How to get more clients as an Esthetician on Yelp!

Source: Trader Education

Are you an Esthetician solopreneur or possibly a small business owner with an Esthetics or Beauty business, and you’re interested in getting more clients from Yelp?

Yelp has been under some major scrutiny following allegations and even multiple lawsuits claiming they were unfairly punishing businesses for choosing not to pay for advertising – i.e. extortion.

However, as explored in this extensive article we’ve written on this topic, Yelp is still conclusively a great place for small business owners to find more clients, especially in the skincare and personal grooming industry.

For this reason, we will be covering some important tips today that will help you as an Esthetician get more business from Yelp.

Before we begin, let me preface this by saying that Yelp has been underfire for quite some time, but still has a large volume of consumers using its platform to find Beauticians and Estheticians such as yourself.

So even though you may disagree with their alleged business practices, we can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

Given that tens of millions of consumers are still searching for services on Yelp, how can we use that reality to our advantage and come out on top and profitable?

Let’s get right to it – how do you win on Yelp as an Esthetician?

Source: Elegant Themes

HOW TO DOMINATE YELP AS AN ESTHETICIAN

Maybe you’ve heard of the new documentary, Billion Dollar Bully.

Or perhaps you’ve read articles regarding Yelp’s alleged mafia-like business practices.

Either way, it’s no excuse for you not to take the time to investigate this challenge of a business and attempt to use it to your advantage.

If you were able to opt out of being featured on Yelp, this article would definitely have a different tone to it.

But as the situation stands, there is no way for businesses to opt out of having their listing (and public reviews) displayed for the world to see.

That being the case, let’s see if we can turn lemons into lemonade on this situation. If you’re already in the belly of the beast, you might as well make the most of it!

Let’s get to the practical aspects of how to win on Yelp as an Esthetician.

Source: Yelp

STEP ONE: OPTIMIZE YOUR PROFILE

Make sure your pictures are on point, including pictures of you holding up your Esthetician license, as we mentioned in our article on How to Run your Esthetician Business on PocketSuite.

One tip is to make sure you have plenty of pictures of smiling, overjoyed clients that received a facial or other beauty treatment from you.

Secondly, make sure that you have a Yelp Deal set up.

It doesn’t have to be a huge discount (something like $15 for $10), but it will make it so there is a green ‘Yelp Offer’ button next to your profile in the listings, which will draw consumers’ attention to your profile and distinguish it from the litany of other Estheticians on the platform

Make sure you input all of your business information, such as:

  • Hours of operation
  • Location (Physical Address)
  • Phone Number
  • Website
  • Services offered
  • Women-operated business (a new Yelp feature)
  • A description of your business

In the description, try to speak from the heart and write about what made you decide to get into the Beauty and Esthetics field.

You’d also be wise to include information such as how long you’ve been in business, what product lines you carry, and your PocketSuite online booking link (so folks can book your services directly from Yelp).

Additionally, keep an eye on your email or Yelp app, as that’s where you’ll get notifications that you have a new message in the Yelp Messaging center.

Your customers will be reaching out to you via the ‘Contact this Business’ button, and when they do, Yelp will offer to automatically send their message to other businesses.

For this reason, it’s absolutely imperative to follow up quickly, so other Estheticians don’t gobble up your potential clients by booking them before you have a chance to!

This is another reason to have the PocketSuite online booking functionality as you can include your booking link in your follow-up messages to the folks that reach out to you through Yelp.

This cuts down on the friction of forcing them to call you and instead allows them to self book your services with a single tap or click.

Now that we’ve covered some practical ways to improve your Yelp profile, let’s talk about how you can get more 5 star reviews as this is the fuel that will propel your profile into the top ranks of Yelp where you will be discovered by more clients and get more views – and more bookings!

STEP TWO: GET MORE 5 STAR REVIEWS

An easy way to get more 5 star reviews is to ask your happy clients to post reviews on your Yelp profile.

“But how do I distinguish my happy clients from the disgruntled ones,” you ask.

Easily – by surveying each client post-service to find out their opinion on the quality of the treatment they received.

For example – let’s say you recently performed a stellar facial for your client Lisa.

You should contact Lisa via email, phone, or text message the day after her appointment, and ask something like this:

“Hey Lisa! It’s [Your name] with [Your business name]. I wanted to thank you for choosing us for your facial treatment yesterday. I wanted to get your feedback on what you thought about your service as this does help us to improve.”

Wait for the client to give you the feedback. If it’s negative, thank them for their feedback and try to make the changes requested or mentioned in the clients’ message.

If the feedback is positive, immediately follow up with something to this effect:

“Thank you Lisa. We do strive to provide amazing service, and I’m happy you’re impressed! I was wondering if you would be willing to share your experience by posting a review on our Yelp page? It would really help us out.”

You can also offer to text or email the happy client a link to your Yelp profile, which will make the process easier for them and improve the chances that they’ll actually post a review.

As a bonus pro-tip, you can repeat this process for other review platforms like Google or Facebook.

Side bar: You can actually automate the entire process of asking for an internal review and then a Yelp review in PocketSuite. Check out “Smart Campaigns” in PocketSuite to learn more.

So now that you’ve built up a respectable Yelp profile with good information, a sharp follow up system, and lots of 5 star reviews, you should see new business rolling in.

The next question is, how do you manage all of the scheduling, payments, messaging, and the rest of the routine tasks that typically come with running your own small business?

Here’s where PocketSuite steps in to help – you can book clients online, accept payments, take deposits, sell products, manage your inventory, and a whole lot more – all from a single app.

Try the Premium FREE trial and see why the ASCP (Association of Skin Care Professionals) specifically recommends using PocketSuite to all of their Estheticians!

If you’re already using PocketSuite, here’s how to set it up for your Esthetics business.

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

How to get more dog training clients on yelp!

Are you an up-and-coming Dog Trainer looking to make a splash in the world by building up your Dog Training business?

Maybe you have an established Dog Training business and you’re looking to take it to the next level, so you’re eyeing Yelp as a potential source of new clients.

Which ever is the case, you’ll want to sit and pay attention, as we are about to untangle the often confusing and definitely tricky world of optimizing your Yelp profile, as well as getting more 5 star reviews.

Despite recent criticism and even lawsuits against Yelp, the online marketplace is still visited more than 178M times per month, according to ReviewTrackers.

These statistics make it a no-brainer to try and make the most of the platform, especially since there’s no way to opt out of having your business profile and public reviews displayed for the world to see (and judge).

That being the case, coupled with the well-known fact that two-thirds of consumers tend to check online reviews before making purchasing decisions, brings us to some important facts that you as a business owner should definitely consider.

If you’re going to operate a Dog Training business, it would be wise to make the most of your Yelp profile, since the upside involves getting more clients for your small business and potentially even making it your biggest source of new clients!

Source: The Advocate

HOW TO CRUSH IT ON YELP AS A DOG TRAINER

There are several key factors you’ll want to understand before creating a rockstar profile on Yelp.

First, we’ll discuss how to get the details just right on your profile so the highest percentage of clients who see it end up booking your services. 

After we cover that, we’ll shed light on how you can get more 5-star reviews for your Yelp profile so you look more professional and show up higher in the Yelp rankings.

The competition is fierce on Yelp, with a wide variety of Dog Trainers occupying top spots and collecting all of the clients for themselves. Starting today, we’re going to help you grab your fair share of business by following these simple steps.

OPTIMIZE YOUR YELP PROFILE

Let’s start off with the basics. One thing we repeatedly see successful Dog Trainers do is put pictures of their clients on their Yelp profile – both humans and dogs!

If you’re just starting out and don’t have any actual pictures of happy clients or dogs, at the very least use stock images of happy folks and maybe include pictures of your own dog for social proof reasons.

You’ll also want to consider including a picture of you holding up your Dog Training license. This generates immense social proof, instills immediate trust into your potential clients by positioning you as an expert in your field, and leads to a higher conversion rate of folks booking your services.

For more info about this as well as a practical step-by-step licensing guide, read our article on Why You Should Get Your Dog Training License.

The next step is to write a stellar description to share your mission with potential clients.

You want to come across as genuine and willing to go the extra mile and the best way to do that is to communicate your passion for being a rockstar Dog Trainer!

Also, make sure to update the technical aspects of your profile with the correct information about your business. This includes:

  • NAP (Name, Address, Phone number)
  • Website address
  • Description

You should also consider offering a Yelp Deal on your page. You can offer a small discount ($15 for $10 for example) and this will, in turn, place a conspicuous green ‘Yelp Deal’ badge on your Yelp listing. We’ve seen multiple Dog Trainers (as well as businesses in other industries) do this to bring more attention to their listing.

You’ll also want to include your PocketSuite online booking link on your profile, so potential clients can book your Dog Training services straight from Yelp.

This also communicates that you are a professional, established business. That goes a long way, especially if you’re a new, fresh-faced Dog Trainer, ready to tackle and win business from established companies like Wag or Rover as well as other solopreneur Dog Trainers!

Now let’s talk about how to get more 5-star reviews, so clients trust your business even more.

HOW TO GET MORE 5 STAR REVIEWS FOR YOUR DOG TRAINING BUSINESS

It’s a well-known fact that more 5-star reviews on Yelp means more business.

You should aim to get your first 10 reviews as quickly as possible – let’s discuss the easiest and best ways to do so with limited effort on your part.

The first step is to ask for them – but don’t ask every client after you complete their dog training.

Instead, ask them for feedback about their experience first. Send a quick email, text, or make a phone call and ask them how their dog is doing, and the difference that your training program made in their dog’s behavior.

Once you’ve collected this valuable feedback, ask your happy clients to leave a review.

This will help to self-select the best possible clients to leave a review on your profile – the satisfied ones.

Remember, you shouldn’t ever promise compensation of any kind in exchange for a review – this is frowned upon by Yelp and can even result in them putting a nasty Consumer Notice on your profile warning folks that you tried to manipulate their algorithm or submit fraudulent reviews.

Another benefit of this strategy is that you collect invaluable feedback from your unhappy clients, which helps you improve your training program and also dissuades clients from leaving bad online reviews on Yelp and other sites to try and ‘get back at you.’

Another tip is to mark your ‘Not Recommended’ reviews as Useful, which will help to bump them out of the ‘Not Recommended’ category.

Use this method with caution, and maybe from a different computer or IP address to avoid any kind of trouble with your Yelp profile.

YOUR DOG TRAINING BUSINESS IS DESTINED FOR GREATNESS

It can be a difficult journey starting your own business, especially when you’re battling for business against entrenched competitors in a crowded market.

Hopefully, the fable below will inspire you to take on the challenge and charge forward confidently:

Two mice fell into a bucket of cream. One mouse gave up and drowned. The second mouse kept swimming, and eventually churned that cream into butter, and walked out.

You are that second mouse! Now go fetch some new clients and let’s build your business!

USE POCKETSUITE TO GROW YOUR DOG TRAINING BUSINESS

Now that you’re crushing it on Yelp, how are you going to manage your payments, let your customers create online bookings, manage your classes and schedules, respond to business messages, or collect deposits?

Thousands of successful Dog Trainers are using PocketSuite to do all of this, and making 6 figures as well.

The free plan is yours to play with, so you have nothing to lose (except the hours of time you spend on back office admin tasks).

If you’re already using PocketSuite, learn how you can set it up specifically for Dog Training.

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

How to get more clients for your therapy practice on yelp!

Are you a newly-licensed therapist with a budding practice and you’re looking to bring on new patients?

Maybe you’re an established therapist that’s looking for a new way to get patients through the door.

Either way, this article is for you

For many years Yelp has been the go-to for service businesses to shine in the online space, displaying positive reviews and encouraging eager folks to book their services.

With the recent public criticism of Yelp, including a documentary called Billion Dollar Bully, don’t be fooled. As unfortunate as some of the claims that have been made against Yelp are, they are still the go to resource for many clients as it relates to assessing the online reputation of retail, restaurant, and service businesses. 

It would be a mistake to think that Yelp is no longer a viable source of new patients for your practice.

In fact, Yelp is still used by tens of millions of consumers to make wise decisions as far as which service business to give their hard-earned money to in exchange for top-notch services.

This does include therapy practices, so it makes sense to know the exact, practical steps you can take in order to make the most of your profile on the platform.

Not that you have a choice – businesses famously can’t opt out of their listing being displayed by Yelp.

It’s because of this that it is not a choice, but more of a necessity to put your best foot forward on Yelp. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can do just that with the least amount of pain and frustration possible.

Think of the upside – many businesses get the majority of their new clients from Yelp, and you can build your profile up to the point where the majority of your new patients will be finding your practice on Yelp as well!

Let’s walk through how exactly to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable feat…

Source: The Daily Beast

HOW TO DOMINATE YELP WITH YOUR THERAPY PRACTICE

There are a few key ingredients to an effective Yelp profile.

One is to build a steady stream of new 5-star reviews

Now you may be wondering, is there a way to cheat the system and either pay for or somehow manufacture fake 5-star reviews?

The answer to this is a flat out – no.

Yelp has famously punished businesses for attempting to defraud their review system, even going so far as to plaster a warning to consumers on your profile. 

If you flat-out offer discounts or extra perks in exchange for positive reviews, you may be hit with a Consumer Alert on your Yelp profile, such as the one pictured below.

Another way to get more patients for your therapy practice on Yelp is to encourage happy patients to review you.

“Sure, but how do I find and isolate the happy patients,” you cheerfully inquire, “if I don’t know which ones are actually happy with my practice?”

The simple answer is, of course, to ask them

Send out an automated email or text message (which is proven to have a higher response rate) after every therapy session (or at the very least, the first one) asking customers what they thought about your service.

For the patients that responded positively, send out a follow-up email asking those specific patients to leave an honest review on Yelp.

Provide a link to your Yelp profile in the email – you can even go a step further and find the link that directs them to write a review (just right-click on the ‘Write a review’ button on your profile and insert that link into the email).

In this way, you are pre-selecting the patients that are already happy with your service, and encouraging those folks to leave a review, which will inevitably results in more 5-star reviews on your profile.

Another technique includes calling the patients directly and soliciting their feedback and then asking the happy ones to leave a review.

Either way, you’re not technically violating any of Yelp’s terms since you’re not providing any kind of incentive for patients to leave a review – simply asking the right people

As a happy side-effect, you’ll also be able to deal with any qualms or frustrations that your patients have with your practice on the spot, before they’ve had a chance to run to online platforms such as Yelp and Google to voice their concerns.

As the mini cherry on top, you’ll also be privy to feedback that you can then use to change your practice for the better.

Another possible strategy would be to fight against the allegedly unfair algorithm that filters your positive reviews on Yelp.

You may even try intentionally asking for 1-star reviews, as a restaurant owner famously did in the Bay Area, which led him to receive overwhelming praise from business owners and a massive uptick in new business.

However, this strategy is reserved for those with thick skin and a determination to stick it to the man (or in this case, the platform)

Additionally, if you don’t reach critical mass to the point where publications like The Hustle are writing articles about you, this plan may backfire drastically and leave you with a downtrodden, 1-star review plagued Yelp listing.

Given this high risk / high reward, scenario, let’s talk about some techniques that don’t involve potentially flushing your Yelp listing down the toilet (and with that, the trust of thousands of potential new patients).

HOW TO RUN YOUR THERAPY PRACTICE BETTE

Being dependent on a single platform to spoon-feed you with clients is inherently dangerous.

What if Yelp changes their algorithm or decides to mark some of your positive reviews as ‘Not Recommended

Let’s delve into the nuances of how to grow your therapy practice without having to rely on Yelp to provide you with the majority of your new patients or patient leads.

BE VISIBLE ONLINE

As the internet gobbles up more and more brick-and-mortar businesses, you can ensure your small business is successful in the future by putting yourself everywhere a potential client might be looking.

I’ve said before that leads and sales are like oxygen for a business and without this your business will suffocate and eventually die.

So take heed and take some time to build a solid pipeline of new leads coming in.

MAKE SURE YOUR LEAD FUNNEL IS IN PLACE

The main reason you created a profile on Yelp is because you are looking for more patients for your therapy practice.

So without your own source of new clients, it can be tough to break free and build your small business from the ground up.

How do you build an evergreen pipeline of new clients, you ask

We’ve covered this before in our article on how to generate online leads for your service business, but let’s break it down specifically for your Therapy practice.

  • Build your online presence on sites like Google, Yelp, Thumbtack, and Online Directories
  • Advertise on the websites of local businesses
  • Ask your current clients for referrals
  • Run Google Ads (PocketSuite has a partnership with Google that allows you to easily market your business and send leads right to an online chat widget that you can receive messages from and respond to via text)
  • Create a partnerships with local clinics, private clinicians, attorneys, and accountants that are great trusted referral source

For more information on how PocketSuite can help you run your practice, check out our article on How to Run your Private Practice with PocketSuite.

From business messaging to scheduling, online booking to accepting payments, and a generous amount of other useful tools, check out PocketSuite’s Premium plan to help you run your entire practice from a single app

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 get more clients on soothe!

Are you a massage therapist working with Soothe to get clients

You’re not alone – Soothe employs over 13,000 massage therapists in almost 70 cities across the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.

Soothe is an app that sends a licensed massage therapist to a client’s home, and was founded in 2013 by Harvard Business School graduate Merlin Kauffman. 

The platform has been dubbed the ‘Uber of Massage’ by fans of the service, likely because it provides on-demand massage therapy services. Soothe connects licensed massage therapists with clients seeking stress relief.

As a professional massage therapist, you’re probably wondering how you can make the most of your time and skills with Soothe

In this article, we’ll break down the top reasons that make working with Soothe different from a traditional day job as a massage therapist at a spa and also give tips on how you can make the most of your new gig.

WHY SOOTHE IS DIFFERENT

No doubt, you joined Soothe because they claim that you can make over 3 times as much money as you can make working at a spa.

Soothe offers a 60, 90, or 120 minute massage, which starts at $129 for a 60 minute massage in most US cities. Massage therapists earn 70% of this service price.

Clients can also purchase a monthly or yearly membership, which knocks 20-25% off the retail price.

You can also pick and choose the dates and times that you’d like to work unlike working with a traditional spa.

Their hours range from 8AM to midnight, which gives you plenty of flexibility in terms of setting your own schedule.

While you’re working hard to give your clients a relaxing experience, Soothe has been racing to become the head honcho in the $16B massage therapy industry.

In 2018, Soothe acquired a competing massage therapy startup called Melt, helping it grow even faster and further dominate the massage therapy market.

This is the not the only acquisition made by this Silicon-valley based startup –  they also acquired Y Combinator-backed startup UnWind Me back in 2015

With this knowledge, you can rest assured that you’re working with an industry leader.

If you’ve passed the rigorous qualification process and been granted access to the platform as a massage therapist, you’re part of the chosen few. According to Soothe, over 30% of applicants are rejected. They only work with massage therapists that are licensed and independently insured.

So now that you’ve become a part of the Soothe network of professionals, how do you make the most of it?

HOW TO WIN WITH SOOTHE

There are several practices that 5-star rated massage therapists always perform when operating on the platform.

Top massage therapists will bring a table, fresh sheets, and an assortment of lotions with them to the job.

Secondly, if you’re ever worked at a retail establishment or at a coffee shop, you know how rigorously they train and emphasize delivering service with a smile.

Being warm and friendly will also go a long way as this is a service industry and thus having great customer service skills is critical.

This inviting attitude will serve you well and may even lead to more tips and a higher dollar-per-hour pay in your pocket

Soothe offers some guidance for therapists on their website.

Here is a summary

PERFORM A THOROUGH INTAKE

Confirm the type of massage, duration and areas that require extra attention or should be avoided

STOP WHEN NECESSARY

If you feel uncomfortable, leave – no explanation necessary

COMMUNICATION

Use the app to communicate with your clients.

STAY CONNECTED

Use the app to check-in and check-out of appointments

SECURE PAYMENT THROUGH SOOTHE

Use the app for payments.

Soothe then provides you with contact info in case you have any questions, and purports to have 24/7 support for their therapists through phone, text, and email.

The website also mentions some common ‘scams’ of ‘fraud’ attempted by Soothe clients that they warn you about:

Underpayment Scam

Client will try to pay you directly. Refuse.

Tipping Scam

Soothe says that if someone offers to tip in cash, this can be considered Tax Fraud because it can’t be tracked by the IRS. Soothe urges clients to tip within the app.

Appointment Extension Scam

Make sure you see Tip #1 above – Perform a Thorough Intake. Soothe will not compensate you if you go over your allotted time.

Overall, it seems like a win-win for both clients and massage therapists.

A client can book a massage at their convenience and have a massage therapist at their home within 24 hours.

Massage therapists can create and manage their own schedule and work on Soothe as their part-time side hustle or they can build their client base and work full-time using the app.

However, several massage therapists working with the company have claimed that Soothe has lowered their pay, plays favorites, and taken away clients from them.

In order to ensure this type of work culture doesn’t cut into your income as a massage therapist, it’s important to build your own list of clientele as well.

This is where PocketSuite comes in to save the day!

HOW TO WIN AS AN INDEPENDENT MASSAGE THERAPIST

It can be financially as well as professionally rewarding to truly work for yourself by launching your own massage therapy business.

However, if you’re seeking income independence, there are some key things to keep in mind.

GET AN ONLINE PRESENCE

Most, if not all, new clients will most likely find you online. It’s the reason companies like Soothe are doing so well – they’re taking advantage of client’s inherent bias towards searching online when looking for a new service provider of any kind.

Be visible online. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google
  • Yelp
  • Online Directories

Of course, without a way for clients to book you, you’re throwing money down the drain because folks will find your business listing, not see an actionable way to book you, and simply move on to a provider that does have online booking.

A simple solution for this would be to install your PocketSuite online booking widget  everywhere you’re showing up online, giving your customers an easy way to book your services as soon as they see your listing

FOLLOW UP AGGRESSIVELY

If you get a lead, give them a call and send them a text message with your booking link as soon as possible!

PocketSuite makes this easy with the business messaging feature – it converts your business messages to text messages and sends them directly to your leads.

Smart Campaigns is another feature that allows you to automatically, proactively follow up with your massage therapy leads to ensure they book with you and not someone else.

MANAGE YOUR BUSINESS WITH POCKETSUITE

Speaking of managing your business, PocketSuite has a full-fledged suite of business tools to help you run your entire massage therapy business from a single app.

Give the Premium plan a shot – you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be able to finally spend more time building your small business into the behemoth it’s destined to be!

If you’re already using PocketSuite, here’s how to set it up for your massage therapy practice.

Like this article? Check out our article on why massage therapists should become licensed, and how to get licensed.

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

How to get more clients on wag!

Are you a dog walker that gets clients from Wag?

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

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

(source: Larry French AP)

THE DOG-WALKING INDUSTRY IS GROWING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL WAG WALKER

SET YOUR PEE AND POOP-PINS ACCURATELY

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

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

Remember to fill yours out accurately!

BE COURTEOUS – YOU’LL RECEIVE MORE TIPS

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

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

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

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE REFERRAL SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

WALK DOGS DURING YOUR LUNCH BREAK

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

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

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

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

TREAT THE DOGS (AND CUSTOMERS) WELL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be careful out there!

BRANCH OUT AND BUILD YOUR OWN DOG WALKING BUSINESS

 

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

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

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

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

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

How to get more clients from handy!

Are you a cleaner who’s working on the Handy platform and you’re wondering how to make the most of it?

In this article we’ll be talking about how to make the most of working as a 1099 contractor on the popular cleaning platform, where you can choose your jobs and get paid within 1 business day.

You’re not alone – Handy has completed over 1 Million bookings as of 2014.

They also offer handyman services, however the bulk of their revenue comes from cleaning (about 80%).

Handy has over 692 reviews on Glassdoor, a website where employees (and contractors, in this case) can review their employer.

As you may expect, not all of the reviews are positive. The average rating that employees gave Handy is 2.4 out of 5 stars.

Why such a low rating, you may ask?

If you’re familiar with the business practices of this NYC-based tech startup, you won’t be surprised by some of the shocking Glassdoor reviews that you come across:

“Unstable and Unpredictable Work”

“Very little consideration for the employee”

“Dont expect to much if you’re a cleaning professional.”

Okay, you smirk, but that’s just one review site – Glassdoor.

How about Indeed?

Indeed places Handy at 3.0 out of 5 stars with 373 reviews and counting. Plus, some of the reviewers are calling out Handy for submitting fake reviews to boost their rating (the ones from New York).

And on and on it goes.

How could a company that has raised over $100 million dollars in funding be such a wretched place to work?

You’d think they would at least have some perks for their workers, as most startups do.

This backlash from 1099 contractors is not a new thing – as far back as 2012, cleaners have lambasted Handy for its questionable treatment of contractors, low wages, and frustrating customer service – they were even sued for labor violations in 2014.

One article even called them a “Hellscape of Labor Code Violations.”

A former Handy customer writes in Money Under 30 that professionals were being paid a meager fee, and also mentioned that some reviews talk about customers being “robbed by Handy’s contractors.”

With all this hullabaloo over Handy, they still managed to be acquired by ANGI, the same company that owns Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, for an undisclosed amount in 2018.

What does this mean for you, a 1099 cleaner that is interested in making some extra cash doing some cleaning appointments with this company?

Keep on reading to understand the pros and cons of this decision and how it will impact your life.

As a cleaning professional, I’m sure you’d like to make the most of working with Handy.

Although former contractors advise to stay away, you’ve decided to take the plunge and see how this “ATM in your pocket” works, as some cleaners have described this app.

Here are several ways you can make the most of dire circumstances – we’ll be talking about how to get more clients on Handy and keep your rating high at the same time.

HOW TO GET MORE CLIENTS ON HANDY

The best advice I can give you is to read the Handy Pro Terms carefully and thoroughly.

You may find that there are policies in place that you disagree with, but it’s better to be knowledgable about these practices rather than taken aback by them.

For example, it’s important to cancel bookings as early as possible if you can’t make it.

If you cancel a booking within 24 hours of the booking, you’re charged a fee.

If you cancel within 2 hours of the booking, you’re assessed an even higher fee that can border on how much you would have been paid to complete the booking.

Yes, you read that right. They will take the fee out of your earnings.

Some cleaners find this bordering on criminal, others are more understanding.

It makes sense from a business perspective, as Handy is losing out on revenue and angering their customers by having cleaners cancel at the last minute.

However, if you have a genuine and legitimate excuse for not being able to make it to a cleaning appointment (car trouble, other emergencies) it can be frustrating to have your pay docked as well.

Ultimately, by working on the Handy platform you are dependent on the platform to give you jobs.

It’s different than being a solo-preneur or small business owner, because Handy can re-route your clients to another professional or change the algorithm at any time.

Additionally, you can be locked out of the platform if you don’t abide by one of their litany of rules and regulations, as described in the Pro Terms.

In order to truly control their destiny, cleaning professionals are switching to using PocketSuite to manage their small business and clients, as this allows them to actually own their clients.

With PocketSuite, your clients are using and paying for your services directly, not utilizing a toll booth like Handy.

I would advise you to weigh the pros and cons of giving up control of your customer base to another company, as this ultimately means they control your destiny.

Instead, check out some of the cleaning pros that are making six figures using PocketSuite to manage their business.

They aren’t dependent on another company to manage their customers or give them more business.

If you’re using Handy, you have to play by their rules.

If you don’t, they will lock you out and you’ll need to search elsewhere to earn your day’s bread.

This may be more riskier than going out on your own and growing your small cleaning business.

By becoming a solo-preneur and using PocketSuite to manage your business, you’re running the show and you get to call the shots.

You get to decide on which policies you enforce, which clients you keep (and which you fire!)

Every aspect of your business is up to you. No longer will you be subjected to unnecessary fines, outrageous work conditions, and draconian policies.

You can set your own hours, communicate with your own clients the way you want to, and not have corporate regulations imposed on you.

HOW TO GROW YOUR SMALL CLEANING BUSINESS

If you’ve decided to embark on a mission to build your own business and shed the limitations imposed on you by Handy, your first step is to read our article on How to Generate Online Leads for your Service Business.

Leads become sales, and sales are synonymous with bottom-line revenue. Revenue is the oxygen that your business needs to survive – without it, your business will fail and you’ll be right back in the same place you started.

A consistent stream of leads is important because it guarantees your future business will grow stronger and survive.

You should also create an online presence by submitting your business to online directories such as Yelp and Google, which will help to solidify your business as a trustworthy entity.

This is important for two subsets of folks – to potential customers searching for cleaning services, and to customers that have already found your business and are researching it to determine your trustworthiness.

Lastly, make sure that you read up on all of the articles online that describe how to start a cleaning business (even if you have no money!)

These should point you in the right direction:

https://fitsmallbusiness.com/start-a-cleaning-business/

https://www.cleaningbusinessacademy.com/how-to-start-a-cleaning-business-guide/

https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/02/how-to-start-a-cleaning-business.html

Your fate is in your hands. If you want to take the plunge and become a small business owner or solo-preneur in the cleaning field, you need an app that will help you manage your clients, payments, accept credit cards, and every other aspect of your business.

Give PocketSuite a shot – there’s a free plan, and you can join the countless cleaning professionals making 6 figures on the app.

You can do this!

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

Written by Ilya Ornatov

Billion Dollar Bully: How to get more 5 star Yelp reviews

Are you a small business owner? Then you’re very familiar with Yelp, which is one of the largest review communities for small businesses on the internet.

This article will share the backstory on why businesses are claiming Yelp is basically the digital mafia. We’ll also give you proven tips on how to get lots more 5 star reviews.

One of the most highly anticipated films of 2019 is Billion Dollar Bully, a documentary film about Yelp’s alleged extortion of small business owners.

This topic was so popular, after the trailer was released in March of 2015, Yelp’s stock fell by more than 4%.

Almost 4 years later, the movie was acquired by Virgil Films Entertainment, the same producers that brought us Supersize Me.

As of May 21, 2019, the full-length film is available on iTunes and Amazon Video.

WHAT’S THE MOVIE ABOUT, ANYWAY?

The claims made by hundreds of business owners alleged that Yelp “routinely manipulates reviews by reordering them so negative reviews appear at the top or removing positive mentions if a company doesn’t buy advertising.”

One small business called The Wheelhouse claims that they were hit with a ‘Consumer Alert’ pop up (the equivalent of a Scarlet Letter) on their Yelp page after refusing to buy Yelp ads.

In 2013, the CEO Jeremy Stoppelman claimed on the Charlie Rose Show that Yelp is basically like Wikipedia, where consumers can go to find honest information.

Yelp claims to have an automated system that filters out unfair reviews. A spokesperson for Yelp said:

“Our recommendation software has always been engineered to surface the most useful and reliable reviews, and has been improved over time to be even more effective at sifting fake and biased reviews, and attempts by businesses to game the system.”

These claims ultimately led to an FTC investigation that ultimately didn’t pan out. Yelp routinely points to this as evidence of no wrongdoing on their part, but this is far from reality as Kaylie Milliken, one of the creators of the film, points out:

“That doesn’t necessarily mean a case won’t be reopened eventually. The FTC has a very limited budget and the amount of cases they can bring against a company is small.”

Yelp correspondents also point out that a Harvard study disproves that Yelp was engaging in any form of extortion or manipulation of reviews based on whether a business pays them for advertising or not.

HOW IS YELP DOING IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS?

Yelp is still a popular platform, dominated by what is called the ‘Yelp Elite,’ which are consumers that are awarded Elite status for being active review posters on the site.

However, new evidence suggests that The Yelp Elite are becoming obsolete, according to Eater.

In fact, in 2015, South Park parodied the whole situation by having Cartman in a plot line to extort free food from restaurants in exchange for not acting on his threat of leaving a 1 star review.

To add insult to injury, Anthony Bourdain said in 2017 that “There’s really no worse, or lower human being than an Elite Yelper,” declaring them “universally loathed by chefs everywhere.”

Sensing the shifts in the public’s perception of them being a fair platform, Yelp has fought back by buying the domain BillionDollarBully.com and redirecting it to a page on their site where they claim that they don’t extort business owners.

They also bought Google Ads searching for Billion Dollar Bully to attempt to direct folks searching for information on the movie to their landing page where they deny any allegation of extortion:

It seems small businesses have a grudge against Yelp because Yelp has leverage over them.

Yelp, in karmic turn, has a grudge against the only platform that has leverage over them, which is of course, the almighty Google.

Yelp has famously had a grudge against Google for a number of years, with the CEO Jeremy Stoppelman on Twitter accusing Google of snatching reviews from their site and using them in ads:

Ultimately this culminated in the European Union fining Google $2.7B (the largest anti-trust fine in history) for unfairly favoring its own services over its competitors. However, this had nothing to do with Yelp specifically, because it was targeted to Google Shopping.

Oracle was another large company that supported this fine, among other tech companies.

In summary, lots of small business owners hate Yelp for having leverage over them and Yelp in turn hates Google for having leverage over it.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

What is a small business owner or solo-preneur to do about all of this online infighting?

You are probably concerned about your online reputation (as you should be if you own a small business) so let’s unfurl some of the ways that you can mitigate this alleged extortion and come out on top.

One idea is to take a page out of David Cerretini’s book (owner of Botto Bistro) and simply ask customers to leave 1-star reviews as a publicity stunt.

But for those of us that don’t have nerves of steel to undertake such a bold stunt, let’s discuss more practical strategies…

HOW TO BEAT YELP’S ALLEGED UNFAIR PRACTICES AND GET MORE 5 STAR REVIEWS

If you’re a small business owner, you need every trick and edge that you can get.

Your competition is likely using these same tactics to beat you, so why not learn how to dominate your competition online and come out on top?

You’re fighting for survival in an over-saturated market, so you need ways to stand out and online reviews are one big way to do just that.

However, with Yelp’s alleged demands to pay them a monthly fee for ads or risk having your good reviews filtered out, how are you able to manage this?

Several proven tactics are currently being shared within private industry Facebook Groups, small business forums, and the Darknet.

Some of the more promising ones include:

  • Having an internal review system
  • Asking your happy customers to review you (via email and SMS)
  • Marking filtered reviews as Useful
  • Asking customers who submitted a filtered review to add their friends on Yelp

Here they are broken down with instructions:

1. Have an internal review system – Allow unhappy customers to have a chance to review you internally before running to Yelp. Send an email, phone call, or SMS message to ask them about their service after it’s complete

2. Ask your happy customers to review you – Once customers rate their service as great, follow up with an email / SMS asking them to review you on Yelp – and include links to your Yelp page

3. Marking filtered reviews as Useful – Go into your Filtered Reviews and mark them as useful, which will help bump them out of the Filtered section (use a proxy or VPN so you’re not doing this from your own IP address

4. Ask customers who submitted a filtered review to add their friends on Yelp (so their profile gets a greater reputation in Yelp’s eyes and the review becomes unfiltered)

I’m confident that these tips and tricks will help you get more 5 star reviews for your business!

Speaking of having an unfair advantage in your business, PocketSuite can help offload some of the routine tasks you do every day so you can focus on growing your business and getting more positive online reviews.

With PocketSuite you get online booking from Instagram/Facebook, the ability to accept deposits online, scan credit cards in person, online payments, scheduling, remarketing campaigns that you can use to request reviews from existing clients, and a whole host of additional features at your disposal. Try the Premium plan and give yourself a high five when more 5 star reviews start rolling in!

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

SquareSpace Buys Acuity

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

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

What? Yes, that’s right.

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

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

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

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

However, is this ultimately necessary for the end user?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neat, huh?

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

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

But that’s not all.

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

The answer is – absolutely!

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

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

Looks good, eh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Squarespace it just makes it difficult to do so.

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

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

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

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

Why Rover takes 20% of your your hard earned money

Online marketplace is the business model of the decade. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, UpWork, Rover, and Zeel have been popping up to offer services that connect service professionals and freelancers to clients. But how is success on these platforms measured? And who is really winning?

For the marketplace, a win is owning the relationship with clients. They want those clients coming back to the marketplace for more services for as long as possible. What marketplaces fear most is that clients will get attached to one service provider and that service provider will try to work with the client outside of the platform. In order to protect against client poaching, online marketplaces do everything they can to block service providers from establishing a relationship with clients.

Most marketplaces do not allow service providers to exchange or save the contact information of the client. They require all communication to happen within the marketplace – no excuses. They monitor service provider communications with clients and punish anyone who tries to self-promote. If a service pro doesn’t obey the rules, they are immediately kicked off the platform. Rover is one of the many online marketplaces that operates this way.

Rover is a matchmaking service that connects pet professionals to dog owners. Whether clients are looking for a dog walker, groomer, sitter or boarder, there are experienced service professionals who are available in their area to care for their dog. It is a brilliant concept and an amazing opportunity for a pet professional. It is the simplest way to get started in a new petcare business. All you need to do is:

1. Create a profile with a photo of yourself and different dogs that you have cared for. At minimum include a picture of your own dog or your best friends dog!

2. Select which zipcodes you would like to cover and what type of dog care services you are interested in providing. Make sure to only choose those locations that are close enough to you that you won’t be late for appointments and select services that you really love to offer because clients will expect consistent punctuality and lots of pictures of you delivering those services.

3. Complete the service provider identity and background check to get approved to be a pro on the platform. Clients want to be sure you won’t kidnap their puppy and you haven’t been arrested for abusing pets before.

4. Write a heartfelt description of yourself, your experience, why you love taking care of dogs, and what clients can expect from working with you. Be authentic, upbeat, and share details about your professional history. It will help you build trust on the platform faster.

5. Bonus: Once you have a few jobs under your belt, make sure to ask your past clients for testimonials and reviews. He who has the most 5 star reviews wins! Rover’s algorithm will show your profile more often to people looking for services in your area. And when those clients see your profile, the 5 star reviews will be irresistible. The more 5 star reviews you have, the more you’ll get booked.

If you follow the above playbook to the letter, you will get great results and a fast start in the dog care business. That being said, there is a catch!?! All bookings and business done through Rover comes at a steep price to you. Rover takes twenty percent (20%) of everything you make. Your business is completely in Rover’s hands. You are not truly independent =( And the people you serve are not really your clients. Regardless of how easy Rover makes it to get your business going, don’t forget your long term goal of achieving your income goals and being your own boss.

The Big Picture & Hidden Costs

When you really compare the cost of working for an online marketplace like Rover over being completely independent, you realize just how expensive it is. We have outlined just a few of the hidden costs of becoming a pet sitter or dog walker on Rover.

  • Poor client retention

    • These platforms can match professionals and clients very well, but client retention is a BIG problem. They are constantly offering promotions to try and keep clients onboard. They have discounts, special benefits, and loyalty programs. All of these incentives keeps clients from reaching out to you directly after you have delivered amazing services for them. Maybe this isn’t an issue for you, if you can continue to get matched to them on Rover. But what happens when a new pet sitter or dog walker signs up in your area and sets up a Rover profile? Rover will promote them over you to expand their pool of active pet professionals in that location. You lose that client in an instant. No matter how great your services are and the client’s experience was, Rover controls what clients see and when they see it. It doesn’t take much for your hard work to be completely forgotten and overlooked in a huge virtual marketplace like Rover.

 

  • No online visibility

 

    • Let’s say you are a 5 star performer on Rover. Reading your reviews and testimonials bring tears to the eyes of potential clients and your repeat client booking stats are legendary. Your reputation is amazing, but noone outside of Rover will know about it. Rover works hard to ensure Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. cannot see your information outside of its platform. They don’t want you to be recruited away from Rover to another site. So they don’t share information about all of the great work you have done outside of Rover. They want clients to have to search on Rover to find you – exclusively. That’s great for Rover, but what about you? You are an amazing dog walker or pet sitter and the world should know about you and what you do! But you don’t have any reviews on Facebook, none on Google, and your profile is unclaimed on Yelp. So the hundreds, maybe depending on where you live, the thousands of clients who are searching for pet professionals every day in your area will never find you because they aren’t searching on Rover. They prefer to search and buy online from Google and Amazon. Being dependent on a single platform like Rover really limits your reach and ability to grow.

 

  • Twenty percent (20%) fee too high

 

    • All businesses require startup costs, but over the long haul as you start to make a profit you slowly get this investment back. With platforms like Rover, they eliminate the cost of getting started. Phew! They only charge you when you start to make money from client bookings. However, the problem is Rover keeps charging you forever. It’s like a permanent tax on your business. As long as you are using their platform, you are always paying them an additional fee for helping you get started. Enough is enough – at some point, you shouldn’t have to pay that fee. Say you have a goal of making $10,000 of income in your first year. Rover will take $2,000 of your income, right off the top. Yikes!.
  • Loss of client data, relationships, and future income

    • Not only do you become dependent on Rover to help you acquire clients and manage your busy schedule, you can’t earn money without it. If you were to ever leave Rover, you would be losing all of your clients, booking data, reviews/testimonials, and credit card payment information. The longer you stay on Rover, the more you have to lose if you leave. Your future income is basically controlled by their platform.

When you take into account all of the costs associated with being a pet sitter or dog walker on Rover, you may be giving up too much. If you are on Rover now or thinking of joining Rover and wondering about other options, we have included some tips about what you should do when you decide to “spread your wings” and serve some or all of your clients outside of Rover.

Take Control & Enjoy Your Freedom

If you aren’t quite sure that you have the time, energy and commitment to go it alone, your best bet is to stick to platforms like Rover that will support you for a hefty fee. Assuming you know what you are getting into as you explore going independent, consider the following as you set up shop. Here’s a snapshot of what you need to do to become independent from Rover and get that 20% fee back in your wallet. Keep in mind, it isn’t an all or none deal. You can always continue to work with clients on Rover and clients outside of Rover.

  • Build a client list

    • Whether it’s simply family, friends or possibly a handful of clients that you added to your contact list from Rover, nurture those relationships! Repeat bookings with clients on these platforms solidifies the relationship and keeps them interested in continuing to work with only you.
  • Use your own booking site

    • There are many online tools (widgets, booking buttons, etc.) out there that you can simply add to your website, facebook page, IG page, or simply text to clients so they can self-book. There are also plugins such as Weeba and BookME. Mobile apps such as PocketSuite or SquareAppointments can also help you easily schedule with clients.
  • Accepting credit card payments

    • Since you won’t be taking payments through a platform like Rover, you need some way of getting paid. Thankfully, there are dozens of apps that can help you accept client payments! Apps like Square allow you to easily process payments and get paid by your clients. PocketSuite acts as an all in one app to help you with client management, scheduling and payment processing. This reduces your costs from 20% down to a low, flat 2.7%… lowest of all payment apps (even lower than Square and PayPal, which are 2.75% and 2.9%.
  • Marketing your business

    • Marketing yourself and your services is becoming easier and easier to do every year with more user friendly technology. It is confusing to know which platforms to advertise on Facebook, Google, YellowPages, CraigsList, and, and, and. It is even more confusing figuring out how to build compelling ads and getting a good return on your marketing dollars. Rover makes it easy for you. They advertise for you, but they also control who sees your profile and who doesn’t, which limits your new client growth potential. PocketSuite’s and Shopify’s systems integrate Google AdWords and makes it super easy for you to launch a campaign, set a budget, and acquire new client leads. It’s a great return on investment. Anyone that visits your campaign and shows interest is auto-magically added to your new client leads list, so you can easily follow-up.

Transitioning from Rover to your own business can be a scary thing to do. You should definitely take it one step at a time. There is no rush. Start working with one or two clients offline while you continue to use Rover, so you can get comfortable with the booking and payments side of running a service business. Then you can wean yourself off of Rover. Overtime, you will depend on Rover less and less for client leads and bookings. Before you know it, you will have enough clients to completely leave Rover!

PocketSuite has hundreds of Pros that all started where you did. Our community of Pros are always happy to help you with the process of becoming your own boss and achieving financial independence. We are always working to help you succeed and grow! Reach out if you have any questions (we’d love to hear from you)! Text us @ (415) 841-2300

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!