Recently, a colleague of mine attended an all-day business workshop for entrepreneurs. During one of the presentations, the speaker made it a point to make fun of people who still use flip phones. My friend, who was 20 years older than many of the other attendees in the room, looked down at her flip phone and hid it in shame. I’d like to think the presenter did not intend to shame anyone, but her remark stung and even though no one saw her, my friend was dreadfully embarrassed.
It’s important to realize that each of us has a different level of comfort with technology. Does it really matter if you have a flip phone or the latest iPhone or gadget? Well, no…and yes. In the grand scheme of things, no. In fact, some people still prefer flip phones. Technology doesn’t have to be an exhaustive race for each of us to get to the front of the line. Take the time to research, find and use the tools that work best for you.
However – on the resounding YES side of this question – customers of all ages rely on technology to communicate, search for and find out information about your business. If your current customers include millenials (aka current or future clients), you absolutely must understand what tools they use to communicate. If you don’t know, ask them. The objective is to make it easy for customers to find your website, learn about your practice and readily communicate with you to book a session or buy your program.
It’s estimated that up to 60% of Google searches are currently conducted via mobile. Is your website mobile-friendly? Google’s search rankings now favor mobile-responsive websites, so if you want to be found on Google, your site must be optimized for mobile viewing. Considering that the number of mobile devices in use has surpassed the number of people on the planet and continues to grow exponentially, Google’s changes are aligned with the way that most people search for and find information.
Here are some tools I use to get organized, maximize productivity and minimize client no-shows:
(I have no affiliation with most of these companies; I just like their products.)
• For Tasks & Ideas:
I’m a creative person by nature and am constantly brainstorming and coming up with new ideas for clients. I’m also a perpetual list-maker. In the past, I scribbled my ideas and to-do’s down on any piece of paper in the near vicinity and would later find (or not find) them laying all over the house. This was my brain on paper. Creative, a little disorganized, but always proposing something of perceived value.
Well, happy was the day I found Evernote. I use it on my laptop as well as my phone to categorize and track all of my business and client ideas and grocery lists in one central place, and they sync to each other automatically. The problem with paper is that all of my thoughts were never collected together, in the same place at the same time. Now they are. If you are obsessive about organization like me, check out Evernote and leave me a comment below on how you’re making it work for you.
After using Evernote for a while, I found myself gradually migrating back to my whiteboard. I have a high-touch business so like the feel of holding a pen when I’m formulating a marketing strategy or brainstorming ideas for clients. But I found myself getting buried in scraps of paper and post-it notes again.
So while sharing at a networking event about my feelings of disorganization, a colleague recommended Trello and showed me a demo. I considered it for a while, then signed up for the free version. So far, so good. I use it to keep track of all the lists in my brain – shopping, wish list, household to-do’s, bills, autodeductions, stuff to research, who I need to call, who wants to do lunch, etc.
I recommend it.
• For Time Tracking:
I needed an effective way to track the time I spend on client projects, personal projects, house projects, and the time I spend networking for my business. I used to keep track on paper, but sometimes I forgot to write down my hours, then found it hard to recollect what I did for whom on a particular day. So I tried a couple of apps, but the interface and menu options just didn’t work for me. Recently someone recommended Toggl. I’ve been using it for a short time, but so far it’s working great.
In Toggl, you can clearly track the time you’re spending on each color-coded item (client or task) with a quick glance. I track the time I spend working various projects and tasks. You can use their online stopwatch or enter the time manually. Daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Toggl’s reporting gives you a realistic picture of how you’re dividing your time, so you can evaluate where you’re being productive, wasting time, or running over allotted time. It’s a great tool for fine-tuning your business processes, if you review the reports regularly.
• For Online Scheduling:
There are a variety of online schedulers you can use. Even if you still keep a paper calendar, using an online scheduling system makes appointment scheduling convenient for your clients because they can book the appointment at any time, from any place or device on their own schedule. Plus you’re instantly notified via text or email when it happens. This is a great way to minimize no-shows because the client books appointment themselves, and has access to their appointment information at any time in a central web-based location.
When I had my own practice, I used Schedulicity which was affordable and worked well for my (and my clients’) needs. Other scheduling options include Full Slate, a Seattle-based company, or MindBodyOnline. Many of these services send out automatic appointment reminders so you don’t have to, which can minimize no-shows. The schedulers also easily integrate with Google Calendar so you can view your entire (home/ work/ personal) calendars in one place. To keep track of your appointments so you can run on time and minimize no-shows, an online scheduler is an invaluable tool.
• For Online Payments:
If you want clients to pay you, you have to make it easy for them to give you their money. It’s not a requirement to accept credit cards in a wellness business, but why wouldn’t you? Merchant accounts are easy to sign up for these days and the payment process couldn’t be simpler. Two of the most popular payment solutions for small business are PayPal and Square.
PayPal payments for business can be accepted in person via an app and card reader that plugs into a smartphone. PayPal’s fee is 2.9% or less + $0.30 per transaction and there is no monthly fee to use the service. Payments can be transferred to your bank account in 2-3 days. You can also accept PayPal payments through your computer on the PayPal website, or set up a payment button on your website so clients can prepay for your services.
Square offers in-person payment solutions via an app and card reader, a contactless chip reader or a point-of-sale tablet stand. Square’s fee is 2.75% per swipe for credit cards, and the money is deposited into your bank account in 1-2 days. The card reader is free and there is no monthly service fee.
Make It Work For You
You’ll function more efficiently when you find the tools and level of technology that work best for you. And if you can make it easy for your clients (and potential clients) to find you online, learn more about your business, schedule appointments, communicate easily with you, and last but not least pay you using the technology that works for them, then it’s a win win all around.
You may also like: