look more professional, try starting the conversation with a phrase like “Thank you for reaching out, we are a TalkLocal verified provider and I was wondering if you could tell me more about the project?” This sets the frame from the start that…
    • You are a professional company
    • Indeed responding to their TalkLocal inquiry
    • Focused on them and their needs
  • Get details up front. Too often the job scope is not communicated over the phone effectively. For this reason there is frustration on both sides because…
    • The Pro ends up feeling required to complete tasks outside of the job scope (because they’ve already accepted the job without detailing the deliverables beforehand)
    • The Customer feels confused and slighted (because there aren’t clear expectations set for the success of the job, and what is required to classify this job as a success).

For example: Pro answers the phone unprofessionally, doesn’t clarify the scope of the job.

Result: Customer is unsure of quality / professionalism of Pro, and is upset when some of the items that were expected to be completed in the scope of the job go undone. Customer reviews Pro negatively on TalkLocal and other review platforms. Customer, Pro, and TalkLocal all had a bad experience in this situation.

Another, contrary example: Pro answers the phone professionally and asks great questions to drill down on the requirements for the job.

Result: Customer is happy with the professionalism and feels proud of his decision to hire Pro. All job details are discussed upfront, so nothing is left to chance. Assuming the Pro completes all items on time and up to par, customer is happy and decides to hire the Pro on a recurring basis. This reflects TalkLocal and also the Pro well, and can result in additional recurring revenue for both!

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

TalkLocal is small in size so the volume of client requests and introductions will be relatively small – take this into consideration when you spend time setting up and learning the system.

You should not spend hours of time with a platform that may or may not provide you a lot of new customer liquidity. But arguably it shouldn’t take you very long to get set up.

The company states that average cost of a new client introduction is $16. Keep in mind that this does not guarantee you will win this business. As soon as the call is connected, you are out $16.

Arguably, if you are talking to the customer over the phone, the chances of converting that client to a paying customer is higher than sending them a simple bid through a platform like Thumbtack – it’s more personal to talk on the phone!

But the jury is still out on that theory, so you need to do your own testing to see how convincing you are to win a customer at an average $16 per “opportunity”.

HOW IT WORKS

HomeGuide is another Pay per lead platform. The way it works is a bit different from the others – it still uses a credit system, but you can receive a refund for credits that don’t result in the customer responding.

This seems like an improvement on Thumbtack (which sends quotes to so many Pros, the conversion rate seems to be low) however HomeGuide doesn’t have as big of a network, so the frequency of new online leads may be lower.

HOW DO I SET IT UP?

The way to start is to tap “Join is a Pro” in the top right:

Once you complete the setup and add your business info, you’ll have a chance to start bidding on jobs.

You may also have to confirm your email (and possibly your phone number) in order to verify your profile.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

One thing to remember is that you get to keep 100% of the revenue that you generate – HomeGuide doesn’t keep any of the money that is transferred from the customer to you as the Pro.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that you need to keep track of how much money you’re spending on bids.

Additionally it’s imperative to track how many of the bids you’re sending out are converting to actual customers.

This way you can track the revenue generated by the customers, compare that to your total costs of using HomeGuide (or any other PPL platform) and thus determine your Return on Ad Spend (RoAS).

Now we’re thinking like top Pros! Give yourself a pat on the back once you’re completed this tracking – it’s more than 90% of Pros do to ensure their business is running healthy!

PRO TIPS

HomeGuide has a clever way of getting new Pros – they actually send out a cold email blast asking service providers to put their Best of HomeGuide badge onto their site.

This creates 2 virtuous cycles:

  • Creates a backlink from the service Pro’s site to Homeguide, increasing their SEO and thus their search rankings.
  • Creates social proof on both sides:
    • For the Pro (look, I’ve been featured as Best of HomeGuide!)
    • For HomeGuide (this website categorizes service Pros, so they must be legit.)

So what’s the Pro tip here? You can put the image of their badge onto your site without having to provide a backlink! This creates exposure for HomeGuide (great for them) and also allows you to have more social proof on your website (good for you and reassures your customers that you’re a legit business).

What a journey we’ve taken! Let’s launch into some closing remarks regarding Pay per Lead platforms…

Overall Pay Per Lead Platform Thoughts

In this guide you’ve learned:

  • What are PPL Platforms
  • How they work and make money
  • How you as a service professional can capitalize on the vast amounts of potential customers looking for your services on these platforms
  • Things to watch out for
  • How to set each platform up
  • The risks of each platform

The PPL model for generating leads online is becoming more popular with a certain sect of consumers because it makes price shopping quite convenient for services. You tap a few buttons, and then in minutes you’ve got professionals calling and emailing you with specific quotes on cost of service as well as a nice little pitch to go along with it.

It’s almost like a concierge service for the clients, all the while delivering clarity around pricing – and that means lowest price in most cases.

As a result, we’re starting to see the likes of Google enter the space with Google Home Services. They’ve started first in the San Francisco Bay Area (in beta), so if you’re a provider in that area I would sign up. (Update 2019: Google Home Services and Amazon Home Services are now in full swing)

Clients can “Send Requests” for a quote from you directly from Google (without doing any extra work like visiting another site):

Angie’s List is testing out its “Lead Feed” product offering even, which is again very similar to the PPL model.

Point being, you’ve got an increasing amount of options to play around with to test out if the PPL model is right for your business. I would get a game plan in place as to what your course of action is once a warm lead comes your way, then spend some money to see what it takes to convert leads to clients and also get a sense as to how many of these new clients you’re converting to lifelong customers.

Pro Tips for All Pay Per Lead Platforms

Now that we’ve come to the closing of service business leads in the Pay per Lead form… Let’s discuss some hands-in-the-dirt strategies for actually applying everything you’ve learned about PPL platforms. How you can use them to dominate your local service industry?

Pro Tips:

  • Follow up fast. Like, lighting speed fast. Here’s another interesting graph from the Lead Response management study linked above. This one shows how important it is to follow up quickly in terms of leads that became qualified:

    Always track your RoAS. Remember, you’re paying for each lead, not each customer. This requires you to track how many leads you have to pay for before you convert one into a paying customer. By tracking RoAS you are making sure that your initiative on each platform is paying off. To start tracking RoAS:

    • Track your total expenses for each platform (on a weekly or monthly basis). On PPL platforms this typically comes down to  how many total credits you purchased
    • How many actual customers were generated from these efforts (per platform)
    • Revenue (and profit!) generated from customers for each platform
    • Extra credit: To improve your system further, track the conversion rate from:
      • Lead bids to responses
      • Responses to bookings
      • Avg revenue per booking (per platform)

    This concludes our exhaustive article on Online Leads for Service Businesses! You should now have enough info to dominate your local area… and maybe even time for a victory dance!

    Have any further suggestions for how to use Pay per Lead platforms effectively?

    Anything I missed or that should be added? Please contact support@pocketsuite.io

    If you liked this content, check out our Frustrations with Square article! You’ll never feel so vindicated in your life. 😉

    And of course, if you’re a service Pro and you want a way to manage your entire business from your phone, check out the PocketSuite app. We’ve been featured on TechCrunch, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and more.

    Author: Ilya Ornatov

    Original Article by: Sam Madden

Top 9 Therapy Websites & Marketplaces to Join

When you are building your therapy, clinical social work or mental health business, growing your customer base and getting exposure can be challenging. With more and more competition, standing out from the crowd can be difficult.

Joining a therapy or health marketplace can be a great way to establish your practice and build your clientele in a high quality way. A lot more so than simply being listed on Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.

We’ve been speaking with dozens of founders of therapy marketplaces and organizations over the past few months, and we wanted to share our thoughts.

Below are nine different types of marketplaces eager therapists can join to help your practice grow, depending on your business’s niche and needs.

Big Brand & Reach

GoodTherapy for Mental Health

As one of the largest mental health directories in the world, GoodTherapy connects patients to professionals in 30 different countries. Each month, the network receives over 1.5 million therapist searches.

GoodTherapy focuses on collaborative care, with a focus on non-stigmatizing language and the client and therapist working together to identify solutions. For mental health professionals, GoodTherapy offers a wide range of continuing education materials, such as webinars, best practices and marketing seminars.

The platform also tracks visitors to your profile as a therapist. You can get access to real-time analytics as to how many clients are visiting your profile, how many are calling you, tapping on call-to-actions, etc.

To become a member it costs $29.95 per month, with discounts if you sign up for longer term memberships.

Platforms Doing Good

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective for Mental Health

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective believes everyone should have access to quality mental care, regardless of income. The mission of the site is to provide middle and lower-income people to affordable psychotherapy and mental health education services.

Individual clients can see a quality therapist for $30 to $50 a visit (well below market pricing). The mental health providers that are part of Open Path’s directory are either therapists building their practice and reputation or established professionals giving back to the community.

There are currently over 2,300 therapists in the community, but with rising client demand, many more are needed.  To join this non-profit network, therapists complete an online application and send in a copy of their license and liability insurance. For most, the process takes under 10 minutes there are no fees whatsoever for participating therapists.

International-Focused Platforms

International Therapist Directory for Mental Health

The International Therapist Directory (“ITD”) is a global listing of professional therapists, counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists who offer cross-cultural therapy. Spanning 40 countries, therapists can connect with clients and also network with other healthcare providers.

As our world becomes more and more culturally blended, with people living and working in new countries, culturally-sensitive healthcare providers are essential to provide relevant and helpful therapy.

The site is focused on professional therapists with credentials at the master’s level or higher, with a thoughtful understanding of the ‘Third Culture Kid’. Healthcare providers in the ITD network have a tendency to connect with one another to refer patients and share their expertise, so their referral network is growing quite considerably.

Member fee is just a $35 annual fee.

Directory, Community, Web-building & More

TherapyTribe for Mental Health

TherapyTribe is an online therapist directory that also offers online support groups with wellness tools and activities.  Offering support for people with mental illnesses, addictions and diseases, the site has a professional directory of thousands of therapists as well as self-help materials.

As one of the largest directories, TherapyTribe receives tens of thousands of visitors each week from people looking for help. In addition, therapists listed with TherapyTribe are featured to support group members using geo-targeting to match by location.  

TherapyTribe is now offering members a free professional therapist website included with their membership.  A membership with TherapyTribe gets your business in front of a national pool of potential clients for a monthly ($20) or annual fee ($199).

Where Physical & Mental Intersect

Essential Yoga Therapy for Holistic Approach to Psychology and Fitness

Essential Yoga Therapy (“EYT”) connects customers with specialized yoga therapists who prepare customized plans to treat chronic pain or illness. EYT focuses on yoga therapy as the evolution of the healing process.  

In addition to giving yoga therapists greater access to potential clients, the site also has quality educational resources. For example, there are sessions on how to teach a class with individuals dealing with scoliosis, covering techniques and pose adjustments that will not hurt the client.  

The site is tailored to certified yoga therapists who focus on the holistic needs and therapeutic practices for individuals. Essential Yoga Therapy also offers in-person training for its professional community to learn new techniques.

OCD-Specific

International OCD Foundation for Niche Mental Healthcare

As one of the oldest resources for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (“OCD”), the International OCD Foundation connects individuals and families with disease state information, support materials and healthcare providers.

The site has a targeted group of therapists 1,200 strong. In addition to a directory listing, professional members also get access to the annual conference access, entrance to the behavioral therapy training institute and clinics with providers specializing in the treatment of OCD.

There are millions of people affected by OCD (1% of the U.S. population to be exact), but finding therapists who are knowledgeable in the disease is difficult. This site connects individuals to specially trained professionals.

The foundation is thoughtful in making membership affordable to its professionals. There are 3 tiers of memberships – from students preparing to be licensed therapists, to institutional memberships – with a sliding scale of membership costs.

Regional Therapy Organizations

The Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work for Regional Care

There are a growing number of regional therapy marketplaces on a state-by-state basis, including the Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work (“GSCSW”) as an example. Since 1980, the GSCSW has worked to advance clinical social work practices and empower professional social workers in the state of Georgia.

By becoming a member, social workers can network with other local professionals, access continuing education resources, and keep informed about legislation affecting the field.

Social workers can join the network with an annual fee ranging from $20 for a student, to $110 for a licensed practitioner. Upon joining, professionals are listed in the local directory and gain access to a forum of other professionals to pose questions and receive support.

On Demand Mental Health

7 Cups for Mental Health

Recently launched 7 Cups provides affordable, on-demand mental health services, connecting users to compassionate and trained professionals around the clock. From everyday stresses to more severe needs, 7 Cups offers users a safe space.

With over 800,000 site visitors a month spanning across 189 countries, the 7 Cups platform is rapidly growing and expanding their services. The benefit to the platform is that therapists can provide care online via messages through the app. All therapy is done through the HIPAA compliant platform, and allows clients to get online (and mobile) access to therapists without having to move a muscle.

For the therapist, the fee is $29.95 per month to be listed. In addition to 40% per client interaction if the client decides to book communication time with you.

For people who want traditional in-person care, 7 Cups also offers a practice directory. Professionals can get connected to thousands of potential clients the old fashioned way as well.

Alternative Therapy

Alternative Therapists Network for Non-Conventional Care

The Alternative Therapists Network (“ATN”) focuses on multiple modes of therapy and self-care for patients. ATN connects clients with counselors, yoga practitioners, life coaches, and music and art instructors. It offers a space for clients and professionals to find alternatives to conventional therapy and medication. This is a known challenge to established beliefs.

Users can find out about practitioners, their experience and their approach to therapy before ever contacting them. That way, they can ensure their therapist shares their ideals and philosophies before beginning sessions.

Clients can schedule appointments directly through the site, which makes it easier for therapists and instructors to build their clientele. For a fee, professionals can join the network, get connected to users and get access to webinars and training seminars.

The founding team of ATN also runs Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, sourcing and delivering great content and articles to ATN members.

Recommendation: First Research, Then Join A Network

As a therapist or healthcare provider, building your own practice can be daunting.  Joining a professional network or marketplace can help you establish your presence and credibility. For a small fee, you can increase your clientele as well as network with like-minded professionals.

It’s a worthwhile investment that will expand your practice.

Mobilize your Business

The world is going mobile, and so are your clients. That means you should too.

For some business owners and entrepreneurs, initial reaction to the terms “mobile” and “text message” may seem unprofessional.

For some professionals, after a long day of running the day-to-day and dealing with clients, having to sit in front of the computer for busy work is just a necessary evil of being a small business owner.

Well, the times they are a changing…and mobilizing. 

The benefits of text message far surpass the “what I’m used to” feeling you might have while sitting in front of a desk.

Payment speed, customer convenience, workflow efficiencies, relationship building, marketing and more — these are all fundamental reasons why your peers and competitors are rapidly adopting apps and mobile tools to help their businesses succeed in today’s mobile world.

And your clients? Not only do they accept mobile with open arms, but nowadays they expect it.

You should be happy that your clients live in apps and over text message. As evidenced below, this mobile wave will actually help you build a lightening fast business without causing you any stress.


Here’s a fun (yet slightly depressing) fact: the average time it takes a customer to pay a standard invoice is 14 days.

Newsflash: the average time it takes a customer to pay a PocketSuite invoice (sent over text) is 1 day. (See more)

Why is that (you’re probably asking)? Well we asked some of our 15,000 business owners on PocketSuite, and they responded simply: “Because it’s easy”.

Clients don’t need to get cash from the bank, or remember to mail a check, or go back home to their computer to log in somewhere online to make a payment. On mobile, your customers can pay anywhere, and they can pay over SMS text message. This isn’t some new technology or app your client needs to learn in order to make a payment. Heck, they don’t even need to create an account (i.e., PayPal). It’s a simple tap to pay. Or how about “text to pay” 🙂

In short – you’re not moving mobile for selfless reasons. You get paid quicker. Seize the day!


There are two types of businesses I run into these days when it comes to scheduling: (1) Tech Savvy, and (2) Old School. Now, there are of course others who don’t fall into these 2 groups. For the most part, these are the 2 main types you might fall into.

Tech Savvy
You’ve got some business software with a proprietary calendar. It helps you add really detailed stuff to your calendar, it’s on the web, has a log-in, sends reminders, maybe has some other cool business features, etc. The problem with the ‘TechSavvy’ approach is that the software that is being used is completely isolated from the rest of their life and it’s at your desk. Most software out there does not sync with your personal or any other calendars you use (i.e., Google, iCal, Outlook, etc.). If you want to see your business schedule, well you need to log into some portal from your desktop and view what’s on tap. You can’t see if you have a lunch scheduled that day, or if you have a doctor’s appointment, or your schedule to pick up kids, etc. You’re stuck seated, isolated. No bueno!

Old School
You do scheduling your own way. So a paper calendar or you use your Google Calendar because it’s handy and it gels with all the other personal events you’ve got going on in your life. The problem with the ‘Old School’ approach is that you’re missing out on tons of efficiencies that can help you save tons of time running your business. I get it though – “time” is tough to value. But think about a calendar that gels with your life that’s also mobile, that also sends automatic reminders to clients, that puts appointments directly on your customer’s calendars FOR them, that supports “credit card confirmation”, that auto-sends Thank You! when the appointment is complete, and more. Things you do yourself and things you also can’t even imagine doing yourself.

Start adopting a tool with the best of both worlds. Make sure it’s easy, make sure it syncs with your entire life schedule, and (most of all) make sure you can use it anywhere!


If you work in an industry where your client needs to trust you, then communication is key.

If I’m hiring anyone to come to my home, or to depend on for a special occasion, or to take care of a love one (animal or human of course), or who I’m simply paying a lot of money — I want to make sure I can contact that professional at any time. And that doesn’t mean I’m going to call you at 4 o’clock in the morning to ask you a question.

There’s a reason why people have adopted (and LOVE) text messaging as a mode of communication — it’s convenient, fast and reliable. So why not give that feeling of convenience and reliability to your CLIENTS when building a relationship with them?

Have you ever simply forgotten to respond to an email? Or lost an important email in the midst of junk mail? Or had a client be upset at your “email response time” (however reasonable that might actually be)?

Be available when your clients need you, and give them that warm & fuzzy convenient experience. Build mobile communication into the core of your workflow, and form a deeper and more direct relationship with your customers.


Give Customers Mobile Convenience

We’re talking CONVENIENCE across the board here.

Payments, scheduling, messaging, e-signing documents, and more.

In a major way, introducing all these parts of your business to clients in the palm of their hands is incredible. Your clients can be literally ANYwhere and pay an invoice you send them….Get a reminder about tomorrow’s appointment…Field a text saying “Running 15 mins late”…Receive a waiver to sign. Literally ZERO effort on them to take any action.

And that last sentence ties into why convenience is good for YOU. The “zero effort to take any action” I just mentioned? Well that “action” typically drives the success of your business — your getting paid, winning a new client, filling up your schedule, etc. 

Give clients what they want and good things will happen 🙂

Best Communities to Help Personal Trainers Succeed

Being an independent health and fitness professional can feel lonely. You don’t have co-workers, you don’t have any staff – it’s you and your clients.

As fitness-focused groups and communities have grown online (on top of what already exists “offline”), fitness, health and wellness professionals are starting to take advantage of the vast wealth of knowledge and benefits out there. Being a part of a group or community won’t just help you get more clients or help you learn tips/tools from successful peers, but they can also act as your psychiatrist – helping you connect with fellow fitness and health professionals across the world relating to your daily frustrations, questions and concerns.

We’ve spoken to thousands of personal trainers, wellness professionals and yoga instructors to get a sense as to the most powerful communities (online and offline) to help them get the upper hand when it comes to building their own small business.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups can help your fitness business in two ways:
(1) Shed light on great educational resources
(2) Connect with peers to help your sanity

LindedIn Groups focus around fitness, health and wellness businesses are hyper-targeted and can add hyper value to your business. Groups that were recommended to us include Fitness Trainers and Coaches (52,815 members), Health & Fitness Industry Professionals (21,507 members), and The Health & Wellness Networking Group (60,790 members).

These groups are best described by a summary from Fitness Trainers and Coaches. “Allowing professionals in this industry to network, gain knowledge and share techniques among other group members so that the common objective of improving the lives of our clients, can be achieved along with the advances in technology.

LinkedIn Groups are great because the members of these communities share training tips. They share useful blogs and they share tech tools that will help their peers succeed. The fantastic thing about these communities is the professionals don’t consider each other competition. Members are open and happy to be helpful to other professionals – it’s not a zero sum game in this community…everybody can succeed together.

LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with peers to help vent any frustration. On top of public communication feed, you can create direct and private relationships with other trainers on the platform. You can share stories, experiences and advice (public or private). Advice based on any working situations or experiences you’ve had with clients. You can decide if you’d like act as social media shrink doling out advice to peers. Act as the patient with a sea of eager fitness, health and wellness entrepreneurs who are willing to help.

Certification Programs

Don’t get me wrong – getting a 3rd party certification as a fitness trainer or health professional is work. Discovering the program that will benefit your business, analyze its benefits, pay money for the certification, and then actually prepare and take an exam to complete certification. The return on this investment can be huge for a variety of reasons.

Popular certification programs include ACE Fitness, IDEA Fit, and NASM. Becoming a part of these certification programs is great because it not only opens you up to a network of other professionals, but allows you to leverage the network for benefits. Things like employment listings, exposure within a client-facing directory, liability insurance discounts, product discounts and more. Here’s a great comparison table detailing the variety of benefits across certification programs.

Communities like these are more active and force you to do work. In return the amount of work you put in can yield tremendous dividends. About 100,000 trainers across the U.S. are part of these certification groups.

Twitter Influencers

There are a lot of these “influencers” on Twitter that dole out useful tips, tricks and advice. Especially relevant within the fitness and health industries that thrive off it. Typically most of these people cater to consumers who are looking for D.I.Y. advice. This is not as relevant to eager entrepreneurs looking to build their own business. Similarly there are many influencers you can follow on Twitter who talk about broad or niche topics that you will find interesting. Therefore, you can then pass on to your clients in the form of consulting advice or enhanced services.

Adam Bornstein (@BornFitness) provides great content and articles around a whole host of educational fitness topics. Meaghan B Murphy (@meaghanbmurphy) is an ACE certified trainer and also provides useful tips focused on training integrated with a healthy lifestyle. Jen Sinkler (@jensinkler) has a hyper focus around female heavy lifting (niche industry for some trainers). Bobby Strom (@BobbyStrom) is known as the “trainer’s trainer” with must-read tips revolving around not just fitness but medical help as well. Bob Harper (@MyTrainerBob) is meal oriented and clearly one who is friendly with food-conscious celebrities. Point being, there are all types of fitness and health personalities you can follow. To further your entrepreneurial career, depending on your business needs.

Twitter communities keep you and your specific industry in-the-know on a variety of topics. Never let any trends, topics or tips slip under the radar – turn this knowledge into power by improving your client relationships and services.