As a dawn of another year approaches so does a plethora of new apps, social networks, Google tools, business technologies, bells, whistles, and hashtags. New software companies will tell you “you need this” to survive and small business blogs will promise “you need that” to stay ahead of the competition. With all of the commotion, it’s really hard to tell what exactly you need, if anything, and going about it on your own feels like throwing stones into a pond. What will work best for me and my business?
Our goal at Genbook is to help demystify technology so you can get to the heart of what really matters, making your business run more effectively. We will post a series of how-to’s and success stories from some our users, covering everything from blogging, to video marketing, to promotional tweeting. Technology shouldn’t be overwhelming and it certainly shouldn’t be scary. Some of it sticks and some of it we laugh at ten years down the road. To prove technology is nothing to fret, here are some headlines from way back when, just to remind you that it all works out.
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."
Or at least that’s what feels like, trying to imagine our lives without the Internet once upon a time. Back when payphones and VHS were a thing, when yelp was a short sharp cry, not an online review site, and of course back when client scheduling had to be done with a phone, a pen, and a datebook. WEIRD. Such days seem Amish in comparison to the fast paced world of social networks, smart phones, e-commerce, and Candy Crush. Here’s a look back at that parallel universe (a decade I call the ‘80s).
All of the headlines were drawn from the New York Times archive:
“The three-year-old market for what is variously called the home, personal or hobby computer but really serves mostly as a miniature small-business computer is opening wider this Christmas, while the electronics industry watches warily.”
“And while the personal computer started as a device for the computer hobbyist, its major market by far has turned out to be the small business user and professionals, such as doctors, writers and farmers who use the computer for their accounting, inventory, mailing lists and word processing, either at home or in the office. According to Future Computing, a Dallas consulting firm, small business use accounts for nearly half the sales of under-$10,000 units.”
“As explained by a patent attorney, the purpose of the invention is to allow the user of one personal computer to transmit a document it contains to be printed in another personal computer.”
“Alternatively - and much more important, according to some experts - the new generation of machines could be used to perform the same tasks computers now do but be much easier to use. In effect, the machine would do more of the work and the user less.”
“Bleep. Bleep. There you are in the midst of a busy workday, waiting for an important message from the West Coast. Suddenly the facsimile machine pulses into action, chirping and buzzing, ejecting a printed page 30 seconds later.”
“Robert Lucky, executive director of research at American Telephone & Telegraph Bell Labs, said it`s likely a person will soon call his office so that a robot can read his fax mail and computer electronic mail messages to him over the telephone.”
“But a new generation of phones, with built-in visual displays, will be available over the next year or so. Called screen-based phones, they are not quite so futuristic as video phones, which allow callers to see each other as they talk. But the new machines allow callers to navigate more easily through the electronic purgatory that typically begins, "For more options, press 1."
"This is a very exciting time for the paging industry," said Terry L. Scott, the president of Paging Network Inc., which is based in Plano, Tex., and is the largest paging concern in the country, with 2.6 million subscribers. "Pretty soon you'll have an answering machine and fax machine that fits in your pocket. Millions of other Americans have adopted paging technology for all sorts of uses beyond the popular stereotype of the beeper as a tool for doctors, plumbers and drug dealers."
If you’ve managed to graduate past the facsimile and pager, then it’s time to graduate past scheduling your appointments over the phone. Sign up today for a free trial of online booking with Genbook today. Happy New Year!
Rebecca Hurwood, a Portland based acupuncturist, shared with me some of the philosophies that have made her successful both in business and in life. She first discovered the power of Eastern medicine when acupuncture brought relief to a persistent ailment where traditional western medicine offered no intervention. Rebecca has since travelled to China to study centuries-old practices, which she incorporates in her holistic work at Always Well Clinic. In addition to healing, she isvery skilled in a broad array of disciplines, including but not limited to Choy Li Fut style martial arts, Flamenco Dancing, and Mommyhood.
What makes Always Well Unique?
Traditionally in China thousands of years ago Chinese medicine doctors lived on a retainer of sorts - they got paid to keep you healthy and did not get paid when you were ill! While it doesn't quite work this way today, the focus on wellness through maintaining energetic balance when healthy is still present and available. I work hard to educate my patients about general health and wellness and to give them tools and a plan that incorporates Chinese medicine towards staying well once their health goals are achieved – I strive to be a tool in the toolbox, so to speak, beyond being a sword to slay the dragons when necessary.
What are some of the challenges of running your own business?
As a solopreneur scheduling can eat a lot out of my day and Genbook takes care of it all for me which is brilliant. I also appreciate that it forces me to set a schedule for myself and stick to it. A pitfall of solopreneurship is overwork – it's easy to say you'll be available until 8pm if someone wants to come in and you feel you need the money. Genbook helps me take care of my patients by making scheduling easy and it takes care of me to by forcing me to be reasonable about my hours and keep a set schedule.
What is the favorite part about your job?
When I'm in the treatment room listening, solving problems, treating patients and helping them feel better. My primary purpose is to be present in the moment and I find it very satisfying and meditative. I love that my job includes not only treating people, but also empowering people to be participatory in their healthcare.
What is the best part about living and working in Portland?
I have to admit I really like the weather despite the 8 months of gray as well because we actually have seasons here and you can feel it when everyone shares the joy of summer and the beauty of fall. I grew up just south of SF on the coast in Pacifica, California, and we had one season-55 to 65 and foggy. Even though it rarely snows in town, it's so much fun to see everyone out in the spring and summer and share tips and tricks for indoor fun in winter time, it's very special and it creates a community awareness and shared bond that I really enjoy. I've been here since 1996 and I definitely feel like a true Oregonian now, I frankly can't imagine living anywhere else.
What is the most important lesson about running your own business you have learned?
To be patient and not overreact. Business can have variable seasonality and the only constant about the market is change. When things are slow or curveball expenses come your way, breathe deep and take your time to determine the best course of action. If you plan for the worst, hope for the best, and focus on doing what you do with skill and integrity, everything will work out just right.
Genbook has made running a small business more manageable for many people across the country. Learn more about what Genbook can do for you.
Photo Courtesy of Classic Body Restoration
I recently had the chance to catch up with several of our favorite LMT’s in Portland, and found that they are some of the most overwhelmingly positive people around. It could be something in the crisp Northwestern air, but I think it has more to do with their body of work. It’s hard not to love your job when you’re surrounded by satisfied people.
Massage therapy has the rare ability to transfer kinetic energy into emotional pleasure. It is happiness by osmosis, therapeutic both for the body and mind.
Hands that are mastered in the intricate choreography of skill and affection glide between muscles and pressure points to send ripples of relaxation up through any nervous system. For most, massage therapy serves as a break from daily mélange and stresses that may crowd our lives. For those with injury or chronic pain, it is a definite refuge and the course to recovery. But for the LMT’s I spoke to, it is a source of happiness. The love for their work stems from bringing pleasure to others.
The best part of my job is “watching people crawl up the stairs on their way in and float down them on their way out.” - Ariana O. OREGON CLINICAL MASSAGE
“I feel like it’s very rewarding, when people come out of their massage, 99.9% are happy. It is a very positive career.” – Stephanie M. CLASSIC BODY RESTORATION
“I love my job, I get to make people feel great and happy. My office is a serene escape from the city within the city. I’m grateful that I have found and get to do what I love.” – Mauri M. THE GOLDEN ROOM
But What Makes the LMT’s Happy?
The short answer is Genbook’s ability to keep their hands free. “I love having my clients be able to book online,” Mauri told me. “It's made my life so much easier not having the back and forth on the phone. It's been the most important thing in having my business run smoothly. I really would have trouble without it.”
Any main street business owner knows that balancing client scheduling is a critical but time consuming part of the job, and hiring a receptionist isn’t always a viable option. “Genbook has helped me a great deal, because it's one of the hats I can take off and feel confident that it's in good hands,” explained Ariana, who runs her clinic with one other LMT. “My customers love being able to book and make changes anytime. I love being able to check my schedule from anywhere, anytime.” Genbook’s online scheduling allows Ariana to focus on her massage therapy, while saving time and overhead.
Happiness tends to breed happiness, but it also breeds success.
The feel-good nature of massage therapy is very befitting of Portland’s uniquely positive culture, which is known for welcoming an array of diverse philosophies. As Mauri explains, “Portland is a gemstone for finding what you love and doing it. The people here are much more open to alternative medicine than most other places which allows the creativeness in healthcare to flourish.”
The result is a massage therapy hub, almost a mecca. In a Starbucks kind of way, massage practices seem to be everywhere in Portland. In fact, in 2012 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked the region amongst those with the most LMT’s both in a given area and per capita. “If you draw a 20 block circle around Oregon Clinical Massage, you'll likely have hundreds of LMTs inside the boundary,” said Ariana. “Portland is kind of crawling with LMTs. So why would anyone choose us?”
The key, as each LMT revealed, is creating happy clients. “We’ve always tried to maintain a high standard of massages,” said Stephanie of Classic Body Restoration. “I love that Genbook emails clients after their massage asking for feedback. We go through any reviews that get left online, or any referrals, making sure we’ve kept up a positive reputation…and they almost always are positive.”
Interested? Learn More about how Genbook can positively impact your business.
It's been live for a few months, but now all the t's are dotted and the i's are crossed, and we're ready to offically launch Genbook YourOffers!
What is it?
Genbook YourOffers lets you create special discounted offers for your customers. Some merchants use them to reward their most loyal customers, others use them to fish for new ones.
To learn more and get started, login to your Genbook account and go to the YourOffers tab and read through the instructions. Go ahead, we'll wait.
Alright, I get it. Now what do I do?
We spoke with a Genbook merchant who owns a waxing salon in Omaha. She's been running YourOffers for a few months now, and is having some amazing success. Here are her tips for running a successful offer:
1. Understand why you're running the offer.
There are lots of reasons to run an offer, but you need to understand why you're running one. The waxing salon owner ran one to fill spots quickly when she had downtime.
2. Try different kinds.
Our salon owner has gone through several different types -- different discount amounts, different durations, etc. Some are open ended, some only last for a weekend. Others are for specific services targeted towards special groups (men, for example.)
We reccomend experimenation. It's likely that your first try won't be successful, as it takes some tinkering to figure out exactly what resonates with your specific audience.
3. Promotion is the key.
The salon owner doesn't promote anywhere other than Facebook, where she has more than 2,000 likes. She uses Facebook's targeting to buy super cheap ads targeting people in her area with the right demographics. For example, she can restrict the ad to certain zip codes, gender, age, and other information. It's cheap too: after doing this for several months, she's spent less than $30 on ads.
Facebook isn't the only way to promote -- you'll have to figure out what works for you and your business. The lesson here is to make sure that people know about the offer.
What's the catch?
No catch. You decide what works for your business and sell as many as you can. We take 5% of the sold amount. YourOffers is included with every Genbook subscription.
I need a little help.
Contact Genbook at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get you going.
If your business is on Facebook, then make sure you add our BookNow! app to your business page. By adding this button, your customers can schedule appointments and read your Customer Reviews right on on the Web's largest social network.
Also remember to publish special offers and advertise appointment availability in your newsfeed. By making it easy for your clients to get your latest updates, learn about your business and "instantly" make appointments, you set your business up for even more success! Start here to add the BookNow button to your Facebook Page.