happy little biz

Can technology help grow your practice?

Have you ever sat at your computer (or in this day and age, your phone), swearing because you couldn’t get it to do what you wanted to do?

Or, have you ever watched other businesses go all out with the technology — a cool website, online booking, social media advertising, and that new iPhone credit card app — and said to yourself there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that, because technology and you just don’t get along?

I hear you, I really do! And I know there are a lot of you out there that feel this way.

I don’t like to stereotype, but typically speaking, even the younger generation of health and wellness business owners tend to be not very technologically savvy! I think it’s just something that comes with the territory. As a group, you guys tend to be more interested in face-to-face, human experiences, not on the latest gadgets and apps.

And hey, that’s great! You keep doing what you’re doing!

But, you might have guessed that I’m not like that.

I’ve been using technology ever since I was a nerdy kid. That kid who spent part of her summer vacation reading the manual for the operating system of her computer (that was some riveting reading right there, let me tell you).

Seriously though, while I’m definitely aging and am not one of the "cool kid early adopters" of tech anymore, I’ve still got some recommendations for you guys. These are things that are easy to use and adopt into your business workflow. The kind of stuff that helps you work smarter, not harder. That leads to growing your practice in a way that is sustainable for you. Which hopefully leads to you having more time for all the other things in your life!

It's really a huge win for your business and your life. So let's dive in!

First up: Online Booking/Scheduling

Probably you all know this exists, but I had to mention it because it’s a huge win for your business. People live busy lives and no one likes phone tag or emailing back-and-forth. One of the quickest ways to help fill your appointment book is allowing people to book themselves in via online booking. Same goes for those of you running classes: online registration just makes sense.

Does this remove a bit of the ‘human touch’ part of the experience? Sure, it can. But there are ways to remedy that. For example, if a new client books into your schedule, you could send them a personalized email followup just saying you’re looking forward to seeing them and to reply if they have any questions before their appointment. As well, many online booking programs allow you to personalize the emails sent out to your clients — the reminders, booking confirmations, and so on. This is another place you can inject some personality and fun while still relaying information you need to, such as your cancellation policy or a link to your registration or health history forms.

A few programs to check out:

For massage therapists:
Clinicsense: clinicsense.com
JaneApp: janeapp.com

For anyone:
Schedulicity: schedulicity.com
Mindbody Online: mindbodyonline.com

And number two: Payment Processing

Another one you’ve probably considered before but maybe haven’t adopted yet. Lucky for us, technology is getting better and better and you don’t have to go through the whole process of renting a point of sale machine and dealing with the big payment processors in order to add this to your business.

Have you heard of Square? You just hook it up to your tablet or phone - no other machine required. Through the Square app it handles credit card payments for you. If you’re thinking of getting on board with accepting plastic in your business instead of just cash or cheque, check it out: squareup.com

Another option that can work well, especially for those of you who sell a few items (gift certificates, class packages, self care tools, books, or other products) is Shopify. They have a very similar system to Square - a little device you hook up to your phone and get started payment processing. Check it out right here: shopify.ca/pos

And of course I have to cover: Marketing Tools

Yeah, it’s 2017 and online marketing is the focus for most of us. But how do you make that marketing effective?

One of the best ways is to make it visually appealing. After all, people decide with a glance if they’re interested in what you’re posting — often without even reading the text! So pictures and graphics are the way to go here.

How do you make that work if you’re not a photographer or good at designing stuff?

Canva to the rescue!

Never heard of it? It’s a really, really easy way to create designs you can use on your website, blog, or social media…. or even printed marketing materials! They have tons of templates and images you can use, and you can also upload some of your own stuff and integrate it with their designs. For example, they have templates that are the proper, optimized size for Facebook ads, Facebook cover photos, Instagram, Pinterest… the list goes on. They also have stuff like flyers, brochures, and business cards. Best of all, it’s free to use the basic features! I really love and use Canva and recommend it to anyone who runs a small business. It’s such an easy way to produce professional looking stuff. canva.com gets you started.

So ok, now you’ve got an easy way to create social media posts, but what if you’re pressed for time? Or, what if you want to post something in the middle of the day, but you have other stuff to do (like, uhh, see clients!)?

This is where Buffer shines.

Buffer is a way to schedule out social media posts in advance. Now, while I don’t recommend you rely on Buffer all the time, it’s really great when you’re super swamped or on vacation, so your marketing efforts keep going in those situations. Just remember that half of social media is the social part. Interacting one-on-one with people is super important: replying to comments and questions, checking your inbox/DMs/PMs for messages, and overall making it clear you’re a real person running a real business and not just some faceless entity. Buffer can’t do that part for you, of course. But it’s great to help you fill in the gaps and manage your time more effectively. And again, it’s free if you’re just doing basics. Check it out at buffer.com.

And one more recommendation…

Are you the kind of person who uses the same password pretty much everywhere, because you just don’t want to have to memorize 50 passwords? You’ve probably been told that’s a bad idea, as it means your online stuff isn’t secure. Someone guesses your password and suddenly has access to many of your accounts. Not good.

I have a little secret for you: most of us who use different passwords for each program don’t have photographic memories. Nah. We just use a password manager instead!

Enter 1password. This is the app I use and many people I know use and recommend. It integrates with all of your devices, meaning you can access your password list from anywhere and everywhere: iPhone, Android, laptop, whatever.

How does it work? When setting up your account you set a long, secure password that is required to access your account. It can be a sentence, even. The idea here is this is the only password you need to memorize. Knowing that gives you access to all your other passwords. Then, every time you have a new account somewhere, you just save that info in 1password.

Now, this isn’t free, but believe me, it’s worth it for the added security. Pricing starts at just $2.99 per month! You can read more about the features at 1password.com.

That’s all, folks! Hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey into technology. If you have questions about anything here, or are looking for recommendations for something techy, you’re welcome to get in touch! I may not have a specific answer but I’m happy to point you in the right direction if I can.

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