10 Ways to Accept Payment – POS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can’t I just swipe it?”

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

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

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

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

THE HISTORY OF POINT OF SALE SYSTEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHICH INDUSTRIES USE POINT OF SALE SYSTEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOU SHOULD HAVE A POINT OF SALE SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW POCKETSUITE’S POINT OF SALE IS DIFFERENT

Although all credit card processors do charge a fee per transaction, PocketSuite allows you to save on processing fees at 2.7% per payment, compared to Square or PayPal.

Here’s how PocketSuite’s POS stacks up against the competition:

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

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

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

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

This gives you the ability to do the following:

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

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

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

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

Like this article? You’ll love these articles:

Our Frustrations with Square article

Should I Implement a Live Chat Feature?

The eternal question of Live chat – should you install it on your website or not?

The pros are more clients, more sales, faster support, and a more professional looking site.

Some of the drawbacks include having to respond to client inquiries quicker than phone or email support, and not being able to install the widget on your social media… until now.

New studies suggest more than 30% of customers expect you to have live chat on your website.

On a mobile device, that number shoots up to a staggering 62%.

Even though live chat has been around since the 1970’s (believe it or not) it has been getting more popular recently.

In this article, we’ll get into the specific reasons why live chat is great for closing more sales, stepping up your customer support game, and automating your followup.

You’ll learn the practical ways that live chat can increase your bottom line revenue as well as make your prospective clients happier, and your current clients more satisfied with your outstanding service.

It’s easy to discount live chat as ‘just another widget,’ but let’s take a closer look at why this is one of the most game-changing features that you can add to your website. (Or as you’ll learn in this article, to your social media as well!)

WHY LIVE CHAT IS A MUST-HAVE FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

When clients land on your website, chances are they’re looking for information – more specifically, answers to their questions.

They generally either want to know more about your business to decide if they will become a paying client, or they want to get in touch with you because they have an issue with their upcoming, current, or past service.

If you have a live chat feature on your site, this can be a wildly successful shortcut because it eliminates most of the searching that a customer needs to do in order to get the answer(s) they want.

For example, here are some ways that live chat helps:

INCREASE IN SALES

Live chat builds trust by reassuring the potential client that there is a real person behind your business.

By receiving answers to several questions about your business in real time, they can rest easy knowing that they aren’t just inputting their credit card information into a website that’s built by some scammer or con artist.

You can also have them input their name, email, or phone number, which allows you to take the follow up off-line and onto a communication platform that’s more accessible to them. After all, they’ll leave your website soon enough, and after that you need a way to be able to reach them for follow-up to close the sale!

Essentially, live chat becomes a lead generation system to help you close additional business by providing you with leads.

You’re essentially converting your website visits into client leads, like magic!

Really you’re just capitalizing on the website (or Instagram) traffic that is already visiting your page by converting them into a lead that you can call, text, or email!

To back all of this up, Forrester found that there was a 10% increase in order value from clients who engaged with a rep in live chat before buying.

HELPS WITH SUPPORT

Having a live chat feature also cuts down on the back-and-forth of email and eliminates the wasted time of having to look up answers from past client responses/message threads/emails.

One of the worst things you can do to a frustrated client is force them to be inconvenienced or have them wait to hear back, because this can lead down the road of them leaving negative online reviews on platforms such as Yelp or Google, which will negatively impact your credibility in the eyes of future potential clients.

The quality of your response matters, too. Kayako found that 19 out of 20 clients would prefer a high quality response, even if it took more time.

This can even cut into your current business, if your current clients happen to look your business up online!

Just make sure you respond – SuperOffice found that 21% of live chats get ignored. Don’t become a statistic!

OTHER LIVE CHAT PLATFORMS

Other live chats that you can make use of as a small business owner or solo-preneur are generally  platform specific. We’re talking about Facebook (Messenger), Instagram (DM), and Yelp (Message My Business Feature).

There are also a number of standalone live chat platforms such as Intercom, Weebly, Wix, and Olark.

The problem with these platform specific chat programs (as well as the standalone ones) is that they’re all generally stuck to the platform that they operate on.

PocketSuite is changing the game by having a portable live chat feature.

That’s right, you can now place your live chat directly onto your own website without the knowledge of how to code or get your programming degree!

But websites aren’t the only place you can install PocketSuite’s live chat feature…

LIVE CHAT ON YOUR FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM

How’s this for a mindblowing idea – did you know you can install Live Chat on more than just your website?

That’s right – PocketSuite allows you to install your live chat widget anywhere, including on your Facebook and Instagram profile!

You can engage your clients in real time while they’re browsing your social media, which is probably the best time to engage with them because you’re top-of-mind and they’re not distracted by the million other things that are occupying their busy day.

POCKETSUITE LIVE CHAT HIGHLIGHTS

The PocketSuite live chat widget defaults to OPEN, so your client’s definitely won’t miss it.

When clients submit their info or start a live chat with you, you instantly get a notification in your PocketSuite app, which allows you to start a conversation with them in real time.

You can message them through the PocketSuite app (which you’re hopefully already using for all of your other booking and payment needs) so it couldn’t be any easier to stay in touch.

Once the client inputs their phone number into the live chat, it will send them a text, which they can essentially use to continue the conversation with you.

Texts have a 98% open rate, so you can rest easy knowing that your clients have received your communication.

Just make sure you respond quickly – on average, customers have to wait over 2 minutes for companies to respond to their live chat inquiry. That’s troubling!

From there, they simply respond to the automated text, and their response gets funneled directly into your PocketSuite app for follow-up! PocketSuite automatically marks Live Chat messages as “LIVE” so you know to prioritize responses to those messages, if your Inbox is too full and you need help triaging responses.

It’s simply the best way to convert your website or social media visitors into leads and then into clients!

Speaking of getting more clients and making your current clients happy, have you checked out the best way to run your business using just 1 app – PocketSuite?

Upgrade your business with online booking, accept credit cards, process payments, scheduling, business messaging, and a wild array of additional features that will free up your time to focus on answering all of those live chats coming in!

Try the Premium plan if you’d like to take a look at one of the most powerful business apps out there. Of course, don’t forget to turn on Online Chat and add it to your website, social media, and any other online sites.

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

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!

Smartphones Beat PCs in Speed, Cost, Convenience

WHY THIS IS HUGE NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The release of the iPhone X has proven one major headline: smartphones are now faster than PCs.

Chips inside computers and smartphones are referred to as central processing units, or “CPUs”. The faster and higher quality they are, the quicker your PC or smartphone runs. The CPU inside the new iPhone X is referred to as the “A10” chip, and that chip not only outpaces all other Android smartphones, but it has now caught up with Intel’s laptop CPUs.

That means that common tasks are (for the most part) now faster to perform on your mobile device than on your desktop or laptop. Retail consumption trends show just how important processing speed really is, with people are buying smartphones at five times the rate they are acquiring new PCs. iPhones alone saw 75 million shipments last quarter vs. 72 million for PCs.

But it’s not just your average consumer buying up more iPhones and smartphones for their day-to-day enjoyment. Small businesses and professionals are now flocking to this newest wave of faster and more powerful technology.

Speed and Power

Speed and power are crucial and a much-needed added benefit to today’s small business owner.

If your business runs faster and more efficiently, you have more time to grow.

Many businesses and on-the-go professionals have been resorting to their laptops to deal with customer transactions. The speed and flexibility of their PCs were providing platforms for scheduling, invoicing, contracts, etc. Despite being on their feet and in the proverbial field each day, mobile was not quiteadvanced enough to support all their real-time needs.

As the power of smartphones has now surpassed that of the most popular computers, the adoption of mobile in business continues to see an upward trajectory. It’s perfectly natural for home and local businesses to want to have the fastest, most capable, and most convenient tool at their fingertips to stay ahead of their competition. In fact, they deserve it.

Hardware-less

The lighter you are, the faster you move.

Small businesses are shifting in droves from lugging around laptops (and even tablets), to moving towards the more practical, lighter-weight tools.

The iPhone X, for example, has now removed the need for wired headphones by removing the jack. This is a major step towards something bigger than just mobile – wireless. The indirect result means that other clunky hardware like Square swipers will soon be defunct as the business world continues to turn light-weight.

Shedding excess baggage and hardware weight gives mobile professionals the agility they need to better serve their clients. This leaves much more time and energy to focus on the day to day business and clientele… the real revenue driver.


All-in-One

The fundamental offering of any smartphone is the combining of the most basic workflows. From being a communication device, location awareness, to a high resolution camera.

Native and 3rd-party applications further build on top of this foundation. Specifically for businesses includes tasks like note-taking, scheduling, payments, client management, and more.

The advancement in smartphone technology actually presents an exponential benefit for small businesses. That is to say, it doesn’t just make a single workflow faster – it makes all of your daily workflows faster.

This small device supports all your core workflows on a single device. Professionals are starting to save tremendous amounts of time by taking care of all client related things in the palm of their hand. The beauty is without going back to their desk to use their computer or a pen and paper.

In addition to a time saver, moving mobile is a cost saver. Instead of paying thousands for the newest PC, any business owner can pay just hundreds for a powerful smartphone. And instead of paying for 5 different workflow tools, mobile apps can now support all core workflows in a single app. For less.

The Future of Work

The future of work and business is fast. It’s cost-efficient, time-efficient and mobile.

Small business owners and freelance professionals alike are growing to accept today’s mobile world. This is not just due to the aforementioned benefits above. Their clients have come to accept this as the norm.

The average consumer and homeowner checks their phone 85 times a day. It’s convenient, it’s with them at all times, and it’s enjoyable to interact with. The increasingly accepted mode of consumer communication is SMS text, with phone calls and emailing on the secular decline .

As more professionals make the switch from PCs to now faster smartphones, that allows them to further engage clients on their device of preference – mobile. Happy clients turns into to more referrals, which means more revenue.

Getting More Clients with Pokemon Go

The obsession of Pokemon Go isn’t just affecting eager consumers and gamers alike.

It actually has potential to affect your business…but in a great way.

And it won’t cost you much.

To sum it up from a local business marketing expert:

“[Pokémon Go] is so popular that people are sometimes crowding parks and other locations, chasing their
            favorite Pokémon characters in order to capture them. Local businesses can take advantage of this
            phenomenon by purchasing “Lures” to entice players into their stores.”

If you haven’t hear of Pokemon Go yet, in short it has been THE most downloaded app in iTunes history (you can download the app for free). It’s an “augmented reality” game, wherein gamers create their own character and go from location to location (yes, in the real world) to search and capture Pokemon characters using help from their smartphone’s camera.

The game is so addictive, it has attracted hoards of people in areas like parks and public city places as they hunt for Pokemon to track down.

As a business owner that offers services or runs group classes outside, it’s a new and very exciting way to tap into large groups of potential clients to gravitate towards you while you’re in a park or outside running a class.

Attracting Potential Clients:

Leveraging the game to capture new (real life) clients is quite simple.

What you can do is purchase what are called “Lures” within the Pokemon Go app, which will entice users to come to a particular location (determined by you) as they hunt for Pokemon characters to capture.

Some fun (and helpful) terminology:

  • Pokecoin = currency inside the Pokemon Go app ($0.99 for 100 Pokecoins)
  • 1 Lure Module = 100 Pokecoins
  • PokeStop = a local business or location

A fun (and easy way) to attract a group of Pokemon Go users:

1) Use social media to pre-announce a Pokemon Go promotion you’ll be running

2) Purchase a Lure Module to lure Pokemon Go users to your PokeStop – your location during a specific time window

3) Be attentive and capture the contact information of location visitors or offer discounts for services right on the spot!

Try even printing signs or wearing a flashy outfit to make your presence known as groups of potential clients come flocking to your location.

Chat that client up, pitch your services, then pop that lead directly into PocketSuite for immediate session booking!

Mobilize your Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Give Customers Mobile Convenience

We’re talking CONVENIENCE across the board here.

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

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

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

Give clients what they want and good things will happen 🙂

How Apple Business Chat Is A Win For Today’s Pro

Apple’s new Business Chat (“Business Chat”) feature was announced on June 9th at WWDC.

Throughout most of the presentation of the features and use-cases of the new product, business examples that were being used included airline companies, online retailers and larger businesses with complex customer service departments.

So not completely in the entrepreneurial spirit. For the true small business owners and entrepreneurs who are working for themselves (or maybe hire 1-10 people), the value was not clear on the service.

However, if you dig deeper into the heart of Business Chat, there can be found some real benefits. It is shown as to how this much-anticipated product helps small business.

The value is giving today’s professional a communication tool to help them grow. Not just from getting discovered by new clients, but also by better serving their existing client base. That combination blows most of today’s ever-growing laundry list of messaging apps out of the water.

Less bots, more relationships

A big push in today’s messaging world is the increasing evolution of bots.

Bots meaning machines (essentially) that can interact with your customers on your behalf. That involves a bot reading your clients’ messages as they come in, and then sending “appropriate” responses. Businesses can also set up automated responses to be triggered based on the message that the clients sends them.

Facebook Messenger is at the forefront of the bot revolution.

There are indeed use-cases where this can be helpful. This is especially prevalent at a company where the volume of customer inquiries is incredibly high. It is this that helps the company better service their clientele.

Apple’s Business Chat, however, is taking a slightly different approach. Their tagline at the beginning of their WWDC presentation on Business Chat was “A better way to make meaningful connections with your clients”. So Apple seems to be taking an refreshing approach to customer communication.

Apple is more focused on allowing business owners to have personal connections and conversations with each of their clients. The company seems less so focused on automation (at least for the time being), but more around allowing clients to directly connect with the actual owner of the business, and get a personal response.

The fact that clients do not need to download an entirely separate app to communicate with the professional is a huge win. That means no friction whatsoever when a client wants to ask a question, or drop you a line, or send you a follow-up.

This makes professionals more instantaneously accessible to clients – both old and new. Being instantly accessible goes hand-in-hand with great service.

Discovery

Every business wants more customers to find them. And nowadays, there are countless ways to get your business discovered by more clients online.

Once a client discovers you and your business online, there then becomes the initial friction point of what the customer does next.

Do they call you? Interestingly enough, 64% of Americans would rather text a business than call.

Do they find your email address and compose an email to ask questions? Finding your email address takes work on the client’s end.

Do they go to your website, head to your contact page, and fill out your contact form? That could be 5-10 “clicks” away.

Being a part of Business Chat empowers clients with quick messaging capabilities when a customer finds your business online. A message widget will appear listed next to your business on any Google searches done on the client’s iPhone. This is a convenient and lightweight start to a conversation. It does not require the customer to book an appointment with you right away (which can sometimes be too much of a commitment). It succeeds in opening up the dialogue into committing to doing business.

In today’s increasingly mobile world, and with messaging apps growing almost exponentially, mobile (and instant) communication is beginning to be the norm – for people young and old.

Logistics

One other problem Business Chat is attempting to solve is the logistical pain inherent with every business-client relationship.

Specifically, for those business owners selling their time by providing a service, Business Chat will allow professionals to send over their availability. This is sent in the form of time slots for clients to choose from within the iMessage thread itself.

This is beneficial for not just new clients but also for existing clients as well. A “one touch” scheduling flow without having to leave the iMessage experience can help further build goodwill to foster that business-client relationship.

There is more work to do

We are in the very early innings with regards to improving communication tools and technology between customers and businesses.

Every day another messaging app (or tool) enters the space in its attempt to solve a variety of communication pain points. All too common, however, these messaging apps look to solve the consumer experience first and foremost. All while putting the entrepreneur and business in the backseat.

Although there is still a lot of improvement needed to Business Chat to be fully adopted by the entrepreneurial service economy, Apple is one of the first to take the preliminary steps in preserving the personal relationship between the business and the customer.

Get A Fresh Phone # For Your Small Business

Communication is a key building block to developing a lasting relationship with your customers.

Ever hear a client ask: “What’s the best way for me to get in touch with you?”

The answer to that question can vary. It could be email, text, phone call, social media, etc.

Most customers these days expect the convenience of the text message experience as a way to communicate with anyone – even businesses. But for business owners, there can be some initial hesitancy in giving away their personal number to customers as the core communication channel. Reason being, by giving your clients the same number on which your friends and family contact you, issues around privacy, organization and overall professionalism in the eyes of your clients can arise.

Getting a dedicated phone number for your business can not only mitigate any aforementioned issues, but can go a long way in actually developing better relationships with your clients. Here are 4 key ways why getting a unique number for your business can help you thrive.

1. Privacy & protection

Having your personal number listed across the web and social media can create a dangerous cycle.

The issue with using your personal number as the primary contact number for your business is that it will be publicly available for the world to see. Spam and scam calling is something that is increasingmore and more these days – and this increases the risk of your number being stored on spam list not only in the U.S. and but international as well. So your personal contact details will be shared and passed around list after list without any control. That that become a lifetime nuisance.

The other issue is from time to time, every business can attract certain demanding clients. There is even a podcast dedicated to these types of customers… the “crazy” ones. This can cause the growing number of people who you do not want contacting you, to be able to reach you day and night. The realities of running a business is you’re going to come in contact with customers and potential customers who either do not respect business ethics, or do not treat you like a real person, or can become harassing.

Having a dedicated business number will protect you from all the above wanted callers and interactions. Instead of making your personal number go viral, put your business line on business cards, the top of your business website, social media profiles, etc. Make it easy for clients to reach you at the right place (i.e., your business) while protecting your personal life from the many unwanted callers across the U.S. and globe.

2. Keeping you organized

The added benefit to having a dedicated business number is it adds much needed structure to your life, especially if your business is growing fast.

For the same reasons why entrepreneurs and business owners set up a personal email address and a work email address, you should do this with a phone number as well. You will be able to maintain all your client communication threads completely separate from those of friends and family. Any history of client notes, messages and even phone call logs can be accessed at any time in seconds.

Not only can a dedicated business line keep you organized as you keep tabs on client records, but it can also help you stay organized in real-time as well. If a new client decides to call you out of the blue, when the phone is ringing you should be able to tell if this incoming phone call is someone calling your personal line or your business line. Depending on which phone number is being dialed, that can determine how you answer the phone, how you prep for the caller, and the immediate tone of the phone call.

Keeping business and pleasure separate can save you tons of time and headache when needing immediate access and information to your customer base.

3. Accessibility: The key to great customer service

There are many different reports about how important customer response time is to clients when interacting with a business or professional.

Having a separate business line increases your ability to respond faster, plain and simple. If all your client messages and reach-outs are organized in a central location (separate of texts from friends and family), then that’s less information and contacts you need to sift through. You will be able to access your customer’s request more quickly, drowning out any noise, and respond at the drop of a hat.

In addition, having a dedicated business number will make you feel more comfortable to push your business line to go viral (you won’t be worried about your personal number getting in the hands of spammers). Thus, making your business number front and center across the web – wherever your business is listed – will make it dead simple for any customer (young or old) to know HOW to reach you.

Overnight you will become more accessible to new and recurring clients, which will delight each and every inquiring customer. The more you delight your clients, the more they will stick with you, and the more they will tell their friends.

4. Act like a professional

Portraying yourself as a true professional goes a long way with your clients – especially the new ones.

You do not have to invest in expensive website development or fancy design on your business presence online to seem professional. It can be very simple to act like a real pro – and a lot of this starts with your phone number.

If a client is calling your business, and they get a voicemail that is tied to your personal number for friends and family, they might have second thoughts. Clients might jump to a conclusion that your business is not large, or might not be structured to handle a lot of customers (thus you don’t have experience), or might not even be a real business! A simple automated voicemail by you with your business name and indication as to when you typically return phone calls can nip this potential in the bud.

The added benefit to a dedicated business line is consistency. That means whether a client is the one texting / calling you, or the if you are the one texting / calling your client, that same business number is always at the forefront. The client is never getting a notifications or messages from numbers (or short codes) they do not recognize. And if you make sure text message is your core line of communication, then you can remove the need for clients to regularly check their Gmail or Outlook for appointment invites or even physical mailbox for mailed invoices.

Having a simple and consistent line of communication can go a long way in making the communication lines with clients incredibly convenient.

Communication and customer relationships

There is a direct correlation between better customer communication and increase referrals and retention.

The one thing business owners focus most of their time on is delivering great service! As a result, some of the “little things” can be overlooked.

But to the client, customer service, professionalism and organization are key components in building up customer confidence and enjoyment when they think about your brand. The simple act of getting a dedicated business number can go a long way in delighting your clients – whether they be prospects, brand new clients, or customers you’ve seen for years.

And with more customer delight, comes more dollars in your pocket 🙂

Pay Per Transaction (“On Demand”)

The “On Demand” platforms are probably the most talked about types of models around these days (FYI, publicity isn’t always a good thing).

Some of the more talked about platforms are listed below, and they range from industry specific to broader services: Handy, TaskRabbit, Uber, Care.com, DogVacay, Amazon Home Services, and others.

For efficiency’s sake, let’s just dig into the On Demand model as a whole…

What’s the deal?

These models are all pretty much the same in terms of how they operate – a client comes in requesting a service, the platform sends the service professional (that’s you!) to perform said service, the client pays the platform, and then the platform pays the service professional for work done anywhere from 75-85% of the job.

They call it “On Demand” because of the convenience for the client. Clients want to book a service and they (for whatever reason) don’t care who comes to perform the service – they just want it done. So that’s the client’s mindset.

For you – the professional – the platform sends you these jobs directly. They tell you what to do and where to go. Then it’s up to you just to perform the service. You don’t have any real interaction with the client, and the entire scheduling and payment part of the transaction is done through the platform itself. You are advised on how to behave (almost like an employee) and you need to agree that the customer is the customer of the platform, not you.

But it’s pretty much guaranteed money (for the work you do), you don’t have to spend any time or money marketing, you only give up a fee (the platform fee) when you get paid, so no upfront costs or financial risk.

How do I set it up?

Since you’re essentially working for the platform directly, setting yourself up for these On Demand companies take a bit of time. They usually do a background check, references sometimes, even bring you in for a personal interview potentially. Each setup process is a bit different depending on the platform, but expect a bit of time to go by before you can start accepting jobs.

What are the risks?

The risk of On Demand platforms is you not being able to grow your business. You’re treated essentially as a subcontractor or employee, and are shielded from having direct access with the clients you serve. Thus you can never really build a base of a clientele from which to grow your business to a larger scale.

The platform is your boss. So long as you do a good job and the platform is large enough to attract a lot of consumer traffic, you’ll get staffed on jobs and paid. However, the pay might be 20% less than what you would normally charge clients directly (since the platform is taking a cut), and your upside is limited. There are also rules you need to abide by in order to continue working for this new boss of yours.

More detail around how entrepreneurial professionals can exist (or can’t exist) in this On Demand world can be found here.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

On Demand platforms overall are ideal for the type of professional who fits into one of the below categories:

(1) You’re just starting out. Say you’re just jumping into a new industry and would like to hone your skills or get some experience under you and even get some cash in your pocket. Taking jobs from an On Demand platform will give you the practice and feedback you need to perform a solid service. Reviews are quite common on these platforms so you’ll be able to manage and react to feedback, and you’ll be able to hopefully save some money along the way to then start your own business when the time is right.

(2) You have no desire to grow a business.  A lot of the workers for On Demand platforms have no interest in entrepreneurship or building a business. They essentially consider themselves as employees or contractors, and are perfectly fine being told where to go and what to do so long as they get their paycheck at the end of the week.

If you are, however, a professional who is an entrepreneur at heart and you’re interested in leveraging these platforms to grow, then here’s a major pro tip: start taking these customers “off platform”.

Here’s what I mean – these platforms deal with the customer directly, and simply send you (as the professional) to perform the service. You technically are not permitted to “steal” the client…that is you aren’t supposed to approach the client and say – ‘Hey, next time you need service can you just call me directly? That way, we don’t have to get the platform involved. The price and service quality is the same for you, and for me I can keep 100% of the service price.’ That is what we call going off platform.

The reality is, for many customers they are totally fine going off platform. If they like you and your service quality, then going to you directly the next time they need a service is actually preferable because they know what service quality to expect (as opposed to going to the platform and getting a new professional to help them). So long as that customer doesn’t tattle on you, then this is the ideal way for you to build a solid book of business and recurring clientele.