How to Use Venmo for your Business in 2019

Today, service professionals need the ability to process payments as a part of their everyday operations. Today, more than 50% of consumers use mobile payment methods to complete purchases rather than using cash, checks, and other payment methods.

Mobile payment has grown into an industry, valued at more than $220 billion annually. That means that being able to accept credit cards on your phone or ipad/tablet is not just a useful business tool – it’s a necessity. You need a mobile payment processing service that is fast, secure, reliable as well as convenient for both you and your clients.

Working With a Leader in Service Business Mobile Payments

Venmo is one of the leading mobile payment platforms. It is owned and operated by PayPal. It is an innovative mobile payment service that gives users the ability to make payment transactions wherever, whenever. It has made the money transfer process between individuals easy, social, and fun! In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Venmo facilitated more than $12 billion in transactions worldwide.

But in the rapidly advancing information age, breaking ground in service business and being the best are not the same thing. While Venmo is responsible for opening up a whole new avenue to commerce that did not exist before, the market is now demanding more features, faster service, and better results.

Meeting the Demands of Mobile Commerce

It’s a predictable phenomenon; when a company like Venmo comes out with a new product that is a game changer, a product that does things no product has ever done before, it opens up new possibilities. Those new possibilities inspire others to innovate and one-up the original. And generally speaking, they do it lightning fast.

As users adopt the new technology and become familiar with the new capabilities it offers, they quickly discover ways to improve on it. You probably have this experience every day. In your service business you use a product to deliver your service and quickly start thinking of enhancements that would delight your clients even more. You imagine how much more productive you could be if it were streamlined, better integrated, had more features, or more user-friendly.

Once a game-changing innovation like Venmo reaches that point, the race to improve the technology, and to take it to the next level, is on. Too often the original innovator like Venmo is slow to improve, and they are left behind. That’s where other worthy competitors come in.

Enter the PocketSuite Service Business App

PocketSuite is a new mobile payment service provider with an edge that Venmo can’t match. They have taken the underlying technology of mobile payments and taken it up several notches. PocketSuite is an all-in-one business app for your mobile phone or ipad/tablet that is more powerful, more responsive, and has far more features than Venmo. It is designed to help save service businesses time and make them more money.

With PocketSuite, it doesn’t matter where you are, where you’re going, or how quickly you have to be there. It is a comprehensive business application that gives you access to online booking, allowing your clients to schedule appointments from your website or Facebook and Instagram pages. PocketSuite is leaving Venmo in the dust. But that’s just the start.

PocketSuite Does for Your Service Business What Venmo Won’t

The team behind Pocketsuite listened to Venmo users to find out what they needed that Venmo was not providing. In so doing, they came up with a comprehensive list of mobile business features that service professionals need to compete with marketplaces and larger companies. Here’s what they came up with.

Client Notes

PocketSuite allows you to add important notes on any client. This makes it possible for you to remember all those client preferences that make a huge difference to clients. Remember those little unique idiosyncrasies about each client like preferred pronouns, nicknames, weird delivery instructions, things they like and dislike, special discounts, or their birthdays and anniversaries. Venmo doesn’t do that – not even close.

In a service business, these little details are incredibly important. Forgetting them can mean less sticky client relationships and lower client retention. This powerful feature gives you the ability to make your client feel special. It makes a world of difference.

E-Contract Signing

With Venmo, you can’t send contracts or forms to the client as proof of the terms of your payment agreement. Instead, you have to use a separate application, like PocketSuite. (wink wink)

It really is a no brainer. With an app like Venmo, you should be able to accept payment and send all the requisite forms to the client in one (maximum two) tap(s).. But with Venmo, you just can’t do that. Venmo forces you to log into a second program to send forms and contracts. Of course, any time you do that, you run the risk of causing confusion, creating friction in the transaction, and losing the client. There’s so much that could get lost in translation – so much of that could affect your bottom line. Why take the risk?

With PocketSuite, unlike Venmo, you get all of this in one place. Plus, you have your client notes and other important info and services all in one accesible place.

Text Automation

With Venmo, you can’t automate follow-up texts – with PocketSuite you can. PocketSuite allows you to automate important follow-up texts to your customers. Why would you want to leave them in the dark when you can keep them in the loop throughout your process? This is where Venmo really drops the ball.

Suppose, for example, it takes you a week to deliver a service. Until now, the norm with Venmo has been to simply to keep users in the dark about where your funds are until you reach the next stage. Today, mobile users want more and they deserve more. They want to know that you are working on their product, service, or project. They want to be able to plan around delivery times and milestones. Give them that ability with automated text reminders & updates.

Multi-Service Lists

With Venmo you can’t list multiple services for sale, but with PocketSuite you can. PocketSuite is exactly what the name implies- an entire service business suite right in your pocket- complete and ready to go at the tap of a button. PocketSuite lets you list your entire product inventory and service list, all in one place. Why would you want to make potential clients toggle back and forth between your website and Venmo’s payment service? When your clients are trying to fulfill a need, they want a ready solution available to them. PocketSuite gives you that toolset all upfront.

Invoice Sharing

Everyone with even a little business experience knows that invoices can be a pain to deal with. Why not automate as much of the invoice process as possible? Unlike Venmo, PocketSuite lets you do exactly that. Now, you can send invoices automatically.

Full Brand Packaging

Now, your customers can find everything you provide and everything you do all in one easy to use interface- one that’s conveniently accessible via SMS. With PocketSuite, unlike Venmo, you can bundle and add any service that you wish to sell. Choose which one and how many you want to include in a package? Just fill out the remaining details and your PocketSuite client service package is launched and ready to go. It really is as easy as that.

Instant Payments and Payouts

Say goodbye to delays that Venmo makes unavoidable. Take charges and give refunds instantly. Simply tap the “Charge” button to complete payment transaction with any credit card that has a Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, or Discover card logo. Your client gets the benefit of knowing where they are in the payment transfer process and the risk of disputes/chargebacks is drastically reduced. Venmo doesn’t do that.

My reaction when I receive an Instant Payout

We’re all grateful to Venmo for creating such a powerful mobile payment processing technology. But now, it’s time to take mobile payments to the next level. It’s time to transform your mobile digital payment asset into a full-service business suite right in the palm of your hand.

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!

Sources:

https://pocketsuite.io

https://www.intelligenthq.com/the-3-biggest-benefits-of-implementing-mobile-payment-in-your-business/

Why a Booking Widget is Critical for your Service Business in 2019

Do you have a website where you promote your service business? Do you want your customers to book their appointment through your website? Is it even possible?

You can bet your tax return that it is!

This is what a booking widget is for. A booking widget (like PocketSuite’s own booking widget) is a plugin used for websites. When embedded on a website, your customers can just click and they will be redirected to your booking page where your availability and schedule is shown.

Is it free? Yes and No.

You need to have an appointment app subscription in order to get a booking widget plugin. The booking widget plugins differ for each scheduling app, and so are the ways and methods of utilizing them for your business and setting them up.

Before picking a booking widget, check first if you can easily set it up on your own.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Booking Widget

There are a lot of questions to ask yourself when it comes to choosing a booking widget. The problem is choosing the right booking widget that will work with your service business. Before adding a booking widget to your website, you should consider these things first.

  • The type of service business you have
  • The features of the booking widget
  • The compatibility of the booking widget with your service business website
  • Ease of use
  • Number of access points for staff or logins available
  • Flexibility to customize

To help you make a decision, we searched for the top booking widgets on online. Considering features and ease of use, here are the top 10 booking widgets that we found.

Squareup

Squareup is a booking widget that you can add to any website. It works with Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, and Weebly. This booking widget makes booking easier for people who need to schedule their dental checkup or for house cleaning. This booking widget is easy to use. Once you’ve added it on your service business website, your customers can simply click on it if they want to make an appointment. All available schedules will be shown on the booking page. An indicator shows if the date and time are available.

Features

  • It comes with a personalized ‘book now’ button
  • Easy to use even for elderly folks and non-tech savvy individuals
  • Provides options like highlighting the names of your service business staff (for customers to choose from)
  • Sends out automated reminders to customers with upcoming bookings
  • You can personalize the calendar

Mindbody

This booking widget is easy to add to any website and is easy to use. Mindbody also allows widget customization so you can change the calendar’s color or the font. The limiting aspect of this booking widget is that it only allows one booking at a time. If two of your customers booked at the same time, chances are, it will not work or they will get an error.

Features

  • It allows your client to choose their preferred staff from your service business
  • It has neat options for listing staff names (alphabetically or by availability)
  • The booking interval option can be turned on for this booking widget

Bookly

Bookly is a booking widget with full features. It’s basically like having an appointment app on your website. However, this booking widget is not cheap. It is a good widget app choice to use if your website’s platform is WordPress.

Features

  • A booking widget that sends SMS notifications automatically
  • Processes payments
  • It syncs with Google calendar
  • Your clients can book multiple appointments at once
  • It is available in 10 languages (translation-ready)

Launch27

Launch 27 allows your customer to choose their schedule when booking an appointment with you. This booking widget can be embedded as a booking form to your service business site. You can also add a link to the Launch27 booking page if there is not enough room on your service business website to fit the booking form.

Features

  • Easy to use
  • Minimal design to make booking easier even for non-tech savvy folks
  • It sends automatic reminders to booked customers

Jobber

If you are running a service business where your staff is always on the go, you should check out Jobber. Service business providers that do home service (technicians, cleaning) can use Jobber on their phone to check their next job order.

Features

  • Integrated with other apps like payment apps or any marketing tools
  • Easy to use
  • Send out automated reminders to both staff and clients

BirchPress

BirchPress is a popular WordPress plugin and booking widget that offers professional booking management assistance. This booking widget can be embedded on the WordPress platform. Once a customer books a service on your website, you can add an option to collect payment via PayPal or credit card.

Features

  • Customers can book appointments easily
  • It syncs with Google Calendar and Outlook
  • You can choose to have a customized email notification sent to your clients regarding their booking
  • This booking widget also has a reminder feature about your upcoming schedule

Booki

If your service business deals with reservations and appointments in order to run smoothly, you could check out Booki. Booki is a booking widget that can be used by service business providers in the industry of hospitality, resorts, driving lessons, hair stylists, and more.

Features:

  • Unlimited booking options
  • This booking widget syncs with Google calendar
  • Sends automated confirmation for every booking
  • Comes with different calendar modes
  • Can process payments
  • Sends a reminder for each appointment (customized or automated)

Bookeo

Bookeo is a booking widget that you can integrate with your service business to make scheduling of appointments easier. Your customers can just click on the ‘book now’ button and they will get directed to the Bookeo calendar page. When integrated, your page URL or domain name won’t be affected hence your customers can still see your website’s name and not the Bookeo booking widget URL. Note: You cannot use Bookeo appointment app on your service business website if you have a Bookeo booking widget or vice versa.

Features:

  • Customizable booking widget on your website (you can even change the color and font size)
  • Customizable calendar page for booking (only shows what you want to show like available dates for the day, week, or month)
  • Customizable booking page
  • Easy to use for service business customers

Bookme

For a streamlined and easy to use booking page, you can try Bookme. Bookme is a booking widget that works across different platforms. By clicking on Bookme, your customers can check if there are available booking slots that they can reserve. For example: Say you are a cleaning service business provider. Your customers can easily check your availability and book right onto your schedule. Presto!

Features

  • Available appointment dates are made visible while taken dates are greyed out (to avoid double booking)
  • Provides access to multiple service business staff members, if needed
  • Sends out a customized email notification
  • The appearance of the ‘book now’ button for this booking widget is customizable

PocketSuite

The PocketSuite booking widget allows service business websites to have a customized ‘book now’ button. With a customized booking widget, your clients or new leads can easily pick an appointment. With PocketSuite, your customers won’t have to call anymore to make their bookings. A click of their mouse or a tap on their phone can easily lead them to your booking page where they can schedule an appointment, register for a class, or purchase a package from you.

Features

  • Allows multiple booking widgets in a single service business page
  • This booking widget allows you to have customized online forms and e-contracts
  • It provides a unique booking widget code that you can place on your email or your service business Facebook page, Instagram page, or website
  • Can process payments
  • Compatible with different hosting platforms like Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Webs, GoDaddy, and Squarespace
  • Overall has the most features for the best price.

When it comes to a booking widget, there are at least 100 options out there. Before you pick a booking widget, make sure to learn more about the features.

There are booking widgets that are specifically designed for a particular service business only. So make sure you check out one of our recommended ones first!

Ready to accept payments from customers with your brand spankin’ new booking widget? Great, now it’s time for a victory dance!

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!

Client Payments: However You want them

10 Ways to Receive Payments

1) Point-of-Sale

Occasion: Quick way to charge a client’s card if they hand it to you or simply tell you the card details over the phone.

Benefits: Fast! Also you can store the client’s card for future charging at will.

How: Tap the CHARGE button on your home screen of PocketSuite, enter client CC info, charge any $ amount.

Save on processing fees at 2.7% per payment, compared to Square or PayPal.


2) Invoicing

Occasion: Sending a traditional (and professional) invoice to clients for services.

Benefits: Allows clients to pay any invoice amount online (from their smartphone or computer) with convenience.

How: Tap the INVOICE button on your home screen of PocketSuite. Deliver any invoice via text or email, and clients will have the option to pay online.


3) Appointment Deposit Upfront

Occasion: If you want to collect payment on an appointment upfront when scheduling a client to your calendar.

Benefits: In one-fell swoop, confirm a client appointment on your calendar while receiving a full or partial $ deposit upfront.

How: When scheduling an appointment in PocketSuite, set a “$ Deposit” amount on the appointment and require your client to confirm said appointment with a credit card when you send it to them.


4) Payment once an Appointment/Job is Complete

Occasion: When you want to accept payment immediately after an appointment is complete.

Benefits: Uber-like experience to charge a client’s card that is linked to an appointment on your calendar.

How: Tap the CHARGE button on any appointment on your calendar that has been reserved with a client’s credit card. You can charge any $ amount and even hand the phone over to your client to add a tip (if desired).


5) Online Payments

Occasion: If you want to have clients book/pay you online – you can accept payment through your website, Facebook page and Instagram profile.

Benefits: Allows you to turn anyone visiting your website or social media pages into an instantly booking and paying client.

How: Enable ‘Online Booking’ in PocketSuite, and integrate your booking widget onto your website. Then paste your booking links on your social media profile.


6) Selling Packages

Occasion: If you want to sell upfront to a client a group or package of services/classes for future use.

Benefits: Collecting payment upfront, and then having a simple way to track all the sessions/credits used by each client.

How: Set up / save any standard package or program you sell, then send it off to your client (via text or email) to review and then purchase online. Credits are auto-added to the client’s account and you can start tracking those sessions!


7) Recurring Payments

Occasion: When you need to automatically charge clients each week, month, etc. – for ongoing memberships or recurring billing.

Benefits: Literally get paid while you sleep. No work on your end to have to invoice/charge clients, and no work on the client’s end to have to remember to pay an ongoing bill.

How: Enable ‘Subscriptions’ in PocketSuite, and send any type of subscription plan you’d like to a client (with a set $ amount and payment schedule). Your client confirms that plan just ONCE with a credit card only and voila!


8) Class Deposits

Occasion: When you want clients to sign up for a class and pay a drop-in fee ahead of a class.

Benefits: Double whammy: fills up your class roster allowing clients to sign up for a class ahead of time, and ensures you get PAID for the class ahead of time.

How: Enable ‘Classes’ in PocketSuite, then set up your class schedule (class name, $ drop-in, schedule, location, etc.). You can sign clients up yourself or post your class schedule online (see ‘Online Booking’ above) for clients to sign up & pay online.


9) via SMS Shortcode

Occasion: When you are requesting payment from a client via SMS text (i.e., sending an invoice via text, a package via text, requesting a job deposit via text, etc.), clients can literally just reply “1” to pay.

Benefits: Literally the easiest way around for a client to make a payment.

How: If you send any payment request to a client via text message, then your client will be given the option in the text thread to “Reply 1” to pay whatever is due (assuming your client already has entered a CC on file before).


10) Cancellation Fee

Occasion: If your client ever cancels an appointment falling inside your cancellation window.

Benefits: Gives you the ability to charge a cancellation fee — so you can be compensated for clients who fail to show up or cancel on you last minute.

How: When a client taps on their appointment link and hits the CANCEL button, they will be shown that by cancelling, their card (on file) will be charged your cancellation fee (as set by you under Settings > Business > Cancellations).


Bonus: GIVE YOUR CLIENTS THEIR OWN APP…

11) Client-side app

Occasion: If your client wants more control over sending you one-off payments not tied to any particular transaction.

Benefits: Gives your clients more flexibility and an organized record of all payments they send to you as the business.

How: Clients can download PocketSuite to their smartphones as well – they create a ‘client’ account instead of a ‘business’ account. They can add your business details under their PocketSuite contacts and send you payment at will via credit card, debit card and even ACH transfer.

Turn Your Thumbtack Leads into Lifelong Clients

Thumbtack Leads

Use Thumbtack to win new customers.

Receive incoming job requests, bid via quote, and get notified when clients are interested…


Use PocketSuite to retain new customers for life.

Schedule jobs, secure payment and deliver your new client a seamless customer experience…

So who uses PocketSuite?…

Why do over 15,000 pros use PocketSuite?…

Direct Client Import

Add any client directly to PocketSuite or import clients directly from your iPhone contact list

Keep all client contact information easily accessible

Track all income earned from each client

Take notes (text, photos) on each customer for private viewing

Track and analyze lead sources by client (e.g., Thumbtack, Yelp, referrals, etc.)


Appointment Calendar Sync

Sync all PocketSuite scheduled appointments directly to iCal

Pick and choose which calendars (i.e., Google, Outlook, etc.) sync with PocketSuite as well

Use a single calendar app to manage both client and personal appointments


Automate Client Reminders

Easily set appointment reminders for each job scheduled

2 hours prior to service? 8 hours? 24 hours? 3 days? We give you customizable reminder options

Clients get auto-texted ahead of each appointment

No need to spend time manually making sure your customers stay on schedule


Industry Low Payment Processing

Accept credit card payments for as low as 2.7% per transaction

  • Get paid for all your jobs entered in PocketSuite
  • Accept deposit payments
  • Reserve appointments with client credit card
  • Send invoices to clients via text

Clients can simply take a photo of their credit or debit card to pay for any invoice or appointment

Payments direct deposited in 1-2 business days


Mobile Messenger

Send instant text messages to any of your clients

Share photos, share contacts, share GPS pin location

Clients receive messages via SMS text – just like any other message – and can respond to you in real-time

Market deals, discounts and send group announcements

Keep all your communication and transaction history organized in a single message thread for each customer


See what our pros have to say themselves…

Brio Photography
Los Angeles, CA
I love the deposit feature! Requiring a deposit for booking has made a big difference in my client follow through.
www.briophotography.com

Adriana’s House Cleaning
San Francisco, CA
PocketSuite has helped me simplify my customer schedules and payments. It’s helped me grow easily in San Fran, and I’m now expanding into Los Angeles.
www.adrianacleaning.com

Beverly The Pooch Coach
San Francisco, CA
Online booking is amazing! I used to play phone tag a lot with people trying to set up appointments before PocketSuite…and I know I lost a bunch of clients in the process.
www.poochcoach.com

Wells BR Fitness
Baton Rouge, LA
I’m literally setting up my entire week’s worth of classes from my phone in minutes with this app. Life saver!
www.wellsfitnessbr.org

Check us out in the press:


Tap here to learn more about all the different features and tools PocketSuite can offer your business today.

 

Tired of MindBody’s complexity and pricing?

Complexity and High Prices

MindBody is great if you have lots of time and money.

As an entrepreneur and self motivated fitness and wellness coach, I’m sure your time is focused on your clients. Designing classes, promoting them, reaching back out to past clients about a new offerings… are just a few of the many things that come with running your own business and practice. The administrative tasks are endless. You don’t want to get side tracked from doing what you do and it is not always an option to hire a full time assistant to manage it all for you.

For large fitness businesses, MindBody is one of the more popular choices when it comes to helping you run your practice. Handling client appointments, class booking, invoicing and so forth. Getting started with software like MindBody can be very scary and difficult to learn, especially for people that aren’t technical experts. For any software, if you have to enroll in a class (much less a university like for MindBody) to understand how to use it is a major red flag. Your goal is simplify your work and save time not increase your workload with a complicated tool.

No Software Please

MindBody requires an in person seminar to onboard new users to their platform because of the complexity and the overwhelming number of features that are included. Users must become experts in the desktop software and mobile application and their clients have to download and log into a portal (which clients don’t love). If you are a large corporation or a gym owner with multiple locations, it makes complete sense why you and your team would be willing to invest weeks into customizing your administrative settings and training your people on how to use the mobile app. For independent personal trainers, yoga and pilates instructors, as well as health and well professionals; however, it is just plain too much.

It’s like learning to ride a bike… once you learn to balance it comes naturally… but try riding a bike and putting on an 80lb suit. That additional weight changes everything. Same goes for a mobile app that helps you run your business. You’re balancing your time between booking and payments as well as delivery of amazing client service, which is where you would like to spend 99% of your time. If you have a heavy suit, your focus is inevitably tilted away from doing what you do best to operational logistics.

PocketSuite would like to help you take the suit off.

Higher Price Always Means Better Right?

MindBody charges 3x to 6x more than other business apps for the health and wellness industry, How else can they pay for expensive onboarding classes and instructors. The fact that an average user has to dedicate 4 to 5 hours on average to learn the basics is extreme. If you are a Pro that has lots of clients, but no time to figure it all out, don’t invest resources in a solution that will require a lot of time and ongoing effort to maintain. You need something that is designed for your existing workflow, requires minimal setup, and automates all of the repetitive tasks that you do every day to schedule clients and collect payment.

The World is going Mobile

There is no denying that the world is going mobile. To meet client expectations for speed, transparency, and predictably you need to have systems that enable clients to book you from anywhere, at anytime, on any device. By definition, desktop solutions don’t make the cut. You don’t have access to them when you are in the field or in session with clients (which is everyday for most of the day). You need to be able to do anything from confirm a booking request, charge a card, look up a client’s payment history, and send a contract at a moment’s notice. When you go mobile, everything comes together. The simplicity of scheduling messages and follow ups with clients is literally a game changer. Mobile helps professionals build deeper, stickier, longer, and more loyal client relationships.

Try PocketSuite today… simplify your daily booking, payments, and client messaging. Automate your work and save yourself time and money.


Over 5,000 fitness, health & wellness professionals use PocketSuite’s free set of features:

Packages Services & Classes

Package any set of services or classes that you offer

Sell packages to clients for immediate and upfront payment

Track all package sessions by client


Recurring Client Payments

Set clients up on recurring payment plans

Auto-charge any client’s card after each week, month, or any period of time

Just a 2.7% processing fee for credit card payments, and 2-day direct deposit


Direct Client Import

Add any client directly to PocketSuite or import clients directly from your mobile phone contact list

Track all income earned from each client

Take notes (text, photos) on each customer for private viewing


Appointment Calendar Sync

Sync all PocketSuite scheduled appointments and sessions directly to iCal, GCal, etc.

Pick and choose which calendars sync (i.e., Google, Outlook, etc.)

Use a single calendar app to manage both client and personal appointments


Mobile Messenger

Send instant text messages to any of your clients

Clients receive messages via SMS text and respond in real-time

Share photos, share contacts, share GPS pin location


4 Tips to Building a Scalable Health and Fitness Business

(Written by Sam Madden, co-founder of PocketSuite. Featured on DaiManuel.com)

There comes a time in every professional’s career when they have turned their business of just a few clients, into something much bigger. If you’re currently there, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, then trust me – if you’re good at what you do, you will get there very soon.

In business terms, this is called an “inflection point”, and that’s when you need to start building in efficiencies to your small business to help you grow in painless and scalable ways. There are 4 core elements to your business around which you can easily build efficiencies to help you not just take on more clients, but to continue to serve your clients well.

Each one of these core business pillars is like a body part that needs to be kept in shape. Just like your body, you need to hone the muscles of your business so that as you take on more work, you can manage easily and not have to spend excess energy (or money!) to succeed in scalable ways.

1. Your Clients: Core

The core building block to every business is your client base. Your clients are the most important part of your business – you need to serve them well, and you need more of them to grow.

In order to provide the best training and health services to each client, you need to know who your clients are, how to reach them, what their needs are, and where they came from.

Putting tools in place to create profiles for each customer is crucial. Give yourself a central location to access all your client information at the drop of a hat. That means who they are and how to reach them. Give yourself the ability to jot down notes and reference them while you’re on the go so you know your clients in and out. Quickly access your transaction and communication history with each client, so you know what you’ve advised the client before, when you last saw them, and what payments they have made or owe.

Putting these “client best practices” in place will make all aspects of client dealings incredibly easy. This will also free up tons of time to allow you to take on more clients without sacrificing any quality of your service whatsoever, and without giving you a headache.

2. Your Schedule: Quads and Calves

Your schedule keeps you moving from one spot to the next. The more organized you are, the more efficiently you can move from appointment to appointment.

Set up a system to allow you to efficiently organize your calendar of client sessions, meetings, appointments, etc. A pen and paper won’t cut it! That’s just another item for you to lug around. God forbid you lose it – do you have a back-up of your schedule? I know this sounds silly, but how about if you run out of space on a page to write?

And don’t simply set up a digital or mobile calendar to make your life easier. Use a system where once you input a session into your calendar, your client’s calendar gets notified as well so you both are easily on the same page. The worst situation ever is for you to show up and your client is a no show. Or for you to show up and your client isn’t at all ready because they simply “forgot”.

Use smart calendars to also set up automatic reminders to be sent to your clients…Maybe a day or two before the session to (again) professionally reinforce the fact that there is an appointment upcoming. Your calendar should show you (and your client) the job details and location, as well as give you easy access to your client’s contact info in case you’re late, or something has changed, or any other little update.

And keep all this info in one central calendar location so you don’t have to be opening up different computers or phones, or apps or calendar programs just to get a sense of what your day or week looks like.

3. Your Payments: Cardio

Payments are what keep the engine going!

You want to not only give your clients an incredibly convenient (and pleasant) payment experience, but you also want to give yourself a very simple tracking system to ensure no payment ever slips through the cracks.

Give your client easy options through which they can pay you. Don’t force them to lug around a check book or make sure they went to the bank to withdraw cash. And avoid making the act of asking for payment feel awkward or uncomfortable. Create a simple system allowing your clients to pay you remotely so you don’t have to be physically in front of them to collect, and so they can even pay you ahead of time for any services you offer (reducing your payment risk completely).

Keep a log of these payments close so you can quickly get a glimpse of who owes you what, and how much you’ve made from each customer. You want to make sure you know who your best clients are and ask them to refer you to their friends…maybe even send them a holiday card! At the same time, you want to know what payments are outstanding so you can efficiently and professionally remind clients to pay, never letting a payment slip through the cracks.

4. Your Business Health: Brain

Exercising this “muscle” drives you to make all the right business decisions.

Instead of flipping through bank statements, or making daily logs of cash payments, leverage technology to know exactly how your business is doing each day, week, or month. Having all your client information, appointments and payments in a central location will allow you to leverage all this data to understand the overall health of your business. This health score gets increasingly difficult to measure as you start to grow as an solo professional, as there becomes so much more information to keep track of. And don’t fall into the trap thinking you have to pay an accountant to tell you how you’re doing!

A major factor in growing a business is also understanding how much to invest for growth. If you know how much income you’re bringing in vs. last month, then maybe spend some of that extra income on marketing or leads or advertising, to bring in more clients.

If you’re making less this month than the previous month, understand why – Were you working less? Did certain clients take up too much of your time? Are you waiting on payment?

Help is Now Here!

Following the above simple steps sounds like a ton of work, but the reality is it’s not. Technology is starting to offer independent and solo professionals (of all industries) valuable tools they need to help them compete, grow, and drive their business to success. The trick is finding the tool that’s right for you, without paying an arm and a leg. But little tips like the above can help you grow your business in incredibly efficient ways to reach that scale you need to succeed.

What Frustrates Me About Square Up

Frustrations using Square

AND WHY IT’S A HUGE DEAL FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

I’m going to try my best to have an unbiased view of Square Up.

It’s tough, however, to not be partisan when I talk with small businesses every single day who complain about the costs, feature overload and passive support of Square.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Square Up adds large amounts of value to specific industries likes retail, restaurants, and food trucks.

But for many of the service professionals I speak to each day (like contractors, stylists, personal trainers, dog walkers, cleaners, tutors and more), Square Up tends to have a number of core issues.

The feedback is simple: It can be really, really, really frustrating.

High, Complicated Costs

The biggest deterrent to accepting credit cards are high fees. Most business owners can relate to that.

Cash flow is very important to small business owners, so keeping costs simple and low is a must.

The pricing structure for companies like Square Up, Authorize.net and even PayPal are still stuck in the stone ages.

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

To make things even more complicated, the fee structures are different depending on how you (as a business owner) accept payment. A swipe? An online payment? An invoice payment? A card entry?

The truth is most on-the-go business professionals don’t want to have to stop and think about how much in fees they’ll be paying based on how their client will be paying using their credit card.  

Innovations in payment processing technology has skyrocketed in recent years. That means these processors should not be complicating their customers with complex pricing schedules.

There needs to be a single transaction fee…a low transaction fee.

It shouldn’t be this complicated.

Hardware Necessary

Let’s be honest – when a client is paying for services, the customer is not always right in front of the professional.

Most of the businesses we speak to each day are invoicing clients, collecting deposits, accepting online bookings/payments – they need more than point of sale credit card processing.

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

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

Ok, back to the serious stuff...like the problems with hardware.

The hardware breaks. It doesn’t plug in if you have a smartphone case. You can’t ever seem to remember to pack it. The hardware doesn’t store the card information of your recurring clients.

What makes sense is a credit card reader at a Starbucks; or at a restaurant; or in a food truck.

Hardware can only be used in a single situation – in person. Most on-the-go professionals need more than that.

Feature Overload

Square Up touts how it helps service businesses “run their business”.

But in the real world, there are limitations to that marketing message – you need more than just a credit card processor to run your business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I’m using Instagram, and I run into a bug or have a question, I don’t necessarily panic.

I’ll email Instagram’s support team with more of a “heads up” about the issue and not really lose sleep over it, and definitely do not expect to get someone on the phone to discuss the issue.

Why? Because I don’t rely on Instagram to survive (i.e., collect payment for my business).

But for business tools, high-quality/real-time support is something that is absolutely crucial.

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

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

Am I Being Too Harsh?

I honestly don’t think so.

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

Square Up is not the future of small business technology. It’s the past.

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

If you have opinions on Square (similar or different to ours, either way), drop US a line directly or visit our blog.


So how do Square and PocketSuite compare exactly?


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How Payment Apps Are Speeding Up Cash Flow

Convenience of Payment Apps

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

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

In today’s mobile world, your business should instead automatically and instantly receive payment the moment the work is done.

With the recent launch of Apple Pay, as well as the ongoing presence of Google Wallet and PayPal, opportunities are increasing for people to swap their wallets for smartphones. These technologies are building momentum within the service professional community, allowing no-touch transactions promptly after service delivery. There’s no invoice, no drawn-out payment cycle and no harassing follow-up calls to clients who are late to pay (think Uber).

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

They’re fast

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

They keep your cash flow…well, flowing

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

They’re affordable

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

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

They’re convenient for you and your clients

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

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

Opportunity Cost Can Cost You Real Money

Stop and Change your Policy

You may not recognize it, but opportunity cost affects your business every single day. Opportunity cost is essentially what you give up (the benefits of the next best alternative) when you make a choice. To understand how to keep your opportunity costs low, let’s first meet John.

John is a new client. You and John spent about an hour back-and-forth discussing his exact needs as a client and then figuring out a date that works for both of your schedules to fill said needs. Fast forward to today – you’ve got John’s job on your calendar this afternoon. You start heading over to John’s house. Suddenly you get a call. John has to cancel last minute and he’s not sure about rescheduling. He’ll “get back to you.”

Immediately, you get a pit in your stomach. That feeling is not simply about losing out on a piece of business. It’s about the time you spent planning the job, the afternoon you blocked off for the job, and all the other clients you turned down in preparation for the job.

If only you had known that John wasn’t a reliable client, you wouldn’t have invested all that time with him. You would have gone with another client – another choice. Unfortunately, no one can know these things beforehand, especially when it comes to new clients. You can, however, protect yourself with 3 simple steps in order to reduce your ultimate opportunity costs.

1. Institute a fair cancellation policy

You know your time is money, but most clients don’t understand this. Communicate to your clients a fair cancellation policy. Your customers need to know that your time is serious, and instituting a cancellation policy gets this message across. John would’ve thought twice to cancel on you if he knew there was an actual cost for him to bear in doing so.

2. Reserve your client’s payment information ahead of time

You need to enforce your cancellation policy, and you need your client’s payment information to do so. However, it can be a big “ask” for your clients to blindly hand over their credit card to a brand new business. Increase your client’s comfort level by using a trusted third party when collecting their payment details. That way, your client is happy to hand over their payment information and you both can sleep well at night.  

3. Stop invoicing

Invoicing leaves you vulnerable to late payments. Clients just get lazy when it comes to paying bills – no one enjoys writing checks, so it’s easy to push it off. And worst case, clients can totally forget about paying altogether! Every dollar in your pocket can be used to reinvest in your business, so the sooner you have that hard-earned cash, the better. Keep customer payment information on file to eliminate the need for invoicing altogether and guarantee timely payment. For unreliable customers like John, you of course want to make sure they pay when they cancel, but more importantly make sure they pay when the job is complete.

3 Steps to Convert Clients to Recurring Business

Get Recurring Clients

Converting new customers into returning clients is a key element to your business’s success. Having a “recurring” customer base is crucial when it comes to accurately projecting out your budget, making marketing decisions, and even estimating your own take-home pay. Not to mention, it’s six to seven times cheaper to keep a current customer than acquiring a new one.

Plain and simple, doing great work is, obviously, the best way to keep a client for life but there are lots of professionals out there who do great work. You need to do more than the obvious to stand out. Here are some simple and softer techniques you can do to make sure your past clients call you the next time they need future service.

1. Don’t play hard to get

First impression is everything. For your clients, their first impression of your brand is the first time they schedule that initial appointment with you. Be sure to make that process as seamless as possible.

I’ve never met anyone who enjoys dealing with logistics. Don’t force your clients to spend more time than needed when scheduling an appointment with you. Your customers don’t have time to trade endless voicemails or emails with you to figure out if you can help them and when you’re available.

When they call, pick up. When they email, be quick to respond. Ideally, have a way for clients to browse your calendar and availability, in real-time, and send you specific job requests directly online without even needing to pick up the phone. List your services online, so your clients know exactly if you can fulfill their needs.

Save your clients time dealing with logistics and they’ll love you for it. Think about it. If these clients like your service, they will  schedule appointments with you many times over. Make it easy for them.

2. Make the payment experience hassle-free

Paying for services can be a pretty inconvenient experience for clients. It’s the awkward “How much do I owe you?” then “What kind of payment do you accept” then “Let me grab my wallet / a check / my card.” It’s cumbersome.

First, make sure your clients know upfront what they’re going to be paying when they hire you (or at least a ballpark range). Transparency always makes everyone more comfortable. This also reduces the risk of any type of negotiation or pushback when it actually comes time to pay.

Be accommodating when it’s actually time to pay up. Don’t force your clients to have cash on them or dig up a check. Accept any type of payment, but don’t be afraid to introduce your customers to new payment technologies that can make their lives easier

Payment technology is changing. Look at how Uber has transformed the way clients pay for taxi service. If I didn’t have to open my wallet at the end of each hired job, I’d want to recreate that payment experience as much as possible.

3. Anticipate your client’s needs

In many cases, your customer’s needs are not simply “one and done.” Clients hire a variety of “regular” service needs, ranging from once a week to once a month to once a year.  

Keep notes on your clients and reach out when you think they might need service again. You know if your business is the type where services are recurring (i.e., cleaning, styling, training, etc.). If your client could be due for another service appointment, send a friendly email or text inquiring and letting them know you’re happy to help.

Direct marketing to past clients can can be very effective and add a ton of value. If you did great work, and if your scheduling and payment experience is frictionless, there is every reason for your client to recreate that experience with you over and over again.

Beware of Buyer’s Fraud

Handling Client Fraud

Growing your visibility online as a business comes with its benefits – more eyeballs, better marketing opportunities, and more customers. But what we have found is that increased visibility also makes it easy for fraudulent actors (aka, “fraudsters”) to identity and target honest business owners with innovative fraud schemes.

In 2014 alone, 13 million people were victim of identity theft, with fraudsters stealing a whopping $16 billion from them.

If you run a local business and sell your services and time to customers (i.e., photographers, dog trainers, contractors, fitness trainers, etc.), then take note – especially if you offer large ticket services of $1,000 or more.

The blueprint of this new fraud scheme is outlined below. If any of these points resonate with you as a business owner, take extra caution in dealing with “supposed” customers who follow this pattern.  

1. The Initial Contact

Snooping fraudsters will find your contact information listed online, and will always reach out to you – the business owner – via text message or email, posing as a warm lead. Fraudsters typically do not call you because they are either foreign, or are bad actors, or can’t think quickly on their feet if you ask them suspect questions. If you ask to chat on the phone, they will say they are either deaf, in the hospital, or out of town and cannot speak.

Let’s call this fraudster “Bob”. So Bob will send you a text message, posing as an interested client, asking about your services, and seeming eager to buy.

2. The Ask

Bob will be interested in purchasing a large ticket item and paying upfront (Why large ticket items specifically, discussed in #4 below). Bob will always push to pay upfront, tell you not to worry about anything, and will probably shoot for an amount around the $5,000 level (we have seen amounts range from $1,000 – 10,000).

3. The Payment Method

Bob will ask to use a credit or debit card for payment. He will need a “card not present” technology to make this payment to you. So he will ask you to send him an invoice via email or text message, to allow him to enter in the card details online for quick payment. The card Bob uses is a stolen card – you will not know this because Bob is entering in the card details on his end privately. Note that an additional flag would be if Bob asks you to break the large charge up into smaller invoice payments – he will use a few different stolen cards with lower limits to pay you with.

Once the card is charged, then Bob’s fraud work is done except for one final step.

4. The Partial Refund Request

As soon as the payment is made, you – the business owner – are probably feeling pretty good. You just sold $5,000 (let’s just say) worth of services, that payment is en route to your account, and this supposed client Bob is on your calendar for future services. What happens next is crucial to the fraud scheme. Bob will immediately ask for some sort of partial refund in cash (or maybe check). You will probably be thinking it’s somewhat bizarre, but the refund will be only to the tune of $1,000 (~20% of what you just got paid). So to you, it’s still a hefty net $4,000 in your pocket, and you’re making Bob happy by granting him this refund request. Note that sometimes Bob will actually ask for this partial refund prior to you sending him the invoice, and he won’t call it a refund – he’ll ask you to pay someone else (on his behalf) $1,000 out of the $5,000 he will be paying you.

The logistics of this “partial refund”(or the payment on his behalf) will be to mail the cash or to leave the cash/check in an envelope in the lobby of a building or doorstep of a home. Bob will give you the address details (most likely a P.O. Box) for said partial refund, then once you mail this $1,000 in cash he will thank you politely.

This is the last time you will hear from Bob.

5. End Game: The Dispute

Sometimes it’s 1 day after you mail that partial refund; sometimes it takes 10 days. But in a matter of days, the legitimate cardholder will dispute the $5,000 invoice payment. That is to say, whoever owned that stolen credit card that Bob used to pay you that $5,000 will open up their credit card statement, see a $5,000 charge, obviously not recognize this charge, and dispute it with their credit card company.

The payment processor you used to charge that card will then reverse the $5,000 payment from your bank account, leaving you out that $5,000 you thought you had made. Worse yet, maybe you already spent some of that $5,000. To make matters extra worse, you are also out-of-pocket the $1,000 cash refund you had mailed to Bob. So your total loss equates to $6,000 from this scheme.

The credit card company won’t care about your loss, the authorities will tell you to go to small claims court, and then small claims court will be practically impossible to win because you won’t be able to get in touch with “Bob”. The address you mailed the check to is probably a temporary P.O. Box, and the phone # he was texted you from is a Google Voice #. To everyone else Bob doesn’t exist, but to you, you just wasted a ton of time and are out-of-pocket $6,000.

How Else to Prevent Fraud?

It’s crucial for service businesses these days to adopt an invoicing and payment solution that can catch these fraud patterns early on, to save you money and time. Education is the first step, which is why business owners need to pay attention to the above 5-step patterns to prevent falling into these fraud traps.

The sad reality, however, is we are all human, and busy professionals don’t always have time to make sure all their payments are fraud proof. So make sure whatever payment solution you do use, will be pro-active in preventing fraud and notifying you personally when fraud could be occurring, so that you don’t have to add paranoia to the busy list of daily work times on top of all your client scheduling, invoicing, payment tracking, and more.