Episode 197

Dec 21, 2018

What’s the best time to advertise gift certificates sales? What do I do if a colleague steals my website copy? Allissa and Michael answer these questions and more in this Lightning Round Episode!

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What’s the best time to advertise gift certificates sales? What do I do if a colleague steals my website copy? Allissa and Michael answer these questions and more in this Lightning Round Episode!

Sponsored by The Jojoba Company & Acuity


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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.

MR We’re your hosts today. Glad you’ve joined us. Wrapping up the end of the year here, late December, holiday season upon us.

AH I am feeling kind of festive myself.

MR Are you?

AH I was wondering if — I really am. And partly because I just dropped — I did my end of year drop off, the cards for the women who work at the laundromat for me —

MR Yeah.

AH I give them a tip. They get a bigger gift than anyone else on my list, quite frankly, and one of the women there bakes Christmas cookies every year. And she gives me — normally gives me, like, this little tin full of Christmas cookies. I got, like, this bucket of Christmas cookies —

MR Nice.

AH It’s huge, and it’s got like three different kinds of cookies, and this woman can bake.

MR Nice.

AH Oh, my gosh. She does chocolate chip and then this chocolate peanut butter thing and then those seven-layer bars that melt in your mouth, and oh, my God. I was going to — I was doing a laundry drop off and then I was going to get a doughnut and coffee and then I just had to get coffee because I have a bucket of delicious, soft, moist, Christmas cookies to eat, to shove down my gullet today, and I’m so happy.

MR That’s beautiful. Well, the sooner we wrap this up, the sooner you can start shoving down those Christmas cookies.

AH That is true. How are you? How are your pre-Christmas celebrations going?

MR Oh, we’re — I’m good. We’re actually travelling this weekend to see family and then doing Christmas here at home next week, just kind of a wake up and do Christmas and then go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and do Christmas again and eat too much food. And then we’ve got the day off, the following day. We’re going to keep Eli home so he can play with all his new stuff —

AH Yay.

MR — just hang out and have a nice family Christmas. Nothing out of the ordinary.

AH Good.

MR Yeah.

AH Good for you.

MR Yeah.

AH All right, what are we talking about today?

MR Well, today, one of my favorite types of — I love it when we do this. It’s the lightning round episode with lots of questions from our listeners. Kind of a lightning round Q & A.

AH Yeah.

MR So I’m excited. What do you got?

AH We don’t have a ton of questions today, but I love the questions that we do have. So let’s jump right in.

MR Okay.

AH So someone asked is there a sweet spot to start marketing gift certificates or specials for specific holidays? And I say, yes, yes, there is. So for gift certificate sales, I’m a big fan of — for things like Valentine’s and Mother’s and Father’s Days, these are not holidays where people plan way, way, way, way, way out. So I think the sweet spot is four weeks out you start paving the way. So if you typically do an email newsletter, that is a great time, four weeks out is a great time to put an email out or make a social media post or two or hang up a flyer — whatever you do — four weeks out is a great time to be like, hey, we’re going to be offering this special for Valentine’s and Mother’s and Father’s Day or whatever. If you’re going to be offering a special, say that. If you just want to promote gift certificate sales, do a hey, get yourself prepared, gift certificates are available for blah, blah, blah, whatever the holiday coming up is. So four weeks out you pave the way.

And then you hit it hard the 14 to 10 days out. So two weeks to a week and a half out is when you start really hitting it hard. You do multiple — maybe a social media post every day on that same thing, selling your gift certificates, maybe promote a few posts, maybe send an extra email to two. But you really hit it hard, I’d say, 10-14 days out.

MR I’m guessing your logic here is because people tend to wait till the last minute anyway.

AH Uh-huh. So you want to plan the seed in someone’s mind. And if they’re the kind of person who, like, gets things done, the first time they see that a month out, they’re just going to get it done and buy the gift certificate, right? So most other people, you need to pave the way for them. And then with Valentine’s and Mother’s and Father’s Days, I am a big fan of the two days before. So Mother’s and Father’s Days are always on a Sunday. Friday night, I used to — when I was really trying to see gift certificates — I would send an email. And I did this because I sell them online. Now, if you have to be in the office to sell gift certificate, some of this might not apply; it might not work for you. But if you sell them online and it’s an automated process that you don’t have to have any part of, advertise that, and do so like a day and a half / two days ahead. So Friday night, I would send an email to my list and be like remember that Sunday is Whatever’s Day; you can get your gift certificate online, click of a button, right here.

MR Nice.

AH Yeah. And that works really well for Valentine’s, Mother’s and Father’s Days. Those are the main ones. I know there’s a couple other holidays that people do — some back to school time stuff. That’s totally great.

If you are offering a particular service that will only be valid for a certain amount of time, like over Valentine’s week, and you expect to book up. That, you might want to plan a little further out. You might want to start advertising that 4-6 weeks out depending on how your book. So make a plan for that. That’s a little bit different than straight-up selling gift certificates. But for the generic, lightweight holidays, pave the way four weeks out and then 10-14 days.

Now, the winter holidays, specifically Christmas, is a much longer-term kind of project. People shop earlier, they have more structured lists, and they’re looking for deals. So you want to plan a little further out. I think the very latest would be the 1st of November or the first week in November. I’m a big fan of letting Halloween pass and then the next couple of days, get an email out. If you’re going to be offering something specific, some kind of deal over a certain time period, you want to let people know. If you want to get 10% off gift certificates, you need to buy them in this week, you need to buy them online from this button. I would say it’s almost two months out, but that first week is November is safe. You can start pushing stuff then. And then maybe let that hang, do an occasional post or something, and then you’re going to hit it hard the week of Thanksgiving through Christmas. Now, “hitting it hard” depends on what works for your style. For me, hitting it hard is sending two emails and maybe putting one or two posts up on social media. For you, if you have a huge seasonal gift certificate kind of component, that’s a big part of your business — I just got so excited gesticulating that I slapped my microphone and almost hit myself in the face.

MR I heard that.

AH [laughs] That was really — just wanted you guys to know that I wasn’t trying to eat at the same time. I was gesticulating wildly because I love gift certificates.

MR I’m sure we’ll get a one-star review for that now.

AH [laughs] I know. So —

MR I love the podcast except one of the hosts keeps slapping her microphone.

AH Oh, my gosh. I can’t even. I need a moment now. [laughs]

MR You’re welcome.

AH So from the first week in November and then you hit it hard from Thanksgiving to Christmas. So maybe that means a weekly email, maybe that means [indiscernible] your office, though I have to say, all the feedback [indiscernible] specific events, like small business open house and stuff, tend to not go really great so that’s very specific to your community and your clientele. But I’m a big fan of the automated online gift certificate, so that’s just me. But you want to go hard core between Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially.

Could you send an email — if you have an active email list, you could send and email two days before Christmas Eve. That could be really great. It could capture a lot of last-minute shoppers. And, again, with that automated system, it could be really well. So that’s what I think about that. Michael, do you have any other thoughts to add there?

MR No, I think you’ve nailed it.

AH Okay.

MR I would agree.

AH Glad I could help. All right, so one more before we hit halftime. What is the best time of year to raise your fees? Michael, do you want to answer this one first?

MR Sure.

AH All right.

MR I’ll go for it.

AH We’ll see if we end up repeating the same answer. Doesn’t matter.

MR Okay. In general, I don’t think it matters a whole lot. Although I do like the idea of the nice, clean, beginning of the year thing. People tend to just kind of accept that because a lot of things happen at the beginning of the year. January 1st is a fresh start, and, I don’t know, I think that’s a reasonable time to do it. I would say, if you’re going to pick a date, pick the first of the year. Although, I think it’s more important to give advance notice than the exact date. What do you think?

AH I totally agree with you. I don’t think it matters as long as you’re giving a minimum of 30 days and that you are being consistent throughout the term of your business, like throughout your career. And it seems silly to be thinking like this, but — as if clients aren’t going to remember when the last time I changed my rates. Yeah, they will.

MR Oh, they will, yeah.

AH Even if you only change your rates every three years. Like I worked for four years in one location where — I owned it, I just rented in someone else’s office — and then I moved to my own office and I used that chance — which was like a July — to — in the new office, I raised my rates. So I moved; I raised my rates. Which was really nice to pair it with something else so it made obvious sense. I didn’t need an explanation. You don’t need one anyway, but sometimes you feel like you need to have one in your head just to have your confidence boosted about raising your rates. But a couple years later, I raised my rates and I did it late spring. And I did it on purpose because it had almost been three exact years or something. And then when I did it a couple years later, I did it in the spring. And then two years ago, I raised my rates — oh, no, a year ago, pardon me — I raised my rates, but I did it in the fall. I don’t remember why. There was logistically a reason why I did it, but I don’t remember what that is right now. And it threw people off. It really — they commented. I broke my own annual consistency kind of rule. And it’s not like I had changed my rates every single year. And it’s not that anyone complained that I was changing my rates, but they were like, don’t you usually do that in the spring? I was like, well, I haven’t done it in two and a half years, but yeah. They’re like, why didn’t you wait till the spring? I’m like, because I wanted a raise now. And they were like, oh, okay. But it really threw people off because I had set the stage that I was always going to raises prices in spring. Not every spring, but when I did it would be the spring. It threw people off a little bit. I would say don’t do what I did.

From — if you know you want to plan a business long-term — and I think that’s how we all feel, at least, whether it goes that way or not — just know that if you raise them in July and you decide to raise them again in a year or two, you should stick with something that’s cyclical, that feels right. If you have the kind of business where you’ve got regular lifetime clients, it just feels easier. You’re meeting their expectations as far as consistency and what they know to expect from you, what your patterns are, it makes them feel comfortable; you’re not throwing a wrench into the plans. It’s like if they walked into your office and you had completely rearranged your massage room, that would be really discombobulating to some people. And I think being inconsistent on things you do seasonally and such in your business can be really startling for some people.

I would say it doesn’t matter what time of year you do it. Just give minimum of 30 days’ notice, have a plan for accepting any gift certificate for certain services and stuff in the transition. So if you sold a one-hour gift certificate for 80 bucks and then you raised your prices, are you still going to accept that one-hour gift certificate? Have a very clear plan in place and do it at the same time or season from year to year. How does that feel to you, Michael?

MR Feels great.

AH Excellent. Who do we got for our halftime sponsor today?

MR I’m going to restrain myself today and say our friends at The Jojoba Company.

AH Yay. And I Just need to say something really wonderful about The Jojoba Company. When I was bringing up my notes for today’s recording session, I ended up at the Jojoba website because I typed in the wrong jojo thing. I thought I was bringing up my notes. And it brought me to The Jojoba Company website. And they had the most delightful note on their website that said, Our office is closed from 1 pm today. In lieu of exchanging gifts in the office, everyone who works there is out volunteering at some local charity for the afternoon. They’ll be back tomorrow. I just adore them. They are just the most delightful company and clearly conscientious, environmentally friendly, and kind of everything I want to be when I grow up. So hats off to you Jojoba Company. We adore you and thank you for supporting us.

Sponsor message So let’s talk about why we love them. The number one reason of all of the many reasons that I love jojoba is that it’s non-allergenic. This is good for massage therapists because we’re putting this stuff on our bodies over time — like tons and tons of it over the course of our careers. And I want it to be clean and non-allergenic so I don’t have a reaction. But also because we can use it on any and every client without the fear of an allergic reaction. You got a pregnancy client whose got a nut allergy? Jojoba is safe for her. You got a a kid who is super sensitive to certain kinds of preservatives? You don’t have to stress out because jojoba is pure jojoba. There ain’t nothing else in it and you can safely, happily, conscientiously, and without stress, use it on any and every client. And you can learn more about jojoba if you go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, that’s J-O-J-O-B-A.

MR And wow, I got lost in their website after clicking testimonials, and there are a gazillion testimonials of people just oozing with praise for jojoba. So I just — that’s amazing.

AH Yeah. Oh, my God and their blog is so good.

MR Yeah.

AH They actually have recipes and ideas. There’s a million and ten uses for jojoba including coating your snow shovel with it and the snow will slide right off of it, to conditioning the bamboo and wooden spoons that you use in your kitchen, to — they have a beard oil, a beard conditioner oil recipe. Dr. Boyfriend used it when he was making his own moustache wax last year.

MR Of course he did.

AH [laughs] Of course he did.

MR Of course he did. Oh, hey, there’s you photo on their blog because you wrote their latest article.

AH Oh yeah, that’s right. I totally did.

MR Yeah.

AH Oh, I just love them. It was so gracious of them to ask me to write that and to allow me to write that for them. It was — I adore them. Anyhow.

MR Anyhow.

AH Jojoba love. So one more question from our Q&A podcast episode here. And this one’s a little trickier. I recently had to confront a massage therapist, who I knew personally, for stealing copy from my website. And then my office mate who is an esthetician, just saw another local person got her website up and stole a bunch of wording from hers. How do you handle this kind of thing? How do you approach it if you don’t know the stealing person or you just know them through social media.

So I kind of want to put Michael on the spot again and I want to ask him what he thinks. How do you deal with that? I’ve actually had this happen to me, but how do you deal with that when you see a local — another local colleague/maybe competitor, if you think of it in that way, and they have clearly ripped off service descriptions or anything? What do you do?

MR Sure. So first thing I would do is just ask them to stop doing it. I mean, before anything gets dramatic or out of control, I would just take the simple path of hey, can you please take the stuff you copied off your website? That’s content I wrote and I would appreciate it if you would remove it. I mean, hopefully, sometimes that would work. Maybe they would say, oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing something — some people legitimately don’t really know they’re doing something wrong when they do that. It seems weird, but occasionally people are truly innocent and don’t get it that that’s stealing or copyright infringement. So, yeah, I would just ask.

AH So you would initiate the conversation just like straight-up acknowledging that they took your copy? Yeah?

MR I mean, I would. I don’t see the harm in trying that first. Then, if they either ignore you or they say, well, no, there’s nothing wrong with that, then I would probably reiterate it again more forcefully — say, hey, actually this is stealing. You’ve stolen my content, it’s something I wrote, it’s not right, you shouldn’t be — I’d probably try again. At that point, if they still either push back or maybe don’t respond at all, try calling, try being a little more assertive. But in general, I think you have to decide is it really worth it to you to escalate it? In most cases, to me, it would not be. It would not be worth it to get attorneys involved or to escalate it further because you are going to spend more time and money just fighting it over something that’s not truly going to cause you, most likely, a lot of harm. So you got to weigh the harm against you with the expense it would take to actually fight it, to me.

AH And I almost completely agree with you on this. I think that the first thing you need to do if you have seen something like this happen is you need to get an actual record of it. You need to do a screencast recording — recording your mobile device screen or your desktop computer browser screen as you go from your site to their site pointing out the identical copy. I think you need to have some information to show this to a neutral party and be like no, no, no, see, this is here and then they took it and put it there.

And then I think you have two options, right? You can confront it or you can ignore it. I think you should, if you’re comfortable with it, try to confront it. Give this person a call. And kind of like Michael said, kind of assume that they don’t realize what they did was wrong. Approach it that way: hey, I was checking out your website because I love to visit and learn about other massage therapists in the area, and I noticed that much of you copy is — your service descriptions — are completely identical to mine. Mine was originally written by me, so I feel like — is there– did you consult my website when you — in writing your website, perhaps you didn’t realize that it’s not okay to identically copy someone else’s written content. Could you change that?

But when you go into that, have real expectations for the conversation. What do you want to happen? What Michael said — I think probably what most of us want to happen is that that person will say, oh, my goodness; I’m so sorry. I will change that. I didn’t realize it was wrong. And how are you going to handle it if they don’t do that? Do you need to point out that it’s copyrighted? Can you do that in a slightly educated manner? Do you need to have a conversation with an attorney? Is that worth your time? Or can you just ignore it? You can change up your wording, because depending on how old your site is, it might need to be updated anyway. Refresh your copy, make it a little different, move along.

If you’re going to ignore it, it’s probably safe to say this person’s not going to visit your website every week to look for changes and then steal them. Once they’ve got their copy — this is someone who’s pretty lazy. They’ve show that by not wanting to write their own darn copy. So they’re probably not going to revisit your website every ten days to see if you’ve updated it and then steal your new stuff, so you’re probably fine from there on. I feel like I would want to have a conversation with somebody. And if they were difficult over the phone or they were not amenable to changing it, I would probably follow that up with something written to say I just wanted to confirm we had our conversation this afternoon. Here are the screenshots where I show that you have directly copied my original content from my website, which is copyrighted, and I would prefer — I am requesting that you take it down. You did not seem amenable to that in our phone conversation, but I’m hoping to give you time to think about it and I hope that this written request can be met. And whether they do or down, whatever. You get to decide if you’re going to talk to an attorney or not. But lay out your expectations. I would do it in a written manner than you can kind of confirm that they’ve read, if you know you have an active email address for them. You could text it to them if they do that. I don’t know. It depends on the relationship you have with this person. And if you’re not willing to talk to an attorney about it, then let it go; ignore it. Change your working, update your stuff, and don’t worry about it anymore. And that’s what I have. Any additions to that, Michael?

MR Yeah, yeah. Your addition of screenshotting and documenting it is worth doing as well, so thanks for adding that.

AH Yeah, and you know, I mean, it’s a small world, and there will likely be people — if this person sticks around for any length of time, which I’m going to suggest maybe they’re not because if they’re that crappy a business owner that they’re stealing your copy, they probably won’t be around too long. But if they are — it’s tough because when we have bad experiences with other business owners, we certainly don’t want to badmouth them. I think we have a whole episode on what to say when someone asks you about someone you really don’t like.

MR Yeah. I remember that.

AH And I say straight out when someone’s like oh, I know so-and-so; do you know them? Or hey, I was thinking about calling so-and-so to get a massage; do you know them? I say, yeah, I do know them. They’re not typically someone I refer to. We have very different approaches to business. That’s it. You don’t have to expand on that.

MR Very diplomatic.

AH Yeah. You know, there have certainly been times where there have been some really atrocious practitioners in my area where someone has been like oh, do you know them? I’m like, I do, I do. And you don’t say anything and then they’re like oh, well, what do you know? Eh, not really great things, so I’d prefer to just not say anything.

MR Sometimes silence speaks volumes.

AH Yeah, you know. There’s that. And the reality is if you have this experience with that person, other business owners and other referral partners and whatever have probably also had unpleasant experiences. And what goes around, comes around. So try not to stress about it too much even though it is enraging —

MR Always take the high road.

AH Ugh, God. But it’s so hard when you put so much work into something and then someone steals it or they act in a really inappropriate way, and it’s just enraging.

MR Yeah.

AH So do your best to let it roll off your back.

MR There you go.

AH After you have a certain amount of time being enraged and throwing things.

MR Be a turtle.

AH Be a turtle. All right, Michael, I’m done for realizes.

MR [laughs] All right. Well, this is our second to last episode of the year. As we wrap up, we have one more coming out next week and we will be sharing our annual 3 words exercise with y’all next week. Excited for that. So stay tuned. Until then, thanks for listening today. You can visit us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. As always, send us topics, questions, commentary, anything you’d like to share with us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. Thanks again for listening. Have a great day, and we’ll see you next time.

AH Bye.